Who needs a TV network?

by Mathew on January 16, 2007 · 11 comments

Interesting move by a local TV station called KZSW in Temecula, California (yeah, I’ve never heard of it either — look it up on Google Maps if you want). Marshall Kirkpatrick, who was briefly with TechCrunch and is now with Splashcast, says that the station there has started uploading its video to YouTube. And why not? If it’s good enough for NBC and clips like “My ** in a Box” from Saturday Night Live, then why not the local traffic report or cat-in-a-tree report from downtown Temecula?

Marshall links to a story from the local newspaper that discusses the station’s decision. The story says that since December 4, the station has posted about 50 local news and sports segments to YouTube, and nine segments have gotten more than 100 views, including “a ride-along with police in Menifee, snowboarding in Wrightwood and the opening of the new Temecula library.”

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Okay, it’s no Lonelygirl15 or Numa Numa dance, but hey — what does KZSW care? They get more viewership for their video virtually free of charge. It’s a no-brainer. As a couple of people have mentioned, both on the PaidContent post about it and the post by Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine, it’s difficult to see how this helps any advertisers the station might have, or brings in any extra money for KZSW.

But so what? Maybe it will drive viewers to the station — and if it doesn’t, no harm no foul. As Edward Fink, chairman of Cal State Fullerton’s Radio-TV-Film department, told the local paper: “YouTube is there and it’s free. If you’re trying to find an audience, why not use it?” Meanwhile, Tom Evslin says broadcast content will move to the web, and we’ll use broadcast towers for Internet access.

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  • http://paul.kedrosky.com Paul Kedrosky

    Leaving aside the merits of the decision, you Canadians need to get out more. Temecula is commuter country for San Diego, a mere 90-minute drive north-northeast.

  • http://www.robhyndman.com Rob Hyndman

    Sure, we’re still experimenting, so who knows, give it a try. But at some point it’s not going to make sense spending time on effort that doesn’t produce $.

  • Mathew Ingram

    Thanks for that, Paul. I’m secretly pleased to hear that people in San Diego regularly commute for 90 minutes or more :-)

    And Rob, I actually think there are ways that a local station can translate YouTube viewership into money — although it probably would have been easier if they had used Revver.

  • http://www.robhyndman.com Rob Hyndman

    Seems to me that giving your existing viewers a new way to watch your content that produces less revenue per viewer for you for those viewers, in the hopes of picking up extra viewers at those lower rates, doesn’t really make sense..

    Seems to me that they would lose more existing TV viewers to the web than new viewers they would pick up, and that the rates on the web, being untargeted, would produce much less revenue per view.

    Seems like a hail mary to me – like I said, no harm in seeing what happens, I suppose – but I don’t see the logic of it.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work Mathew Ingram

    A Hail Mary pass it may be, but at the same time I don’t really see what choice a small station (or any station) really has. It has to experiment, in the same way that newspapers have to experiment.

    Your argument that this amounts to giving away their content — in the hope that it will either drive traffic to their TV programming or generate ad sales on the Internet, but at lower rates — is identical to the argument that newspapers have been having about putting their content online for free.

    The rationale is a) that they have to, because that’s where the people are and b) because they might be able to generate additional brand awareness and traffic that they can then (theoretically) monetize.

  • http://www.robhyndman.com Rob Hyndman

    Well, I take your point, but don’t think it’s right to say it’s identical, actually, and that’s the difference I’m talking about. I think that the right medium to experiment on is still a question of when and how, and that that varies by media, and my point is really that the right approach for one is not necessarily the right approach for the other.

    So, TV is defacto a captive audience – captive to the high bandwidth of cable, a large screen, high resolution, stereo sound, and the like – people will for a while still have major attachment to that. I don’t really see a need yet for the hail mary – I agree that it’s coming, but it still seems to me to be way off. So giving your marginal viewers a way to not show up on your Neilsen ratings – or whatever they use – while earning what must really be marginal ad revenue seems very early to me. I certainly get the appeal of trying to amp up the involvement that people have with the content by applying social media tools to it – that sounds very cool, and there could be neat things one could do with programming in that vein – viewer suggestions and feedback, and the like. Maybe that’s a better way to look at it ….

  • http://michaelocc.com Michael O’Connor Clarke

    I agree with Rob’s last comment there – the new hotness of this, if hotness there is, probably exists in “trying to amp up the involvement that people have with the content by applying social media tools to it”.

    But I also think that KZSW’s decision could be seen as a good example of what Doc Searls calls the “because effect” – that is, while other people look to make money with something, KZSW in this case may be exploring ways of making money because of something.

    Sure, KZSW may be missing out on potential TV ad revenue, and sure they’re most likely going to end up screwing with their CPM – but the experiment is still worthwhile. And CPM is such a crock anyway. It’s a crock upon which an enormous industry has been built, I know, but ’tis no less a crock for a’ that.

    Who knows what kind of extra viewership this could generate for them, and what goodness might spring forth from that…?

  • Mathew Ingram

    Totally, violently agree Michael — especially with the CPM thing, but also with the “because” thing.

  • http://kzswtv.com John Roberts

    I am the C.O.O. of KZSW-TV. We are actually 40 minutes from San Diego. Many of the comments I have read are being made based on assumptions that don’t apply to us. Although we are considered to be part of the L.A. DMA, we have no numbers to sell with. We are a low power station that does not enjoy must carry rules for local cable. We do not sell CPM or CPPor any thing that is related to ratings. We sell results. It has been a long road but you must understand we are the only local TV station in a market of 4 million people. All other local news comes from L.A. stations. Any where else in the country we would be our own major market.
    This is called the Inland Empire and includes Riverside and San Bernradino Counties. We use many sources of distribution so viewers who want local news can find it. (Including UHF antenas.) U-Tube has been fun and we hope it has sold a car or two for our clients. We are also on Verizon FiOS who contributes our local news with their fastest growing markets anywhere in the country. We also offer much of our local progamming on our web-site via VOD. When we talk with our advertisers, we show them all of the ways viewers can recieve it. We continue to look for avenues of distribution… where we can include our advertisers commercials. What we offer is local TV news. It is working for us.

  • Mathew

    Thanks for the comment, John. I appreciate you providing some background — and good luck.

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