In a notable effort to boost the popularity of local news on digital platforms, five major broadcast television station groups that reach about two thirds of all TV homes in the U.S. have formed a joint venture that will provide live and on-demand newscasts to consumers via apps on mobile and selected connected TV devices.
The NewsOn venture, which is expected to begin service this fall, is backed by ABC Owned Television Station Group, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Media General and Raycom Media.
At launch it will reach 112 stations in 84 markets, which would put the streaming service in eight of the top 10 U.S. TV markets and 17 of the top 25.
The partners stressed that they expect the number of stations to increase as additional groups join NewsON.
Viewers will be able to watch newscasts from any of the stations.
Currently, there are 21 markets where viewers will be able to watch newscasts from more than one station.
The free, ad supported service has hired former CNN and The Weather Channel executive Louis Gump as CEO of the joint venture.
In an interview Gump stressed that the effort will not replace the stations existing apps or streaming efforts. Rather it will provide a critical mass of content that the stations believe will attract new audiences.
Specifics of some of the distribution and business models are still being finalized.
Both the stations and NewsOn will sell inventory, though details of the split haven’t been released.
With digital video attracting high CPMs, consolidating the inventory would make it easier for national advertisers to buy spots on the newscasts.
The partners are also not ready to release which devices the service will be available on at launch. Gump noted that they are talking to all the major platforms and that their focus would be reaching widest array of devices both in the mobile and connected TV arenas.
“Having this much content gives us an opportunity to build something really special,” said Gump.
Aggregating all the content together “is a really big deal” that provides them with an opportunity “to have a significant positive impact on the market, he added.