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NBC News Digital
Posted: September 03, 2013
With the digital media landscape in upheaval, NBC News takes nothing for granted. Early to mobile apps, it continually seeks the Next Big Thing with which to create "special experiences" for consumers. Its latest find: Notification Hubs in Windows Azure, with which it cost-effectively pushes millions of breaking-news notifications within minutes. Consumers love the app (4.5 out of 5 stars), and NBC shaved months off time-to-market.
"The market for digital news is ferocious."
Andrew Locke doesn't mince words. Locke, Vice President of Mobile and Devices for NBC News, deals with that ferocity on a daily basis, from competitors including other traditional media organizations (TV and print) that have moved to the web, news organizations existing solely as websites, and app-only competitors.
NBC News has done well in this increasingly competitive market because of its unique assets, according to Locke, which include strong broadcast and cablecast brands; properties such as Today, Meet the Press, and NBC Nightly News; and a spectrum of expertise (rather than a single focus on, say, politics).
The company was early to the mobile market, producing phone apps starting in 2008. Its strategy includes "being on every platform that has meaningful traction with our audience," Locke says. The strategy also includes a very specific target audience: "dedicated news consumers, especially big fans of our existing brands," says Locke. Casual news consumers will get to the NBC News website on their own, often through social media. But for its core audience, NBC News wants to create what Locke calls "a special experience based on the best features that each platform has to offer to our news fans."
NBC News wants to get its apps, with their "special experiences," on as many types of devices as possible. It saw cloud computing as an important way to do this, because back-end functionality could be created once, and exposed to all compatible devices connecting to the cloud.
But the company didn't, as yet, have its apps in the cloud.