Special Report: Diginets

News Finds A New Home Among Diginets

Stations started dabbling with inserting newscasts into their diginet subchannels about five years ago and they say they expect the practice to become more pervasive as more stations recognize the revenue and promotional potential. Among the experiments is producing newscasts that air at non-traditional times — 7-9 a.m. or 9 p.m. — when primary channels are airing network programming.
TVNewsCheck,

Never mind extra-long NFL games or other disruptions that throw regular TV programming out of whack. WIBW, Gray Television’s CBS affiliate in Topeka, Kan., promises viewers they’ll have local news 6 p.m. Sundays — and that is exactly what the station gives them.

At times, that may require viewers to flip the channel to WIBW’s D2, which, in addition to its My Network TV and Me-TV programming, starts 13 News right on time every Sunday night, even if it’s being bumped from the main signal.

Story continues after the ad

GM Jim Ogle says the maneuver is paying off. "It immediately took the legs out from under the ABC affiliate (Vaughan Media’s KTKA) because they used to get great numbers on Sundays when the rest of us were dealing with sports programs.”

“As soon as we guaranteed you could get it, boom!” he says.

Ogle’s efforts — which also include producing 7-9 a.m. and 9 p.m. weekday newscasts exclusively for its D2 — exemplify how stations are using diginets as yet another outlet for their newsrooms.

Stations started dabbling with news on diginets about five years ago and they say they expect the practice to become more pervasive as more stations recognize the revenue and promotional potential.

Brand Connections

“You have to think of local synergy,” says Frank Biancuzzo, SVP of Hearst Television. “This is really about creating a local identity in a local market so these channels resonate.”

Broadcasters are experimenting with doing news on diginets in a variety of ways.

One typical approach is producing newscasts that air at non-traditional times — 7-9 a.m. or 9 p.m. — when primary channels are airing network programming. WIBW, Raycom’s WSFA Montgomery, Ala. (DMA 118), and Media General’s WCMH Columbus, Ohio (DMA 32), are among the stations doing that.

WRC, the NBC O&O in Washington (DMA 8), inserts a nightly 7 p.m. program in Cozi that Assistant News Director Matt Glassman says is not a full-blown newscast. "It's a single anchor in a different studio that hits the headlines of the day along with some of the packages that have run on some of our newscasts throughout the afternoon," he says.

Media General’s WSAV, an NBC affiliate in Savannah, Ga. (DMA 92), has taken a more aggressive approach, creating a newscast — and a two-person bureau to produce it — for viewers in neighboring South Carolina.

Started four years ago, My Lowcountry News airs nightly at 7 p.m. on a subchannel otherwise devoted to MNT and Me-TV. It combines original stories shot in Hilton Head Island and Beaufort and with stories from Media General's three stations in South Carolina.

The newscast has grown to the point where it is “self-sufficient” financially, and has attracted a following among viewers “who know they can get South Carolina news at 7,” says Media General VP of Broadcast Markets John Cottingham.  “The Savannah situation was a real station initiative to claim an audience."

WMC, Raycom’s NBC affiliate in Memphis, Tenn. (DMA 49), hopes it can find an audience with a month-old 7-8 a.m. newscast on its Bounce subchannel.

GM Lee Meredith says the newscast “is a very broadly targeted program,” with an emphasis on traffic and weather. “You can’t get much more universal than that,” he says.

Meredith says he is considering putting more news on Bounce. "We'll see how it goes. Bounce is a network that is targeted to African Americans and I don’t want to be doing a lot of stuff that runs against that mission.”

But the folks at Bounce hardly seem concerned.

“We love it,” says Bounce TV COO Jonathan Katz, who says that Bounce “encourages” affiliates to preempt network programming with local news.

The way Katz sees it, Bounce affiliates are better equipped than the network to serve their communities, and if that means putting on local news on then so be it.

“The consumer drives everything we do,” Katz says, adding that the universal appeal of news is one way for Bounce to garner viewers from outside its target demo.

Cozi TV SVP Meredith McGinn feels similarly, saying the network supports “anything that the primarily channels can do to increase their connection to the local community.”

One of Cozi’s selling points is giving affiliates the liberty to preempt up to 13 hours of network programming a week and give it some local flavor.

“No one knows the markets and the needs and habits of the marketplace, better than those news directors. I would never be a speed bump,” she says. “As long as the channel doesn’t become an all-news channel we are comfortable with preemptions for that local market.”

Me-TV’s Neal Sabin, however, is not quite as gung-ho.

On one hand, Sabin says “we encourage judicious use of local programming on the Me-TV network feed, and one of the best ways to do that is local news.”

Tags

Comments (2) -

FlashFlood Nickname posted over 3 years ago
WESH 2 airs news 7-9 AM and 10 PM on WKCF 18. WFTV 9 airs news 7-9 AM and 10 PM on WRDQ 27. WRDQ splits how "The Daily Buzz" is broadcast; 6-7 AM on 27.1 and 7-9 AM on 27.2. Here in Orlando, we use other stations, not diginets, for news while the network stations are on their morning shows or late prime time.
PhillyPhlash Nickname posted over 3 years ago
Years ago, an indie station group offered 24/7 news to broadcast affiliates. Now that stations have multichannel capacity, some brave all-news outlet should consider going broadcast. Imagine the instant impact on TV advertising that near-100 percent market penetration would bring. With Big Cable owning one of the Big Three, it seems unlikely. That in itself is good reason for the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Justice Dept. to take another look at vertical integration in cable/broadcast media.
Marketshare Blog Playout Blog

Twitter

TVNewsCheck

Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 26, 2016
  • 1.
    4.4/12
  • 2.
    2.8/8
  • 3.
    2.5/7
  • 4.
    1.5/4
  • 5.
    0.8/2
  • 6.
    0.3/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

This advertisement will close automatically in  second(s). You will see this ad no more than once a day. Skip ad