Local TV news broadcast companies all around the country, like Tegna, Cox, and the ABC-owned stations, are using Megaphone TV’s live polling, live voting and live trivia on social and on-air to drive and hold viewers during their newscasts. “We look at it as something that helps us connect with our viewers and helps our viewers connect with us, and it gets our viewers to be heard,” said Rhonda LaVelle, WXYZ Detroit’s news director.
Every Wednesday morning at 10, WXYZ in Detroit does a Facebook Live of its editorial meeting asking users to vote on one of three possible story ideas the station should treat as that day’s Big Story.
The Big Story is a feature in the station’s 5 p.m. news that day, “that is not necessarily the lead story or the breaking story,” said Rhonda LaVelle, WXYZ’s news director, “but it’s the story we put more resources into to dig deep into that story.”
WXYZ is the Scripps-owned ABC affiliate in Detroit.
The live polling is provided by Megaphone TV, a viewer engagement platform.
“The reason we did The Big Story is we always hear that we don’t listen to the people,” said LaVelle. “We just thought this is a really good way for us to pull back the curtain and invite people into our morning editorial meetings and help us decide what our viewers, our users think should be the big story for that day. It’s something that really helps differentiate us from the competition.”
Here is an edited example of how WXYZ used Megaphone for The Big Story around Halloween. It starts with an in-show tease from the day before, then the actual Facebook Live on Wednesday, followed by how the poll was used in the early part of that day’s 5 o’clock news and then in the later part of that same 5 o’clock news.
Paul Schmidt, Megaphone TV’s executive producer, said stations are using Megaphone as a link to connect social and broadcast.
Jamie MacDonald, Megaphone TV’s broadcast solutions VP, said his company works with about 70 local news organizations all around the country, like Tegna, Cox, the ABC-owned stations and a handful of Sinclair and Scripps stations, providing live polling, live voting and live trivia during a newscast.
“You want to fish where the fish are,” said MacDonald. “And for a local TV station, their viewers are on Facebook all day. So how do we get to them to start watching TV? We recommend voting in social first, so often our broadcasters will have a poll in their Facebook feed. So go-ahead and vote in our poll and see the final results at five o’clock. We’re a bridge between the on air broadcast and the broadcaster’s social and digital feed.”
“The payoff for the viewer is you get to see what you voted for, what you selected in the broadcast,” said Schmidt.
In addition to using Megaphone to link station’s social platforms with its broadcasts, they’re also using it within the newscasts to hold news viewers longer.
“So what Megaphone can do is keep people watching a little bit longer to see the results of a poll,” said Schmidt.
During a newscast, stations can poll the viewers about a story.
For example, in Denver, during the 5 o’clock news on KUSA, Tegna’s NBC affiliate, the station ran a story about $2 million the city spent for new street lights at a mall downtown. After the story ran, KUSA asked people to go to the station’s website to vote on why they no longer go the mall. Is it the lighting, the parking or the homeless people there?
“It helps the ratings by keeping people tuned in longer within a show,” said Schmidt. “What you are trying to do is keep people over a break.”
Later in the 5 o’clock news, after more than 1,000 people had voted, the station revealed the results: The majority said the reason they don’t shop there anymore is that the lack of parking.
LaVelle said its live polling on Wednesdays for users to vote on the big story isn’t the only time they use Megaphone.
“We do it daily in our newscasts for just about anything that people are talking about.”
She said the topic that gets the most votes is anything political.
“We have had up to 5,000 votes in a pretty short period of time.”
It’s all about the engagement, said LaVelle. “We look at it as something that helps us connect with our viewers and helps our viewers connect with us, and it gets our viewers to be heard. So we use Megaphone every day of the week.”