Before COVID-19 turned the world completely upside down, VGTV started a new and innovative project, not knowing how useful it would become when a global pandemic created a huge demand for news.
Our project began when Google Home launched its smart assistant in Norway back in 2018. Google provided us with a vehicle to create what has become a unique and extremely efficient multi-use news product. The VG News (VG Nyheter) concept has generated enormous reach and impact, especially in reaching younger audiences.
As a teenager, I got really bored while watching news on the TV. The ultra-professional studio environment felt distant and the stiff, and the formally dressed news anchor spoke with an unrelatable vocabulary.
VGTV wanted to change how news is presented. We waved goodbye to the traditional anchor and the impersonal studio, and introduced young, professional journalists speaking directly to the audience accompanied by modern and dynamic infographics.
In 2020, people keep up to date by using Snapchat or asking Google Home for the latest news. It is important for VG to provide the news on relevant platforms that people will use for years to come. With 3.7 million daily users, as of Q1 2020, VG is the No. 1 destination for news in Norway. To maintain this position we believe it is crucial to stay ahead of technology.
From audio to multi-use news
When Google Home launched in Norway, VG was eager to provide news on the smart speaker. Video journalists from VGTV were tasked with making audio news updates every hour, even though they had no experience within radio production. Due to Google Home having few users in Norway, our work proved to be unsustainable.
After making 2,703 audio news updates, we had to rethink our process. Instead of only creating audio for a really small audience, we developed a multi-functional product. We created VG News: A one-minute news show that is constantly updated throughout the day. The broadcast can be consumed in several ways, depending on your device. At the same time VG News works as:
- A regular video with audio.
- A muted video.
- Audio only.
This allows us to publish our news on seven different platforms all at the same time. By developing our audio news for Google Home to video news that works on multiple platforms, we have expanded our reach from just a couple of thousands to a total of over 2.7 million daily users. Considering Norway is a country of only 5 million inhabitants, our news product has achieved an incredible reach.
Creating a one-man show
The coolest thing about VG News is its efficiency, thanks to our team of exceptionally clever video journalists. When on duty, one video journalist is responsible for the entire process of creating VG News. This includes selecting the stories, writing the script, handling the camera, being a news anchor, editing and adding graphics, and, of course, publishing.
As the coronavirus situation spread, it changed both the demand for news and the way we worked. Now, many of our video journalists are working from home, which has made VG News even more intimate.
We saw significant increases in users from March to April, and VG News has played an important role in reaching young people. After the coronavirus turned Norway upside down, people’s need for news has increased tremendously. As a result, users keep coming back for more.
Snapchat and other concepts
Over 200,000 teenagers and young adults watch our news shows on Snapchat daily. Most of them are between 13 and 24 years old. Since the coronavirus outbreak began, our channel has grown 30% and the number of loyal users (people who watch the show 5-7 times a week) doubled from March to April.
During the development of VG News, other concepts also emerged. For instance, we launched a concept called VG Explains, where we explain complex news stories in a way that aims to reach a younger audience. Our data shows that they often prefer VG Explains compared to written articles about the same subjects.
By developing our product from an audio-only service for just a couple of thousand users to a multi-functional product that works on multiple platforms, we are maximising our reach. This allows us to keep experimenting with new ways to provide news in 2020.