NBC News Now planning 2021 election night special
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
2021 isn’t necessarily a big year for elections. It’s not a midterm year and it’s obviously not a presidential election year. However, that Tuesday in November is still important for local and state level issues across the country.
The special will be titled “Meet the Press: Election Night Special” and will be hosted by Chuck Todd, the moderator of “MTP” and co-chief White House correspondent and weekend “Today” anchor Kristen Welker.
The slate of races will range from mayoral races to governorships to special elections and a variety of other issues posed to voters.
At the federal level, “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November” is designated as election day and most states follow that same practice and often consolidate as many state, local and other races and issues onto the ballots on that day in order to save costs of having to run multiple election days (some states and municipalities still have elections at other times during the year, but here again they are often consolidated as much as possible).
While NBC doesn’t appear to be planning on offering election night coverage for “Decision 2021” on its broadcast network, its cable network MSNBC is planning special coverage with data wiz Steve Kornacki starting at 4 p.m. eastern.
Ongoing coverage, particularly on any hot button issues or upsets are likely to be featured throughout the evening on both Now and MSNBC, as well as during regular newscasts such as “Today” and “NBC Nightly News” on the NBC network.
Most stations also make arrangements to do brief cut in updates throughout the evening and primetime on these types of election nights.
On the flip side, NBC News Now’s 2021 experiment could provide some insight into what kind of coverage streaming viewers are interested in seeing for the “big” 2022 and even “bigger” 2024 elections.
Although exact demographics aren’t available, it makes sense that streaming networks such as NBC News Now and ABC News Live would attract people who are, in general, more interested in the news and particularly politics.
These types of viewers could have different perspectives than typical, more casual viewers.
This isn’t the first time NBCU has used an event as a “test” for streaming. Its streamer Peacock used the delayed 2020 Olympics in the summer of 2021 as a way to tout the service and see what worked and what didn’t.
That “test” was on a much bigger scale than the 2021 election night coverage is likely to be, but it did give NBC some valuable lessons as users got confused about where to watch their favorite events and how to navigate the user interface.
All three networks and the cable news networks are in the midst of seeing what works with streaming and what doesn’t — in both news and other types of content.
CBS is in the middle of rebranding its CBSN streaming service under the CBS News name, while CNN is readying CNN+ for 2022.
Fox already has Fox Nation, though it’s filled more with lifestyle, reality and commentary programming (and taped day old version of its primetime schedule) and MSNBC has worked its way into both Peacock and NBC News Now.
Fox did just launched Fox Weather, a streaming only network that’s available via native mobile apps and on FoxWeather.com.
Fox Nation and CNN+ are the only ones of these services to opt for paid subscription model — the others are designed as ad supported offerings.
While some advertisers have been onboarded to these services, it appears most of the networks are facing challenges filling commercial breaks since they are abundantly filled with promos for the streaming service itself or shows on its corporate cousins.
Of course, unless these streamers can reverse course and convince users to pay subscription fees, attracting advertisers is going to necessary if the network wants to show a profit on these services.
Most networks don’t break out profit or viewership at that level, so it’s not clear how many people actually use these streamers and what revenue they generate.
That said, news production is one of the least expensive type of television to produce and while networks have hired people dedicated to their streaming services, much of the content is culled from existing sources and even on air talent can be plucked from the existing lineup.