When Timeshifting Hits the Nightly News

It’s easy to talk about how technology has changed the rapid response of news, and how that changes the newspaper industry. What about nightly news? The forces at hand are potentially even replacing not just the content, but the need for a screen beyond a computer or a cell phone.

One victim? The evening news, perhaps. And Brian Williams’s team over at NBC wants to at least try and get any DVR loyalties while they can. From the NYT:

Of all the news commercials on the networks this year, one running this fall for “NBC Nightly News” might be the most unorthodox. In it, the anchor Brian Williams recommends that people record the 6:30 p.m. newscast if they will not be home in time to watch live. […] “A growing number of viewers tell me they time-shift the news,” Mr. Williams wrote [by e-mail to author Brian Stelter]. “Loyal viewers used to say ‘we watch you every night.’ These days, an increasing number make a point of saying ‘We RECORD you every night.’ ”

The question to me: does this say more about the change to American culture (i.e., being home at 6:30 to actually watch the news) than it does about news habits? I’d generally guess that someone who would watch any evening news program on any of the networks is someone who is plugged into news throughout the day.

Let’s say it isn’t a comment on culture but truly an impact of media consumption. Does a DVR audience require different content? Slightly more in-depth on lead stories since the audience has had more time to gather bits and pieces, but not the chance the synthesize, and then perhaps a longer news feature that doesn’t rely specifically on the day’s current events. At that point we’re about a special guest each night away from a serious version of the Daily Show.

It may just be ads for now, but it is fascinating to see if this does get to be more than that.


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