Aug 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

NBC News plans virtual coverage for 2020 conventions

Photo: NBC News

NBC News and MSNBC are doubling down on digital and remote TV coverage of this year's conventions in an effort to bring as much information to voters as possible, while acclimating to the virtual nature of this year's events.

The big picture: The remote nature of the convention presents enormous challenges, but "this forced transition for the conventions will mean the plans for the next four years might become more creative," says Chuck Todd, moderator of Meet the Press and NBC News’ Political Director.

  • "What I’m most curious about is to see how the tone of the speeches change when they don’t have the delegates in person. Whether that changes the mood of these conventions, the impact of these conventions are all things we will learn as we go."  

Details: NBC News will leverage more than a half dozen new digital tools and products to cover the conventions that it didn't have in 2016, including its new 24/7 streaming news service NBC News Now, its new Quibi show "The Report," its Snapchat and TikTok show "Stay Tuned," Apple News and new podcasts like "Into America."

  • Digital coverage will include live blog all nights of both the DNC and RNC conventions being updated 24/7 from the NBC News team, including fact checks at
  • will continue to publish Election Confessions, where voters can share their anonymous thoughts about the presidential candidates and the state of the country. NBC News has received over 60,000 submissions this election cycle, says Catherine Kim, Executive Editor of NBC News Digital.
  • NBC News Digital will also feature Road to 270, an interactive web tool where users can design and map their own road to the presidency. Users can see the latest scenarios from Chuck Todd and Steve Kornacki.
  • NBC News NOW will stream the convention coverage for free daily. Chuck Todd will anchor a special program each night at 8 p.m. ET.

Audience spikes on digital began in March, Kim says. NBC News NOW has roughly 10 million unique viewers and 10 million hours viewed each month.

  • The company has also invested more on new social channels. It has more than 800,000 followers on TikTok across both its' "Stay Tuned" account and its main NBC News account.
  • Asked how NBC news plans to measure the success of many of these new digital channels, Kim says that on video across platforms, "Were measuring success by time spent, tracking hours spent watching NBC News Now, Today All Day, etc."

TV coverage will feature anchors covering the conventions remotely for NBC News and MSNBC, while other reporters and correspondents will contribute to television and digital live streaming coverage remotely and on the trail.

  • NBC News will air a nightly Special Report from 10 to 11 p.m. ET each day of the DNC and RNC conventions with Lester Holt and Savannah Guthrie anchoring from NBC News' Headquarters in New York with Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell from NBC News’ Washington Bureau. 
  • MSNBC will deliver live, prime-time coverage of each convention from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. ET each night of the conventions. Rachel Maddow with Joy Reid and Nicolle Wallace will anchor a special Decision 2020 convention program at 9 p.m., joined by Brian Williams who continues coverage at 11 ET, and Ari Melber at 1 a.m. from New York.

Between the lines: "For reporters, conventions were an opportunity to find more stories and more sources. That’s simply a loss that comes with this pandemic territory that we’ve been living with for some time," says Todd.

  • "I do believe it will become more apparent when experiencing this remotely is just how informercial-like convention speeches and videos really are," says Todd.

The bottom line: "We've never had a convention cycle where the anchor team wasn't in the middle of the action," says Rashida Jones, senior VP of NBC News and MSNBC.

  • "But I don't think we're compromising at all in terms of the quality of expertise ... It will allow us to lean on the journalism more than the bells and whistles of event itself."

Editor’s note: NBC is an investor in Axios. MSNBC & Axios engage in a weekday sponsored television appearance at 5:55am ET.

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