At the end of a record-setting year of news consumption, Amazon Fire TV said local TV stations in 12 U.S. cities will be added to Amazon’s news app, with another 90 on deck for 2021.
The initial dozen stations are in New York, LA, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Tampa, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle. The roster includes CBSN Chicago, ABC7/WABC-TV New York, KIRO7 Seattle, and News 12 New York.
In a year marked by Covid-19, a presidential election and racial unrest, overall news consumption has surged 48%, according to Nielsen. Amazon’s news app offers free live and on-demand news from ABC News Live, CBS News, Reuters, Cheddar and other providers. The ad-supported app is built into Fire TV streaming media players and smart TVs in the U.S.
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Local broadcast stations have faced major challenges during the streaming boom, as the pay-TV bundle shrinks and viewership and ad revenues continue to decline. Due to a number of technological and industry-relations issues, most large station groups have not put station signals online in a co-ordinated fashion, though they stream select content on social media or their own websites.
Some aggregators like Haystack TV and NewsOn have emerged, along with Locast, a controversial non-profit with operations in several cities. Broadcast networks have invested significantly in streaming, with CBS leading the way with local stations on CBS All Access five years ago and local extensions of its free, ad-supported CBSN service.
“There have been so many important events and stories in 2020 that have driven the news industry like never before; and we believe it’s more important than ever to provide free access to both local and national news for all our customers,” Amazon Fire TV VP Sandeep Gupta said. “Adding access to local news is the latest step in our commitment to helping our customers stay informed. We’ve been amazed by the popularity of Amazon’s news app and view local news as the next indispensable piece for our customers.”
Adam Wiener, EVP and GM of CBS Local Digital Media, added that “the demand for our high quality, live, local streaming news coverage continues to grow, and we’re pleased to broaden distribution of our services on Amazon’s news app.”