Pan-Asian station introduces site that features more than 60 video clips a day, podcasts and blogs–in four languages. Conventional text news articles are gone.
Pan-Asian KSCI Los Angeles—LA 18—is unveiling an innovative four-language Web site this week that shuns text-based articles and embraces what many consumers are coming to expect on the Web—blogs, podcasts and video, lots of video, more than 60 clips a day.
“Virtually all the content on the site is video based, produced in our own studios, hosted by our on-air talent and features the quality production values our audiences have come to expect,” says Peter Mathes, chairman and CEO of AsianMedia Group, the owner of the station.
The revamped site, www.la18.tv, is part of the station’s multiplatform rebranding and distribution effort that began two years ago. The rebranding includes a new logo, station graphics and colors.
The push onto new platforms includes a free VOD channel on Time Warner Cable and a distribution deal with IPTV operator KyLinTV that allows subscribers of the $15-a-month broadband service to view some of the station’s Chinese language programming on their TV sets using a special set-top box.
Audiences’ demands prompted a fresh look at the site, says VP of News and New Media Eric Olander.
“One of the deficiencies of the old site was that it didn’t break it out by language and culture. Now we have Chinese, Filipino, Korean and Vietnamese front pages that include in-language blogs, traffic and weather reports, podcasts and community events. It’s a much more user friendly experience,” says Olander.
(The site offers first-time visitors to the site a choice of languages, and remembers the selection of returning visitors. Selecting Filipino will take visitors to the largest concentration of English-language content, as many Filipino American’s first language is English.)
Starting over from scratch allowed the station to incorporate the latest Web technology and features, says Olander.
A flash-based video format insures smooth streaming and maximum compatibility. Viewers can e-mail videos to friends, and an embedding option makes it easy to lift a clip and insert it on someone else’s blog or MySpace site.
The station says it has seen firsthand how word of mouth helps popularize video on the Web. One of the most popular features on the old site was profiles of local citizens who give back to the community. Streams of the feature would grow exponentially as friends and family of the honoree passed the link around.
“We looked at ways we could increase traffic and also make it a compelling value proposition to advertisers and the viral component is crucial to gaining exposure on the Web,” says Olander.
The station is using other media to promote the site, buying key words in different languages from Yahoo, Google and AOL and working out barter deals for banners with Asian newspaper sites.
LA 18 has high hopes for the site’s revenue potential, and not only from Los Angeles advertisers. Asian communities are growing across the country. Nielsen reported last week that Asian TV households are up 3.6% in 2006 from the year before, and many communities offer little programming in Asian languages. Roughly 15% of Los Angeles is Asian.
“I lived in Atlanta and the only [Chinese language] media I could turn to was a low-budget cable access show and a little local paper,” says Olander, a Chinese American. “There’s a lot of hunger for this kind of news and information and, because we’re in a cultural center, what happens here is of interest to people all over the country.”
But the site’s core mission is to serve the local community, Mathes says, even though Asian Angelenos have more media in their own language to choose from than anywhere else. He points out that the sites of in-language newspapers are text based and can’t compete with LA 18’s video.
He expects the LA 18 audience will quickly adopt to the new video-laden site, party because the community is so tech savvy. Asian Americans over index in high-speed Internet adoption and just about every other psychographic category relating to technology, according to Asian American ad firm Kang & Lee Advertising.
Mathes says he has seen evidence of this firsthand. LA 18 regularly uses its air to promote Web content, but this can backfire if there’s a glitch. When the reporter of an on-air segment covering new Korean restaurants signed off last week, she directed viewers to her blog. But she was 15 minutes late in posting it.
“We were inundated with e-mails,” Mathes says. “The lines between television and the Web are gone. Our audience has come to expect this content.”