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NY Nonstop channel redefines "hyper" in 24/7 TV news

Non-stop New York News

Non-stop New York News

“Man on the street” interviews first aired on radio during the 1930s. Nearly 80 years later, WNBC has built its new 24-hour, news/lifestyle channel New York Nonstop around street interviews. New York City’s third-ranked network affiliate is hoping that the old wine in a new bottle will reverse its finances. NY Nonstop broadcasts with cameras panning flashily at slanted angles, simulating NYC edginess. It airs on digital broadcast TV, cable, mobile devices, the Web, and “taxicasts.”

Last May, WNBC announced that it would spend more than $10 million to soon launch Nonstop. After a number of unexplained delays, the channel launched this week to a potential 5.7 million viewers on digital broadcast channel 4.2 and cable. WNBC executives said the channel has the potential to be a new format for television.

Rather than from a traditional television studio, broadcast material is constantly fed from street journalists to a high-tech content center, where platform managers format content for broadcast on the different mediums. Daily reoccuring features are headlined by a 7 p.m. newscast anchored by WNBC’s Chuck Scarborough. Every 15 minutes, there are mini-updates for traffic, news and weather.

The bulk of content consists of two and five minute “podcast-like” segments featuring numerous street interviews. Segments titled “Sidewalk Stories” and “What’s the Deal” attempt to portray what’s on the minds of under-35 New Yorkers.

Think constantly-changing information bits, not half-hour broadcasts, said Meredith McGinn, senior manager of special projects for NBC 4 New York. She said the goal is to make viewers feel as if their “iPod is on shuffle. You can’t wait until the next song.”

There are more than 20 local all-the-time news channels across the country, including channels in Chicago, Houston and Washington, D.C. New York City already has a well established 24-hour local news channel, NY1, which has been broadcasting on cable for 12 years.

Publicly, Nonstop maintains it is not competing directly with NY1 because it offers different material in a new style.

In an internal e-mail to staff, Michael Horowicz, WNBC-4’s news manager, was simple in describing the competitive situation. “Consider this the noon live shot you’d have to do if you worked at the competition, but with a lot less hassle.”

Because of its brief segments and quick camerawork, Nonstop perhaps brings a new definition to the term hyper-local. For pitching, don’t just think visual. Think headline-length visual tidbits that stand on their own and are not part of a larger broadcast.

–Michael Blankenheim

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