Insight into WRKN’s strategy

As mentioned in my last post, I’ll be talking about WKRN-TV (my client) at Harvard this weekend. I want to share a couple of slides from the talk, and in so doing, reveal a couple of the behind-the-scenes strategies of the station. Understand that we got to this position by thinking strategically and experimenting over the past year.

First up, the back-end of WKRN’s internet technology. The station runs 16 websites, many of them part of the local blogosphere. Everything created by the station for the web is an independent, “discrete” item written in XML for aggregation anywhere. Stories, videos, calendar events, lottery drawings, you name it. They’re all discrete items. If your content management system can’t do this, I encourage you to talk to Harry Hayes at Sausage Software in Seattle about how to do it.

The station’s main Website ( is essentially a highly sophisticated RSS aggregator, taking discrete items from anywhere and displaying them in a useable manner. You can argue about the UI and the way the site is organized, but those are items we’re working on. The point is that this is the future.

Why? Because the same technology that runs the customizable start pages of Web 2.0 applications are in use here. That forces the station to create unbundled items — including video — as part of the daily web workflow. Since each is monetized, we don’t care WHERE they are consumed (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.).

The next slide shows the growth in visitors over the past 12 months for two of the stations websites, Nashville is Talking and Nashville Weather Channel. Nashville is Talking is an aggregator of nearly 400 bloggers from the Nashville area, and the weather site is produced by the stations weather department.

The trendlines here are obvious, and for an industry looking for real growth, they sound a soothing and pleasant refrain. Bear in mind, too, that when you’re in the business of creating discrete items, they can be used anywhere. The contents of the weather site are re-used on the station’s main Website.

I believe every station will need to own its own platform like this, although that won’t stop the WorldNows of the TV station web space from trying to get in on the act. Frankly, they should’ve listened to me years ago.

I brag.


  1. Brag on! I’m really impressed with what WKRN is doing. Having just moved back to TN, I’ve been wondering what was behind what I can discern from the outside as a bold experimentation with multiple content delivery channels (namely — blogs). This was a big help and shows me even more that WKRN is way ahead of the curve.

  2. Hi Terry,

    We’ve had very much the same experience. Our network’s numbers growth has been more or less the same. Your graph is dead on target. By the way thank you for your continued unfailingly accurate analysis of current trends in the mediasphere.

    Take a look at we just got this display up and running and the advertising system is in beta.

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