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NBC News is planning a streaming channel for cord-cutters

NBC News is planning a streaming channel for cord-cutters
NBC News has been producing "Stay Tuned," a twice-daily newscast exclusively for users of the social media platform Snapchat, since July. Gadi Schwartz, pictured, and Savannah Sellers tape their two- to three-minute programs in the Rockefeller Center studio in New York. (NBC News)

NBC is planning the launch of a streaming online video channel that would offer 24-hour news to viewers without cable or satellite.

NBC News Chairman Andy Lack and his division's digital chief, Nick Ascheim, acknowledged Wednesday at a news lunch at the network's headquarters that the channel is in the works. Details — such as whether it will be offered for free or require a subscription — have yet to be worked out.

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"It's something that we'll do," Lack said.

One reason NBC is in no rush to get the service off the ground is that it already has an all-news cable channel with MSNBC, which Lack said is having its "best year ever" thanks to the intense interest in the Trump White House.

"For the next few years, it's going to be hot as hell," Lack said.

MSNBC can be streamed only by consumers who already pay for the channel as part of their cable and satellite subscription.

CBS News already has a 24-hour streaming channel business with CBSN. It offers around-the-clock news programming for free, giving viewers a cable news-type channel that can be watched on a phone or through a streaming device such as Roku or Apple TV.

Fox News recently announced an over-the-top subscription streaming service with a separate set of on-air talent aimed at "super fans" of the cable channel.

Lack is looking at the idea because the network is focused on getting the NBC News brand name in front of millennials, who increasingly prefer to get their video content from a digital device.

While the MSNBC audience is growing, more than half of viewers are pushing 60 years old. Broadcast news shows also tend to be most popular with the 55-plus age group.

NBC's efforts to draw younger viewers include a daily newscast on the social media platform Snapchat, called "Stay Tuned." Launched last July, the news executives said they believe it's the most popular show on Snapchat, which is supplied with programming from various media outlets along with its users.

The program, anchored by Savannah Sellers and Gadi Schwartz, is seen by 33 million Snapchat users each month, according to Ascheim. More than half of them are viewing "Stay Tuned" three times a week, and 75% of the audience is younger than 25.

The news division also has been increasing the number of programs produced exclusively for NBCNews.com. The site has offered live free streams of special event coverage, including a State of the Union analysis delivered in a more informal style for a younger audience.

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

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