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Comcast to shut down NBC LX news channel

NBC LX was distributed on cable and streaming platforms, but didn't resonate with its intended audience of young news consumers.

NBC LX was distributed on cable and streaming platforms, but didn't resonate with its intended audience of young news consumers.

A still frame from a live broadcast of "NBC LX New Now." (Image courtesy Comcast/NBC News, Graphic by The Desk)
A still frame from a live broadcast of “NBC LX New Now.” (Image courtesy Comcast/NBC News, Graphic by The Desk)

After three years of broadcasting, Comcast’s NBC Universal is giving up on its millennial-focused news channel NBC LX.

According to a person familiar with Comcast’s move, NBC LX is scheduled to close within the next few months. Around four dozen producers, on-air talent and other employees who worked on NBC LX will be offered roles at other parts of NBC News, the source said.

NBC LX launched in May 2020 as a digital channel on NBC-owned broadcast stations in markets across the country, including Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia. The channel targeted young adults with a mixture of live news, lifestyle programming and documentaries on a wide variety of topics, including politics, immigration, social justice and climate change.

Over the last three years, NBC LX’s reach has grown to include carriage on cable, satellite and streaming services. Comcast’s streaming service Peacock offered a feed of NBC LX through its “Channels” tab alongside NBC News Now, Dateline 24/7 and Today All Day. The Roku Channel, Xumo Play, Fubo and YouTube TV also carried NBC LX.

Comcast is one of the few media companies to avoid layoffs over the last few months, with its NBC News division growing by 3,000 employees by the end of 2022, according to the website Fierce Telecom. But like other media companies, Comcast and NBC Universal have explored ways to reduce expenditures amid a weakened ad market that has impacted revenue for channels like NBC LX.

To address revenue woes, NBC LX pulled most of its live programming earlier this year in favor of new shows that aggregated news clips from its own production, local NBC stations and NBC News in general. In February, the daily program “NBC LX News” aired its last live broadcast in favor of a local news recap show called “News Zone,” which was produced as a live show but has since become a pre-recorded program.

It wasn’t clear how NBC Universal intends to fill the digital broadcast slot that will be left vacant by NBC LX when the channel closes later this year. Comcast stopped negotiating carriage of NBC LX during negotiations for contract renewals with cable and streaming platforms last year, a person familiar with the company’s business strategy told The Desk. Satellite broadcasters DirecTV and Dish Network never offered the channel.

While NBC Universal’s goals with NBC LX were ambitious, the channel largely failed to resonate with its intended audience: Young people who are more likely to watch news online than pay for cable television. The channel was unrated by Nielsen, the media measurement firm relied upon by broadcast stations and cable networks to determine their advertising rates. Less than 8,000 people followed NBC LX’s account on Twitter, and its YouTube videos often pulled in less than 200 views.

NBC Universal is increasingly turning its focus toward carriage of its streaming local NBC News channels, which offer live news broadcasts and community-oriented programming from its owned-and-operated television stations. Most of those channels are offered on the Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus and Xumo Play; a handful of streams are also distributed through Peacock for free.

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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).