How NBC News' 'Stay Tuned' Cracked the Code to Getting Young People Into News

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How NBC News’ ‘Stay Tuned’ Cracked the Code to Getting Young People Into News

The Snapchat show celebrates four years Monday, but is really celebrating 1 million daily viewers

Are the keys to appealing to young, would-be news consumers telling them stories about people their age and covering topics that appeal just to them? NBC News’ “Stay Tuned,” the Snapchat Discover show that celebrated its fourth anniversary Monday, bets that it is: A scroll through recent episodes reveals coverage of a suspected poisoning at a music festival, the appeal of Y2K fashion for people too young to remember the 2000s and “cannabis-related degrees” — which are branded “the hot new thing.”

After producing 2,500 episodes — more than any other show on the Discover platform — “Stay Tuned” has emerged as one of the most-watched news shows on Snapchat with 10.5 million subscribers. All told, nearly 1 million viewers watch each twice-daily episode, on average, and 91% are under the age of 35.

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“It’s essential to our success that we really get​ our audience,” executive producer Angela Grande told TheWrap, noting recent stories on going to college or finding a first job. “We do that by meeting them on the platforms they’re on, observing how they interact, paying attention to conversations they’re having, issues they feel personally connected to. Our team focuses on all parts of this generation’s experience — from trends to personal struggles to what their future holds.”

Maya Eaglin, a 2019 graduate of Elon University who joined Savannah Sellers as co-host last year, said the show fills a gap for young viewers pressed for time. “A lot of young people aren’t scheduling time to watch the news every evening,” she said. “However, I believe being able to catch up with what’s going on, whenever you want, is a huge pull-factor for our audience — as it was for me when I was a viewer of ‘Stay Tuned’ before working with the team.”

Sellers — who worked as an executive assistant five years ago — noted how the show approaches topics “without pandering” to young viewers. Sellers even said viewers have begun “to reach out to us hosts individually and tell us they wanted to go into journalism because of the show or just ask us where we got our glasses.”

Eaglin stressed the importance of speaking to viewers on their terms. “‘Stay Tuned’ is unique in that we go to our audience, meeting them where they are,” she said. “The show is super accessible, and we make it a point to use everyday language to tell important stories.” (That checks out: Even the titles of episodes use words like “gonna” and abbreviate “because” as “bc,” as any teen typing a message to a friend on Snapchat might.)

While Eaglin noted young people aren’t scheduling time to catch up on the news, “Stay Tuned” has a high retention rate: Over 70% of viewers watch twice a week and over 50% watch three or more times per week. Young people are leading the cord-cutting revolution, but the show’s team is hopeful that that the Generation Z and millennial viewers they’ve attracted with will stay connected to NBC News even after they’ve aged out of Snapchat use.

“A goal of ours since day one has been to build a relationship with younger news consumers and introduce them to the NBC News brand,” Grande said. “Our hope is they’ll become loyal to us — and remain a part of the NBC family as they grow, eventually turning to other NBC platforms — as they enter future chapters of their lives.”

Whether the Snapchat audience turns into a brand-loyal one over time remains to be seen, but the team is proud of them either way. “There’s a terrible misconception that the younger generations don’t have an interest in news. It’s simply not true. We all want to know what’s going on in our world,” Eaglin said.