TV news is changing – and it’s changing fast. Its audience is splintering as quick as headlines are generated and local TV management is racing to figure out ways to catch up and, in some cases, just to stand still.
In 2012, local affiliates for Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS lost more than 6% of their audience in the important early morning, evening and late night slots. And even with record-high spending on political advertising in 2012, ad revenue for local television stations was well below the levels of the last decade.2
But at the same time, local news is still a very attractive proposition. Tribune is looking to get out of the newspaper business and focus on television, the same step Media General took in 2012 when it sold its newspapers, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, to become an entirely broadcast and digital media company. “Their focus is on the local markets,” Stephen Hayes, general manager of WTVR, said of Tribune. “What you don’t want is a broadcast group that is concerned with things other than Richmond, because that is who we are serving. They have definitely reinforced that.”1
With younger people tuning out local newscasts, there is growing concern that local TV news may be facing some of the financial challenges that have already battered the newspaper industry. And even as local TV newscasts seem to be doubling down on sports, traffic and weather, there are an ever increasing number of digital sources outside of television that provide that kind of information on demand.2
Ah, digital. That old (new) chestnut. So why should you – and more importantly how can you – take your local news and increase viewers by using the web to your advantage?
Today’s viewing habits are centered on convenience. Viewers have more devices to enable watching the content they want, from wherever they are, at any time. Content reaches viewers through a variety of methods. Viewers watch TV channels via direct-to-home services, paid satellite, cable, and IPTV services. In addition to these more traditional delivery means, consumers are also accessing content via online channels that provide content 24/7. These services mimic traditional TV in an online fashion. Users can choose from a variety of channels and watch round-the-clock programming.3 And that’s just what you want for your business, right? So in order to grow, you’ll need to expand digitally.