News 12, the local news service from Altice USA, which has been seen on Altice’s Optimum cable TV service, also will be carried on Verizon’s Fios cable system beginning in November. Verizon had been offering the Fios1 News services produced by RNN in Rye Brook to subscribers in Westchester, Long Island and New Jersey. The 10-year contract between Verizon and RNN is ending Nov. 15 and will not be renewed. Verizon originally said it would be ending discrete local news services for its subscribers.
As announced by Verizon and Altice on Sept. 4, Fios customers will have access to the News 12 feeds in the lower Hudson Valley, New Jersey and Long Island. Early next year, the service will be picked up by Verizon in Connecticut, Brooklyn, the Bronx and areas of the Hudson Valley not already covered.
Early in 2020, the announcement said, Fios customers will be offered i24News, an Altice news service covering international and national news, which has a U.S. operation while being based in Tel Aviv. They also will be offered Altice’s Cheddar service, a business news network.
At almost the same time Verizon and Altice were issuing their announcement, a group of local, state and federal elected officials gathered at New Rochelle City Hall for a news conference designed to put pressure on Verizon to reopen talks with RNN to keep the Fios1 News service alive.
News 12 had been operating long before Altice acquired Optimum, which had been known as Cablevision, from the previous owners, the Dolan family. When Verizon started the build-out of its fiber optic system, Fios, the availability of local news, traffic and weather from News 12 was promoted as an important reason for subscribers to stay with Cablevision and not go over to Fios.
Altice recently provided the Business Journal with some statistics regarding News 12. It was said to be the main source of local news among adults in the New York tristate area, according to a March 2019 study from the Pew Research Center. The study, based on a survey of approximately 35,000 adults across the United States, focused on how Americans learn about and consume local news in their communities. In response to an open-ended question, News 12 Networks was named the main source of local news in the New York tristate area by more respondents than any other local news source in the area, including all major local broadcast affiliates, and twice as many times as the next leading network.
News 12 was determined to be the most viewed TV network in Optimum households, and, in 2018, News 12 Long Island had its best morning ratings ever. Additionally, according to Optimum set top box data, News 12 grew ratings while the industry average was flat to down.
According to the ratings firm Nielsen, in the first quarter of 2019, News 12 experienced its sixth consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth in the Monday through Friday 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. daypart among adults aged 25 to 54 and saw a 20% increase in ratings over the same quarter during the last year among adults aged 25 to 54 during the Monday through Friday 6 to 9 a.m. daypart.
Altice said it continued to invest in growing News 12 distribution and coverage over the last couple years. In 2019, the company expanded farther into areas of southern New Jersey; in 2018 the company expanded News 12 Hudson Valley to Dutchess, Putnam, and Ulster counties. In 2017, it had expanded to Optimum subscribers in Litchfield, Connecticut, and to Charter Spectrum subscribers across Connecticut.