While still a highly-viewed and top source for news and information, local newscast viewing is not what it was even a few years ago. So where are the viewers?
Sure, online sources that are available on a consumer’s schedule have had a significant impact on viewers’ perceived need to watch newscasts. But overall, consumers are still watching video content at record levels, they’re just watching video in a different way. In the case of entertainment programming, they’re watching through OTT platforms. The SVOD market is enormous with 75% of online users paying for some sort of SVOD and the year-over-year growth is growing at 8%. Today, only 26% of online users don’t pay for an SVOD. Just last year, it was 34%.
Recent Magid research shows that nearly three-quarters of consumers not only watch video content through OTT platforms, but pay for at least one subscription service to do so. Yet local news hasn’t caught up to this trend. 76% of news consumers are already connecting a TV to the internet, but less than 20% of them are watching newscasts on platforms like Fire Stick, Roku or Apple TV regularly.
There is opportunity to engage viewers on these OTT platforms, and Magid research even shows that availability can increase overall news viewing, especially among those who are watching newscasts live. When consumers were asked how their local TV newscast viewing would change if the local stations in their community delivered their newscasts through a streaming app, an average of 25% said it would cause them to watch the local TV newscast more often.
Stations are in a position to take full advantage of OTT and the opportunity that it would provide for them in terms of newscast viewership, but there are two things they need to consider: discoverability and uniqueness.
Today, there is little rhyme or reason to how consumers discover local OTT apps on their preferred viewing device. This is partly driven by the difference in OTT platforms and the currently limited in-platform search capabilities, but also partly driven by awareness. For stations to break through in this space, they need to let consumers in their markets know how to find them.
Local stations need to identify unique content to deliver on these OTT apps. Having your newscasts available for time-shifted viewing can be a part of an OTT offer. But that in itself is not going to drive value that brings viewers back. Each market is different and there is no silver bullet combination that breaks through everywhere. Identifying the key opportunities in a market is critical for finding success in OTT.
Making a concerted effort to grow your OTT platforms is not a simple task. It requires changes to your workflow, content priorities and marketing focus. But finding the right approach in your market that is unique and fuels discoverability can be the key to long-term relevance and success.