The Belo station launches Weathernews Inc.’s LiveLocal services Monday, with three mobile update options–and three prices.
Dallas/ Ft. Worth ABC affiliate WFAA officially launches Weathernews Inc.’s (WNI) LiveLocal service on Monday, the first of several Belo stations that have signed on to offer the mobile video news service and the first to employ a three-pronged approach to the marketing.
Viewers can choose between three different packages designed to address compatibility and pricing issues that have slowed the uptake of mobile content in the United States.
They can link from the WFAA site to a screen produced by WNI and choose between the text-based Weathernews Direct service, offering daily forecasts and alerts for $1.99 a month; the color graphics-based Weathernews service for $3.49 a month; or the video-driven LiveLocal service for $4.99 a month, so far available only on Sprint video-enabled phones.
The site, which activates applications that run outside of individual carrier networks or “decks,” prompts users to select which mobile provider and handset they have so they can find out which service is compatible with them.
The three-tiered approach should help Belo recover its investment in the platform sooner rather than later because it allows broader marketing, says Daniel Scalisi, vice president of media services for WNI. “We want to provide a product that will improve their chances of achieving effective ROI.”
The station says it has incurred few additional costs providing local video content for the WNI platform, including four video weather updates and two news updates a day, because it was already producing such segments for its digital multicast channel, Express 8.2.
“It was easy to get WNI up and running,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â says Jim Glass, director of creative services at the station. “All it took was a little tweaking of the graphics, which had to be modified for the tiny mobile screen.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
The addition of the mobile component did prompt WFAA to create a new position. News producer Katharyn Deville became Belo’s first digital media producer, charged with managing mobile, Web, multicast and outdoor productions.
The station will begin to promote the service on air on Monday with a pair of spots, one modern, one more traditional, highlighting the personalization and portability of its weather services. The spots will fit into an existing campaign launched in June to promote all of the station’s weather products, with the tag line “more weather, more ways.”
“Our goal is to meet consumer demand for the portability of our products and to be able to offer them in as many different forms and fashions as possible,” Glass says. “We need to be in this game.”
WNI is working with other major TV station groups, including Clear Channel, Meredith, LIN and Post-Newsweek. The company says it has contracts with 80 stations in 75 markets including nine of the top 10 and 54 of the top 60. About 30 markets have the service up and running, with the remaining 50 expected to go online by the end of August.
WNI’s strategy is to sign an exclusive agreement with one station in each market. The company is projecting 200,000 paying subscribers by year end.
WNI, a subsidiary of Japan-based Weathernews Inc., has set up off-deck Web sites for stations other than WFAA, including Young Broadcasting’s KRON San Francisco and its U.S. charter station, KWTV in Oklahoma City.
“With the off-deck solution, stations provide the video and we put in on a Web site so they don’t have to go through Sprint to serve it to their customers,ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Scalisi says. “This way the station has the ability to grow its base of subscribers and gain a better understanding of them. Subscribers gained through a carrier are much more protected. The carrier does not share information about them.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â