Time Warner’s News 8-
Part of a Nationwide Network
As cable TV giant Comcast and NBC Universal push for approval of their merger, the number two national cable communications company, Time Warner Cable (TWC) appears to be assembling a state-by-state news network that will result in the rebranding of Austin’s 24-hour cable news channel News 8. In fact, Austin’s News 8 will be the first TWC newsroom to make the shifts west of the Mississippi, according to Kevin Benz, News 8 news director. [TWC is the dominate cable television provider in Central Texas.]
Sometime in the last quarter of 2010, News 8 will become “Your News Now”, a change that is already well underway in New York State. Why do you here in Central Texas care about what’s happening in New York? TWC will become part of a locally-based network of stations spanning the nation, once they are finished. “We are now a national station group with 12 stations in 25 markets. We needed to find a common name. We’ll still all have local people, but it will be a common brand.” Benz says.
Austin’s TWC news already covers Austin, Temple, and Waco. What if news operations created in other TWC markets in Texas all went by the moniker “Your News Now”? That means that news stories and graphics from Dallas, San Antonio, the Valley, Corpus Christi, Beaumont, and El Paso could be shared easily anywhere in the state or in the nation.
It’s already happening in New York State. “When you look at New York, it’s not a big leap to say ‘How cool would that be in Texas?’” said Benz.
“A consistent name lets the company save money on graphics and marketing. It encourages more statewide advertising sales. And it fosters more sharing of news coverage. ‘When they say, “I’m John Smith for Your News Now,” that can play anywhere,”’ said Steve Paulus who oversees TWC local news division in a recent New York Times story.
The New York Times, however, missed the real story. Beyond Texas and New York, TWC is thinking how cool it would be to have stations in every major market possible across the country sharing the same look and stories.
One might argue that the News 8 brand is well established after a decade in the Austin market. It is, but it is no longer applicable when looking through the lens of HDTV and mobile media. “Our brand has never been about our channel,” Benz says. It was, perhaps, when they flipped the switch some ten years ago in the days of analog TV. Nowadays News 8 occupies at least four channels, three of which are not channel 8.
Austin News 8 facility is now embarking on a multimillion dollar remake of their studios and production facilities just north of the capitol in Downtown Austin. “We will not launch “YNN” [“Your News Now”] until we get that done,” says Benz. So, you won’t see “Your News Now” will be some unspecified time in the fourth quarter of 2010. Benz emphasizes that nothing but the name will change. “We’ll have the same people, the same content, and a fresh, clean look,” Benz says.
Actually, as time goes on and the TWC “network” comes together, there should much more content delivered by reporters from across the country.
Other changes are ongoing. News 8 went live with a redo of their website,http://news8austin.com a month ago.
News 8 or “Your News Now” is a 24-hour news operation which is only available on Time Warner Cable. It is a not broadcast station one can receive over the air with an antenna or via satellite.
© Jim McNabb, 2010