11 September 2007

WKYT gets it

So just when I'm about to write off televsion, WKYT makes a bid to become my preferred local TV news outlet:

CBS affiliate WKYT-27 will launch an Internet-only 4 p.m. newscast later this month.

With an expected length of 10 to 15 minutes, it's being touted as a newscast for people still at work who might not be home in time to watch the station's regular newscasts between 5 and 6:30 p.m.

"We're going to try to make sure it has the feel that the day's still going on and this is what's developing," said news director Robert Thomas.

The newscast will be the first such Web-exclusive offering by a Lexington affiliate.

NBC affiliate WLEX-18 currently streams some of its live newscasts on its Web site.

OK, a few thoughts on this.

First, online video broadcasting has become much, much cheaper than it was, and we'll probably see a lot more professional-looking vlogging and vodcasting from small groups and individuals. (Props to Richard Stacy.)

A web-specific newscast is preferable to a simple live stream of a tv broadcast. The content can be tailored to my interests and needs - for example, I'd expect more tech and business news. (I work at home so I'm not worried about traffic reports, but I can see why predictions of the evening weather and commute could be helpful.)

If WKYT is really smart, they'll pair the 15-minute live version with shorter segments and let me choose which individual stories I want to watch, like I would with an RSS feed from a news source. Then they'll build a viewer widget so people can embed WKYT broadcasts in their own blogs and sites, or in aggregators like netvibes.

Of course, their target audience is still at work at 4pm, and WKYT's newscast may constitute "personal use" of company computers, conflicting with many of the computer use policies at Lexington's largest employers. Fifteen minutes is a good chunk of time in the workday. But again, WKYT can help workers by gearing their content toward a business audience, creating the leigitimate need to watch it. I hope companies make an exception if their policies are too restrictive.

The folks at WLEX say that their audience won't currently support a 'net cast like this. But I think WKYT is looking at trends and thinking about what the audience will want a year or two from now. So kudos to WKYT and I hope people understand it will take them some time to get this right. I'll be watching for it.

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