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Trends reshaping the future of news stations

Trends reshaping the future of news stations

2017 witnessed Israel’s Channel 1[1] nightly news ending its 49-year old journey abruptly. Closer home, NDTV took its English business news channel NDTV Profit[2] off the air in June. Regional (Kannada) news channel Udaya News[3] also shut down operations in 2017 due to losses.

In countries like the UK and the US, television viewership has declined on an average by 3 to 4% annually since 2012. When compared with the decline in newspaper circulation, there is a steep decline of 25 – 30% since the 2000s in the traditional consumption of news.

Though traditional television formats like 24-hour news channel and evening bulletins still cater to a large audience, with news being easily accessible in the age of digital media, television news providers are facing aging and eroding audience on traditional platforms.

Legacy broadcasters like PSB, BBC, CNN, RTL, ARD/ZDF, TF1, France Télévisions, ITV, etc. are experimenting with online video news to reach younger audiences in this changing environment. Print media, both in India and abroad, like the Daily Telegraph, Vice, Economic Times, Times of India, and New York Times, have started incorporating video as part of their digital strategy. The industry also has some pure digital players like NowThis, WatchUp, Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed is focused on building an audience for distributed viewing via platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

While these are still on experimental stage, we list four key trends below that will reshape the face of news channels:

Mobile Journalism

Thanks to social media, even an ordinary man is a broadcaster today. The newsroom has evolved from being linear to circular. People know what is happening in the blink of an eye. With social media channels becoming a valuable tool to reach out to the potential viewers, news broadcasters are in a rat race to deliver news first across all available platforms. This has led to the emergence of mobile journalism.

Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report indicate a steady growth in mobile use for news. From newsgathering to production, distribution, and consumption, mobile affects every stage of news. Newscasters have started reporting live from the venue using applications like Skype, Hangout, Google’s Duo, etc. Mobile phone cameras are replacing DSLRs to capture superior quality images and videos to be telecasted directly. There is no time lag from ground zero to the living rooms of the viewers, as the production control room (PCR) patches the audio/video of the reporter with the anchor and he is live on-air in practically no time with his news report.

However, broadcasters need to realize that ‘mobile first’ journalism does not only mean rearranging the newsroom or having a responsive website, but about having hyper-relevant, short, and visual stories to tell. Content management system needs to accommodate new and varied formats to cater to multiple devices and platforms.

Distributed Content

Both digital start-ups and legacy broadcasters have started pursuing distributed video strategies. Broadcasters are offering content on third-party platforms without dragging users away from the platform they choose to be on. Analytics company Tubular Labs report BuzzFeed, NowThis News, and AJ+ among the top ten most viewed ‘creators’ across Vine, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Tubular Labs estimate that CNN generated 214 million views in January 2016 and Fox News about 172 million[4]. CNN’s ‘Great Big Story’ initiative is an example of how some legacy broadcasters have embraced distributed viewing, and one clear takeaway is that socially distributed videos should be different not only from television clips, but also from website content[5].

However, broadcasters need to address the challenges around monetization and the risk of losing a direct relationship with the audience while pursuing distributed video strategies.

Live Streaming News

Live streaming news is still in its infancy. While some breaking news like terror attacks and events like Olympics do see a spike in the audience, the regular news is yet to catch up. However, news agencies and broadcasters do realize the demand for content around live events.

Apps like Twitter’s Periscope, Meerkat, and Facebook LiveStream are offering live streaming to witness events, where much of the content is offered by ‘citizen journalists.’ Broadcasters like BBC is developing its mobile aggregated content and live video stream – Newstream – that would offer both in-depth analysis and immediate stories. CBS News runs a 24/7 online live stream running content from the news division and affiliates.

However, broadcasters need to address the editorial challenges and the business prospects around live streaming to explore this trend completely.

Long Form

Broadcasters are also experimenting with a longer form of content, mostly interactive videos and documentaries to stand out in the competition. News agencies like Sky News and New York Times are experimenting with virtual reality, allowing users to have an immersive experience of major events from their smartphone. Vice, which started as a print magazine has built an online presence among the younger audience with its documentaries. Although the long form of content is yet to have mass adoption, producers foresee it developing into a mainstream application helping brands carve out a distinct identity.

However, the challenge is to find an approach that adds value to the longer form of content and stays beyond 24 hours – be it by being compelling, having a background, novelty or an angle to the story.

To survive the rat race and remain profitable, news broadcasters need to devise new strategies to reach out to the masses effectively. The news is no longer only about what is happening, but about how the common man wants to view and interpret what has happened and predict the future outcome.

