Cox Media Group is zeroing in on hyper local news with the launch of a free ad-supported streaming local news service and FAST channel called Neighborhood TV.
CMG said the service is an extension of the broadcaster’s linear TV business, catering to audiences that have adopted streaming in addition to TV and cable. It aims to serve ultra-local news – at a neighborhood level – that the company says is not available via traditional news bundles today. Cox defines a neighborhood as a cluster of zip codes or towns within and adjacent to each local DMA market.
Neighborhood TV has already been in beta tests in Atlanta and Charlotte, garnering more than 100 million impressions monthly.
So where can local viewers find Neighborhood TV?
The streaming news service can be found on a standalone basis on its website via desktop and mobile as well as a CTV app available on all major streaming platforms. According to a Cox spokesperson, it can also be found on Allen Media Group’s free ad-supported streaming service Local Now, as well as Distro TV and Streamium. Additionally, Neighborhood TV is getting programming blocks on Cox Media Group’s FAST channel Now Streams on all CMG stations for three hours a day. All major platforms such as Roku, Samsung and others are carrying the CMG Now Streams, with Neighborhood TV playing three hours every day on each of those channels. And NVT streams will be featured on the homepage of the Charlotte Observer, Haystack and several others. All local news stories, curated by neighborhood, are also available via video on-demand, the spokesperson confirmed.
The rollout so far
Neighborhood TV (NTV) has been in test mode on desktop and mobile, and is currently available in 70 neighborhoods in Georgia and 30 neighborhoods in North Carolina. CMG plans to launch the service in Orlando in Q4, with an expansion into the Southeast that’s ultimately targeting up to 5,000 neighborhoods across the U.S.
Cox noted that it’s been aggressively broadening its distribution footprint into streaming under CMG’s EVP of Content, Marian Pittman, and is picking markets for the local news service “that optimize and extend its existing footprint.”
CMG has 14 TV stations in nine markets. Its portfolio includes multiple primary affiliates of ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo and MyNetworkTV, as well as several news and independent stations.
Separately, the media company earlier expanded its free digital streaming strategy to 30 linear streams in 2022, with markets that each feature a 24x7 Now Channel, a News Channel and market-specific Weather Channel.
Ultra-local content, opportunity for local advertisers
NTV is produced by reporters who are local to the community, covering key topics such as local government, impacts of extreme weather or other events, new restaurants and nightlife, local sports events, community heroes and local cultural events.
“We see audiences migrating online with a keen interest in local happenings and as the leading broadcaster in key markets, we want to build on the equity we already have by expanding in this way,” said Steve Pruett, executive chairman of CMG, in a statement.
CMG also sees it as an opportunity for local advertisers, as a viable alternative to traditional print and local TV advertising as they struggle to find ways to reach audience in a challenged market.
“Many [local advertisers] have been priced out of the local TV market, and newspapers have all but disappeared,” CMG stated.
A CMG spokesperson confirmed the service offers local ad avails on streaming, and through CMG, locality and other demand sources can deliver specific neighborhoods to advertisers.
Early positive response
CMG performed early audience testing of Neighborhood TV and found viewers have an appetite for coverage of their immediate neighborhood.
The results found 72% of viewers had a positive first impression, driven by the content around things they need to know within their community. Of the nearly three-quarters that had a good experience, top reasons they like the service include: all local information and news; covers things specifically related to the viewer’s area; and offers good and trustworthy information, among others. It also found current awareness of NTV at around 18%.