TV station CEOs at a NATPE panel in Miami Beach, Fla., said Monday that TV Everywhere is making serious headway. “Like everything else in this business, it’s evolutionary, not revolutionary,” said Perry Sook, CEO of Nexstar Broadcasting Group. And Jordan Wertlieb, president of Hearst Television, said there’s plenty of evidence that TV viewers want to watch local TV no matter where they are.
Everybody’s Working On TV Everywhere
Less than a year ago at the NAB Show, three of the broadcast TV networks — ABC, Fox and NBC — predicted they’d soon get into the TV Everywhere business, meaning they’d allow their local TV audiences to watch live TV station content on their mobile devices.
While it may seem that little progress has been made since then, TV station CEOs at NATPE in Miami Beach, Fla., on Monday said that TV Everywhere is making serious headway.
“We are very actively working on it with something called NBC Now,” said Valari Staab, president of NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations. “It’s an app similar to what ABC is doing with Watch ABC. We’re looking to launch the Owned Television Stations in May or June, then the affiliates would launch in September.”
She was among the speakers on the panel “Game Changers: Executive Perspective: Broadcasting CEOs and the Mobile Makeover,” moderated by TVNewsCheck Editor Harry Jessell.
Staab said NBC has cleared most rights to broadcast content, except for one syndicator in one market. She also noted that the revenue model is comparable to the local TV business.
“The ads will be digitally inserted,” Staab said. “The split will be the same. Say 10 people are watching. Six will get a network app; four will get local apps.”
Staab and the other panelists noted that creating TV Everywhere platforms is complex and takes time.
“Like everything else in this business, it’s evolutionary, not revolutionary,” said Perry Sook, chairman, president and CEO of Nexstar Broadcasting Group. “Conversations between networks and affiliates and networks and MVPDs [multichannel video program distributors] are in progress. At this point, the networks are taking differing views as to what they’ll let their affiliates grant to the MVPDs.
“It’s a complicated trifecta you have to work out,” added Emily Barr, president-CEO of Post-Newsweek Stations. “ABC is doing it,” she said. “We’re having serious, ongoing conversations with our ABC affiliates to get it up and running.”
Jordan Wertlieb, president of Hearst Television, said there’s plenty of evidence that TV viewers want to watch local TV no matter where they are.
“What we are most excited about is the modeling, where we seek to replicate local television that is un-tethered from the living room,” he said.
Wertlieb added that TV Everywhere may be most often used by TV audiences for severe weather reports and tragic news, such as a recent shooting in a Maryland shopping mall.
Barr said that viewers now expect to be able to watch TV wherever they are. “Certainly, anyone with kids under 18 knows that, if they are on a phone or an iPad, and they want to watch something, they want to watch it right now.”
Meantime, apps are giving TV stations a relatively new and growing revenue source.
“With our six stations, we have launched 68 apps in just the last year,” Barr said. “We generated close to 1 million downloads of those apps. Some are news apps; some are weather apps. Some are specialty apps. We built an app for the Detroit Auto Show. It was a great revenue driver for us.”
“Our stations can develop apps that are meaningful to a specific market,” said Staab. “We had a lot of success in Dallas with a JFK app. They put together a unique app that was a top-20 app on the anniversary of the JFK assassination.”
Jessell also asked the panelists about monetizing social media sites.
“I don’t think Twitter is about making money,” Staab said. “Twitter can help you get ahead of breaking news or it can help you catch up if you’re behind. Through Facebook there are more opportunities to monetize.”
Barr added that a more important aspect of social media sites is for stations to create connections with their viewers. “If you use Facebook and Twitter well, you will build your relationship with your viewers,” she said. “They have to feel like they connect with you.”