TEGNA, the ABC owned-and-operated stations and Hearst are producing exclusive series for the social platform’s video-on-demand service.


Hearst TV’s “Dispatches from the Middle” brings local stories to a national audience on Facebook Watch

Leveraging big opportunity to expand digital reach and tap new revenue while doing so, local broadcast groups have joined big-name national news outlets in producing original programming for Facebook Watch, the video-on-demand offering the social giant rolled out in 2017.

Hearst, TEGNA and the ABC-owned television stations have all launched exclusive news series on the platform, offerings that harness the groups’ local journalism prowess but are designed to resonate with viewers across the country.

TEGNA’s weekly program, “An Imperfect Union,” for instance, addresses the divisiveness wracking the country by bringing together two individuals with opposing views for a project in their communities. Episodes have centered on contentious issues including the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, #MeToo movement and athletes kneeling during the national anthem.

The ABC station group’s “More in Common” also offers some reprieve to the country’s current state of acrimony, featuring stories of Americans of very different backgrounds finding common ground. One episode is about a striking friendship between a former member of the KKK and a Muslim refugee.

Hearst Television’s “Dispatches from the Middle,” meanwhile, expands the reach of local journalism. Featuring stories from Hearst stations in 26 markets, the series offers community news with universal appeal.

Publishing on the platform gives station groups the chance to open new revenue streams as well as audiences. Facebook helps fund the productions and shares ad revenue with Watch publishers.

“As it is with all new things in the digital and social media landscape, Facebook Watch is an interesting and very intriguing experiment to keep a close eye on,” said Andy Fitzgerald, Hearst Television’s vice president of digital content. “The partnership with Facebook gives us a chance to experiment on the platform.”