Five major broadcast TV station groups—Disney’s ABC Owned Television Station Group, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Media General, and Raycom Media—have banded together to launch NewsOn, a free, ad-supported streaming service dedicated to local news.
First announced in June, the online service aggregates live and on-demand news content from as many as 118 local TV stations across 90 U.S. markets (including 17 of the top 25). The vast majority of the participating stations belong to NewsOn’s founding members, but the company expects its lineup to become much more varied over time, as it enters new markets and picks up additional stations in existing territories. (Multiple local stations are only available in select markets at this time.)
The free, ad-supported NewsOn app is available for phones and tablets running Android and iOS, as well as Roku media streamers and co-branded smart TVs. It gives viewers access to live and time-shifted local newscasts, local news clips, and staff-curated compilations related to breaking news events.
“While watching, the viewer can use a timeline viewing tool to pinpoint the precise moments he or she wants to watch—from business and sports to weather and traffic. In addition, viewers can access and contribute to real-time tweets about local news, adding their perspective to the community of viewers and increasing the spread of local information,” reads the official press release. The app also includes an interactive map to help viewers pinpoint stations that are most relevant to them.
The story behind the story: Broadcast TV networks own the rights to much of the content aired by local stations, but the local network affiliates have traditionally negotiated their own carriage deals with cable and satellite-TV service providers. The networks and their local affiliates have, for the most part, failed to settle how relationships with over-the-top service providers should be hammered out.
Thankfully, those copyright issues are mostly limited to prime-time TV broadcasts and, as the launch of this app shows, there are no real hurdles to streaming local newscasts. This could be a win-win for both local TV stations and cord cutters. One party notably absent from this deal? Sling TV. It seems like this would be right up their alley, but who knows what’s going on behind the scenes.