Scripps says Newsy will hit 90 percent of broadcast market

The logo of over-the-air news outlet Newsy. (Logo courtesy the E. W. Scripps Company; Graphic by The Desk)

Streaming television service Newsy will be available to 90 percent of the United States on at least one over-the-air digital channel when it re-launches next month, the network’s parent company E. W. Scripps said on Thursday.

In a press release, executives said the network will be carried primarily on Scripps-owned broadcast stations, which includes its recently-acquired Ion stations, though it may be offered in some markets on the stations of partner broadcasters.

Scripps has not released information about the specific markets where Newsy will be available, nor has it identified which broadcaster in each market will carry the network. In addition to its own stations, Scripps has affiliate agreements with Univision, Nexstar Media, TEGNA, ViacomCBS and others for some of its digital networks like Court TV, Bounce and Laff.

Executives said Newsy will be the only major news network to be distributed for free on both streaming platforms and broadcast television when it re-launches on October 1. In that space, Newsy has competition from Comcast’s NBC LX, which offers some news programming during the day that is interspersed with lifestyle and knowledge shows.

Newsy, on the other hand, will carry a lineup of facts-first news programming. On Wednesday, the network unveiled its new schedule, which carries over shows like “Morning Rush” and “Newsy Tonight with Chance Searles” while incorporating new programs like “Newsy Live,” which will run in the afternoon hours (late morning on the West Coast), and a three-hour afternoon program called “Newsy Reports” anchored by former ABC News journalist Rob Nelson.

The channel is also expanding its weekend lineup to include new, live shows like “Good to Know,” which features feel-good stories from around the country, and “In Real Life,” a 60 Minutes-like news magazine show that will be anchored by different news talent each week.

In an interview with the trade publication Adweek on Wednesday, Kate O’Brien, the top executive in charge of Newsy, said her team was building an around-the-clock news channel aimed at an audience who may not necessarily tune in to 24-hour news.

“We’re creating this 24-7 news network for an entirely new audience to 24-7 news, and that is the over-the-air audience.”

On the streaming side, Newsy is hardly alone: ViacomCBS, Comcast, the Walt Disney Company and Fox Corporation each have their own free, ad-supported streaming news services. Upstarts like Newsmax, One America News, Real America’s voice and the Young Turks have also broken onto the scene, each with its own brand of political news and opinion programming.

Newsy has steered clear of the politics — and, in fact, has promoted itself as an alternate to hungry news consumers who are fatigued by the political onslaught brought by cable and network news. While some newer streaming news networks like ABC News Live and NBC News Now have taken a similar approach, none have laid out plans to distribute their streaming news offerings on broadcast television like Newsy has.

O’Brien is clearly excited by the prospect of opening Newsy up to a new broadcast television audience, but she says the company will still nurture the audience it has cultivated on streaming platforms, where Newsy will continue to be offered for free.

“On the [broadcast] side, these are viewers who have never had the option of looking at news all day long, [and] we see it as a tremendous upside to be able to create news content that we believe it’s going to resonate through the American audience in that over the air marketplace,” O’Brien told Adweek.

Disclosure: As of the publication date of this story, the author of this report owned a small amount of stock in the E.W. Scripps Company.

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