nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Making local TV news social

Local TV news viewership 2010-2014

One of the most valuable assets broadcast TV channels have is their local news. However, as many shift their viewing habits to social media, local TV news isn’t following. Hearst has taken a big step, with the help of Verizon, in tracking the migrating audience.

With half of their advertising revenue coming from news, the importance of the genre to broadcast station managers is at an all-time high. It also remains very popular with the audience. Local news viewership has been remarkably resilient over the last 4 years while other genres like drama and children’s programming have floundered.

Darren Lepke VerizonThat said, two-thirds of people use their smartphone to read news at least every week, and social media is becoming an increasingly important part of the online news equation. According to the Pew Research Center, 6 in 10 get news from social media. 70% say they use Reddit, 66% use Facebook, and 59% use Twitter.

Until recently, local broadcasters were missing the boat in the growth of online news. To be able to deliver news clips from live broadcasts required a huge upfront technology investment and the resulting video workflows were too complicated for many broadcasters. As well, it was simply impossible to create news clips in a timely manner to allow broadcasters to capture a significant audience through social media platforms.

Today, cloud platforms are changing this equation and making it feasible for local broadcasters to participate in the growing web and social economies for news.

Hearst Television owns and operates 26 local television stations distributing national content including programming from ABC, NBC, CBS, and CW. Local news is a vital part of many of these stations. The company announced today that is working with Verizon Digital Media Services (VDMS) to help its local stations distribute and monetize their content online.

Verizon’s solution uses commodity hardware in a station’s facility to encode the live channel, mark the position of ads, and transfer it to the cloud. From there, the station can then be delivered immediately through the stations website, or through apps like NewsON. The station only pays VDMS for the number of hours of video delivered.

Verizon helps the broadcasters monetize online in a number of ways.

  • The broadcast channel can be delivered with the original ad load through any of the online outlets required. The broadcaster can also replace any or all of the ads in the live stream with new targeted ads using server-side ad insertion technology that is part of the VDMS platform.
  • On-demand assets are derived automatically from the live broadcast. Broadcasters can immediately syndicate these out to any affiliate site they specific.
  • The VDMS platform provides a web-based clipping tool that lets any broadcaster derive clips from the live channel and immediately share them through social media.


According to Darren Lepke, Marketing Director at VDMS, the ability to create and share clips in real-time is essential functionality for station owners like Hearst:

Darren Lepke Verizon

Darren Lepke – Verizon

“The importance of creating clips of live television for sharing and syndication is growing, as reflected in purchases of companies such as SnappyTV by Twitter. This functionality is for free as part of the VDMS platform.”

Hearst stations can now engage viewers through any device they use; but, more importantly, local TV can also be a part of the social conversation as people increasingly turn to Reddit, Facebook and Twitter for their news.

Why it matters

Local TV news is still very popular with consumers.

It has been difficult and expensive for local broadcasters to deliver this content online, and particularly through social media.

Cloud-based solutions are dramatically reducing the price, and simplifying the work flows needed to get local news into the online video news economy.


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