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CBS Local Adds News Apps

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While many stations have created separate apps for their local newscasts, CBS Local has taken a different route, bundling content from its stations with its radio outlets to offer a wide array of news, sports, weather and other local content.

That strategy builds on an approach CBS Local started a year ago, when it began rolling out 24 local Websites with news, sports and weather from its TV and radio properties. In New York, the recently launched CBS New York app provides access to the video and audio content from its CBS 2 TV station as well as 1010 WINS, CBS 880 and WFAN Sports Radio 660 radio stations, notes Ezra Kucharz, president, CBS Local Digital Media.

“We are taking a very DMA-centric approach to our app strategy, just as we have done for the Web,” Kucharz explains. “By packaging it all together it creates very robust, rich brands for consumers with all of our news, sports and weather.”

Apps for the iPhone and iPad were launched in August in seven markets -- New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Francisco and Boston -- with more markets to follow soon. CBS will also be launching mobile Web versions of its sites by the end of August and is working on an Android version of the local apps.

The initial focus will be on free ad-support content but Kucharz expects that within six months, they will add premium services that might include enhanced services and games.

Kucharz also explains that they decided to aggregate all their news, weather, sports and other content from their TV and radio content into one DMA-specific app after doing extensive consumer research.

"We've approached our apps very methodically and were very careful to listen to consumers and not to make any assumptions about what they want," adds Kucharz. "What we heard from consumers is that they are focused on the DMA or the geography. We have these great brands for delivering that content but we realized that we have to organize and give consumers access to the content in a way the consumer wants. And, that is not necessarily the way our organization is set up" for TV and radio stations.

He also notes that packaging the content together helps their apps compete against national news, weather or sports services. "It is about having news, weather, sports and lifestyle content all together in your local markets," he says.

Kucharz also stresses the importance of keeping apps simple and intuitive. "A lot of players in this space are creating shiny new apps that get a lot of buzz in the press," he says. "But at the end of the day it is all about what the consumer wants and the consumers are fairly simple in their needs. They are looking for local content and information, access to search, and savings and deals. These are core themes for local apps that some people lose sight of."