Local TV, Digital An Unbeatable Combination

The new digital-savvy audience with smartphones and tablets is expecting big changes from TV stations, their leading and most trusted news source. It's up to broadcasters to meet those expectations by integrating into their newscasts social media, real-time polling, user-generated content, street-level traffic and weather and hyper-local crime reporting.

With NAB approaching, it’s a good time to acknowledge that local TV news is still indispensable to 87% of American viewers who choose it over any other way of accessing news, according to the American Press Institute.

Your station, with your local TV competitors, is the most relevant news media outlet in your market, providing a known brand, star talent and a strong relationship to your audience.

Nonetheless, we have entered into an age of transformative innovation that is urgently calling upon all of us to improve and adapt or lose revenue and audience.

Fewer than 20 years ago, the Internet became available to everyone. About 10 years ago, mobile phones began to transmit text, data and pictures, which potentially connect every person on the planet. The quantity of information available to people is doubling every four months, so every week we are expanding by 4% all that humans knew and recorded in the past 100,000 years.

The availability of all of this data and information has transformed our audience. Viewers are consuming more content than ever before — through their televisions, but also through smartphones and tablets. This new digital-savvy audience is also expecting transformations from you, their leading and most trusted news source. Your news presentations must evolve to keep pace with your changing audience.

To seize the opportunity before us and successfully ride the wave of inevitable change, a complete but proper transformation of the TV newsroom is required.


Here are five ways to add digital relevancy to your newscasts:

  1. Social media is used by 73% of the people in the U.S. Bringing properly selected content from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter into your broadcast lets your viewers give timely feedback, commentary and opinions thereby enhancing breaking stories and engaging users.
  2. Real-time polling is another way to involve your audience. Viewers want to see their opinions count and where others stand on the same issues.
  3. User-generated content turns your audience into an army of on-the-scene reporters and highly involved viewers.
  4. Street-level traffic and weather overlays like those provided by Radiate Media and AccuWeather make every day events such as snow storms and traffic jams must-watch events that allow you to compete with continuously updated online and mobile sources.
  5. Hyper-local crime reporting solutions, provided by companies such as AlertID, reference more than 170 types of local crime-related data and allow you to report as soon as a crime becomes news.

The immediacy, interactivity and visual impact of digital media has set a new standard for viewer expectations. We should not think of the Web, mobile, blogs and apps as “add ons” separate from traditional broadcasts, but see all combined into one on-air user experience with a new set of expectations.

For more than 30 years, AccuWeather has worked with TV stations and currently serves more than 200 stations. We are known for our weather forecasts, but with the introduction of our StoryTeller, we allow stations to provide all of the types of content mentioned above and much more.

When your TV broadcasts and digital properties combine the strength of your known brand, star power and visual quality with the immediacy, interactivity and audience involvement of new media, you will have achieved the true promise of the transformative change underway in the TV business.

This will create a significant advantage for your station over the new Web-only brands, as well as competing stations that are not taking the leap to respond to the increasingly digital-savvy audience as seriously as you. Further, display systems like StoryTeller allow your talent to project an image of technical sophistication.

We are in a time of rapid transformative change. Do not look to your audience to slow their accelerating move to embrace new technologies, but rather embrace the challenge and gain a commanding lead in your market by creating a seamless, exciting and engaging experience on all devices.

Joel Myers is founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather.

Comments (1)

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Ryan Slemmer says:

April 10, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Very interesting observations. On the ‘sales-side’ think of the value of Big Data to the sales dept when matching
Potential customers to local businesses. This targeted marketing is likely to be a big driver of local news apps as well as weather apps. Mobile is a perfect match for the average person wanting a weather forecast anytime anyplace in real time. Severe wx will still warrant a tv weathercast, but in quiet weather periods how are you going to keep the attention of (former) viewers when they are multitasking on their phones and iPads? The Weathercasters of the next decade will have to be context orientated… What ‘s the story mean to the viewer. Who will be the future storytellers in the new media markets? Interesting times ahead.