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Streaming news service Level News to shut down

The service offered the C-SPAN multiplex network of channels without a cable or satellite subscription.

The service offered the C-SPAN multiplex network of channels without a cable or satellite subscription.

A screen capture of the Level News streaming application.
A screen capture of the Level News streaming application. (Graphic by The Desk)

Level News, a subscription-based streaming television service that offered a handful of national and international news channels, will shut down at the end of the month.

The impeding closure was announced in an email message to subscribers sent Tuesday afternoon, in which officials at Level News affirmed the service had drawn a small, loyal following but was unsustainable as a business.

“We created Level News to address the opportunity to deliver quality, balanced TV news at a low price,” Level News co-founders John Tantum and Andrew Shapiro wrote in the notice. “We believe this service is important, as it fills a gap for TV news as U.S. households increasingly drop their cable TV service. … We will continue to look for solutions over the coming days and will be in touch if our plans change.”

Current subscribers to Level News will be able to enjoy their subscription through September 30, at which point the service will end. Those with renewal dates after September 30 will have their prepaid subscription refunded based on a prorated amount.

The service is no longer open to new subscribers.

Level News launched nearly a year ago, and was the first way to watch the C-SPAN multiplex of political affairs networks without a cable or satellite subscription. At the time, officials at C-SPAN affirmed that a trend of consumers moving away from cable and satellite services had it looking for new business opportunities, as the cable and satellite companies are the primary funders of C-SPAN.

“We have to be forward-thinking, and get in front of the audience that still wants and needs C-SPAN and the coverage that we’re doing and the journalism that we’re doing,” Rachel Katz, the affiliate relations manager for C-SPAN, said in an interview with this reporter for StreamTV Insider in January.

For $6 a month, Level News subscribers got access to the three C-SPAN channels plus around a half-dozen other national and international news networks, including Nexstar’s NewsNation, Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Quicktake, NHK World Japan, Law & Crime Network, EuroNews and France 24 English.

In an interview, Tantum said the service was intended to provide news content from providers that offered a balanced perspective of national and world events, and that the company would steer clear of signing deals that brought more-partisan networks like MSNBC and the Fox News Channels on board.

“As I spend more time watching the channels we have, we’ve been surprised at the quality of news on the platform,” Tantum told StreamTV Insider. “They’re well-produced, they’re equivalent to what you’d find from a cable news channel.”

The decision to close Level News leaves cord-cutters without a viable way to access the C-SPAN channels, though some programming on the network — including live coverage of the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and key committee hearings — are available to stream for free on the newly-launched C-SPAN Now app.

Those who want actual access to the C-SPAN channels over streaming have just one option: A subscription to DirecTV Stream, which starts at $75 a month. While that price might seem high, DirecTV Stream also includes local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC stations and affiliates, along with national sports and news channels like ESPN, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Fox Sports 1, CBS Sports Network, NFL Network and more.

Similarly, Level News’ international news partners EuroNews, France 24 and NHK World all stream their content for free through their own websites and on YouTube.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).