Could Local TV News Morph Into A Digital Media OTT Service?

New digital media platforms by virtually all traditional media continues to climb -- local TV stations included.

Much effort has been focused on low-yielding websites, social media pages, and other platforms. The problem is that it doesn't look like TV.

New independent digital media platforms don’t compete with established local TV station groups for local news content. Now, some TV station groups, such as CBS, are amping up news coverage, with live, local video streaming OTT services.

CBS is starting CBSN New York, the first major local market streaming service featuring news content from its New York-based outlets: WCBS and WLNY. This move follows CBSN, the national digital CBS news service launched in 2014.

Many TV station group owners have talked about the lackluster expansion when it comes to growing digital media advertising revenues.



Here’s the bottom line: Traditional local TV advertising is expected to rise around 6% to $18.2 billion this year; with digital advertising gaining around the same level — 6.3% — to $1.1 billion, according to lBIA Advisory Services.

Digital revenue should be increasing more. Think of what digital media advertising growth -- 30%, 40% or more per year -- has been regularly for Google, Facebook and others established digital media companies; 6% isn't a good number.

What accounts for this number, if TV station owners/managers say local TV has more to offer than digital? Does this come from misunderstanding the digital marketplace, or just a misallocation of sources, still favoring traditional linear TV business?

For a long time, on its live, linear outlets, TV stations have increased their news programming content as a way to maximize revenues from established news production costs. Now, all this seems firmly myopic when looking at the future.

Here’s the good news about establishing a live, local TV news OTT site: younger news viewers. Nearly 80% of CBSN’s viewers are between the ages of 18 and 49, with an average age of 38.

True, we don’t know the specifics around reach and scale of CBSN. But overall, these numbers show promise. CBSN’s average monthly viewers have grown nearly 30% year-over-year in 2018.

That 30% is a strong growth number, what digital media expects with these days.

So while looking to break a few news stories, more TV stations should also be looking to break a few business molds.

7 comments about "Could Local TV News Morph Into A Digital Media OTT Service?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 17, 2018 at 10:07 a.m.

    To answer the headline's question---maybe.

    The traditional TV programming "Establishment" is rife with programming content of many types that will be launched into the OTT/streaming subscriber arena. Local news is simply the most obvious one but there are many more--- talking head shows of all descriptions, cooking shows, many reality formats, soap operas, game shows, sports, specials, newsmags, celebrity doings, etc., etc. as well as repeats of old network classics of the sort one sees on YouTube---Jackie Gleason, Sid Caesar, Ed Sullivan, etc. etc. The list of possibilities is almost endless and sooner or later maost will be repackaged for OTT, thrown against "the wall"" of consumer interest---and resistance----and some will stick while others won't.

  2. Stan Valinski from Multi-Media Solutions Group, December 17, 2018 at 3:02 p.m.

    Agree with Ed's MAYBE...with millenials advancing into more mature management jobs and successfully guiding startups into more complex business situations I think millenials will realize the importance of "knowing everyrhing that going on around them. They will find it neceassary to have constant flows of "breaking news" just to keep up with their competitors. With network affiliated news having branded itself as a credible source it will be the go to for hyper local content. I see a good future for OTT/streaming as long as someone else does not "build a better mousetrap" and take over the whole sector.

  3. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, December 17, 2018 at 10:55 p.m.

    This is long overdue.  Local news is a key content asset and there is much to gain, in long term, for a stronger OTT station presence, particularly if you want to have a chance at cultivating younger viewers.  Curious, Stan;  Which companies could possibly "build a better mousetrap?"  Cost of entry and sustainability in the news sector pretty high.

  4. Stan Valinski from Multi-Media Solutions Group, December 18, 2018 at 2:33 a.m.

    I'd say let Apple and the other creative behemoths battle it out for functionaity and the winner buys/merges with the most derirable network's news assets James...or maybe Elon Musk and his team have a go at it!

  5. Ron Stitt from Digitec Global Advisors replied, December 19, 2018 at 5:37 p.m.

    I’m literally working on this right now in my new role as head of OTT Product (SBTV) at Syncbak.  Everything discussed here, in a vessel designed for local TV industry collaboration to create the scale necessary in the FAANG era.  Stations will be hearing a lot more about this soon but in the meantime, happy to discuss.

  6. Ron Stitt from Digitec Global Advisors replied, December 19, 2018 at 5:39 p.m.

    Local TV partners are a great way for these content owners to reach OTT audiences.  At Syncbak, we’re actively laying the foundation for all of this right now.

  7. Tom Tyler from GCTVTexas, December 19, 2018 at 10:16 p.m.

    " New independent digital media platforms don’t compete with established local TV station groups for local news content."
    That's about to change rapidly here! :D

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