Today’s local news story selection bias toward ‘urgent/now/breaking’ is an artifact of an era gone by. When all viewing was live, local TV news was rewarded for its urgency. The fact is, there are approximately 900 registered news channels in India.
To be sure, when there is a significant local breaking news or weather-related story, viewers do return to watch live local news. Too often, however, the slug ‘Breaking News’ has become more of a gimmick than a descriptor.
As the shift from live toward OTT continues, a different kind of story selection will be required. In the Darwinian fight for survival, the OTT/on-demand viewing environment rewards the best storytelling. Just look at the programs that drive passionate binge-viewing. While entertainment has done significant work, news is yet to take the lesson. Local news stories worth watching on demand will be stories with a ‘long tail’ — stories that are still worth watching a few hours later, or a few days, or even weeks and months later.
The single most valuable action a content director can implement immediately in each day’s morning meeting is to put all assignments through this simple filter: Is there a way we can tell this story so people will also care about and want to watch it later in the evening, as well as next week, next month and next year?
News channels must realise that breaking news is no more a TV phenomenon. Today news breaks on Twitter and spread though other social media platforms and WhatsApp. As mobile and internet penetration grows, the challenge will continue to become bigger. A forward thinking news brand must build the core on ‘analysis’ to continue to be relevant.
Let’s not forget that OTT is also synonymous with freedom for millennials — anytime, anywhere, anything. They are exposed to a variety of content and will reject it if content doesn’t live up to their expectations. OTT has also opened up gates for a lot of good content creators who couldn’t afford making 70mm screen films. The successes of some of the series/short films are testimony to this. A comparative content quality and value addition to news viewer (beyond just breaking news) is extremely important.
The guest author, is a media professional with more that 15 years expierience. He was the VP and Head of marketing Zee Media