Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 22.
Journalists outside of alt-right circles may be getting a beating from President-elect Donald Trump, but the country's largest media conglomerates nevertheless are doubling down on news.
As Trump took the best-known anchors of the country's biggest television news operations to the woodshed on Monday, it emerged that Disney's (DIS) ABC is in the early stages of preparing to launch a 24-hour digital news service.
While Bloomberg News took steps last week to consolidate its political coverage to focus primarily on what editor-in-chief John Micklethwait called "the nexus between government and business," ABC has decided to go wide and fund the creation of a streaming news platform along the lines of BuzzFeed, Huffington Post and Facebook (FB) Live.
Disney's interest in a digital news operation is an outgrowth of the success that ABC and other networks had in streaming such events as the Democratic and Republican nomination. And while networks often pare down their political coverage once a presidential race ends, the Trump administration appears poised to sustain the kind of peppery news flow that fueled record TV ratings over the past 18 months.
On Monday, Trump summoned TV executives as well as news anchors including Lester Holt, Charlie Rose, George Stephanopoulos and Wolf Blitzer to Trump Tower for an off-the-record gathering that some attendees expected to serve as a detente. Trump, however, reportedly was in full Trump-mode and promptly called out the guardians of TV news for having been "dishonest in their reporting and shortsighted in missing the signs of his upset victory," according to The New York Times.
Variety added that "Trump dressed down top executives and anchors Monday afternoon, reserving particularly harsh words for CNN and NBC News."
A Trump representative was not immediately available for comment.
Regardless of how relations will evolve between Trump and major media over the coming months, attention on this president could serve to sustain the high ratings that propelled Time Warner's (TWX) CNN and 21st Century Fox's (FOXA) eponymous cable TV news network, among others, to high ratings and even higher advertising sales.
ABC News declined comment for this story, but according to a source close to the project, ABC intends to launch the service next year, operating as a part of ABC News, and making it available on digital pay-TV platforms. The most likely suspects include Hulu, which is planning to launch a multichannel streaming service in the first quarter of 2017. As a joint venture between Disney, Fox and Comcast's (CMCSA) NBCUniversal, with Time Warner holding a minority 10% stake, ABC will have some sway on channel selection.
Being that Disney has put some of its channels, most notably ESPN, on Dish Network's (DISH) Sling TV and already has announced it will be a part of AT&T's (T) DirecTV Now, ABC's online news platform could be part of those multichannel streaming services as well.
Importantly, ABC wants to build a news product built for digital devices -- that is, mobile -- heavy on live footage and light on the talking heads that populate the typical cable TV network. Given Monday's meeting between Trump and "several dozen of his campaign's frequent media enablers," in the words of the Poynter Institute's Jim Warren, there appears to be no sign that political interest is ebbing.
For Disney, like its biggest media rivals, that's good news even if the president-elect doesn't like them.