ABC News and NBC News Discuss How They’re Evolving to Meet Audience Demand for Streaming

By A.J. Katz 

NBCUniversal News Group’s svp of growth Anna Magliocco and ABC News’ vp of streaming Justin Dial joined yours truly at the Adweek Convergent TV Summit recently to discuss how their respective companies are tackling fast-evolving world of streaming news.

ABC News boasts ABC News Live, a free ad-supported platform, as well as ABC News on Hulu, whereas NBCUniversal has a streaming portfolio that contains three properties, NBC News Now, a free ad-supported platform, Today All Day, a free companion product to The Today Show, and the MSNBC Hub on Peacock, which is in the premium subscription tier.

“The way we think about that is what each of those products is doing for their audiences,” said Magliocco. “We believe our free news product is a service to society, and that it should be free, and we try to make it as big and as widely available as possible. That’s also true for Today All Day; if you love Today and you want to spend all day with us, come on over. For MSNBC, that is a premium, high-engagement, passionate fanbase. We believe that subscription is the right place for that.”

Dial and Magliocco agreed that viewers should be able to transition seamlessly from linear to streaming, with no disruptions in quality or breadth of coverage.

“With ABC News Live, we want to make sure we are everywhere for the public,” said Dial. “We want to make sure we bring over the same quality from the traditional linear space into a space with either new users or people who have cut the cord and want to come over and have the comfort of the news product they’ve grown up with in the free space.”

Dial is in charge of ABC News programming initiatives on Hulu, and spoke about meeting the demand for 24/7 access to news.

“Inside of Hulu is ABC News Live. In addition to that, we also target more premium content that is made specifically for Hulu,” Dial said. “So, it’s beyond just the news of the day — it’s maybe a crash news special or something that’s playing off the news, or anything that gears into that genre that’s enhancing their premium product.”

The duo also discussed how their strategies have changed over the past year.

“We’ve really increased our investment and our ability to cover live breaking news,” Magliocco said. “It’s core to our strategy, and it’s integrated into our newsgathering when we are covering the news of the day for our cable properties. That same level of effort is going into NBC News Now.”

Dial expounded on Magliocco’s point by discussing how the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the change.

“In the news industry, Covid forced us to make changes in the first six months, and then the next 12 months, and then 12 months after that,” he said. “These were changes that we’ve never probably made in 1o years before that — whether it’s technology or being there for any sort of live event, no matter what it is, where it is, because we know the audiences gravitate toward that and they come to expect that.”

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