MSNBC targets young viewers with streaming video service Shift

New MSNBC Web-only channel, Shift, will have casual on-air look, cover topics that go beyond political debate

MSNBC has launched a new streaming video service aimed at attracting young viewers who are not growing up with the habit of turning on cable news.

Called Shift by MSNBC, the Web-only channel found on MSNBC.com will cover topics that go beyond the political debate of the day, which is what typically drives cable coverage.

"We want to reach an audience that isn't totally obsessed with politics 365 days a year," said Richard Wolffe, vice president and executive editor of MSNBC.com.

All of the Shift programs will have a more casual on-air look than MSNBC. The younger on-air talent and program concepts developed on Shift could eventually show up on the cable channel, Wolffe said. The hope is young viewers, who tend to watch more streaming video and less traditional television than the rest of the audience, will follow them to MSNBC if that happens.

Cable news can use a youthful infusion — its audiences tend to be the oldest-skewing in television. In May, Nielsen said the median age for MSNBC viewers was 62.5. For CNN it was 62.8, and for Fox News Channel it was 68.8.

The 15 hours of original programming per week on Shift will include "Krystal Clear," a discussion of women's issues hosted by "The Cycle" panelist Krystal Ball; "Three Cents," where MSNBC contributor Josh Barro will look at trends in the economy; and "Code Forward," a technology news program done in conjunction with the website Re/Code. There will also be programs devoted to pop culture and the sports business. Politics will have a home on the site with "The Briefing," a twice-a-week look at what's going on in Washington hosted by NBC News congressional correspondent Luke Russert, the 29-year-old son of the late "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert.

The programs will be streamed throughout the day, but will also be available for viewing on demand. Cable subscribers with TV Everywhere can also watch a live stream of MSNBC on Shift.

stephen.battaglio@latimes.com

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