Terry Heaton: ABC and CBS Leave Affiliates in the Dust

Terry has two post about the recent moves by CBS and ABC to offer broadband content.

First up ABC:

“The stations provide prominent banners on their local sites to drive traffic to ABC.com, where users can download the digital programs. What’s wrong with this picture? Let’s see, how about users don’t need local affiliates to get to the downloads in the first place. Secondly, the affiliates get to place an ad between the link and the download. Right. I’m going to stand for that, just for the privilege of going through my local affiliate to get to the goodies. For the privilege of driving traffic to ABC, the affiliates get to “share revenue,” although nobody’s saying what the split will be.

I’m sorry, but the only winner here is ABC. The affiliates talk it up and increase the demand, but the only way this works for them is if THEY can provide the downloads and control the revenue. Sorry, but that just won’t happen.”

Now CBS:

So CBS has launched a broadband channel (innertube). This should surprise no one, since Viacom owns CBS and Viacom channels MTV (overdrive) and Comedy Central (motherload) have similar broadband channels. It’s a smart move by CBS, but once again, what about the affiliates? MTV and Comedy Central are CABLE channels and not bound by affiliate arrangements, but not so with the tiffany network (what the heck is a network anymore anyway?).”

Say it again Terry:

“This is just further evidence that local affiliates are facing downstream irrelevance, and at the risk of sounding repetitive, let me summarize a few statements I’ve been making about local affiliates for several years.

  • The only thing of real value you have is your local franchises. Now is the time to invest in creating more, and since the barriers to entry are significantly lower online, DO IT THERE!
  • It’s also time to move those franchise to the Web in a way that intersects with what’s really taking place here. Unbundling yourself is the only way you’ll really be positioned to compete in the years to come. The days of “driving” traffic to portal websites are on the wane.
  • Always think local and regional. Knowledgeable and extremely flexible outside players can’t compete here, unless you let them. Give it all you’ve got in meeting the information and entertainment needs of your LOCAL audience, and for crying out loud, stop thinking you’re just a TV station.
  • Streamline all of your internal processes. For news, that means incorporating the tools of the personal media revolution. Yes, I’m talking VJs. This is no longer an option, folks. Local television no longer requires the Hollywood tactics of days gone by. Individual, multi-skilled video journalists will simply be better equipped to compete downstream, and now is the time to start developing systems and work flow for tomorrow.
  • Retool your engineering and production departments. Your online technology is where growth is, and I’m amazed at how few stations are equipped — from a personnel standpoint — to deal with this. You need at least one hot programmer, a Flash artist, and a crackerjack web designer/developer. It’s past time to up your onboard geek quotient.”

About Daniel Davenport

Daniel is a digital media executive with internet and broadcast experience. Daniel is currently the executive strategy director at THINK Interactive.

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