What sets this newscast apart from the competition? “Nothing!”

So, if a local TV newscast has been dominant for decades – then it must “own” a number of attributes that are valued by viewers in that market?  Right?   Shockingly – at least to me – that is not the case in a couple of recent AR&D research studies.

Now, I have partnered with stations for over two decades at AR&D and we have used that very approach – finding an unfulfilled viewer “desire” (balanced news, severe weather, accountability) – delivering that image – and rising to top dog in the market.  That’s why I was surprised to see legacy stations that brought the same response from respondent after respondent – “Gee, I really can’t think of anything they’re doing” that makes them noticeably different and better than their competitors.

It seemed unfathomable to me that these stations were market kings year after year – with no other local station taking a serious run at that them – when we kept seeing responses like this from viewers:

“I really don’t have anything specific.  I cannot think of anything that stands out,”

“I’m afraid I don’t know what the competitive advantage is that (station) has.”

“I’m not sure.  I guess it’s just habit.”

“I don’t know, they’re all pretty much the same, I’ve just always watched that one.”

After reading response after response like those – after seeing how the overall local TV news viewership numbers keep diminishing – after hearing for years that local TV newscasts are just not relevant anymore – it finally hit me.  The problem is most non-winning local TV newscasts are “ENABLERS.”

Those stations talk about strategy, talk about how their newscasts are really different than the #1 guys, talk about their great marketing campaigns.  But it’s all hogwash!  You are ENABLING the top dogs to stay on top because you are doing NOTHING noticeably different.  You are doing nothing that is bold enough, good enough, and valued enough to even get them to use one finger to push a different channel on their remote!   Am I being overly harsh?

I don’t think so.  The evidence clearly points to this fact: The second and third place TV stations cannot muster enough of a charge to pry these habitual viewers just a little bit out of their comfort zone – to even entertain the thought that maybe – just maybe – their favorite station (that hasn’t excited them for years) might not be the only one they should watch.  That, my friends, is a sad state of affairs.

But BOLD is hard for most TV stations to embrace.  After all, we all know that TV is a pack mentality business.  If I had a dollar for every time I suggested something bold, and a client said – “Who else does that?” – and I said “No one – you could be the first.” – and had the client say “Well let me know when someone else does it, and I’ll consider it.” – I could be retired on my bass boat right now.

So the message is simple – You can choose to be BOLD and go after viewer-desired opportunities in a major way – or you can continue to enable the #1 stations to sit on their well-worn, uninspired thrones and garner the majority of the revenue in your market.  The choice is yours.





This entry was posted on Sunday, March 11th, 2012 at 6:36 pm and is filed under Willi. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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