TVN’S NEWSTECHFORUM

NewsTECH Forum | Patrick Paolini: Reimagining Local’s Landscape

The GM of Fox’s Washington duopoly is overseeing moves into podcasting and other new media, something he calls a survival necessity. “We’re competing with everyone, and for every dollar that we can get, so, to me, you have to have more places to monetize.” (Photo: Wendy Moger-Bross)

NEW YORK — As the entire media landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, stakeholders can be nervous about the changes — or excited about the possibilities a new frontier might provide.

Case in point: the rise in podcasting.

“We didn’t know really what to expect, and we were pleasantly surprised,” said Patrick Paolini, VP and GM of Fox’s WTTG-WDCA duopoly in Washington, referring to the outcomes from his organization’s recent foray into podcasting — a medium that’s only gained commercial viability within the past half decade or so.

“We didn’t have anything to necessarily measure it against, [but] it was well-received; we got really good feedback from the marketplace.”

Today, there are four weekly podcasts under Paolini’s watch, including his own, The Paolini Perspective, as well as Missing Pieces, a true-crime series that has thus far examined five different cases.

Paolini’s praise of podcasting came during TVNewsCheck’s NewsTECHForum Tuesday during a conversation with Harry A. Jessell, TVNewsCheck’s co-founder and editor at.

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After a stint where he was doing editorial work as VP-GM of Fox’s WTXF Philadelphia had “run its course,” Paolini became intrigued by podcasting and decided to give it a shot. His team pushes the podcasts out through “almost all the platforms,” he said, including iTunes, AudioBoom, on their own website and elsewhere, using push alerts as well.

Jessell, sounding somewhat skeptical of podcasting as a source of reliable revenue — he said it “seems to be a diversion of expensive people resources … that could be going into your news or television shows” — asked Paolini how the programs benefit the station he runs, financially or otherwise.

“It benefits us in the sense that we’re putting out more content, and content [that] people are clearly interested in: longform, investigative content,” Paolini said. “The monetization side is coming. It’s not there yet; we’re making a little bit of money on it, but nowhere near the scale of what we do on the broadcasting side.”

However, Paolini reminded the audience that with such new endeavors it takes time to build an audience. Once listeners come around, the revenue will show up, too, he emphasized.

In the meantime, there are other benefits to exploring the medium.

“It’s reenergized the newsroom to dig deeper on these types of stories,” he said. “It’s also provided another nugget for our account executives to go out and put in their bag of resources that they can sell to an advertiser.”

“This theory that we’re just competing against the four or five other stations in Washington, D.C., that’s long over,” Paolini said. “We’re competing with everyone, and for every dollar that we can get, so, to me, you have to have more places to monetize.”

WTTG has proceeded with some caution as it ventures into the OTT realm, he admitted. Jessell observed that Gray, Cox and other companies have “full-blown video on demand” where viewers can consume short video clips whenever they want, but not Paolini’s stations.

“We’re talking, we’re thinking, we’re brainstorming what makes sense.… We’re not just going to take our linear feed and put it out there,” Paolini said. “I think it has to be unique content; content that those that are streaming on a consistent basis want to engage with and want to have an appetite for. I’m not sure anyone has really solved that to this point.”

He suggested his organization could try to produce what he called “political Red Zone” programming, referencing the NFL’s broadcast service that airs only its games’ most important moments. For Fox, such an approach could mean the deployment of reporters all across the country, Paolini said, perhaps locating key stories and perspectives during the upcoming presidential campaign.

“We have to get there somehow,” Paolini said of an OTT presence. “It’s just a matter of, ‘What does that look like?’ ”

Watch the full video of the session here.


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