MEMO to local television

A lot of people at BlogNashville asked me what I do for a living. Good question. I try to help local television stations advance their business models in the digital age. Most stations, however, just don’t understand why that’s so bloody important, so it’s not making me rich (yet).

So in the name of recruiting, here’s a little free advice.

This sentence from a recent JupiterMedia press release about more young people getting their news from the Web is significant:

Preference for online local news is growing, but hasn’t exceeded 10% among online adults.
This poses a question for local stations: If your online efforts are directed at a news audience, what about the other 90% of Internet users in your market? This is precisely what stations don’t “get,” and why I work with them to build business models outside the local news market.

One of the most important thoughts in recent memory came from former FCC Chairman Michael Powell:

Application separation is the most important development in communications history, and it will change things forever.
This means it is no longer necessary for a communications application to be connected to its own delivery system. It’s possible to “ride” someone else’s infrastructure, and this is precisely what’s happening in, for example, the blogosphere. The application (blog) is riding the infrastructure of the Web. The same is true for video blogs and a whole host of other disruptive innovations that are chipping away at the business viability of local television.

So my question to stations is this: Rather than just sit back and let this happen, why aren’t you exploring the positive side of application separation? Build new businesses and use them to generate revenue. Use the reach/frequency of your station to market these businesses?

Makes sense to me.


  1. Kevin Newman says

    As cheesy as the commercials are, WKRN’s seems a good example of what you are talking about. By running the (free?) TV ads during the local newscast, they get the URL in the minds of lots of Nashvillians for cheap. The actual content gathering has been outsourced to Premier Guide, so I can’t imagine that this costs very much to run.

    As for online news, I am one of the 10% who prefer it over TV news because i control the programming (by skipping stories that bore me) and the depth of coverage (by reading as far into the inverted pyramid as I’d like, and clicking on follow-up links).

    TV stations seems bent on winning news viewers by showing something “first” rather than best, even when the story is run just a few minutes before the competition. The “live from a parking lot” shots are insulting. For example, I would prefer to be getting actual information on the issues surrounding something that happened at the state legislature rather than seeing a night time exterior shot of the capitol LIVE LIVE LIVE from a parking lot. Save the live coverage for something that is actually happening and give me information or visuals that I can’t get elsewhere.

    And while I realize that the TV newscasts are time-limited (thanks, lottery!), the TV station web sites could do better than posting the exact same information that was on the TelePrompTer. Use the internet as a supplement to the newscast, not just an additional delivery medium for the same stuff.

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