How can broadcasters stand out as new content publishers and platforms emerge and vie for audience attention? The answer seems to be a return to high-quality, unique programming and embracing the cues of your audience.
In 2015, adults in the United States spent an average of 5.5 hours per day watching video content, according to eMarketer. As high as that sounds, I expect that average to increase even more over time.
Once confined mostly to television, video can be found almost anywhere thanks to a proliferation of platforms, devices and distributors. What used to be “appointment viewing” is now watching with no schedule at all.
Just like newspapers, broadcasters must determine how to entice audiences who suddenly have a plethora of on-demand news and information sources at their disposal – including user-generated content on social media. Today, anyone with a mobile device is effectively a content creator.
So how can broadcasters and programmers alike secure market share and compete in an increasingly crowded space?
- Listen to and interact with your audiences. Social channels provide a quality feedback loop that informs newsgathering and, when done right, creates a loyal, “über” audience that returns to your programming.
- Seek new distribution channels. CBS and NBC are two networks that have launched streaming video channels with original programming. HBO opened itself to à la carte pricing via HBO Now, while other subscription-only channels are sure to follow.
- Above all, produce unique, distinctive reporting and storytelling. Given the unbundling of cable and satellite packages, the rise of streaming services and Facebook and Twitter vying for live-TV rights, high-quality content remains the most important distinguishing factor.
Take for example The Discovery Channel, which had been experiencing ratings declines when it decided to revamp its image with new series, more documentaries and fewer ratings stunts. Since then, audiences have grown.
My takeaway from all of this: Content is everywhere, and its rise in importance isn’t likely to change soon. Audiences are seeking quality storytelling based on facts, but told from a definitive point of view. It’s what keeps viewers tuning in.
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So how do you develop a point of view, a personality? How would you want your viewers to describe you?
Obviously, these are difficult questions to answer. Even if a network has a direction in mind, it must align all of its content to follow that path. In this way, broadcasters need to act like brands, constantly refining what they stand for and how they serve and engage their audiences.
In this way, broadcasters need to act like brands, constantly refining what they stand for and how they serve their audiences.
At AP, we work with broadcasters to develop that point of view with content that works across platforms and keeps audiences coming back for more. We provide live-streamed events around the world as well as raw, captivating footage that sets the stage and adds context to a larger story.
And because our journalists are intimately familiar with the areas they cover, we produce video and suggest story ideas no one else can find.
As additional accessibility to video offers more choices to viewers, we remain committed to helping broadcasters create their best stories – just as we’ve always done.
Sara is the managing director of national markets and major accounts for The Associated Press.