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Top 5 ways to BuzzFeed-ify NBC's news division

Top 5 ways to BuzzFeed-ify NBC's news division
NBCUniversal news show hosts Jim Cramer, left, Lester Holt, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes and Chris Matthews. (Jason DeCrow / Associated Press; Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times; Virginia Sherwood / NBC; MSNBC; Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

What if you took five shows from the most staid branch of NBCUniversal's empire, its news division, and added some of that BuzzFeed magic? The idea popped up after Tuesday's announcement of NBCUniversal's $200-million equity investment in BuzzFeed.

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The move followed the media conglomerate's investment last week in Vox Media, part of a growing commitment to youth-oriented online news and entertainment outlets.

Though NBC won the 2014-15 TV season battle for viewers ages 18 to 49, it and other networks continue to struggle when it comes to luring viewers from advertisers' most desirable demographic.

The most obvious strategy for appealing to youth culture is to appropriate that culture as best you can. With that in mind, here are five shows from the NBCUniversal news division and ways to lure the coveted youths:

  1. "Mad Money" (CNBC). Sure, Jim Cramer can bring passion and insight to Wall Street analysis, but his advice might resonate much more with the youth of today if he took the time to summarize and number his tips, making his bite-sized wisdom that much easier to swallow. Suggested segment: “24 Things Everyone Who Shops at Wal-Mart Understands About the Company’s Disappointing Second Quarter Earnings”
  2. "Hardball With Chris Matthews" (MSNBC). Chris Matthews has never shied away from clashing with members of the Republican Party, but as the 2016 election looms, Matthews could connect with the GOP presidential candidates as a sort of BuzzFeed-esque learning experience. Suggested segment: “We Asked 16 Presidential Candidates How They Feel About Jury Duty — Here’s What We Learned”
  3. "The Rachel Maddow Show" (MSNBC). While Rachel Maddow is seen as an incisive and impassioned speaker, some issues are better tackled by showing and not telling. BuzzFeed has mastered a streamlined news explanation through efficient deployment of unrelated GIFs, a resource that may serve Maddow well in these trying times. Suggested segment: “The Story of Amazon’s Controversial Labor Practices as Explained by Can’t Hardly Wait Gifs”
  4. "All in With Chris Hayes" (MSNBC). Since being promoted from weekends, Chris Hayes has focused his show on detailed dissections of issues of the day with noted experts. Although that format may work for some, it may be worth adding more immediacy and contrast. BuzzFeed is famous for capturing before and after images and presenting them with “slider” technology that expresses the passage of time with the swipe of a mouse. Surely such technological advancements could be translated to TV and used to make those end-of-days scenarios really pop. Suggested segment: “Here’s What a Drought-Stricken, Wildfire-Ravaged State Looks Like Now” (with bonus slider)
  5. "NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt" (NBC). Although Lester Holt has seen a bump in ratings since taking over the "Nightly News" slot from Brian Williams, plenty of room for improvement remains. What BuzzFeed understands inherently is the idea that sometimes concepts are most effectively conveyed with a well chosen image. Or a series of well-chosen images. Of cats. NBC may frown on fabricated tales of heroism, but surely the network can embrace the potential of cat pictures to punch up an otherwise dreary news day. Suggested segment: “41 Cats That Sum Up the Yosemite Plague Threat”

Twitter: @midwestspitfire

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