Media & Entertainment

ABC News teams up with ATTN: to produce original news videos for social media

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Image Credits: Spencer Platt

ABC News announced today it’s teaming up with digital media company ATTN: to develop original news videos that will be distributed across social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The partnership aims to produce videos targeting audiences who no longer tune in to traditional news broadcasts aired on television. However, the news footage featured in the program will be largely repurposed from ABC News’ existing properties, including “Good Morning America,” “World News Tonight with David Muir,” and “Nightline.”

The announcement comes on the heels of NBC News’ launch of a daily, original news show for Snapchat users last week, that has a similar goal of reaching younger viewers who tend to get their news from social media.

“To reach audiences today, you have to meet them where they live on social platforms,” ATTN:’s co-founder and Editor in Chief, Matthew Segal, explained, in a statement about the launch. “We’re thrilled to leverage the resources of ABC to provide social audiences with great storytelling that focuses on the issues important to them.”

With the new venture, Segal will also being joining ABC News as a contributor, the companies said.

ATTN: was started in 2014 by Segal and Jarrett Moreno, co-founders of nonprofit liberal advocacy site OurTime.org, with the goal of becoming a for-profit distributor of content that mainstream news sources weren’t covering in-depth, including topics like drug policy, feminism, income inequality, and more.

The company is backed by over $22 million in funding, according to Crunchbase, including from Evolution Media Partners, Cash Warren, Main Street Advisors, Apollo Global Management co-founder Marc Rowan, Paul Watcher, RTS Ventures, Ryan Seacrest’s Seacrest Global Group, Troy Carter, and Ross Levinsohn, Crunchbase says.

Over the past couple of years, ATTN: has built up an audience through Facebook, where it releases short, snappy videos on these sorts of issues and more. In January, it announced a new series called “Paying Attention,” which featured 8-minute long interviews with celebrities and politicians, including George Takei, California lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom, Rep. Keith Ellison, actress Alyssa Milano, and Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe, among others.

ABC News says it will leverage ATTN:’s knowledge of crafting videos specifically for social media, while the two companies will also collaborate on social content via guest interviews, features and investigative stories from ABC News’ anchors and correspondents.

On a day-to-day basis, that means ATTN: will help ABC determine, from both a creative and editorial standpoint, what social video to create. And it will produce the video segments themselves. But ABC will have final approval of all editorial decisions and content of the videos, we’re told.

These videos will then be released through both company’s digital platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. ATTN: today has nearly 4.8 million Facebook Likes, while ABC News has 11.6 million for its main ABC News Page; its standalone news programs have their own sets of Facebook fans as well.

We’re told the news videos themselves will range from short, as in 1 to 5 minutes, to a bit longer, like 5 to 10 minutes.

ABC News already sees nearly one billion video views per month, and has doubled its video views year-over-year, it claims. ATTN:, meanwhile, sees 500 million monthly video views. Across all properties, the two have a combined reach of an average of 1.5 billion video views per month.

However, ABC News sees the co-production deal with ATTN: as a way to reach a different segment of viewers and try new formats for news-telling, as it tries to figure out how to navigate the transition to the digital age, where fewer people are tuning in to a trusted nightly news anchor.

“We’re going to take compelling stories and interviews and craft them in a way that feels organic to our digital platforms,” Colby Smith, VP, ABC News Digital, tells TechCrunch. “Again, what’s important to us is finding the right stories to tell, and we’ll be in collaboration with ATTN: to determine what videos to create. ABC will have final approval of all editorial decisions and content of the videos.”

ABC is hardly the only news company experimenting with social media strategies. In addition to NBC News’ Snapchat show, CNN is preparing to launch a news show with YouTube star Casey Neistat, following its $25 million acquisition of Neistat’s Beme app last year. Twitter partnered with Bloomberg to offer 24/7 streaming video news, and prior to that HBO teamed up with VICE Media for a daily newscast, as well.

Unlike NBC’s Snapchat show, ABC and ATTN: aren’t doing a single show, but will work on a mix of news-of-the-day pieces, interviews as well as a recurring series, without the constraints of a typical deadline-driven broadcast program, notes Smith. The videos will generate revenue through advertising, though in some cases that may include sponsorship deals.

The collaboration will kick off with the launch of 10 original video segments, then go from there, Colby says. The first video will be released in roughly six weeks. However, ABC is not committed to an exact date, so it could be later.

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