By Sahil Patel
“First and foremost, we are a news organization,” says Ed O’Keefe, editor-in-chief of NowThis News, a digital video news provider that currently generates roughly 15 million views across its platforms. But what makes NowThis different, according to O’Keefe, is that the company recognizes a fundamental shift happening in news consumption — audiences, especially Millennials, no longer go to one news site to gather their info. “This is an audience that goes to 25 or 30 different sources for news and info each day,” says O’Keefe. “There is no exclusivity in that. And we need to respect that.”
This means adapting content to fit the platform and audience on it. O’Keefe refers to NowThis as a “mobile/social-centric” news organization. For the mobile app alone, NowThis churns out 18–25 videos on a normal day. But the company is steadfast about existing on every platform the news consumer is, whether that’s the web, mobile devices, and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine. “Obviously, the objective of our business is to attempt to convert users to download the app and become active participants in the app experience, but we know the natural urge of the social and digital generation is to find content on the platform they prefer. We’re not going to fight that instinct,” he says.
Adding to this multi-platform availability, NowThis also has syndication partnerships with MSN, AOL, and will soon arrive on Hulu and Roku. “We want to make sure we are natively responsible and responsive to the platform in which we are engaging — our Vine video is different from our app video, our app video is different from any other platform we exist in,” says O’Keefe.
This sort of nimbleness extends to NowThis’ on-air and off-camera talent, who O’Keefe says “come from all walks of life, ranging from cable television to writers and performers at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York. Everyone we have working here is a quadruple threat — they can write, edit, shoot, and produce,” he says.
When looking for talent, O’Keefe says the company prefers those who through their own experience as digital consumers have an appreciation for how storytelling differs in the digital age. “We look for people who have a little bit of a view askew — people who can look at the story and are able to add value, some contextual info, some tidbit, which touches the viewer’s ear and eye and makes them say, ‘That’s interesting.’”