How Will The Major Streamers Cover The Trump Trial Verdict?

A version of this piece originally appeared in the Too Much TV newsletter.

As I write this, we are in the early stages of deliberations for the Donald Trump trial in New York. Deliberations began on Wednesday and they resumed Thursday after a couple of hours of reading transcripts related to two requests from the jury Wednesday afternoon.

No one knows when there might be a verdict, although Friday isn't out of the question. Obviously, the broadcast networks and cable news channels will be all over the decision. But how will the major streamers cover the decision and its aftermath?

I've tried to get some clarity on that from any of the streamers, without much luck. Responses ranged from "we don't discuss strategy ahead of time" to "sorry, we don't have anyone available to speak with you."

So let's just approach this question from the consumer side. You hear there is a verdict and you decide to click into your favorite major streaming service. What is the bare minimum you should expect to see?

The first thing is live coverage that is easy to find on the home page. Max seems to do this better than the competition, given that it has the streaming-only CNN Max news channel. A link to that coverage cycles on and off of the main home page promo carousel. And it's the first choice on Max's "news" tab.

But the content is often not that compelling. There is some overlap with coverage from parent CNN, but much of the programming is created for the service and that more often than not tends to be pre-produced packages with live anchor wrap-arounds. It will be interesting to see what happens when the verdict is announced, but CNN Max would not be my first choice for breaking news.

On the other hand, despite NBC's long history with news, there isn't much to see on Peacock. There is no tab on the navigation tab for news, and no stand-alone news vertical. I've been told the plan is to push to the streaming-only NBC News Now channel on the home page once a verdict is announced. But right now, the only way to find it is to go into the "channel" tab and scroll down until you find the NBC News Now channel. Which seems awkward? At one point, Peacock had a separate news section, which has subsequently gone away. I am assuming because it proved not to be a popular destination. Still, an overall disappointing effort in a category which should be a strength for Peacock.

Paramount+ has a news tab and that news section may be the most built-out of any of the major streamers. There is a "CBS News" link at the top of the page, along with rows of recent news stories and live feeds of the various CBS O&O's (depending on which Paramount+ plan you subscribe to). You'll also find full episodes of recent editions of the CBS Evening News, 48 Hours and 60 Minutes.

On the upside, the CBS News 24/7 coverage is pretty solid. It draws from both CBS News coverage as well as original streaming content. But I am perplexed by the "America Decides" branding of the network, which you'll see on the network promo blurbs, the network chyrons and even the anchor desk. What does "America Decides" even mean in the context of delivering the news? The implication is "hey, we just pass this stuff along, you decide whether or not it's true." Describing the branding as gutless is a bit harsh. But I would argue it's not far off the mark.

With Hulu and Disney+, they do have access to ABC News Live, which like CBS News 24/7 is a strong streaming only product. But you'll need a guide dog and a treasure map to find it on either service. On Hulu, there isn't a news tab. Instead, you need to go to the "Hubs" section, then scroll down a six or seven horizontal sections to find the ABC News Live thumbnail. 

Disney+ doesn't have live news available at all. If you click into the Hulu tab and scroll down a few rows, you'll find an ABC News tab, but the only content is a number of old ABC News specials.

While Prime Video doesn't have any original live news content, it does carry a wide selection on its "Live TV" section, including CBS News 24/7, ABC News Live, NBC News Now and Live Now From Fox. And that suggests that a lot of streaming viewers would be better off switching over to one of AVOD aggregators such as Prime Video, Pluto TV or Tubi. They will all have a collection of various live news channels, which allow you to find the best coverage without going in and out of the various major streaming apps.

Regardless of what trial result coverage each streamer might have, the barebones, lowest rung of the ladder marketing move should be a breaking news email directly linking to the streamer's live feed. After all, what is the point of having a live news feed if no one knows that it is there?