Today NBC Universal revealed its investment in NowThis News, a startup that produces bite-size news in video format. But is the move really about the network getting a headstart towards new market acquisitions? The exact terms of the deal were not immediately available but various reports place the tab at 10 percent of NowThis Now's share capital.
Video snippets produced by NowThis News are easier to consume for viewers who can access them on the go, on their mobiles, at any given time, and even if they have very little time available. World news topics are squished into a few seconds of visual content; entertainment highlights (think the funniest moments of the Golden Globes yesterday) can be caught up with, in a matter of seconds... The videos are six to 15 seconds long only. Anything that really matters becomes highly accessible and consumable.
One step further, NowThis News content is highly shareable and prompts viewer engagement – two distinct winning features that mean it's easy to distribute via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Vine. Point in case, the NowThis News team made a Vine to illustrate the news today.
This specific aspect of driving conversation about news, rings very close to other news today from Facebook who are on the path of war to boost quality engagement on its news feed via the acquisition of mobile conversation driver startup Branch.
One further upside that NBC Universal has is access to untapped markets. Such video content spread via social networks can also be a stepping stone to getting eyeballs from different properties, such as Chinese chat app WeChat or other such markets, where NBC Universal has little or no foothold at the moment. Again, new audience acquisition is a move that both Facebook and Twitter themselves are working on too but unlike them NowThis News is not trapped inside a proprietary network and can therefore disseminate more easily.
As for the future of ads in such an environment, it seems NBC Universal will have a lot to play with until they find their ideal format and timing. One thing is certain, serving content to out-of-home viewers has its perk for targeting – data is readily available to advertisers. Add to that the rapidly expanding format of native advertising, it's a big win afoot.
So really, while other channels remain on a more traditional path, NBC Universal has fast forwarded to a format that could win it unexpected market shares and eyeballs around the globe.
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Liva Judic joined Search Engine Watch and ClickZ in May 2010 as a news blogger. She has lived and worked across the globe in Madagascar, Switzerland, London, NYC, Asia and is now based in between New York and Berlin.
Her background is in government relations and financial media where she started out as a journalist at Bloomberg and became senior editor at AFX news (now part of ThomsonReuters). Prior to forming her own consultancy Judic was head of international PR for a head of state.
Judic focuses on facilitating brand and marketing transitioning for European startups moving to the US. She has been named one of the Top 50 Industry Influencers of 2014 by AGBeat
March 19, 2014