The death of broadcast TV news has been greatly exaggerated. And social media might just breathe new life into it.
NBC is betting social channels can invigorate “The Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News” and its other news programs. The network, which leads in the nightly news ratings, has gone all-in on social, building a solid community of 10 million followers across several social platforms. Its personalities, such as Ann Curry, Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams, eclipse the 5 million mark on Twitter alone. And the network has a strong following on Facebook, Instagram, Google Plus and Tumblr.
That’s good news considering that NBC, like its competitors, faces a demographic challenge: TV news is for the olds. For the week of February 13, of the roughly 25 million viewers who tuned into the Big Three’s nightly news programs, 27 percent were in the 25-54 age range. In other words, there’s a reason why so many Viagra and heart medication commercials are aired during the evening news slot: the audience is old, real old.
The question is what to do with all these social network followers — and whether they can invigorate the rather tired genre of TV news. The key for social TV, according to Ryan Osborn, senior director of social media at NBC News, is pushing viewers to be active on social networks rather than simply passive couch potatoes.
“Social TV is a cross-functional effort at NBC News,” said Osborn, who leads a team of three. “To tell stories at scale across all platforms takes a lot of coordination. To make this happen, we bring together teams from editorial, marketing, ad sales and technology to help foster community around the programming that we distribute to a mass audience on television.”