Calkins Cluster Eyes $.5M in Video Revenue
HERSHEY, PA. – A year ago, Calkins Media generated zero revenue from online video at its two newspapers in Bucks County, Pa. Today, it is bringing in $40,000 per month and area cable operators are eyeing its two daily newscasts as the nucleus of a potential hyperlocal news channel.
Jameson, who spoke during a Monday panel at the America East Conference in Hershey, Pa., oversees The Bucks County Courier Times, The Intelligencer and The Burlington County Times, a trio of papers covering neighboring areas on the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border and reaching a combined Sunday circulation of 100,000.
Spurred by forecasts that advertisers will be spending $300 million on digital video advertising in the Philadelphia DMA in 2018, and intrigued by the amount of political advertising revenue being generated by sister TV stations in Florida, the Calkins cluster decided to give video a try.
“We had a lot of people in the newsroom who are talented,” Jameson says. A former photo editor became the video editor, a reporter morphed into a videographer and another editorial staffer, Rachel Canelli, now anchors a daily newscast for each of the Bucks County papers.
Jameson brought in a former TV anchor from Boston to train the cluster’s writers to shoot video on their iPhones and the company invested $17,000 in a Newtek Tricaster editing station. It also picked up a pair of JVC 100 camcorders and some Panasonic 700 cameras that shoot both stills and video.
The papers are producing 10-12 new videos per day, or about 60 per week, Jameson said.
Canelli delivers a seven-to-10-minute newscast daily for each of the Bucks County papers, standing in front of a Courier Times logo in the paper’s newsroom for one and in front of a green screen with an Intelligencer logo projected on it for the other.
A news ticker crawls across the bottom of the screen during each newscast and Canelli directs viewers to get more on each story on the papers’ websites.
The cluster will soon add a daily newscast for the Burlington County Times.
Calkins sells sponsorships that include a 15-second pre-roll commercial and a “sponsored by” mention as the newscast begins. Sponsors also get to ride along on all the promotion the papers do to get online users to watch the newscasts. The total package costs $7,500 to $10,000 per month for a six-month commitment.
For the investment, each sponsor gets a 20% share of voice in all videos in a month, Jameson says. “We’re selling SOV because we don’t have enough CPMs to sell.” The two papers together are generating a combined 10,000-12,000 video views per week.
The company has been pitching sponsorships to newspaper advertisers who are already also advertising on local TV, but are likely paying for more reach than they need.
“If you are an advertiser in Doylestown and you want to buy network TV, you have to buy the whole pie,” Jameson says. “This is a good opportunity for car dealers who don’t have many locations.”
Area cable operators, faced with mounting competition from Netflix and other online providers, are considering running the Calkins news video on a channel or on video on demand, Jameson says. “They see hyperlocal news as a possibility for retaining subscribers.”