Thursday, March 5, 2009

WNBC goes digital in big news update with new channel New York Nonstop

WNBC, Channel 4 in New York City is unveiling a new digital channel on Monday, part NY1, a NYC local cable news outlet, part Headline News, part web-like content. This new channel, dubbed New York Nonstop will be out there on the digital cable line-up and over the digital airwaves as channel 4.2. As viewing habits move to DVR and VOD, the best way to survive is to be live and lively; and with a regional focus meant to provide relevant flavor in short, easy bites. "'You'll get your meat - your news, weather and headlines - every 15 minutes,' McGinn ( Meredith McGinn, senior manager of special projects for NBC 4 New York) said. 'In between those 15 minutes, you may have a two-minute segment, a two-minute pod, a five-minute pod. So the shows we're looking at are in little bits, not your traditional half-hour newscasts.'"

Will audiences in this market switch from NY 1 or News 12 to taste this new dish? Will they prefer the friendly faces of Channel 4 doing double duty at 4.2? In recent months, NBC has laid off a number of anchors, reporters, and weather people, replacing them most likely with less expensive talent. In a start up, keeping costs low is important.

Why is a regional channel being created in today's climate? Frankly, it's a first strategic step that sees the end of owned and operated networks and their eventual replacement with less costly regional news and lifestyle channels. As network programming finds its way as a national feed, accessible on demand, on the web and perhaps still as a linear stream, the regional networks will be left in the dust. And why should these network affiliates promote a national show if they are also competing with that same show on other platforms like Hulu or or Fancast? Shows like 30 Rock, Heroes, Chuck, and others are all available outside the gate of WNBC. New York Nonstop might just represent the natural next phase of the local broadcaster, no longer reliant on a relationship with its national partner, and programmed 24/7 on regional interests.

Technology has changed the entertainment landscape and the current model of national networks and regional affiliates may no longer be working. The evolutionary change may just be a digital news and lifestyle network, a la New York Nonstop in every DMA. Heck, their tagline says it all - Engaging consumers where they live, work and play.

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