Commentary

NBC's LX Targets News Service To Younger Viewers

Local TV news is a great part of traditional TV content -- something heavily skewed to older TV viewers. But local TV news content as a digital platform? Maybe that’s a better bet to pull in young media consumers.

NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations is launching a local TV-based news network in April 2020 on its stations’ sub-digital TV signals, called LX -- make that Local X. (Does that sound cooler?) It will also be a streaming TV network.

Local X targets viewers ages 18-45, which would be good news. In a 2018 survey, Pew Research Center found more than half of the people who are 65 and older watch local, network and cable TV news.

Will it work? While this is a “digital” play, it is focused on those subchannel, digital, over-the-air local TV stations' signals. So that makes it more like TV.

In that regard, you might ask: How are existing younger-viewer-focused news/documentary/informational TV networks doing now? Perhaps you need to check Viceland, a limited ad-supported cable news/nonfictional TV network, which skews to a young audience and has been on the air since 2016.

True, Viceland isn’t running daily news. But it might be an indication of what's coming from other TV-like live, linear TV news programming. In 2018, Viceland was the 102nd-rated prime-time cable TV network, down 10% to 94,000 average total viewers from the year before.

NBC isn’t the first to do something like LX.

CBS started its digital local OTT versions late last year, under its broader CBSN digital news effort. CBSN New York began in December 2018 and CBSN Los Angeles in June 2019. Earlier this week, the network announced the launch of CBSN Boston. CBSN is starting up 13 local OTT news services in all by the end of 2020.

We know that the average age for practically anything morphing to a digital platform from a traditional TV station/network aims younger -- like around 40-45 years or even younger. For example, CBS All Access’ median age is 44.

Here is the other obvious media point -- drummed into our heads over the last few years. Social media, with all its controversy, especially during any big political news season, continues to pull in news consumers -- and yes -- lots of younger news viewers.

A Pew Research Center Study in October/November 2018 says some 60% of 18-29s get their local news stories via digital news platforms. Will they now make a broader connection to all things digital, including more linear, live TV news content?

1 comment about "NBC's LX Targets News Service To Younger Viewers".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 25, 2019 at 11:48 a.m.

    Wayne, almost everyone watches TV news to some degree---like once a week or once every two weeks. The primary difference is in frequency with those over the age of 50 watching many, many, many more news channels and shows much more frequently than the younger set. There is no doubt that the new NBC venture will attract a younger audience than its broadcast and cable counterparts, but I doubt that it will attain very large or even a modestly sized average minute audience. I wish them luck, however---as they will need it.

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