- OTT is still a work in progress among local TV news stations as station owners try to juggle investments in digital transition with an audience still heavily reliant on TV for their news consumption.
- Many companies are setting up around-the-clock streaming services using OTT desks to oversee the operation.
- NextGen TV allows stations to tailor ads for specific locations, but this requires consumers to upgrade their current TVs for compatibility.
OTT is still a work in progress among local TV news stations as station owners try to juggle investments in digital transition with an audience still heavily reliant on TV for their news consumption.
According to research compiled by the RTDNA/Newhouse School at Syracuse University, doing something with OTT continues to edge up from 53.8% in 2020 to 58% in 2022.
“Not exactly setting the world on fire, but clearly moving up,” observe the researchers — Bob Papper is an adjunct professor of Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University, and Keren Henderson is an associate professor of Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse.
“On the other hand, stations in the top 25 markets went from 72% doing something last year to 65% this year. The smallest markets also went down in percentage while markets 26 through 150 all went up — if sometimes modestly,” they comment. “The smallest markets and stations with the smallest staffs are the least likely to be involved with OTT.”
Several stations either currently have or are setting up around-the-clock streaming services, and an increasing number have OTT desks to oversee the operation.
Developments range from producing exclusive online programs, including daily newscasts, to live streams and creation of a dedicated OTT Anchor Desk. Some stations have partnered with streaming platforms for distribution including live newscasts, multiple daily live streams, and video-on-demand. Several have breaking news channels ready online as required (also for weather events).
Local TV newscasters are doing this for a variety of reasons too. “To reach new audiences” is the main reason, followed by the opportunity to “go deeper with content” and “make extra revenue.” The “get more feedback from the audience” reason rose up in the agenda, but those ticking the “too early to tell” box were “still very high,” Papper and Henderson judged.
When it comes to NextGen TV (ATSC 3.0), some TV companies like Sinclair and Nexstar see this as critical to the future of local TV while others are not as sure, the researchers comment.
“The key idea behind NextGen TV, or ATSC 3.0, is a merging of television and internet technologies. Through changes in compression, it allows a higher quality (4K) picture and better audio. But the reason TV companies are particularly interested in NextGen is addressability. Because of the internet connection, it allows stations to tailor commercials to specific zip codes or even homes.”
Nonetheless this is reliant on consumers going out and upgrading their current TV to be compatible with NextGen TV.
“More and more TV markets are starting to feed at least some material for NextGen, but we’re a long way from knowing if average (or even enough high-end) consumers will care,” the report found.
Overall, just 11% of TV news directors reported doing “something” with NextGen TV. That’s actually down from last year’s 12.3%. The number peaks at 41.2% in the top 25 markets, up 16 points from last year, but no other market size passed 15%.
The survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2021 among all 1,780 operating, non-satellite TV stations, and a random sample of 3,379 radio stations.
The advent of streaming had many pundits predicting the end of broadcast television, but the ongoing transition to ATSC 3.0 shows that NextGen TV is on the rise. What’s more, legacy broadcast series have remained among the most popular content on streaming platforms worldwide. Learn about the latest broadcast tech and trends as well as what the future holds for over-the-air TV with the expert knowledge and insights you need from this hand-curated series of articles from NAB Amplify:
- NextGen TV: Using the Lighthouse Model to Make the Transition to ATSC 3.0
- What’s the Future of Broadcast TV? FCC Commissioner Starks Places a Bet on ATSC 3.0
- Streaming, Broadcast and Planning the Platform of the Future
- NextGen TV Isn’t Just a Vibe Shift, It’s a Permanent Situation
- Why Streaming Now Looks Even More Like Broadcast TV