This is my third day of giving you what general advice my firm has been giving its clients this past year. On Monday I wrote about Immediacy and on Tuesday about ‘Multimedia‘.’ Though this advice might seem simple, you’d be surprised how many news publishers (and broadcasters) still don’t know, understand, or heed it, even after many years of publishing online.
The third component I generally tell them to do is to provide audio and video online:
The popularity of content in regular broadcast radio or broadcast television formats is indisputable, and that shouldn’t be different online. Two-thirds of American adults now have access to broadband connections. Broadband connections can easily deliver radio programs in digital quality, which is why there shouldn’t be any surprise that more than one in ten people in the U.S. regularly listen to radio broadcasts streamed to computers.
Broadband also can deliver television programs with at least acceptable signal quality. Although online television’s signal quality isn’t yet as good as regular broadcast programming through cable, those of us old enough to remember the days before cable television know that online can already deliver better signal quality than ‘rabbit ear’ aerials did atop televisions. Plus, online signal quality is steadily increasing over the years. During the next five years, it should catch up with normal broadcast NTSC or PAL television signal quality, if not yet High Definition TV.
The business model for these is that the publisher appends a short (15 seconds) audio or video advertisement (similar to a radio or television commercial advertisement) to the start of each audio or video story.
Those newspapers are using audio and video to compete directly against radio and television stations online. At a media conference earlier this year in New York City, the founder of a video news syndication firm noted that some American newspapers now produce as much video content daily as do their local television station. An example is the San Jose Mercury News, a newspaper that now produces up to 20 video news stories each day, as many as the television stations in San Jose. Publishers normally have larger news staff than broadcasters and the technology necessary to podcast is not complex or expensive.
Moreover, most new mobile telephones now have the ability to play audio and video files. Plus, more and more people worldwide are also purchasing dedicated MP3 players, such as Apple iPods. More people already own mobile telephones and handheld media devices than own personal computers. More people will begin using these devices to access news than they will use personal computers or purchase a printed newspaper or magazine.
Behind the worldwide popularity of iPods and other handheld media devlices is people’s discovery that they like to listen to their choice of music or access news, and information wherever and whenever they want–not just at the when a radio or television station decides to broadcasts that content (or when a publisher decides to print it). These consumers do not want to be tied to a personal computer or television or even a portable radio. They want to listen to what they want when they want (‘on-demand’).
Too many news publishers think producing online audio or video is an accessory to their traditional text and still photographic content. That’s their perspective from working in the printed content industry, but it’s not consumers’ the perspective. Over the next ten years, ‘multimedia’ automatically delivered live or downloaded on-demand will be how most people get news. News publishers need to begin delivering that way if they are to survive in the future. Moreover, they need to begin producing that audio and video content as unique services, not just as extra information (‘sidebars’) accompanying their texts of stories.
Tomorrow, I’ll write about Interactivity, the fourth of the ten components that news organizations need to succee, and how interactivity is too often misunderstood by news organizations.