“Innertube” leaves local affiliates in a rip tide

So CBS has launched a broadband channel (innertube). This should surprise no one, since Viacom owns CBS and Viacom channels MTV (overdrive) and Comedy Central (motherload) have similar broadband channels. It’s a smart move by CBS, but once again, what about the affiliates? MTV and Comedy Central are CABLE channels and not bound by affiliate arrangements, but not so with the tiffany network (what the heck is a network anymore anyway?).

This is just further evidence that local affiliates are facing downstream irrelevance, and at the risk of sounding repetitive, let me summarize a few statements I’ve been making about local affiliates for several years.

  • The only thing of real value you have is your local franchises. Now is the time to invest in creating more, and since the barriers to entry are significantly lower online, DO IT THERE!
  • It’s also time to move those franchise to the Web in a way that intersects with what’s really taking place here. Unbundling yourself is the only way you’ll really be positioned to compete in the years to come. The days of “driving” traffic to portal websites are on the wane.
  • Always think local and regional. Knowledgeable and extremely flexible outside players can’t compete here, unless you let them. Give it all you’ve got in meeting the information and entertainment needs of your LOCAL audience, and for crying out loud, stop thinking you’re just a TV station.
  • Streamline all of your internal processes. For news, that means incorporating the tools of the personal media revolution. Yes, I’m talking VJs. This is no longer an option, folks. Local television no longer requires the Hollywood tactics of days gone by. Individual, multi-skilled video journalists will simply be better equipped to compete downstream, and now is the time to start developing systems and work flow for tomorrow.
  • Retool your engineering and production departments. Your online technology is where growth is, and I’m amazed at how few stations are equipped — from a personnel standpoint — to deal with this. You need at least one hot programmer, a Flash artist, and a crackerjack web designer/developer. It’s past time to up your onboard geek quotient.
We are in the midst of an unstoppable business disruption for local television, and the only way to find downstream profitability is to embrace the disruption itself. There IS a future, and it’s looking more and more like it may not involve a network affiliation.

Denial isn’t (just) a river in Egypt.


  1. Let me hear an AMEN!!!

  2. None of those broadband channels seems to work on a Mac…
    The #1 thing I want from local affiliates is an emphasis on the local. I can get national news faster and better somewhere else, but the locals have an opportunity to serve up local content. Maybe they could have hosted video of the M’boro jazz fest, for example. What else?

  3. I haven’t been up to anything recently. I haven’t gotten anything done today. I just don’t have much to say lately. Such is life. I don’t care.

  4. Great points. On the technology front, it’s critical to get geeks who aren’t married to one platform (especially Windows), but rather are married to the Net and the Web as platforms. Stations need to re-anchor their frame of reference to the Net itself. The Net’s native protocols and standards are the open airwaves of the present and future.

    Flash is not one of them, by the way. It’s fun, and can run on multiple platforms, but ususally it’s a PITA. Code video in an open format, not owned by anybody. Mark up text with HTML and/or XML. Minimize fancy javascript. Use a sensible directory schema that future geeks working on the system can understand, and where old posts won’t be 404’d when some other CMS gets chosen down the road.

    I could go on, but you get the point.

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