The Financial Times have reported that Comcast will enter the international news channel arena later this year, and it makes perfect sense.
NBC Sky World News, as the FT reported the new channel will be called, would have an initial reach 130 million households, which at the flick of a switch, makes it competitive with the two other major players.
CNN International has for decades, well since the start of 24 hour news channels, been the dominant player on the global scene, with its reach of 384 million households.
The BBC are also well established internationally, with BBC World News reaching 465 million households.
The advantage for a NBC Sky World News channel will be stark. They will have learned from the mistakes of those that have come before them. Coupled with a combined global news-gathering operation, it is the opportunity that NBC News have been looking for since the early 1990’s. America’s media giants were all caught on the hop by CNN during the Gulf War, and from there, have never been able to get a foot in on the international stage.
With the Comcast/Sky merger, that has all changed, not just from a position of corporate clout, but also technologically and journalistically.
NBC Sky World News will have the ability to use the news-gathering resources of its domestic siblings, and vice-versa. MSNBC’s international news coverage will certainly be much improved. The benefits are also time zonal. Take Sky News for instance. From midnight until 5am, live news bulletins titled “Sky World News” are aired, giving viewers an international round-up of the days news. It is obvious that this 5-hour block of programming will become a simulcast of the new channel. That is something quite important in modern television – it allows for downtime in an otherwise always on the go environment.
Likewise, for MSNBC, it would be able to do the same thing, and simulcast during the early hours.
But it is in breaking news where the major benefits come. CNN International over the years has been at the forefront of international events, where domestic-focused channels haven’t paid much attention. CNN International in recent years though, appear to have dropped the ball. Instead of live international breaking news on CNN International, you will more often than not be presented with paid programming and infomercials for vague banks in parts of the world where you’d never dream of opening an account.
BBC World News is, in effect dominating, and Comcast want a slice of that operationally worthwhile and potentially lucrative pie.
A truly international news operation by NBC News and Sky News will be the envy of many in the news business, it makes perfect sense.