NEW YORK (AP) — HBO and Vice Media are delaying the launch of their evening newscast for two weeks until Oct. 10 to make sure all of its creative elements work, including an ability to dive deeper into a story though touch screen technology.
The companies offered a peek Tuesday at “Vice News Tonight,” which will air weeknights at 7:30 p.m. EDT on HBO. The 30-minute newscast won’t have an anchor but has a subtle musical soundtrack.
In getting into the nightly newscast business that broadcasters ABC, CBS and NBC have dominated for decades, Vice executive Josh Tyrangiel said the company is reaching out to a generation that never got into the habit of watching those programs.
“If there’s a failure of news over the last couple of decades, it’s that the presentation of news hasn’t changed much, and people’s expectations have been raised,” Tyrangiel said.
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A test story screened Tuesday about proposals to toughen government secrecy laws enabled people watching on smartphones or pads to click on documents retrieved by the reporter through Freedom of Information requests — the type of material that some lawmakers want to keep hidden.
Besides airing live on the premium cable service, viewers will be able to access the program on demand and through the streaming services HBO Go and HBO Now.
Producers will work under the assumption that most “Vice News Tonight” viewers will be familiar with the day’s top headlines and will look for something new. That’s a different approach than the broadcast evening news programs. At a time headlines fly rapidly by on all manners of devices, the ability to offer a sober summary of the day’s most important news has made those programs steady ratings performers despite years of predictions of their demise.
Vice is still working out how and whether it will follow the day’s biggest stories. For example, a test program Vice made Monday, the day Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia was a big issue, included a story about how a candidate’s health became an issue when cancer survivor Paul Tsongas ran for the Democratic nomination in 1992.
Politics and government policy, the climate, technology, economics, civil rights and national security and culture will be emphasized on the show. The sample newscast shown Tuesday led with a story by a reporter on the front lines of the war against ISIS in Iraq. It illustrated Vice’s signature strength in visceral international reporting, with a correspondent ducking for cover as bullets clanged against cars stopped in an ambush.
Other reports were about a Vermont mayor and his controversial bid to let in Syrian refugees, creation of an experimental forest in New England, the creation of emojis, the emergence of a powerful heroin-like drug and a popular Chinese app that has disappeared amid worries of a government crackdown. Some were striking visually.
“I want us to be a show that really makes graphics beautiful and an essential part of the story,” Tyrangiel said.
While “Vice News Tonight” won’t have an anchor like Lester Holt, David Muir or Scott Pelley, it will have a rotating series of people who do voiceovers. “You can change the tenor of the show based on who is the voice,” he said.
The show will have the ability to do live reports, but won’t use that as a crutch, Tyrangiel said. It will also be flexible on time: if they only have material for 20 minutes, they’ll end early, or go long if need be, he said.
With two deep-pocketed media companies, the show won’t be facing immediate ratings pressure. HBO, in particular, sees the program as an added attraction for young people for its streaming services.