TV News Needs Innovation, Will This Deliver?

July 11th, 2013 by Matt Friedman

home_heroIt’s no secret in the media business that younger viewers really don’t like TV news as we know it. The news is on TV in time slots that are relics from a network schedule developed when their grandparents were their age. They simply don’t regularly depend on the presentation of anchors presenting stories riddled with cliches that are lampooned on Comedy Central and The Onion – two platforms younger audiences consume more than broadcast news itself. They see “Prime Time” (which is not necessarily the case in their lives) filled with talking heads, usually their parents’ age, spouting political opinion often inconsistent with their own.

Traditional media companies are not exactly busting their budgets with product development projects that could be designed to address this looming crisis. But this week, a start-up emerged promising a video news product that will work on mobile devices, computers and eventually maybe even on TV, to give young news consumers more of what they want, whenever they want it over the platform they choose.

It’s called TouchVision. One of the visionaries behind it is Lee Abrams, whose innovations we have written about before. This article in Adweek explains the premise and how it plans to work once it launches.

I was given a chance to preview TouchVision this week and it’s certainly intriguing. News stories are presented with high-end graphics, music and voice-over narration. It’s all available on-demand and you only watch the stories you select from the system’s menu. Most of the stories seemed to run about two minutes, so they can easily be watched in one sitting or on the go.

One thing I liked about what I saw with TouchVision is that the stories don’t talk down to the audience. One thing Abrams has long professed is that news can be “intelligent without being intellectual” and that appears to be the case here. Personally, the music behind the stories didn’t do anything for me. But I’m not the target audience here. For some, it could help make getting the news they want more interesting and fit better into their lives.

Is this the answer? Chances are there won’t be just one answer. There will need to be many, to meet increasingly customized consumer demands. When TV news first proliferated, it was done with a formula (anchors, desk, news, sports, weather, chit chat). Now, it’s going to take a lot more than that to satisfy a more diverse and complex marketplace.

It seems we are entering the next chapter of increased media experimentation. At this point, it’s virtually impossible to pick winners. But one thing that seems certain, the status quo, should anyone maintain it, shapes up to be a loser.

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