Friday, February 27, 2009

Hey forest, meet tree [Missing the point]

In this TVNewsday article, Harry Jessell asserts that the "demise of the papers" leaves the door wide open for "TV stations . . . to become the dominant local Web sites."

*Sigh*

Well, let me take that back. In theory, I could agree with this. However, in practice, without completely re-defining what it is that a TV does, this is simply moving around the FAIL.

The advertising model is broken. This was a discussion in broadcast with the rise of the DVR, then we got distracted by the newspaper implosion. And let's not forget that one of the most popular websites in the world (Facebook), cannot make money off of advertising.

In the article Jessell brings up the recently announced ESPN website focused on Chicago sports, as "plunging into the local online marketplace," which is technically correct. But the real key here is that they are using online to deliver highly desired, in-depth content to a proven audience that happens to be localized. Because it's ESPN, this can be a 360 dive - web, print and broadcast - all leveraging each other to likely support a number of monetizeable products.

Local TV stations are not poised to replicate this unless they take a step back and approach things in a completely different way - which Jessell points out. He also points out that they can't do this alone. Partnering up with other entities will be key. But the really what this would take is a mind shift - a shift away from chasing advertising dollars and a shift back toward the basics. Because, really, content is king.

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