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How to Make Localized Streaming Work

Making streaming platforms more accommodating for localized audiences still faces several challenges. Chris Pfaff, CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech Media, asks Jim Long, CEO, Didja.tv, why there aren’t easier ways for local, or even hyper-local content to reach devices.

“The primary reason is that the major networks can control internet distribution these days, because the FCC has not deemed the internet to be on the same par as cable, satellite, and phone,” Long says. Instead of local stations being able to negotiate with internet distributors, Long says that they must negotiate with not just local stations but with the major networks in New York and Los Angeles, which is an almost impossible task.

Rob Dillon, Head of Digital Product, Straight Arrow News, agrees. “You don't deal with independent stations anymore, right?” he says. “And so, you’ve got the gatekeepers. Nexstar is worried about keeping CBS and Fox and NBC happy. They don't care about their local channels being local.” He emphasizes that in the old days, it took millions of dollars to start a TV station, with expensive infrastructure such as a broadcast tower. But now, it can be done digitally with a professional setup and relatively inexpensively. He says that he and Jim Long created a project that tried out this new approach. “We were active for a year in Kokomo, Indiana, which has never had a news bureau,” he says. “We did work with the mayor, the police department, and we were getting some pretty good stories out of it…we learned a lot of best practices.”

Long further elaborates. Their approach was “keeping the broadcast bundle together on the internet, serving it through our own app, but more importantly, serving it through third-party apps [with] dynamic ad insertion, etc. And then on another part of the app, we put hyperlocal channels: high schools, local news, local music venue channels, and things like that. And these old ideas tie the community together. If some parent is watching their women's volleyball game from their local high school, they're going to switch over and watch the broadcast channels.” He says that people still love the classic broadcast experience of discovery and channel changing. “So, we look at it as a way to tie the communities together and to get more money for broadcasters,” he says.

Learn more about Localized Streaming at Streaming Media West 2022.

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