NBC aims for new viewers with twice-per-day news show on Snapchat

In an effort to appeal to young news consumers, Comcast Corp's NBC News announced Wednesday its plan to launch a daily news program on Snapchat, an app that the average user visits 18 times a day.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters
A woman stands in front of the Snap Inc. logo as she waits for Snap Inc. to post their initial public offering at the New York Stock Exchange on March 2, 2017.

Comcast Corp's NBC News is launching a twice-per-day news show on Snapchat, the company said on Wednesday, as part of its push to attract younger viewers who tend to watch TV on mobile devices.

Comcast's NBCUniversal invested $500 million in Snapchat owner Snap Inc. during its initial public offering as it seeks to boost its digital offering.

Broadcast news outlets like NBC News face an aging audience. The median age of NBC Nightly News, for example, is 64 years old, according to the Nielsen ratings agency. That is much older than the 18-to-34-year-old demographic that advertisers covet.

Last month, NBC News launched a digital video service, called "NBC Left Field," featuring short documentaries to appeal to social media users.

"This is a concerted effort that is crucial to our future," said Nick Ascheim, head of digital at NBC News.

"Stay Tuned" will focus on issues of the day and will air at 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. EDT on weekdays and 1 p.m. EDT on weekends. The show will also air for specific breaking news events.

The launch of the daily news show comes amid increasing investor skepticism about Snap's ability to grow and compete with Facebook Inc.'s Instagram.

Much bigger rival Facebook is also getting into original content, having signed deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment creators, including BuzzFeed, to launch shows as soon as next month, Reuters first reported in May.

Last week, Morgan Stanley, a lead underwriter on Snap's initial public offering (IPO), put a price target of $16 stock – a dollar below its March IPO price of $17, citing such concerns.

That investor skepticism does not concern NBC's Mr. Ascheim, he said, noting a lot of interest from advertisers in the new Snapchat show.

Snapchat expects the NBC news show will help increase user engagement, which is currently growing at over 30 minutes a day, said Sean Mills, head of original content at Snapchat. He said the average user comes to Snapchat more than 18 times a day.

Each news show will last three to four minutes and include two 10-second ads, Mr. Mills said. He declined to comment on the financial specifics of the agreement.

While Snapchat features news through the publishers on its Discover platform, this is the first daily news show as part of the company's original content strategy launched last year.

"If something happens in the world, we want people to go to Snapchat," said Mills. 

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