Local video finally gets momentum

“Consumers won’t want to go to three different places for local news in video, text, and audio forms.”

There have long been predictions about local news organizations embracing more video content. And there have been lots of disappointments. The infamous Facebook “pivot to video” — and the related havoc visited on newsrooms — springs to mind.

But as often happens, those failed initial experiments may have just been too early. Different times can present better opportunities, and I think we’re entering such a moment for local video.

The fundamental arguments remain. Local linear TV, with all of its advertising, is being seriously challenged by cable cord-cutting. People love to consume online video and local publishers have a lot of important stories to tell. And necessity has pushed many publishers to become more experimental with their digital products. Much broader delivery of video news is a natural and obvious growth opportunity. (There are similar opportunities in podcasting and other audio forms, although the terrestrial radio market will follow a different trajectory than local TV.)

But we don’t know yet what the very best video formats will look like. It won’t be two people behind a desk and a weatherman in front of a map. It will be in forms native to the online environment. Newsday, as just one example, is trying some really innovative things with a wide variety of video products.

I really do believe that full embrace of video and audio — along with the whole range of text products, including newsletters — will drive a new age of growth for many local publishers. Consumers won’t want to go to three different places for local news in video, text, and audio forms. And even though local news publishing is very stressed at the moment, it’s actually the segment that is best positioned to develop fully integrated local news products that win.

David Chavern is president and CEO of News Media Alliance.

There have long been predictions about local news organizations embracing more video content. And there have been lots of disappointments. The infamous Facebook “pivot to video” — and the related havoc visited on newsrooms — springs to mind.

But as often happens, those failed initial experiments may have just been too early. Different times can present better opportunities, and I think we’re entering such a moment for local video.

The fundamental arguments remain. Local linear TV, with all of its advertising, is being seriously challenged by cable cord-cutting. People love to consume online video and local publishers have a lot of important stories to tell. And necessity has pushed many publishers to become more experimental with their digital products. Much broader delivery of video news is a natural and obvious growth opportunity. (There are similar opportunities in podcasting and other audio forms, although the terrestrial radio market will follow a different trajectory than local TV.)

But we don’t know yet what the very best video formats will look like. It won’t be two people behind a desk and a weatherman in front of a map. It will be in forms native to the online environment. Newsday, as just one example, is trying some really innovative things with a wide variety of video products.

I really do believe that full embrace of video and audio — along with the whole range of text products, including newsletters — will drive a new age of growth for many local publishers. Consumers won’t want to go to three different places for local news in video, text, and audio forms. And even though local news publishing is very stressed at the moment, it’s actually the segment that is best positioned to develop fully integrated local news products that win.

David Chavern is president and CEO of News Media Alliance.

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