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NBC's bets on streaming, TikTok pay dividends

Kerry Flynn
Jun 24, 2022
Janelle Rodriguez, SVP of NBC News Now; Chris Berend, EVP of Digital for the NBCU News Group; Catherine Kim, SVP of Global Digital News for NBC News and MSNBC; Kerry Flynn. Photo: Lauren Wade
Janelle Rodriguez, SVP of NBC News Now; Chris Berend, EVP of Digital for the NBCU News Group; Catherine Kim, SVP of Global Digital News for NBC News and MSNBC; Kerry Flynn. Photo: Lauren Wade

NBC News has been ambitious with digital platforms — and those investments are paying off and inspiring further investments, executives told Axios in a panel at VidCon on Thursday.

Why it matters: Not every news organization has succeeded with a streaming product. NBC News, however, has found a way to make it both worthwhile and a profitable part of its business.

What they're saying: "It is profitable, and we continue to grow and become even more profitable," Janelle Rodriguez, senior vice president of NBC News Now, says of the streaming service.

  • "Last quarter alone ... we had 100 million hours viewed ... and we just keep blowing through all of our projections in terms of audience growth," she adds.

How it works: Rodriguez and Chris Berend, executive vice president of digital for the NBCUniversal News Group, attributed one reason for the success to the platform being free and ad-supported.

  • "I think with subscription products, what you need is like a very, very highly interested niche of people who are willing to pony up for something very specific," Berend says. "Part of our brand mission with NBC News is to serve all of the United States and to be accessible to everybody."
  • Streaming helps NBC News reach and serve a younger audience, compared to its traditional channel. Berend says the "sweet spot" of that audience is ages 30 to 45.

Yes, and: NBC News started producing for TikTok in 2019. It's since built up a 12-person social video team that has grown its main account to 3.2 million followers.

  • "We saw through our early coverage of the invasion in Ukraine that there was an audience deeply engaged," says Catherine Kim, senior vice president of global digital news for NBC News and MSNBC. "We saw incredible engagement, crazy views, tens of millions of views on TikToks we were posting daily, sometimes hourly."

What's next: NBC News launched a daily news show on Snapchat in July 2017. Five years later, the show is still going, and now the next step is continuing to grow the brand on other platforms.

  • Kim says her team is piloting a daily podcast, planning to launch original programming on YouTube this fall and shooting a documentary —all under the "Stay Tuned" brand.

Disclosure: NBC is an investor in Axios and Sat Brainch, chief commercial officer of NBCU News Group, is a member of the Axios board. Axios journalists appear on MSNBC.

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