AM/FM radio holds strong for American listeners

While local TV news still barely beats the internet as the top source of news for Americans (no, really), viewership and revenue continued to slide in 2017, according to Pew’s latest local TV news fact sheet. Americans are still drawn to audio content, with high percentages tuning into some kind of radio station (there are only 26 all-news terrestrial radio stations left) and podcast listenership continuing to grow. Local TV news Average audience decreased by 15 percent in 2017 over the previous year, with evening news remaining stable — though late night and early evening declined by seven percent, and midday declined four percent. (The data comes from ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates.) Partly because it wasn’t an election year (when political advertising bumps up the airwaves’ coffers), total over-the-air ad revenue for local TV decreased by 13 percent, to $17.4 billion. Online, advertising for local Continue reading "AM/FM radio holds strong for American listeners"

Vox’s new Netflix series is really good, but it doesn’t get us any closer to figuring out what news on streaming platforms looks like

Vox’s new series for Netflix debuted this morning, with the simple and deeply on-brand title Explained. (At least they didn’t get comma-happy and go with “, Explained.”) I watched the first episode and bits of the next two, and they’re good! The format will be familiar to anyone who’s watched Vox’s YouTube videos; they’ve posted the first episode, “Monogamy, Explained,” to YouTube, and as a Vox producer says in the intro: “If you like our YouTube, you’re going to love this.” Watch it for yourself: A lot of YouTube commenters do indeed seem to like it. (“Next level video essays. I freaking love this”; “YESSSSS MORE KNOWLEDGE”). Well, at least the ones who aren’t arguing with the video’s implicit endorsement of polyamory. (“VERY VERY POLITICIZED KNOWLEDGE YESS”; “Ahhh even more liberal vox garbage, Netflix has gone by the way of the dodo bird”; “Vox, attempting Continue reading "Vox’s new Netflix series is really good, but it doesn’t get us any closer to figuring out what news on streaming platforms looks like"

Flush with spectrum-sale dollars, a Pennsylvania PBS station is doubling down on a different kind of local news

Hailed as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for local TV stations, the FCC’s spectrum auction last year drove billions of dollars to hundreds of broadcasters across the country. The windfall of cash came from wireless carriers seeking infrastructure for more powerful networks, and now the proceeds are landing in the stations’ bank accounts. So what are the local TV stations doing with a little extra coin? While some are using it to pay off debt (important!), other stations are thinking outside-of-the-TV-box with new types of newscasts and new forms of journalism, new hires, and new infrastructure. Yoni Greenbaum is seizing the opportunity at PBS39/WLVT in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley (90 minutes’ drive from Philadelphia) to hire 10 reporters and two editors onto its existing staff of 42 (that includes marketing, membership, production, etc). Starting in September, that team will create a weekly newscast focused on local issues and solutions — not car Continue reading "Flush with spectrum-sale dollars, a Pennsylvania PBS station is doubling down on a different kind of local news"

What is innovation in local TV news? Andrew Heyward’s new mission is to find out

News flash: A lot of people still watch — and trust — the local TV news. TV is still the No. 1 source of news for Americans, ahead of the entire Internet. And of those TV watchers, nearly 3 in 4 are regular local TV news watchers. But the trendlines are moving in the wrong direction. In 2016, TV had a 19 percentage point lead over online as a frequent source of news for Americans (57 percent to 38 percent). A year later, that lead had been cut to 7 percentage points (50 percent to 43 percent). Cord-cutters and cord-nevers have moved from edge cases to mainstream; young people ages 18 to 24 have cut their TV viewing by abotu eight hours a week just in the past six years. It’s time for an update. Resources for innovation have, generally speaking, flowed more to local newspapers and digital-native publishers Continue reading "What is innovation in local TV news? Andrew Heyward’s new mission is to find out"

From Nieman Reports: Reinventing local TV news might require going over the top

When the Rev. Billy Graham died in February, Raleigh-based WRAL-TV provided expansive coverage of the famed evangelist’s life and legacy. That was no surprise since, after all, the pastor was a North Carolina native, and — though his funeral was held in his hometown of Charlotte, more than 150 miles away — generations of Raleigh-area residents had watched Graham’s global crusades, which WRAL broadcast beginning in the 1970s, on their home television sets. In addition to reporting the news of Graham’s death, the station produced a 30-minute special, “Remembering Billy Graham.” It aired the day of his funeral, which was livestreamed on the WRAL website, Facebook, and their mobile news app as well as broadcast live on television, pre-empting the noon newscast. Those interested in even more coverage of Graham could have turned to WRAL’s over-the-top (OTT) apps, available for Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Chromecast. Continue reading "From Nieman Reports: Reinventing local TV news might require going over the top"

Local TV news gets a $2.6 million boost from the Knight Foundation

In the “future of news” conversations, television news — especially local — can sometimes be overlooked. But it’s still a vital source of journalism for communities across the United States. The Knight Foundation announced today that it is boosting local TV news with $2.6 million across five organizations that will help students of color gain experience in local TV markets, bring together broadcast journalists focused on digital innovation in conferences and workshops, and offer ethics, leadership, and data journalism training for newsrooms. (Disclosure: Nieman Lab also receives support from Knight.) Though digital sources are ever rising, local TV news still reaches a significant chunk of Americans. Last year, Pew Research Center found that 50 percent were often getting news from TV compared to 43 percent often getting it online, though local TV news use declined the most. Over the years, local TV news’ audience has steadily Continue reading "Local TV news gets a $2.6 million boost from the Knight Foundation"

The FCC is swiftly changing national media policy. What does that mean on the local level?

The Federal Communications Commission’s anticipated decision on net neutrality has (rightfully) garnered a lot of publicity and scrutiny. The FCC’s repeal of different regulations earlier this fall, however, could reshape a news source often left out of predictions of the industry’s future: local TV newsrooms. The FCC, responsible for overseeing the radio, television, and phone industries in the United States, has embarked upon a broad path of deregulation charted by its chairman Ajit Pai under President Trump, as our Ken Doctor examined in a recent analysis. But when the announcement came in late October that the FCC was killing the main studio rule — no longer requiring AM, FM, and TV stations to maintain a primary studio in or near their local community of broadcast — and the November rollback of broadcast ownership rules in a shift toward greater industry consolidation, it became clear that the local news landscape could Continue reading "The FCC is swiftly changing national media policy. What does that mean on the local level?"