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The TV of Tomorrow Show Looks at The Local TV Of Tomorrow

December 17th, 2018   ||    by Alan Wolk

While it would seem that a show called “TV Of Tomorrow” would be thoroughly caught up in OTT-mania, one of the more insightful panels I attended was about the future of local broadcasting.

Called “Local Broadcasting in The Catbird Seat” it looked at ways local broadcasters can remain relevant at a time when massive changes are hitting the television industry.

Data Is Key

One point that all the panelists hit on was the importance of data. Television is behind the eight-ball in terms of data, as broadcasters and cable networks rarely have any sort of direct relationship with their customers. That leaves them without the kind of first-party data that digital publishers rely on, data that is valuable in terms of targeting and measurement.

Panelists felt that as local broadcasters established themselves online, via OTT apps and (eventually) via ATSC 3.0, they’d gain access to more first party data on their customers.

Local broadcasters can run linear broadcasts on their own OTT apps, along with bite-sized VOD chunks of news and sports programming that viewers can catch up with on their own schedules. By requiring some sort of sign up for the apps and by relying on location tracking on mobile, local broadcasters can begin to develop a customer database to better understand who their viewers are and where they’re watching.

The flip side of that is that they will need to start paying attention to all the new consumer privacy legislation, laws like the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) that are inspired by Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation.) This will require additional legal fees, not to mention new processes and procedures, but the feeling was that the effort and expense was well worth it in order to compete with digital.

Hyperlocal Is Hot

The other path the panelists discussed was a hyperlocal one. As the various networks and the new “Flixes” (Disney+, Warner’s new service and Apple’s new service) spread their wings, they will gain audiences and eyeball. The key, the panelists felt, is for local broadcasters to offer something that’s both unique and true to their brand.

High school sports is one strong example: viewers want well-produced sports content and in many areas, high school sports are hugely popular. By assigning a professional crew, or, better still, having a professional crew work with students who are interested in broadcasting careers, local stations can create must-see TV that’s attractive not only to viewers, but to local advertisers as well.

While local sports is an easy example of the value of hyperlocal content, it’s truly a concept with legs, especially as the key players in the industry continue to merge and grow even larger.

National cable networks and the new global apps are not going to bother to review local restaurants, cover local theater productions or delve into local politics. They’re certainly not going to be doing it live (or close to live), which gives local broadcasters even more of an advantage.

The synthesis of the two streams is to find a way to put the new hyperlocal content into a digital delivery system where it can be used to both generate data and make use of existing data to allow advertisers to better target customers in local markets.

For the types of advertisers who rely on local TV, hyperlocal is an ideal content platform, one that solidifies their place at the center of the community while allowing them to reach audiences that are most likely to use their product of service.

That’s a win all around.

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