How Social Trending Can Move TV Ratings and Revenue


MIAMI BEACH — Looking for ratings growth at your TV station’s local news operation?

Are additional advertisers and increased revenue of interest to your stations’ sales teams?

There’s a tool that can bring both of these things to a TV station, via the newsroom.

Thank the rise of social media for serving as the new gauge of news timeliness. What to do? Daniel Anstandig and his team at Futuri Media believes he has the answer.

Anstandig joined Emily Stone, Director of Multi-Platform Content at FOX Television Stations and Chris Castallo, Head of Development at Verizon’s go90, on a NATPE Miami panel discussion devoted to social trending, and how it has greatly changed the “freshness” of what is produced and seen on local newscasts across the U.S.

In Anstandig’s view, there is a maturity cycle for social media trends of four to six hours.

What does an assignment desk editor or TV news producer do? “Between ‘hot’ and ‘slowing’ is an opportunity for broadcasters,” Anstandig says, of hopping on a trending topic and including it in a local newscast.

Before one rushes to judgment on including social media’s top topics in a newscast, these could very well be “hard news” subjects as much as lifestyle oriented.

In fact, Anstandig says, there is a opportunity to go beyond the three staples of a local newscast — Breaking News, an “angle” opportunity for a standard news report, and “stop stories” offering diminishing returns for a TV station.

“A TV newscast could be missing other opportunities by continuing to report on that one,” Anstandig says.

Through Futuri Media’s TopicPulsetopics of interest by DMA, gender, and age are provided to the news desk. From there, it is ultimately up to them to decide what to do; it is not meant to be a consultant or direct influence agent.

For Stone, “It has absolutely revolutionized the news meeting,” she says with a laugh. FOX’s WTTG-5 in Washington, where she is based, is a TopicPulse client. All in the newsroom have access to it.

“It has changed all aspects of how a news meeting is conducted,” Stone notes. “Now, producers and assignment editors have the tools that can pull data from multiple sources all at once.”

Castallo has a somewhat revolutionary take on trending topics in social media. As he uses TopicPulse to help build the promotional platform for go90 shows, he notes that his team eyes things in social trending that he thinks will be relevant some 60, or 90, or even 120 days from today.

“We see this more as developing talent and concepts than as a content driver and dictating our path,” he says.

For Anstandig, TopicPulse can help bridge two distinct audiences for a TV station’s newsroom, as the online consumer differs from the traditional newscast viewer, he believes. “There’s enough crossover, but the opportunity exists to create content only on digital channels, and vice-versa,” Anstandig notes.

Stone agrees, saying there is a “huge opportunity” for crossover content in the digital and on-air spaces. “It takes out the guessing,” she notes. “It is not so much making decisions for us but will answer the question as to possible relevance and importance to our audience.”

The NATPE Miami session on January 18 came ahead of Futuri Media’s release of the Futuri Ad Network, a SaaS suite of ad insertion and monetization services. The new ad network sells audio and video pre-roll and mid-roll inventory and pays publishers their share of network ad revenue, Anstandig says. Broadcasters can sell and traffic all of their inventory directly.