NBCU is again going after Gen Z and millennials with the launch of a new digital news brand and soon-to-arrive streaming network, called LX — short for “Local X.” Local, because the focus is on local news and “X” because…well, it sounds cool? (NBCU says it’s for LX’s “exponential abilities,” if you want the official reasoning.)

The service will be run by NBCU’s 42-station group, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, which will next year begin delivering LX’s programming as both an over-the-air and streaming network.

The company says the news programming on LX will feature “visually rich,” longer-form content — which is a switch from NBC’s other, earlier efforts in targeting the younger demographic.

For instance, NBC’s new streaming news network, NBC News Now, launched in May, delivers hourly live updates called “Briefly’s” as one of its key features. NBC also invested in a Snapchat news show, “Stay Tuned,” where it delivers a selection of top stories in just a few minutes.

LX is a different sort of news-telling experience — one that’s more akin to a news magazine, rather than a traditional local newscast.

Its “Visual Storytellers,” as the reporters are called, will work within their own communities — including L.A., Boston, Dallas, Miami, and New York  — to offer local stories and background on complex issues, says NBCU.

Among the group of storytellers are L.A.’s Chase Cain, formerly of Hulu, who will use 360-degree videos as part of his storytelling efforts; Ngozi Ekeledo, previously a reporter for the Big Ten Network in Chicago, now in Boston; a two-time Emmy winner whose background is in local TV news, Clark Fouraker, in Dallas; plus Bianca Graula a bilingual journalist who will focus on Miami stories; and former Vice News Tonight reporter Alexa Liautaud, in New York.

The programming launched on Monday with stories about climate change, urban farming, a surfing program for black women in C.A., and a young female Asian chef and James Beard nominee who launched a successful restaurant without experience or training.

Currently, the content is airing on YouTube at NBCLX, on LX.com and across social media platforms (@NBCLX.)

In April 2020, LX will debut as an over-the-air streaming network with live programming included, too. That means local newscasts will be added into the mix of coverage.

And the network will feature fewer and shorter ad breaks at that time, the company says.

More broadly, the service aims to attract an audience of younger people who no longer watch television in the traditional sense. Today’s cord cutters and “cord nevers” often get their news from social media, podcasts, apps, and other digital-first sources.

That’s a challenge for a news division focused on local TV.

“Our younger audiences want stories that are relatable. They want to feel a connection with the people delivering the news to them. They want more context about what’s happening in their neighborhoods. LX will deliver this and more,” said Valari Staab, President, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, in a statement. “Our team has been working hard to create a place that younger audiences can go to watch stories that are about them, and get the background about complex issues happening in their own backyard but still walk away feeling inspired about the power we all have to affect positive changes for our communities,” she added.

 

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Aakash Kothari

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