[1] https://www.timesofisrael.com/with-two-hours-notice-and-after-49-years-channel-1-news-goes-off-the-air/
[2]http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/ndtv-to-bring-down-curtains-on-ndtv-profit-117060101597_1.html
[3] https://tvnews4u.com/sun-tv-network-mulls-closing-operations-udaya-news-gemini-news/
[4] https://tubularlabs.com/yt/cnn, https://tubularlabs.com/fb/foxnews
[5] http://www.gulfcoasthurricanecenter.com/many-people-turning-away-local-news/
Social Platforms – Changing the News Broadcast Industry

Social Platforms – Changing the News Broadcast Industry

With rapidly evolving content consumption pattern and hasty rise in online video viewing, traditional television viewing has suffered a setback. The very format of content delivery in nano-seconds has completely shaken up the existing ways of content delivery for news broadcasters.

According to the Digital News Report 2017 by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, almost 33% of millennial users (aged 18-24) consider social media to be their primary source of news and information. It’s said that the current situation of legacy broadcasters is quite similar to that faced by newspapers in the early 2000s. Gone are the days when families sat together for evening bulletins, now it’s time for news anytime, anywhere with around 46% of people consuming news in bed on their smartphones itself. 1

Rise and Live on Social

The rise of platforms have opened newer avenues of reaching wider and demographically diverse audience. Audiences have moved to digital representations of news with mediums such as Snapchat, Periscope, Instagram and Facebook Live becoming regular tools of what was once a single source of information dissemination platform. Besides, there’s also a significant rise in news consumption from messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, FB Messenger, Vibe, etc.

Facebook dominates its reach with wider acceptability as a social network for news with 47% of people logging in for their daily updates. Taking cue from this favourability broadcasters have evolved their content delivery for digital platforms. Live events, particularly sports and election results are now being reported using Facebook live and Periscope along with traditional broadcasts.

The Associated Press (AP) works in partnership with Livestream.com to bring major news events live to customers, which is formatted for TV, mobile, or online. Similarly, while experimenting early on with the format, National Public Radio (NPR), USA decided to go “all out” with Facebook Live. It created a Facebook page entirely for live video with dedicated journalists to ideate and produce content so they can broadcast as the news breaks and deliver stories in a new format. 2

Finding New Audiences among Distributed Platforms

While the multi-platform world also puts forth a challenge of what new content will be engaging for the audiences and how to bring more audiences. As per findings of the Reuters Institute, Digital News Report majority of access to websites and apps is now via side-door routes (65%) rather than direct (32%) such as search, social media, email, mobile alerts and aggregators. 3

While there’s also around 29% of people who completely avoid the news as it is said to have a negative impact on their mood. To reach new and younger audiences, broadcasters such as Australian Broadcasting Corporation, are investing in news apps and partnering with news aggregators (Flipboard, SmartNews, Apple News, Google News, Snapchat Discover, Kakao Channel, and Line News) pushing notifications directly to user’s mobile screen.

For Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the country’s public broadcaster, Apple News has added up to more than 1.1 million subscribers who’ve enabled push alerts since September 2016. ABC’s audience on Apple News is younger and more female than its readers on other digital platforms, and 75% of the people it reaches there are new to the brand. 4

Citizen Journalists & Combating Fake News

The need to produce more content and be in active mode always has made broadcasters reliant to content offered by the public or ‘citizen journalists’ to some extent. User generated content on social platforms such as viewer reviews, polls, video stories of local happenings is driving audience engagement that becomes a backbone of content programming.

User submitted information has done wonders especially in times of crisis such as Arab Uprising or reportage about current conflict in Aleppo. Citizens armed with smartphones record and bring the stories from conflicted areas to center stage, putting their safety at stake. 5

While this has also given rise to the concept of fake news, around the world only 24% believe social media does a good job separating fact from fiction. Alone Facebook had 23 out 50 hoaxed news around US election in 2016 and it contributed to  10.6 million shares, reactions and comments 6. This incidence highlighted the power of social media platform and the viral algorithms that are encouraging low quality and ‘fake news’ to spread quickly. It is thus important to monitor the kind of news that is disseminated through social platforms to avoid any negative impact on society.

The Way Ahead

The best way to move ahead for broadcasters is by utilizing the data to understand viewer behavior and drawing analogies for the dissemination of relevant content. Fighting the algorithmic delivery of news, Broadcasters are also looking to break the echo chambers. This would not only help in building upon new audience but also retaining the existing ones.

Both television news and social media will coexist and broadcasters need a strategy to focus on both. The major impact, however, has been on print media where the time to report is much higher and they have to catch than wait for news to break in the morning.