KCRA-TV Puts the News Where Viewers Want It

Jul 31, 2006  •  Post A Comment

In early June, Hearst-Argyle-owned NBC affiliate KCRA-TV in Sacramento, Calif., introduced its first installment of Web-only newscasts.

The two- to three-minute newscasts produced specifically for KCRA.com run four times a day and are emblematic of both the changes in consumers’ expectations for local stations and the advertising opportunities online.

The station debuted the webcasts, powered by Internet Broadcasting, because viewers demand news when they want and where they want, and because ad dollars flowing into online video are rising. Advertisers can run short 10- to 15-second commercials before the start of the newscast.

“[The Internet] is absolutely critical to our strategic growth,” said Elliott Troshinsky, president and general manager of KCRA. “When we look at the usage and the improved broadband quality and the number of people with broadband capabilities and know that consumers want news and information when they want it … it’s an acknowledgment of becoming a multimedia digital platform company.”

Web ad dollars are rising year to year. Mr. Troshinsky declined to provide specific figures, but said he expects exponential growth over the next few years from an assortment of display ads, pre-roll, sponsorship, promotions and e-mail marketing opportunities.

During the second quarter of this year, the Web sites of the 28 Hearst-Argyle stations generated more than 330 million page views combined, up from 315 million page views in the first quarter, according to WebTrends.

KCRA fine-tuned its focus on the Internet opportunity about 18 months ago as the Internet became a meaningful advertising venue, Mr. Troshinsky said. In 2004, KCRA logged about 63 million page views, a number that rose to 82 million in 2005.

“Early on, there wasn’t a lot of [advertiser] activity-until it grew to the numbers it reached,” he said. “In 2004 it became more of a business, and there was a lot more focus on developing content that was advertiser oriented.”

That includes a new mini-site that KCRA developed with Internet Broadcasting and unveiled in June. The service, Localcarsforyou.com, provides information on Sacramento car dealers. The station has joined with about 20 car dealers who are sponsors of the site and who list about 2,000 autos from their used car inventory. Mr. Troshinsky said that while the Internet is rife with car-buying sites, the opportunity with Localcarsforyou.com was to focus exclusively on the Sacramento area and used cars, thus superserving that niche.

“You look at the inventory. You can send an e-mail, and they contact the used car dealer. You don’t have to search through millions of cars,” he said.

The Web site is promoted heavily on KCRA’s air.

KCRA has plans in the works to link up with NBC’s WeatherPlus online extension, which mixes national weather reports with coverage and forecasts from the local weathercasters at NBC-affiliated stations. With the partnership, KCRA will have deeper and more robust weather coverage online, including videos. Mr. Troshinsky expects new ad opportunities will follow too.

“When we look at ad solutions, it gives us a more multiplatform approach,” he said.