ABC News Mulls Launch of Live-Stream Service in 2017

Brian Steinberg
Variety

Fans of ABC News next year may no longer have to wait until “World News Tonight” or “Nightline” surface on TV each evening to get their fix. The Walt Disney-owned unit is gearing up to launch a 24/7 live-streaming effort in 2017 that would likely be baked into a host of emerging broadband services, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Specifics of the initiative remain very much in flux, this person said, but ABC News would like to see if it might potentially charge a subscription fee for it, as well as gain some form of advertising support. The New York Post previously reported some details about the project.

ABC’s interest in live-streaming comes as most traditional TV-news outlets work to maintain the attention of a rising generation of news aficionados who are prone to turn first to a smart phone or mobile device for information about breaking news events than they are to turn on a TV set.  Pew Research Center found in 2015 that people under 30 are “much less likely” than older consumers to watch TV news, and more likely to consider social media “a main source of news.” Pew estimated that “fully 62% of U.S. adults overall now get news on social media sites,” and many of them have built up new abilities to stream video. ABC News, this person said, has been encouraged by viewer reaction to recent programming it has run via Facebook Live around recent election-cycle events pegged to the recent presidential debates, primaries, and, earlier this month, the final results.

Other TV-news outlets have tested the format as well. CBS News in 2014 launched CBSN, a streaming-video news feed that is available on broadband services such as Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire. It’s staffed by a small group of anchors who also appear on CBS News TV programming, and other CBS News personnel make appearances on CBSN.

ABC News’ effort is being positioned as something different from CBSN. It’s not clear that there would be a traditional “wheel” of news segments, which is the programming format of choice for most always-on news outlets. Rather, this person suggested, the ABC News live stream would serve as a tool available for instant use when people want to find out more about news of immediate interest. Talking heads and pre-packaged segments would not form the bulk of the offering, but ABC News believes there could be great appeal in a product that might take viewers to a scene immediately.

The unit has quietly been gearing up for such a task. In December of 2014, ABC News announced it would equip reporters and correspondents with a content-distribution technology called “GoStream” that allows for the recording and uploading of footage from events as they happen, and lets followers track news live as it unfolds. ABC News staffers could do all of this by using an app on their mobile devices.  The footage was to curated and live streamed at ABCNews.comas well as via ABC News’ mobile apps and on Apple TV.  The network in May of last year hired Charli James, a former producer for Huffington Post and Vocativ, as it first live-stream correspondent, dispatching her to places where big events were gaining attention.

 

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