A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote and produced some health news segments for NBC’s TODAY Show for medical correspondent Dr. Holly Atkinson. This was pre-social media, pre-internet, an age where nobody had e-mail. We sent faxes or used snail mail. If Bryant Gumbel didn’t like one of our stories, it got bumped into oblivion. There was no CNBC, no MSNBC and a lot of times the story wouldn’t even make the network affiliates feed. It was gone.

Nowadays, nothing goes to waste, and the focus is increasing on the OTT viewer—the person who may be watching the TODAY Show segment on his or her mobile phone or tablet. This is changing our concept of how news and lifestyle information is not only consumed but also how it is generated in the first place. (see my previous blog on OTT, “Over the Top Television”)

NBC’s TODAY now spans four hours of live TV every day. But increasingly important is the 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it’s available on the internet.

Ashley Parrish. the Executive Producer of TODAY.com, the digital platform for the long-running Emmy Award winning NBC morning show, shared her strategy this week at NATPE in Miami.

Ashley noted that the digital journalist is part artist and part scientist. The artist part involves the quality of the writing and multimedia content; the scientist is the person who tracks engagement and reach data in real time. Imagine the print journalist automatically knowing how many copies of the paper were going to be sold based on the article he or she was about to write. Measurement is very different now. The key metric for NBC’s Facebook page is the “share”—if people are “sharing” a TODAY story, they are engaging and influencing others as a trusted third party.

While a guest segment on the TODAY Show may run three to five minutes, the guests themselves are usually at the studio for an average of 2 hours. NBC is working on ways to use that time productively on its social media channels, to build engagement. That’s part of the thinking about the Orange Room part of the show and the website/social pages—that’s where the most ready to go viral content is featured and interaction is encouraged. So the Orange room is both a part of the set, but also part of the virtual world and a bridge to the OTT viewer.

While much focus is on curating UGC (user generated content), this window of availability provides a terrific opportunity for IGC (influencer generated content). If you quality to be a TODAY show guest, you are automatically considered to be an “influencer.”

Since it debuted this month in 1952, TODAY has always been an innovator (though not always in first place thanks to GMA) and it’s always interesting to see how the format is evolving, particularly in an age where so many consumers are “cutting the cord” and living without satellite dishes, cable boxes and antennas. The research indicates TODAY is staying engaged with its OTT viewers, even after they have cut the cord. Questions, comments, thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.