You have probably heard of the triumvirate of Disney streaming offerings with Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu. But The Walt Disney Company has quietly been investing in another product with ABC News Live. Now ABC has been streaming video for years. They have also had 24 hour news networks in the past with the digital channel ABC News Now and their partnership with Univision called Fusion. But for the first time, this feels like ABC is putting some major skin in the game.
The free offering is relaunching with breaking news coverage led by Tom Llamas and a new primetime newscast anchored by Linsey Davis. On the first day, which probably not coincidentally was a major news day, featured live broadcasts of the impeachment trial in the Senate, rebroadcasts of 20/20 features, the new primetime newscast, and coverage of the Iowa caucuses.
What did it look like? Calm. And that is a good thing. ABC News has promised that their service will be a marked departure from cable news. We saw live coverage of the trial without spin. We saw a primetime newscast that focused on in-depth reporting instead of skimming the service. And with the Iowa Caucus coverage, which turned out to be surprising in many ways, we saw thoughtful analysis instead of shouting.
In the past, ABC News’ live efforts have been somewhat sporadic. And as a long-time watcher, it always felt like the resources ended up getting spread thin. There were also times when news broke and ABC was not prepared to cover this. A good sign that this time is different is the announced investment of hiring 50 new journalists with the goal to become a virtually around-the-clock service by the end of the year.
While I think they are off to a good start, I do have some questions:
- As the programming for the service increases, will they still commit to unfiltered news event coverage?
- How will ABC News Live engage their corporate partners such as ESPN and National Geographic?
- While major news events should take priority, will they be willing to have some fun by covering events such as the Oscars, sports, and perhaps even theme park openings?
Most media companies are engaging streaming in their own way. CBSN has launched and NBC has announced a forthcoming service. Along the way, ABC News Live has to differentiate themselves from those services as well as cable news. I am optimistic that if ABC is able to execute on their vision, they may have a winning formula. The Walt Disney Company has their streaming vision for families, general audiences, and sports. Now it appears they have their vision for news.
ABC News Live is available through the ABC News app, Roku, Hulu, and more.
Major Upcoming ABC News Live Events:
- February 4: State of the Union
- February 5: Impeachment Trial Vote Expected
- February 7: ABC News Democratic Debate
- February 11: New Hampshire Primary