The news: Local television stations are increasingly being presented with new ways to distribute their newscasts and local content via various online channels, and advertising technology is bridging over to help them monetize that extra reach.
Download the recently released NewsOn app and you'll be treated to notifications of breaking news events as well as the capability to stream live broadcasts from local TV news stations around the country. Another app, WatchUp, offers on-demand streams of local newscasts.
Both apps showcase the rapid growth in the availability of local content anywhere, anytime.
Why it matters: What is revolutionary about news-aggregator streaming apps is not just their usefulness to consumers but the new revenue opportunity they open up for local television stations when combined with fast-developing dynamic ad insertion technologies, which can target viewers based on a number of factors such as location, time of day, and type of content watched.
Many stations have a way to live-stream their news broadcasts, some to a greater extent than others, but some have been iffy about increasing their sales staff's focus on the streaming component because the audience either isn't there or can't be reliably measured.
"Live streams and videos are available from these stations via their sites and apps. But the challenge is a lot of people don't know where to go," said Louis Gump, founder and CEO of NewsOn. The company's mobile app live-streams newscasts from more than 118 stations across 90 markets. The service is ad-supported, with a dynamic advertising solution being put into place that would enable those participating stations to insert local ads into the NewsOn advertising mix.
But gaining reach isn't the only component that has to fall into place for local stations to capitalize on the OTT opportunity. Sales and marketing staffs need greater understanding of what they're selling, and how it will benefit the brands that advertise through the station's online outlet.
"Those channels are basically trying to adapt to a new digital ecosystem," said Adriano Farano, co-founder of Watchup. "They weren't about to understand how the Web worked, when the mobile revolution came. And they were learning how mobile worked when the OTT wave hit. So it's always about catching up."
To do that, many local affiliates are working with their parent group or network to make the advertising process easier -- with updated ad platforms, such as that developed by ZypMedia for Sinclair Broadcast Group -- and train personnel.
"Local TV stations are clearly aggressively diversifying their businesses, and building stronger online presences," said Mark Goldman, co-founder and CEO of ZypMedia. He's optimistic about the revenue potential that online video holds for local stations -- not surprising, as his company's platform was built from the ground up specifically to serve local stations' online ad selling needs.
Given the relatively quiet growth of local stations in the online video segment, the industry may not be surprised by their emergence as go-to viewing apps on mobile devices. But they could show a jump in growth in the next year or two that will take industry bystanders by surprise.