NBC is turning to a popular mobile app in order to revitalize its local news broadcasts. NBC News announced today that it’s partnering with Instagram for all of its local news telecasts. Instagram, a photo taking, filtering, and sharing app that has only being in existence for a little more than a year, has more than 15 million users. Users will be able to share their Instagram photos with NBC, and some of the best ones will be on the local NBC News telecasts around the country.
With this announcement, NBC is clearly trying to stay current with the technology that its users take part in. Instagram has been busy in the headlines as of late. Just last week, Instagram was named 2011’s Top iPhone App by Apple, taking the crown from Hipstamatic. Instagram also announced that the wildly popular app, which had only been available on iOS devices, will be coming to Android in the next few months. With these announcements, Instagram has never been more popular, so it makes sense for NBC to want to enhance its image of being socially relevant by partnering with them.
But while this move makes sense from a social standpoint, it’s still puzzling to try to figure out how this could translate into good TV. The thought of watching a TV show where newscasters show the pictures that other people take is pretty nauseating. Don’t we get enough picture sharing from the passed photo albums at family get-togethers? And, um, Facebook? This feels like a decision that was made purely on brand enhancement instead of what would make for good television. This is reminiscent of ABC News’ decision to partner with Yahoo news a few months ago. While it was smart of ABC to connect with a trusted Internet news source, having Yahoo as part of ABC hasn’t significantly changed the news experience. The headline was worth more than the actual content.
So, memo to NBC: If you want to stay socially relevant, how about putting Community back on the air? Here’s a show that, while lowly rated, has a tremendous social following. There is a lot of fan support online, and NBC’s decision to ‘bench’ the show in January (taking it off the regular schedule, although not cancelling it) has left its fans angry. Instead of reaching for social relevancy with Instagram at the sacrifice of making TV that’s worth watching, how about embracing the products that already are beloved in the same social media? That makes a whole lot more sense to than trying to make a photo service like Instagram work for a TV crowd.