New media executive Steve Safran said at Promax that the best way for local TV stations to grow in the Internet space is to establish brand names that are not affiliated with their own local TV stations.
That sounds a bit radical--especially when TV stations have built up long-time brand names with their call letters. Safran is basically saying to stations: Start over again, and viewers will come running.
If you are Hulu--and you have big show brand names, such as "The Office," "House," "24" and "Heroes"--then you have something to offer.
But local TV stations' news sites may not have the kind of brand appeal with programs. What can they offer--local news anchor personalities and exclusive stories? How can this be translated into a new Internet business?
Safran also notes that TV station affiliates are getting hurt by the bigger, more national video players and sites. Viewers are now going around local stations to watch on the big video players on Hulu.com and other sites.
The name Hulu sounds fun, new and different. Local stations might want to do likewise. But the road will be a lot longer to success. The last thing they should do is completely abandon the lone advantage they may have left in the Internet space--that of their brand name.
If a TV station affiliate hasn't been doing that well, perhaps a name change would be in order. Perhaps to younger viewers, a local station may be a turn-off. Perhaps part of a station's call letter can be attached to the new Internet site.
If a local TV station calls its Web site WahooTulsaNewsie.com, perhaps this might say something to someone. I'm not sure what. But then more marketing dollars and time will have to go into describing what that is, and why I would need to go there as a trusted news source.