Comcast is suspending the launch of its global TV news channel, NBC Sky World News.
According to FT, the company’s staff has been told that the channel is now “unviable” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision to shelve the channel isn’t a particularly surprising one, considering NBCUniversal is laying off roughly 10% of its workforce right now. Launching anything on this scale wouldn’t have made a ton of sense.
What makes this particularly disappointing is that the company had already set up production bases dedicated to the streaming news service in London and New York, and a team of roughly 50 journalists were to be stationed around the world. Those journalists will still be utilized, reporting to NBC News international chief Deborah Turness in order to help cover Covid-19 for NBC News.
At least one staffer is understandably disappointed about the news.
This week myself and many other talented colleagues received the unfortunate news that NBC’s global channel is no longer going ahead.
I’m so, so incredibly proud of the work our team has produced and keep your eyes peeled – because we have a few more investigations coming … https://t.co/JerAbB77jD
— Bianca Britton (@biancabritton) August 7, 2020
Comcast acquired European broadcasting titan Sky PLC in October 2018 for $39 billion. At the time of the acquisition, Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts said a global news streaming platform featuring resources from NBCUniversal and Sky News would launch in late 2019. The launch date was then pushed to summer 2020. Then in April, the company said it was going to “stop launch plans” for the network. This report seems to make clear that this stoppage has been extended indefinitely.
NBC News’s international expansion began even earlier, in 2017, when former NBC News president Deborah Turness was named the first president of NBC News International, reporting to Andy Lack. NBC News entered into a partnership with Euronews in a joint venture called EuronewsNBC.
Comcast’s Roberts has wanted to give CNN Worldwide a run for its money in the global news space. Alas, it appears that won’t be happening anytime soon. Maybe one day.