KSWB San Diego took advantage of people watching a Fox network program to topically promote its late news and the next day’s morning news. The results were impressive.
Industry headlines talk about streaming video, news apps, digital content, social media, OTT, digital antennas, digital accessibility, etc.
But I’m old school, a linear TV guy. I still think watching a local TV newscast at its appointed time on television is important.
And the audience the broadcast networks deliver is still the best place to recruit local TV news viewers.
After all, millions of people watch broadcast TV. The most-watched networks in 2020 were CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox, according to a Dec. 28, 2020, article in Variety.
And although viewership is declining on these networks, it still means millions of people are sitting there in front of their televisions available to watch your newscasts.
KSWB, Nexstar’s Fox affiliate in San Diego, thought the opening game of the Fox Thursday Night Football game on Oct. 7 between the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks would be highly viewed and a good place to reach those linear TV watchers.
“Given the opportunities, when we know that viewers are going to be there, why not take the challenge,” says Alejandro Guajardo, KSWB’s creative services director.
The challenge Guajardo refers to is how KSWB should use the two-minute break given to Fox affiliates during halftime of the Thursday night football game.
Guajardo says though there was no home town team playing that night, KSWB is partnered with the Los Angeles Rams since the San Diego Chargers left town in 2017.
“My GM reached out to the Rams organization and we kind of became the NFC Southern California station for Rams football,” Guajardo says.
So the station expected a huge TV audience. “That is why we use these as launching pads for our news promotion,” Guajardo says. “But it is up to us to really sell the news and make sure that we get the most retention as possible.”
Guajardo says that two-minute break can be used as a news cut-in or it can be split up between news and promotion. Given that this was the first game on Thursday night, “we determined it was going to be a good use of our news production and creative services to collaborate and do a super tease to really feature our news talent promoting news after the game and the following morning.”
Pulling off a two-minute super tease in valuable real estate takes some planning, communication and production between news and marketing.
Guajardo says the station began planning a month before the game. Then there were follow-ups a week before to make sure the news stories “were actually going to pan out and confirm.”
Copy was written in advance with the morning news tease written the day of recording, the Wednesday before the game.
“So it’s almost down to the wire,” Guajardo says.
In terms of the production of the super tease, Guajardo says news and marketing have been experimenting with topical production and work flow, using a Gimble coupled with a DSLR camera. The Gimble allows the camera to rotate, tilt and pan delivering smooth footage when moving. The DSLR camera captures images that look like film, with better resolution even in low light.
That type of topical production, “gives us a distinct look in the market,” Guajardo says.
Guajardo says KSWB’s FOX 5 News Special after the Oct. 7 game delivered a 2.4 household rating and a 1.4 rating in adults 25-54, the “third-highest Thursday night 8:30-10 p.m. time period rating this year.”
Even more impressive were the ratings for the next day’s morning newscast.
Guajardo says from 7 to 9 a.m. the day after Thursday Night Football, “FOX 5 News This Morning delivered its highest HH rating, 1.6, in six weeks, up 320% from the week prior.”
I think it’s a safe bet that KSWB will continue using Fox programming, especially live sports, as a place to market its news.
NOTE: Imagine if TV stations had 60-seconds, or more, of airtime very near the end of their respective networks’ entertainment programming to write and produce a super tease for the late news.
A tightly-edited string of reporter stand-up teases from the field, sound bites lifted from news stories airing that night, a well-written weather tease that doesn’t give away the forecast, anchor teases shot off the desk, and an announcer track that weaves them all together to create a thirst for the news that night.
Or if your late news struggles to hold the network audience, forego the normal news open, and craft a super tease to start your newscast, a tactic some of the network newscasts use. Show the audience there is a lot of news happening, and your station is everywhere covering it, at the precise moment they may be considering go to bed. The audience is there for you to create a thirst for news.
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