NBCUniversal Invests In Mobile Video News Service NowThis News

NBCUniversal News Group is announcing a minority investment in NowThisNews, a New York-based startup that’s looking to reinvent video journalism for the Facebook and smartphone era. As part of the investment, the two companies will co-produce original short-form news videos to be distributed across mobile and social platforms.

The brainchild of Huffington Post co-founder Kenneth Lerer (who also serves as Chairman of BuzzFeed), former Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau, and Bedrocket founder and CEO Brian Bedol, NowThis News is reinventing video news for the social and mobile worlds.

Part of this is making news accessible to newer platforms like Facebook, Vine, YouTube, Snapchat and others. Specifically, the teams will co-produce content for TODAY, MSNBC, NBC News and CNBC on topics relating to pop culture, political, and business news. These videos are posted on social platforms as well as on NowThis News’ mobile app. In fact, NBC Universal’s staff will be sent to NowThis News studio to co-produce videos, which will then be distributed across NBC properties and NowThis News. There will 30-40 co-produced videos published a week, we’re told.

The startup has a team of journalists who have held senior positions at ABC News, CNN, Washington Post and The Huffington Post and previously raised $10 million in funding from Lerer Ventures, SoftBank and others. The New York Times reports that NBC took a 10 percent stake in NowThis News.

“We know that news consumption among younger audiences continues to grow, but in order to reach that audience, we need to continue to create video for the platforms they use most. NowThis News does exactly that — delivering relevant news stories for the mobile and social platforms that resonate with this audience,” said Patricia Fili-Krushel, Chairman of the NBCUniversal News Group, in a release. “We’re excited to incorporate this relationship into our overall strategy — to innovate inside and outside the company — positioning the News Group for future success.”

“Short term content is an area we have to play in,” she tells us in a phone conversation this evening. “In the same way you get text alerts, you need video news alerts.” There are other emerging ways in which media properties can integrate advertising into these new news formats, she adds.

Kenneth Lerer, NowThis News’s Co-Founder and Manager Director of Lerer Ventures said, “By working together, the NBCUniversal News Group and NowThis News can learn from each other and build a great digital news experience that’s a win-win for the new news consumer who wants all video, all the time, built for social and mobile. This partnership allows us to showcase our shared vision of combining the world’s strongest news brands with NowThis News to super serve consumers.”

In a conversation with TechCrunch, Lerer told us that most news sites weren’t producing real short-form video, which needed to be done. “It seems obvious that instead of just going to a mobile app, you also need to go where your user is.” He tells us that the company will also be debuting new Twitter and Facebook products in the near future. For NBC, NowThis News can teach the media company around producing short form video for social formats, he says.

For NBC, this is the second investment in a non-traditional news platform this year. NBC Universal just backed Re/code, the technology news site recently founded by former AllThingsD founders Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. “We plan to be aggressive in expanding brand into new areas,” Fili-Krushel tells us. “There are these new avenues where people are consuming news and that’s where we have to go.”