Ad-supported streaming news platform Haystack News is announcing a significant expansion ahead of U.S. Election Day. The company this morning introduced 16 24/7 live-streaming news channels, including ABC News Live, CBSN, Al Jazeera, Euronews, Newsmax, Yahoo Finance and several more live local news broadcast stations across the U.S.
These are the first live news channels Haystack News has added to its previously video-on-demand (VOD) only news service.
The expansion follows another recent update to Haystack News that brought its service to more than 350 total news sources, thanks to the addition of Fox owned-and-operated local stations. This change allowed Haystack News to reach 100% of the top 30 DMAs (designated market areas).
With today's update, Haystack News aims to become a one-stop shop for live Election Night coverage, as well -- particularly for cord cutters looking for a service offering a combination of both national and local news coverage.
Haystack News has particularly benefited from the rapid shift to over-the-top streaming and rise of cord cutting.
Earlier this year, the company rebranded from Haystack TV to Haystack News to better reflect its position as a destination for ad-supported video news coverage. And in June, Haystack News reported record growth for its service with "millions" of new users signing up year-to-date, and 145% audience growth year-over-year. It also said the app was on pace to more than double usage in 2020, exceeding millions of hours monthly.
As part of its rebrand, Haystack News updated its app's user interface and rolled out Newsline -- a personalized and dynamic news TV ticker.
Today, Haystack News tells us the company has doubled its net new users for each of the past five years and that number has reached about 3 million users for 2020.
It also offered a new data point, noting for the first time that Haystack News has surpassed 2 billion minutes of news content consumed in 2020.
As a free service, Haystack News is supported through advertising, but claims its ad load is less than of traditional TV. This makes the service appealing to cord cutters in particular, who may have lost access to TV news when they dropped their traditional pay TV subscription and are looking for a free replacement.
While there are a number of ways to access streaming news from a smart TV or streaming media device, Haystack News' advantage is that it now, as of this update, offers a variety of content -- including both on-demand and live-streaming news, and both national and local news coverage.
However, the company tells us its larger competitive advantage will continue to be how it personalizes the news to the end users -- a feature that will help to differentiate itself from other streaming rivals, it says.
Haystack News is offered across a range of smart TVs, including Hisense, LG, Samsung, Sony, TCL and Vizio Smart TVs, as well as on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Roku and Android and iOS mobile devices. On the web, it's available at haystack.tv.
To date, Haystack News has raised $6.5 million, including its most recent round of funding that closed in 2019. The service is backed by AltaIR Capital, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Stanford University’s StartX Fund, SVLinks, Uhuru Capital and Zorlu Ventures.