ABC Stations Launch 'Localish' for Mobile-Minded Millennials

WHY THIS MATTERS: By producing content with the mobile-first audience in mind, the ABC Owned Stations hope to draw in younger viewers.

Facing a generation that’s cutting the cable cord but is glued to its iPhones, the ABC Owned Television Stations Group is creating a new brand designed to appeal to mobile millennials.

The new brand, dubbed “Localish,” focuses on hyper-local stories produced by the stations with a national appeal, distributed on digital and social platforms.

Like other traditional media organizations, the ABC stations are looking to remain relevant to younger, digital-native consumers.

“Localish is built around the idea of producing content for this mobile-first audience whose interests might be a bit different than what we produce day-to-day,” Wendy McMahon, president of ABC Owned Television Stations, said. “This is a new venture to create an environment where we can experiment with new kinds of storytelling and new kinds of distribution.”

In addition to being among the top-rated broadcasters in their markets, the eight ABC stations have a big digital presence and massive social footprints. That makes them well-equipped to serve what seems to be a demand for local programming and information.

Seeking Out Local Content

Nearly 50% of all Google searches have local intent, McMahon said, and there’s been a 900% increase in search inquiries using the words “near me.”

”We believe in the mission of the ABC Owned Television Stations, which is to inform and reflect and to serve our communities,” she said. “We have so many amazing people in each of our communities. These fantastic stories of either hope or things to do with your family and your friends on weekends, that’s every bit as important to our communities on a day-to-day basis as some of the harder news stories that we produce.”

The first series produced under the Localish brand is More in Common, a series about celebrating unexpected connections between people. The show has been appearing on Facebook Watch’s new news section and attracted more than 9 million video views and 95,000 followers.

With the official launch this week of Localish, three more series are being added:

Secretly Awesome, which introduces viewers to spots locals love;
My Go-To, which features local influencers bringing viewers into their favorite hangouts;
Worth the Wait, which tells whether it’s really worth standing in the long lines at some hot spots.

“We often say this brand is very much created by for and about millennials,” Jennifer Mitchell, senior VP of content development at ABC Owned Television Stations, said. “The content is produced in a way that is digital-, mobile- and video-first. There’s an addressable audience of about 63 million people. So there is a real need and intent for this type of content.”

ABC did some research and found that millennials feel better about their communities they live in than the world at large. “We are better-positioned to serve this need, given the deep connections that we have and have had for decades in our local communities,” Mitchell said.

Other shows due to launch in October are based on data that shows that certain categories are interesting to Localish’s target audience. They include Staycation, a travel series; Bite Sized, about food; and Pumped, a fitness series.

Cross-Platform Reach

The content can be found on the the website, the network’s iOS and Android apps and its over-the-top platforms, including Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. It will also be on Facebook Watch, Twitter, YouTube Instagram and syndicated via Oath and Apple News.

“We’re also thinking about a strategic play around over-the-top, meaning we may be thinking about popping up an OTT channel,” McMahon said.

Localish is looking to have a dual revenue stream. Some distributors, including Facebook Watch, are paying for content and negotiations are underway to get fees from other platforms. Localish will also have national and local advertising, with enhanced targeting available on the local front.

“We are in the branded content business,” McMahon added. “That’s an opportunity for a product that wants to be a part of this very advertiser-friendly brand.

The ABC stations will be promoting the new Localish content in their newscasts and other programming. Promotion and content will also appear on the stations’ digital sites, social handles and apps.

“In addition to being the market leaders in their respective DMAs, they’re also a tremendous megaphone,” McMahon said. “Because of the connection that we have with our communities, our audiences trust that when we invite them to participate and be a part of something, we tend to get support there.”

Localish will also be supported by other Disney properties, including ABC’s Good Morning America, World News Tonight, Nightline and the Disney Digital Network.

There will also be paid media supporting the launch, much of that on social platforms.

“We’re talking about holding events in some of our markets and inviting people and businesses that have been featured in some of the content to attend, along with some of the influencers we’re working with as part of these series,” Mitchell added.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.