A recent American Press Institute report showed that although audiences are increasingly viewing news on laptops (69%) and cell phones (56%) television remained the number one news source, with over 87%. According to a 2014 Pew Research report the top six most known and trusted news sources were all television outlets.
Your area’s local TV station most likely has the dominant news brand in your market and despite their usefulness, hot new devices and clever apps have yet to change that. TV news has the dominant, trusted brand, visual quality, and local star power to retain audiences. But in order to keep that position, TV stations are having to operate in ways that go beyond “traditional.”
Today, local newsrooms need to think not just about appearing on multiple platforms, but also in terms of making the local newscasts that are the staple of their brand better suited to a digitally-savvy audience.
So, how are they meeting the challenge? Here are three ways:
- TV needs to maintain its status as the most stunning visual media.
Showing is always better than telling and touchscreen presentations are an easy way to do that because those on-air touchscreens used by many TV news anchors are much more than just a fancy display. Touchscreens allow vivid, animated presentations for elections, sports, 3D modelling, local events, traffic, and weather all to be created on the fly and put directly into the hands of the on-air talent.
Touchscreens not only make it easier to create and use animated presentations, they show on-air personalities using technology similar to what audiences use at home, which builds the perception of broadcasters being on the right side of the technological curve.
- TV needs to be a social activity.
Social Media is used by 73% of the people in the U.S. Viewers on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are enthusiastically uploading pictures and commentary as quickly as stories develop. Social media comments, images, and videos can (and should) be integrated with news broadcasts. This is accomplished through touchscreen presentations using complex filtering to grab user-generated content as it becomes available. The result is that viewers are transformed into a virtual army of on-the-scene reporters and, perhaps even more importantly, increasingly dedicated viewers.
- TV needs to immediately gratify.
Arguably, all content consumers today expect real-time information. But when it comes to news, time is of the essence. As information about events emerge, social media provides a way to keep on top of events as they unfold. However it is also important for on-air talent to demonstrate their expertise and integrate the video coverage and on-the-scene reporting that viewers expect, despite the demands of the increasingly rapid news cycle. From Amber alerts to elections, crime coverage, severe weather and national disasters, today’s broadcasters need to leverage digital tools to deliver real-time information.
At AccuWeather, we’ve worked with TV news for 30 years to help them not only with accurate weather forecasts, but also by developing digital tools that help them continue to evolve their craft. The future of the complete digital newsroom is already here. This year, at the 2015 NAB Show, AccuWeather will introduce a number of new features and enhancements to help create a complete digital newsroom, including street-level, 3D traffic, social media and UGC integration, real-time polling, and drone HD video.
In the landscape of local news, TV may still be king. But it won’t stay that way if it ignores the power of digital. By leveraging the power of their brands while embracing the changes in their audiences’ behavior and expectations, local TV news stations will stay dominant news forces in their markets that can grow with rapidly evolving media technology.
Loren Tobia, VP of Display Sales & Services at AccuWeather, has over 25 years of experience in broadcast news, as television news director for stations including WTVH Syracuse, NY; KMTV Omaha, NE; and WSAZ Huntington, WV. Loren was also chairman of RTDNA in 1996 and has been treasurer of the same organization since 2001. He is a former member of CBS News Affiliates Board, a former member of the Bloomberg News Affiliate Board, and the former chair of West Virginia Associated Press Broadcasters.