After running in stealth mode for the past five months as ‘Planet Daily’, the digital video news service ‘NowThisNews’ was officially unveiled on Monday. Using Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about its beta site, NowThisNews will air its first videos in mid-October.
As its mantra “Social. Mobile. Digital” would suggest, the site is set to deliver digital news content direct to consumers’ mobile devices via social media sites. In a press release the NowThisNews team declared their intention to “meet straight on the inevitable and rapid changes happening in news consumption.”
The man behind the project is Huffington Post co-founder Ken Lerer, whose interest in the development of video was made clear last year after he invested in video start-up Bedrocket Media (one of the partners backing NowThisNews). Lerer has high expectations for the site and believes that it will present as big a challenge to cable news as the Internet presented to print newspapers. Talking to Mashable’s Seth Fiegerman, Lerer explained that the increasing rate of mobile news consumption means now is the right moment to launch a video project: “I think that if you go to a publishing site online, you’ll find that anywhere from 30% to 60% to 70% of their content is now being consumed on mobile… When does the web become more video than not? Is it two years? is it three years? Is it six years? It’s inevitable, and that’s why the time for video is now.”
NowThisNews also announced at the beginning of the week that it is to join forces with Buzzfeed in a content and distribution agreement that will see NTN produce items to support Buzzfeed’s editorial. The strategic agreement between the two organisations was not referred to in the initial wave of speculation that surrounded Lerer’s new venture, but it is hardly surprising: Lerer currently serves as the chairman of Buzzfeed and NTN’s target audience is the emerging generation of news consumers who use online resources like buzzfeed.com to keep abreast of the news, updates, events and information.
Details about the format the videos will adopt remain hazy, though it is thought that NowThisNews will shun the practice favoured by television networks of placing two reporters in front of a camera and having them comment on the day’s news events. Early coverage of NowThisNews suggested that the site would provide a platform for both professional and amateur content, but this also appears to have been rejected in favour of a more polished approach. Instead of streaming hours of content through the course of a single day, the digital video service will instead produce a select number of short news segments.
Of course, there can be no way of accurately predicting the success of NowThisNews until it begins broadcasting videos, but the project has several factors in its favour, notably a world class editorial team and $5 million raised in a funding round in April. Already, NowThisNews boasts an enviable array of behind-the-scenes talent, bringing together a wealth of highly respected figures from the realm of social and digital media. Its present Manhattan-based staff of sixteen includes CNN’s former news executive Eason Jordan, Katherine Zaleski, one-time executive director of The Washington Post and ABC News Digital’s former executive producer Ed O’Keefe.
One thing at least is certain: regardless of whether they thrive or fail, NowThisNews’s strategies will be closely watched by others hoping to adapt television news content to digital and mobile devices.