The cog at the centre of it all: a look at the Newshub app

Sometimes I wonder why we download mobile news apps and allow oft depressing and sensationalist headlines to be zapped to our phones to give us bursts of misery and existentialist angst throughout the day. But we’re suckers for it, we want to know what’s going on when it’s going on, and the major news outlets know this (they also know our phones are practically glued to our hands or pocket insides). Which is why MediaWorks has wasted no time in launching a dedicated Newshub app with all the bells and whistles, which, 18 hours after it launched became the most popular app downloaded from the App Store.

The app, available for iPhone and Android, has the same BBCesque aesthetics as its newly launched Newshub website and branding and offers “a deeper look behind the day’s headlines”, according to a release.

The app purports to provide the latest news stories, up-to-the-minute coverage, breaking news alerts and high-quality videos.

With the app, users can live-stream Newshubs’s products like Paul Henry, Newshub Midday, Newshub Live at 6pm and Newshub Late in the evening.

Like most news apps there are categories for local news, world news, politics, sport, entertainment, health and money. There is also ‘News at a Glance’ which highlights the major stories of the day and breaking news stories.

MediaWorks head of digital news Jono Hutchison says he is really happy with how the app is tracking so far. lnitial traffic is outstanding and we’re delighted with the downloads and engagement so far.”

He says that while precise information is not yet available, within 18 hours of its launch it was not only the most popular news app, but the most popular app downloaded overall, with a five-star rating.

He says the app is available to over 138 countries and can be used wherever internet connection is available. “Where there are restrictions on playing back shows in other territories or outside New Zealand, these are honoured as you would expect and some content may not be available for viewing in that particular country.”

The app has been optimised for use on Apple’s iPhone range with at least iOS8 and Android with at least OS4.2 or better.

“Newshub is available on most browsers and is mobile responsive, so if a viewer uses different mobile equipment, as long as they have a browser and can get the Internet, they should be able to get their news and video.”

He says the previous 3News app, was developed a few years ago, when smartphones were still evolving. The screen resolution was lower, and the onscreen text was larger. “It was great for the time, worked very well in supporting viewers with news on the go, and reflected the design thinking of the day.”

But, aside from radio, TV and the web, MediaWorks was aware people have become busier and there is a lot of information out there, he says, the app has been designed to take advantage of this.

“Summarising and presenting news for viewers in an easy quick-to-consume form, with less on screen but more information, meant a new app and layout was required.”

To advertise the app he says MediaWorks has invited existing 3News users to choose the Newshub brand as their source for news, and has integrated the app into all of its campaign messaging.

MediaWorks has also launched a major campaign promoting the Newshub launch.

“We have added a very specific layer to invite our audience to download the Newshub app, including a call-to-action across all of our radio Newshub bulletins, in excess of 190 a day, and specific spots for television, digital and social,” he says.

“We created a key influencer strategy using our journalist and talent to assist us and the response to this has been phenomenal.”

In addition to digital, social, radio and television reach, it is also using OOH for external digital reach.

The iPhone and Android applications were developed with Alphero Ltd, working with MediaWorks staff for integration of content and advertising engines, Hutchison says.

“Design development of the app was aligned with the overall brand development, led by MediaWorks creative director Ant Farac and his team.”

Last July TVNZ released its app One News Now which similarly banks on immediacy and video content and also has more of an international, global news-style look.

It’s detrimental for news publishers to travel to their audience and be across multiple touchpoints and Kiwis on the whole really enjoy using smartphones.

According to Research New Zealand, in 2014 around 90 percent of Kiwis owned at least one type of mobile device and 64 percent of us preferred our smartphones over any other type of device.

And unlike other types of devices—and different media channels—that have usage spikes during different day parts, surveys like TNS’ Mobile Life show that, even in New Zealand, mobile usage remains steady and relatively high throughout the day. 

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