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NewsON Puts Local News in Your Pocket

By Richard Adhikari
Nov 5, 2015 5:00 AM PT

NewsON on Wednesday launched a free, ad-supported app that offers instant access to broadcast-quality local newscasts and clips.

Users can search by market for curated content linked to breaking news from 118 stations in 90 markets, covering about 75 percent of the United States.

All top 10 U.S. markets, as well as 17 of the top 20, 40 of the top 50, and 73 of the top 100 are participating, said NewsON CEO Louis Gump.

Multiple stations are available in some markets so users can change channels, as it were.

The NewsON app has an expandable interactive map that lets users identify and mark stations they would like to include. A timeline viewing tool lets them select the exact moments they want to watch.

Users can access and contribute to real-time tweets about local news as well.

The NewsON app runs on iOS 8, iOS 9, and Android versions 4.2 and up. Roku has an exclusive arrangement for NewsON to stream content to its devices as well.

The app defaults to the news station in, or nearest to, a user's local city. However, stations from all cities users select will appear in their menu.

When traveling, users will be able to view local news from their hometown, as well as news from the city they're in or near.

Keeping an Eye on Ads

Online and mobile ads have raised the ire of many consumers, and the trend toward the use of ad-blocking tools is growing.

In a nod to consumer dissatisfaction, Apple decided to let iOS 9 developers create ad-blocking capabilities for the Safari browser, which drew criticism from the advertising industry.

"We and stations participating in NewsON are very mindful about the balance of ads and content in the app," Gump told TechNewsWorld. "We will be following generally accepted guidelines for the frequency and duration of ads within the industry for digital video."

NewsON focuses primarily on video content that include ads in one package, so ad blockers "are not expected to have a significant impact," he said.

TV's Still Hot

Adults 18 and over watch traditional TV for nearly 33 hours weekly, according to Nielsen's Q2 total audience report.

Radio comes in a poor second, with nearly 13 hours. Apps and Internet access on a smartphone occupy nearly 8 hours weekly, and video on a smartphone comes in last, at only 15 minutes a week.

In fact, local TV has continued to gain audiences throughout 2015, according to a Pew report on the state of the news media.

Getting Hands on the Moolah

NewsON will offer local TV stations a good option to further monetize their content.

"Many local TV stations offer video online, but they can't afford to have a really nice platform that has good analytics," said Mukul Krishna, digital media senior global director at Frost & Sullivan.

"Having a dedicated platform on which you can divide all the bounty you can get is going to be additional revenue the stations are missing right now," he told TechNewsWorld.

Users tweeting about news items will help raise additional revenue.

"Right now, you can take a nugget -- a short clip -- and throw it on many different sites with ads stitched into it and generate additional ad revenue. As people make clips from NewsON viral through the Web, that might direct more eyeballs to NewsON. There's a very good chance nuggets will direct users to their website," Krishna suggested.

"As a general statement, we've confirmed that both stations and NewsON are expected to generate revenue from advertising," Gump pointed out. "The TV stations receive a large portion of the overall ad revenue."

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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