NewsON, the streaming initiative backed by a consortium of broadcasters led by ABC Owned Television Group, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Hubbard Broadcasting, Media General and Raycom Media, officially launched on Wednesday for iOS and Roku devices.
NewsON's channel selector for Android (shown) and iOS mobile devices keeps the current channel streaming in the top corner while the user can swipe through available local stations. (Source: NewsON)
The ad-supported service offers news from 118 stations across 90 markets in the U.S. in both live and video on demand formats. Viewers can watch any of those stations for free, selecting a location from an interactive map, or can let NewsON find their nearest participating station by allowing it to track their location.
"NewsON expands the reach and relevance of local broadcast news, and delivers a uniquely valuable experience for viewers," said Louis Gump, CEO of NewsON. "The vast collection of news content, coupled with a powerful interface, gives NewsON the potential to be an iconic app that quickly becomes a consumer favorite."
The NewsON service has been in development since at least June, when the ABC-led consortium officially announced it. Since then, the Atlanta-based company has been building the app and its mobile-friendly interface, as well as putting together a dynamic ad insertion solution for the service that will deliver a mix of local and targeted ads. Gump, in an earlier interview with FierceOnlineVideo, said that NewsON is working to get the mix right.
Gump is a veteran of The Weather Company and helped run its digital initiatives.
"One thing I loved about Weather is we knew there was high demand and mobile was the perfect application, but we had to discover how to make it resonate for consumers," he said.
Developing NewsON, Gump drew on that background and on his experience helping CNN launch its digital platforms, which took place at a global scale. For local stations, scale has been an issue, he said.
"Local media has been great in pockets but not great on a national scale. One of the most appealing things to me is we can help local media achieve the same level of usage and customer satisfaction on a national scale that other individual brands may not have been to do earlier on the curve," Gump said.
With more and more broadcasters, content owners and others shifting toward an OTT strategy, it remains to be seen how well NewsON will be able to compete. For now, though, its live news streaming and accessibility may put it out front early.
- see the release
Special Report: Local TV stations' day in the OTT sun: $40B market is theirs to take, if they can reach it
NewsON, Watchup, ZypMedia target the oft-overlooked local TV streaming opportunity
ExtendTV rebrands as ZypMedia, signs Sinclair for local programmatic advertising
ABC, Cox, Hearst station groups up the stakes in live local news OTT streaming