By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Like those network spots for “The Ben Ferguson Podcast” that air on many talk stations, TV networks are using their affiliates’ air to divert viewing to their own digital platforms. Some network-produced shows being promoted are only available on streams. “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” is shown on Peacock before it airs on NBC at 11:35 pm.
It gets worse. The extended Dish Network/Tegna stand-off over lucrative retransmission fees stations charge cable and satellite providers blacked-out CBS stations I tried to tune-into in hotel rooms in Washington and Texas in the last two weeks, in the middle of football season.
Like the bookstores and stock brokers and travel agents and other middlemen who were early casualties, the Internet is squeezing-out stations…and networks. Major league games are now seen on YouTube and other newcomer platforms with enough do-re-mi to out-bid traditional networks.
“In order to stay relevant, TV news must change with the times”
“The solution,” according to “The Future of TV News Won’t be on TV” at Variety.com, “is to knock down the walls and distribute everywhere free and ad-supported.”
Smart TV stations are doubling-down on local news, which, eventually, could be all they program, and distribute digitally.
While streaming eats music radio’s lunch, non-music stations are less necessary for weather and traffic and news…and the ability to argue about the news, which we now do via social media, a more-interactive experience than monologue-laden talk radio.
Stare at this:
We-who-power-the-towers are late, if we still regard digital content as an adjunct
Podcasting is “The darling of the audio realm,” according to The Wall Street Journal, which estimates a billion dollars will be spent on advertising there this year.
And a recent Cigar Aficionado article on Spotify’s $100 million podcaster Joe Rogan notes that “he’s reaching an audience greater than any news program (which top out at about three million viewers).”
How do stations compete with THAT?
Translation: We should only do what only we can do.
Do what Joe Rogan cannot: Local.
- Local news: With newspapers in a tailspin, this oh-so-sponsorable content is worth staffing…IF it’s relevant and useful and well-written and fresh.
- Localize “The Big Story,” in the manner I described in a recent column here: This very week, listeners (and advertisers) are hip-deep in the holiday shopping aspects of the supply chain, inflation, and COVID stories that change everyday life.
- Localize what’s otherwise just data: Smartphones deliver stock quotes from Wall Street. Report what’s happening on your town’s Main Street like Joe Connolly does weekday mornings at :25 and :55 on WCBS.
- Local hosts: Don’t just ape the national political narrative. If you must, at least do two-way radio. Callers’ accents are local.
And be as smartphone and smart-speaker-friendly as possible.
And because broadcast listeners are, increasingly, also digital audio consumers, use your air to invite them to hear your own on-demand content. At client stations, we use on-air spots (disguised as informative features) to invite those-interested to hear/read/see more from the advertiser online.
Holland Cooke is author of the E-book “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download here; and “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available exclusively from Talkers books (click the banner on this page). HC is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke