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RTDNA: Stations Expanded Digital Content, Strategy in 2016

More than three-quarters of the country’s TV stations launched new online initiatives considered important during the last year, with Fox stations and affiliates in the west leading the change, according to latest Radio Television Digital News Association annual survey.

The first installment of the report, which focuses on stations’ online endeavors, found much of the efforts focus on expanding online content by adding live events, newscast streams, digital-exclusive content and web series on hot button issues like heroin use and homelessness. More digital-only newscasts, millennial-focused offerings and long-form storytelling also lit up during the last year, said Bob Papper, the Hofstra University journalism professor emeritus, who has conducted the survey for the last nine years.

After content, newsrooms focused on improving web strategy and design, such as increasing clickable content, making content more selective, more news sharing within groups, the survey found.

TV station websites (Papper didn’t find a single news-producing station without one) offerings can be grouped in four categories, he said.  

  • There’s the virtually everybody has it group: news video, still pictures, text and live streaming. 
  • There’s the, you really should be doing it or you’re not playing with the big boys and girls: event calendar, live newscasts, mobile-related, user-generated content and live cameras. 
  • Optional extras: audio, recorded newscasts and blogs. 
  • Who cares category: streaming audio and podcasts.

“Over the last year, what changed in station websites in a meaningful way?” he said. “Mobile related and live cameras went up.  Blogs went down. Audio and steaming audio plunged, and podcasts continued their slow, steady fall.”

RTDNA will release new installments of the nine-part report, which also looks at newsroom staffing, salaries and budgets. More information is available on the RTDNA website.

(Photo via 
Jeroen Bennink's Flickr. Image taken on Feb. 6, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 9x16 aspect ratio.)