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Entertainment Key For Newspaper Vids

Knowing that a demographic of ages 30 to 45 would not be engaged as strongly with traditional news formats, 4CornersTV.com was created to provide that demographic with content to both inform and entertain while being accessible in the formats they like at any time and on any device.  Doug Bennett explains.  
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NetNewsCheck,

4CornersTV.com, launched in February by Ballantine Communications Inc, represents a new initiative for media companies to do what will be essential to their continued success: connect with new and younger audiences.

Knowing that a demographic of ages 30 to 45 would not be engaged as strongly with traditional news formats, 4CornersTV.com was created to provide that demographic with content to both inform and entertain while being accessible in the formats they like at any time and on any device.

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Doug+Bennett
Doug Bennett
After more than three months of daily production with over 275 videos produced, there have been a number of significant things we have learned. The first, and likely the most important, is the relationship between content and audience engagement. Striking a balance between information and entertainment, with the latter being the most crucial, has been the most substantially effective way to boost traffic.

Since we made adjustments to programming, caused by a slowing growth rate in our targeted audience (according Google Analytics) we have seen a 63% growth in traffic, averaging 4% growth each week. Fifty-three percent of audience is between the ages of 25 and 45. And, 30% of our traffic is from mobile devices. Our audience values the enjoyment of 4CornersTV.com programming more than it does the information gathering.

This was very evident to us on an April Fools edition of our daily “news” program “The Local Roundup.” While the Roundup has a strong daily audience, consumers weren’t as prone to share or engage with it. So we decided to use April 1 as a test case in favoring entertainment over information and produced a program filled entirely with fake news.

From federal controls on beer production (a taboo topic in our home state of Colorado) to piranhas in a local river, the fake-news allowed humor to shine through our traditional format. This resulted in the most watched episode of “The Local Roundup” to date and led us to a more focused initiative to drive entertainment as a first priority of production.

Brand Connections

This focus on entertainment has also been reflected in the topics we choose to cover. Generally, the episodes that more directly reflect aspects of the area’s lifestyle are most successful. Shows about mountain biking, rafting and other adventure sports are better received than more socially-focused news.

One surprising development in the first three months of production was the more peripheral role of our newsrooms in 4CornersTV.com. Ballantine Communications owns several newspapers, including The Durango Herald and The Cortez Journal. We assumed that we would draw heavily on the expertise of those newsrooms for content creation on 4CornersTV.com.

In reality, this expertise was more frequently used in an advisory role. The newsroom has passed along ideas that better fit the audience and experience we are focused on at 4CornersTV.com. Our newsroom now plays more of a role as a source for material, as 4CornersTV.com staff writes its own material and, depending on story, also originates the content.

We have also spent extensive time examining how to maximize workflow for the resources we have available. We must strike a balance between the time it takes to find great stories with the time required to produce daily programming. This has made it essential to set aside time for production teams to sit down and look ahead.

The questions we found ourselves asking: What events are happening in the next month? Which is the right show and host for this story or that? Is there a way to make this more entertaining for our audience? Being intentional about the content and branding choices we make has enabled us to couple production and promotion effectively.  We needed to follow the same approach as a company dedicated to video production. Our efforts with video were thus the primary intent as opposed to an add-on video to a news story.

The most impactful way 4CornersTV can build its brand and cultivate new audiences is through the addition of new programming and hosts. The first imperative is relatively straightforward. We determine the show we’d like to make, agree on a creative direction and outline the first collection of episodes.

Matching the talent with the program has proven to be a more involved process. Once a creative direction has been established for the show, the next consideration is finding the host that fits with that strategy. At 4CornersTV it starts with a casting call.

We look for hosts who seem natural on camera, even if slightly unpolished, but are able to convey an enthusiasm about the subjects they are covering. For example, once we understood that our show “In the Neighborhood” needed to be fun and fast-paced with original content, we hired a host who was willing to have fun on camera when engaging the subject, such as letting the audience fly along with her on her first skydive.

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Comments (1) -

Mike Donatello posted over 2 years ago
Interesting story, which parallels the findings of a study I did in 2011, in which entertainment value of content was the only significant driver of news site visitors' willingness to pay for access. It would be interesting to hear further details or the results from a more structured study.

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