On election night, NBC News will share its own ticket.
Yes, viewers can watch Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell hold their own on NBC. But they can also seek out a growing selection of programming in digital arenas.
Although NBC News has had a presence on TikTok since 2019, for the first time the entity is sending personnel to provide real-time reporting to the venue’s users, said Catherine Kim, senior vice president of global digital news. NBC News can tap any of its reporters to deliver a quick hit, cut a piece of video that was running elsewhere or, Kim says, ramp up new efforts to tell users if misinformation is circulating. One series, #NBCdebunks, aims to provide the TikTok audience with facts in the face of false stories circulating on the app.
“It’s going to be a real priority,” says Kim, of the growing TikTok effort. “We will have a team at 30 Rock that sits alongside all the newsrooms that work election night and early morning for us.”
Digital efforts also include preliminary programming on NBC News Now, the NBCUniversal news unit’s live streaming service. On Election Night, viewers can watch early evening coverage led by anchors Hallie Jackson and Tom Llamas, and a simulcast of NBC News primetime programming.
Midterm elections usually herald a surge in interest in television networks’ news coverage, a long-awaited reversal of viewership trends after a presidential election. With more viewers turning to streaming and social media, however, TV news can’t just bet on TV. NBC underscored the importance of its digital efforts this weekend by running a campaign for NBC News Now’s election coverage during “Sunday Night Football,” the network’s most-watched program. Promotions have also run during broadcasts of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” Late Night with Seth Meyers, “Saturday Night Live.” “The Voice”, “Law and Order”, “Chicago Med” and several sports broadcasts.
But this year’s efforts also include new scrutiny of ballots and voting, a testament to the voter denial that sprouted up around the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol that tried to prevent the results from being ratified.
ABC News plans to operate a “vote watch desk,” staffed by chief correspondent Pierre Thomas, senior national correspondent Terry Moran, chief legal analyst Dan Abrams and contributor Kate Shaw, all monitoring stories related to election integrity in partnership with the Brennan Center at NYU School of Law, a nonpartisan, independent organization. On Fox News Channel, Shannon Bream will use a new immersive touch screen to report on proprietary Fox News polls of early and Election Day voters conducted in all 50 states by the nonpartisan research organization NORC at the University of Chicago for Fox News and the Associated Press .
CBS News has already unveiled a “Democracy Desk,” with three correspondents who will be on standby to call attention to hiccups in voting procedures and whether law enforcement agencies see any threats to poll workers.
“Now it’s important to have a team like that,” says Kim of NBC News.
Such efforts emphasize a growing need to provide reviewed information in real time, where digital lives, not just in prime time. “We have to make sure we’re there everywhere to give people a trusted place for information,” said Janelle Rodriguez, NBC News senior vice president who oversees NBC News Now. “We have dozens of people fanning out across the country, on the ground, at polling stations, at the Secretary of State’s offices, so people have access to vetted reporting and information they can trust.”
The big question for the digital contact is whether everything can be made money from. Much of the news networks’ live streaming efforts are supported by advertising or subscriptions. However, some of the experiments are so new that they are not yet supported by economic models.