The incursion of Internet-based TV otherwise known as over-the-top TV or OTT is the latest threat to local TV broadcasting. Today, you can walk out of a big box retailer like Best Buy or Costco carrying a flat screen TV equipped with WiFi, QWERTY keyboard remote control, entree to app stores and one-button access to such streaming TV services as Netflix.
Broadcasting can choose to ignore it or to be a part of it. If you are not ready to roll over and die quite yet, my advice is to be part of it.
Without a strong OTT presence, stations will be locked into a death spiral of lower ratings, leading to lower revenue, leading to cost cutting, leading to lower ratings, leading to lower revenue….
But how? Many stations are still struggling with the costs of upgrading to HD and file-based workflows for news and other local production; with maintaining attractive websites; and with exploiting mobile opportunities in its many variations.
In each market, TV stations must band together and share master control and other technical facilities. It’s the key to operating in the traditional broadcasting business most efficiently, and to entering the new worlds of mobile and OTT.
This local hub, or Media Processing Center as I call it, would be a mash-up of master control post house and telco data center. It would have everything needed for content aggregation; file hosting, sharing and distribution; ad creation; and management. Stations would continue to maintain and operate their own newsrooms, traffic and billing.
Locally outsourced and cooperatively operated on a centralcasting model, the MPC empowers TV stations to become right-sized and more profitable while implementing new services. For the participating stations, it would replace heavy capital and uncertain maintenance costs with steady monthly payments.
Outsourcing the MPC to an independent company would insure that it is even handed in dealing with the participating stations and that the proprietary interests of each station are safeguarded.
The MPC proposal is a survival manual and road map to prevent the mass extinction of local broadcasters. It will improve economies of scale and encourage innovation that the stations need to compete against rival TV media that continue to grab for broadcast market share.
TV stations cannot stop the competition, but they can become better competitors by wringing all the money they can out of infrastructure and reallocating the savings to programming, new services and marketing. TV anywhere and anytime tools and widgets will empower viewers to interact with the local stations and increase on-air ratings.
TV stations have clear advantages over their new media competitors. They have local programming that outsiders cannot easily duplicate. They have local account executives and long-established personal relationship with the heaviest local advertisers. They have an unrivaled ability to promote new services.
All of these assets can be leveraged in the new media world — if the infrastructure in there.
How can you help the MPC proposal become reality? Spread the word and send me feedback. Talk with other stations in your DMA. MPC is the best hope for providing the resources and infrastructure needed for growth in the rich media space.
Richard Lyons is a principal in MPC Concepts, a startup dedicated to developing MPCs in the top 40 TV markets. A more detailed description of the proposal is available by clicking here. Lyons can be reached at [email protected] or 818-516-0544. His partners is the effort are Ken Fuller, former director of engineering, Azcar; and Randy Hoffner, the former manager of technology and quality control, ABC operations and engineering, West Coast.