Byron Allen on the Growing Success of News and Entertainment OTT Platform Local Now

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Cover image for  article: Byron Allen on the Growing Success of News and Entertainment OTT Platform Local Now

Digital streaming service Local Now aims to provide its users with a balanced video diet, mixing credible local news, traffic and weather with popular movies, TV shows and entertainment content. At a time when streaming services are gaining audiences, Local Now is well-positioned to convert on that plan. But the future didn't always look so bright. When entrepreneur, producer and comedian Byron Allen purchased The Weather Channel three years ago, he also inherited the startup streaming network, which was losing more than $25 million a year, prompting some advisers to recommend he shut it down.

Always a visionary, Allen resisted, opting to instead invest $100 million in the venture. He was impressed by the technology and believed streaming video would become more popular.

It was a wise bet. Today, Local Now is a thriving free ad-supported streaming service delivering hyper-local news, weather and traffic geo-fenced to the user's zip code, as well as a robust menu of entertainment -- and Allen is loving every minute.

"It has turned out to be something unique," Allen said in a recent interview. "It is growing very rapidly, and it is everyone's favorite price -- free! We have created something that is quite special, informative and entertaining."

The app is simple and easy to navigate, and it authenticates users based on their location. Allen said it is important the Local Now app be easy to use and intuitive, so new users can quickly sign up and explore the content. He wants them to curate personalized experiences that fit their needs and interests. The more content they find interesting, the longer they'll stay and be exposed to Local Now's advertising partners.

Using proprietary software and artificial intelligence, the service delivers local news, weather and traffic to more than 230 markets. Sister company The Weather Channel provides local and national weather. Users can also explore entertainment options, including 10,000+ movies and 300+ specialty channels stocked with TV shows, documentaries and content from media brands like People Magazine, Bloomberg and Kevin Hart's LOL. Local Now is available on the most popular mobile, TV and OTT platforms, including Roku, Apple TV, YouTube TV, SlingTV, Altice, DISH, iOS and Android, as well as its own site.

At a time when more Americans are exploring streaming video, services like Local Now are gaining popularity. Allen said viewership is up 88 percent and growing rapidly. With political conflicts and the COVID-19 pandemic dominating recent headlines, Allen said local news has become more important than ever. Americans are hungry for news about their communities and need reliable sources of information. As extreme summer weather hits most parts of the country, for example, Local Now's weather reports from The Weather Channel provide reliable and timely information.

"Our viewers really appreciate local news and information, and we lean heavily into that," Allen said. "They appreciate optionality. They can get what they want when they want it."

If information draws in users, Allen said they stick around to explore Local Now's entertainment fare. In the near future he wants to add original, scripted programming to further attract viewers. Offering choices and exclusive scripted shows, he noted, will keep viewers in the Local Now universe.

"The digital revolution is fueled by content, content, content, and we want to make sure we have great original content," Allen said. "Local Now is a local experience and we also provide premium TV, movies, documentaries and channels. It is whatever you want it to be."

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