NBC Nightly News to Be Available Online

In what is widely expected to be the start of a trend, NBC said it will become the first national network to put the entire broadcast of its evening news onto the Web just hours after it originally airs.

MSNBC.com will start hosting downloads of NBC Nightly News on Nov. 7. The downloads will be free and include the entire newscast, making NBC the first network to put all of the evening news — one of the flagship programs for many networks but increasingly less relevant — online unabridged.

The newscast will be available at 10 PM ET, less than four hours after it originally airs in that time zone. The network said the move would help NBC extend the reach of the newscast “beyond the limits of the broadcast television platform to the Internet, and beyond this country to the entire world.”

Keeping Up With the Times

“This is the next logical step,” said Steve Capus, acting president of NBC News. We know that just as fast as technology is changing, people’s lives are changing too, and they expect our newscasts to keep up with those changes. With this announcement we are doing just that.”

NBC said the Webcast will be ideal for viewers for whom the evening newscast time in their market is not convenient or for those who are traveling or otherwise cannot see the show when it originally airs.

An archive of past shows will also be established on the site. Each newscast will be 21 minutes long, with one video commercial served up by MSNBC during each of the regular breaks in the show.

MSNBC.com already offers individual segments and stories from the nightly newscast as well as other news programs, including “Meet the Press,” and “Today.” The site, a joint venture between NBC and Microsoft, served around 75 million videos in the month of September, the network said.

Other networks have put snippets of their newscasts online as well, but many have stopped short of offering entire programs. One reason is concern, especially among the hundreds of local affiliate stations that carry the newscast, that the number of viewers they attract will shrink if online broadcasts cannibalize TV audiences.

He Blogs, Too

The move underscores the shift in network thinking about evening newscasts. Once closely guarded franchises, the evening news shows have fallen out of favor amid the rise of cable networks and Internet news sites that offer faster and more comprehensive news coverage.

For NBC, the recent changing of the guard also makes a move toward the Web more palatable. NBC noted in a press release that new Nightly News anchor Brian Williams maintains a regular blog of his own on the MSNBC site.

Williams said the download service “reflects the fact that the pace of our lives has changed” and that news is now more of an on-demand product rather than something that viewers can build into their schedules.

“Consumers are increasingly getting their news online, and MSNBC.com leads that space,” said Charlie Tillinghast, president of MSNBC.com, “By partnering with NBC News to offer ‘Nightly News’ in its entirety, we’re giving news consumers the flexibility to watch the program on their own schedule, on whatever medium they choose.”

MSNBC gets about 23 million unique users each month, making it by far the most heavily visited site of the three major networks.

More to Come

The newscasts are likely just the latest in what will soon be a steady flow of network content to find its way online. Other networks have already begun to push their most popular programs to new media. For instance, ABC is offering downloads of “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” that can be viewed on the new video iPod.

Like many other major media conglomerates, NBC’s reach extends well beyond news. The network has ties to NBC Universal, which is among the first studios to say it will make movies available online.

News Corp., which owns the Fox news network, has been very active in buying up media properties recently, as has CBS parent Viacom, whose MTV and Nickelodeon specialty networks have been among the first to offer large blocks of exclusive Web content and features.

“Online TV is going to make inroads into traditional forms,” Enderle Group principal analyst Rob Enderle told the E-Commerce Times. “That can be a threat to the traditional providers of content or it can be an opportunity as well.”

Meanwhile, television has long been moving toward an on-demand model, with TiVo and other digital recorders and on-demand movie channels offered through cable and satellite subscriptions enabling consumers to self-program. “The trend is obvious and the only question is how fast the incumbent networks will move out in front of it,” said Enderle. “The fact that they recognize that people want to decide when to watch is a good sign they understand the power has shifted to the consumer.”

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