Why WNBC created ‘Listen Up,’ a daily two-minute Instagram show built for audiences on the go


Leading up to the April 22-23 Local Media Association Digital Revenue Summit in Chicago where winners from the Local Media Digital Innovation Awards will be presented, we’ll be showcasing some of the winners and the great work that will be on display.

Today, we’re featuring WNBC (NBC New York, Channel 4), which won for Best Video Strategy. The judges said this about their entry:

Judges’ comments:  NBC NY video strategy is grounded in recognition that younger audience use different platforms and have dfferent expectations for how video should be done. “Listen Up,” a made-for-Instagram daily mini-cast, and “News4You” a news update produced daily aimed for the YouTube audience, are great examples of a video strategy that’s tailored to the platform.

We caught up with Ben Berkowitz who is VP Digital at WNBC (NBC New York, Channel 4) to learn more:

Last year you launched “Listen Up,” the first daily Instagram show from a local TV station. Can you tell us about the program and how your audience reacted? 

Our goal with “Listen Up” was to reach a new audience on their preferred platform with new content – part of a broader recognition that the next unique user won’t come to us; we have to go to them where they want to be.

Knowing that our peak digital demand is in that “out the door” window around 7 a.m., we wanted to deliver something that would summarize the day ahead and the most interesting news and lifestyle in less than two minutes. The audience’s reaction exceeded our expectations. From Day One, the audience was 3 times what we expected, and the completion rate nearly 5 times.

 

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Why do you think your audience reacted so well to it?

It’s something tailored just to them. They were getting news from an established brand, but in a tone and style that felt like the content they already consume on a daily basis. We don’t waste their time, and we don’t pander; it’s their news the way they want it.

What else is working for you in digital video?

Broadly, we’re seeing lots of success with making custom content for different platforms. “News 4 Now,” which is a much more traditional newscast but in a shorter format with a custom graphics look, is getting huge traction on YouTube every night.

By enlisting our creative services team to build custom templates and then sticking to a defined format, we’re able to produce two daily shows with only two full-time employees working on them.

Is there any advice you would share with someone who might consider a similar Instagram show?

When you think you’re ready to launch, take another month to rehearse. We spent six weeks working on format, graphics, templates, etc. and then did six weeks of daily rehearsals before we launched.

Register today for the Digital Revenue Summit where we will be recognizing the best digital innovation in the industry.