The Road to Hyper-Local News Holds A Lot Of Potholes

Too much hyper-local news? Or too little real stuff? Maybe someone hasn't figured out the formula yet?

NBC has thrown up its hands, stopping its hyper-local niche web news service,, a service of Poised to offer neighborhood news, EveryBlock was looked at as a way to drill down into news that bigger city-wide newspapers or local TV stations couldn't -- or wouldn't -- cover.

AOL's Patch services play in this same arena. Some of these services might look to have some TV/video content, but mostly they contain text. 

The big issue for any of these services is how to glean new local advertising dollars.

In some ways, this is the same situation with hyper-local TV platforms that run on digital TV spectrum. But those digital signals are focused on broad-based easy-to-obtain TV programming content -- especially reruns, niche Hispanic programming, movies and other TV/video. This can generally be viewed as a safer bet, especially when it comes to getting national or local advertising.



The rub is that local TV news can cost lots of money for editors and for reporters on the ground. The upside for TV stations is that, if moderately successful, these local TV news operations can bring in the lion's share of their local TV advertising dollars.

Local TV executives had somewhat more aggressive plans when the push for hyper-local news – whether via digital signals or Internet-delivered -- took off a couple of years ago. They wanted little neighborhood TV bureaus to pop up, supported by local advertisers that in the past couldn't afford to advertise on local TV news programming.

Many Internet-delivered hyper-local sites focus on modest neighborhood information such as government services.

AOL's Patch may have figured out a different formula than NBC because it says in 2012 it pulled in $40 million -- from some 17 million users across the country via different localized Patch operations. In 2014, Patch is estimated to become profitable, which would be somewhat of a quiet success.

What's the key? One report says "although there are paid positions (editors and sales managers, apparently), other contributors do it for the love of the community." In other words, free content.

Perhaps that's something bigger, more professional NBC may be missing -- or something Patch will be lacking going forward.

3 comments about "The Road to Hyper-Local News Holds A Lot Of Potholes ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, February 8, 2013 at 2:53 p.m.

    The value of content is determined by scarcity. But the Internet killed scarcity. More voice, more choice, and less need for professionals who want to be paid, because too many idle hands will fill the void.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 8, 2013 at 6:33 p.m.

    Local, even when successful, brings in less dollars proportionally to regional and national. Local = churn, churn and more churn because of not paying enough to employees and certainly for non payment. Strong, well paid, talented and trained, dedicated management who live in the area with no designs to leave are needed to be able to handle the churn of people who begin their careers to move on and keep a stable crew. It takes investment, a deep investment to find an audience with an audience to respond to ads. Local businesses, unless they have grudges or don't pay attention (another bump in the road) know from where their customers come. ...Enough for starters here. Overall, national can't handle the pittance of local.

  3. Edmund Singleton from Winstion Communications, February 10, 2013 at 5:44 a.m.

    On any given day one has only to watch any local television news show, in my case the greater New York area, to find out more about what is going on around the world then around the corner on 42nd street...

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