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Mobile & Connected TV Offerings Extend Local TV Stations

Mobile and Connected TV Offerings Naturally Extend Local TV Stations’
Relevance, Leadership, and Opportunity

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Nearly 90 percent of Americans say they follow local news closely, and when they do, local TV stations are their No. 1 choice. That is according to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, “Local News in a Digital Age,” which provides some of the latest analysis showing how much TV stations continue to inform and influence consumers.

But that following does not mean station owners can rest on their laurels. Just the opposite: The media landscape is changing around us, and there is a lot of work to do.

In fact, the very definition of TV is evolving. Television was once primarily defined by a big rectangular box that could be found in places like a living room or restaurant. Now however, it is less about the size and type of the device than it is by the presence of high-quality streaming video content.  The viewer’s decision about what screen to use (and what app to use) is based on convenience and availability, and increasingly that choice doesn’t involve a traditional TV set. Savvy TV station groups already understand this paradigm shift and are adapting their approaches accordingly.

To maintain and grow their lead – and thus their revenue – TV stations need to strengthen their presence on smartphones, tablets and connected TV devices in multiple ways so they can accommodate changing viewing habits. For example, a mobile app enables stations literally to be at their viewers’ fingertips wherever they go: during the daily commute, at work and on vacation, to name just a few places where they often don’t have access to a traditional TV set.

And even when a traditional TV is nearby, some viewers can’t watch when their local newscast airs. To the extent that stations’ mobile apps and connected TV services give viewers the option of choosing live and on-demand streams, they can catch those newscasts at a time that’s convenient for them. This means they get what they want, when they want it.

Mobile and connected TV products enable stations to serve their viewers anytime and anywhere, on the screen that is most convenient, so they increase relevance. This usage also enhances their attractiveness to advertisers because they can deliver an audience throughout more of the day rather than in just a few time slots.

Although most TV stations now have one or more station-branded mobile apps that have considerable appeal, these alone are simply not enough alone to sustain market share. They meet the needs of just a portion of the audience. Web properties are also relevant, but only partially meet consumer demand as well. To be most successful, and build their marketing funnel, TV stations also need to address the needs of people who want their content but will not (at least at first) download their standalone app.

When many consumers want a new app, they look first in places like Apple’s App Store, Google Play or the Roku Channel Store. This approach can work reasonably well when consumers already know a station’s call letters or have established strong brand loyalty. But it is often ineffective if a user is simply searching for local news generally, if they are looking for live news at that particular time, or they otherwise have interest in a particular location. So while these stores are configured in ways that work well for national media outlets, the inherently fragmented local TV landscape puts stations at a distinct disadvantage in terms of promotion and distribution on a wide, national scale.  This is especially true for younger viewers who have less brand knowledge but a strong desire to stay on top of what is happening in a given city.

TV stations have a chance to excel by building a multi-layered mobile and connected TV strategy that includes both standalone apps and strong presence in a broader offering. These newer platforms like phones, tablets and connected TVs present an opportunity to deploy existing content in new ways, to vary ad delivery by platform and even to experiment with new content packages. KSTP

In the headlong rush to all things new and digital, it is easy to discount incumbents. And to be sure, established companies have limitations in their ability to innovate if they solely seek to preserve what has been. On the other hand, local TV stations have notable and unique assets including their on-the-ground journalists, active connections with local advertisers and brand loyalty that actually means something, even in a world of media disruption. When the severe weather comes through town, guess where many people turn? When breaking news happens in local government, local news covers it. Local TV stations do not have an unassailable birthright, yet they do have extraordinary advantages including fundamentally broad video capabilities. If they counter a risk of complacency with a commitment to innovation accompanied by sound business practices, they build on these serious advantages and provide great public benefit.

Local TV is not less relevant than before. If anything, it has never been more relevant. Many of us have simply migrated to multi-screen access for our preferred news sources each day. This brings some good news for companies that are committed to great news content that people care about. At its best, TV set presence strengthens mobile device usage, and mobile device availability in turn reinforces brand preference- and usage- on the TV set.

To achieve their true potential, stations must continue to achieve resonance with viewers in a world that is rapidly evolving with digital innovation.  Many of the most influential people associated with local TV see this from various perspectives, and are committed to being where the viewers are. Pew’s survey is just one example of the research showing that most consumers still perceive their local stations as trusted and credible sources of news and information.

Many TV stations have navigated successfully through successive innovation cycles. Now, mobile and connected TV devices enable them to reach even larger audiences with compelling content, ensuring that the best days for local TV news are still ahead- on any screen.

By Louis Gump

Broadcast Beat - Production Industry Resource