Monday, August 26, 2013

Local TV faces mobile challenge for weather and traffic

As mobile continues to expand, it's challenging two of the key foundations for local TV news: local weather and traffic reports.  Already, multiple free mobile apps offer up-to-the-minute weather information most anywhere, including weather alerts and radar maps to follow storms, zoomable to neighborhood levels.  And unlike local TV news, you can get the report any time you want, and any place (with cell coverage).
(I used weather apps this summer when Dad and I drove across the country - to check storm tracks when the clouds on the horizon looked ornery, and to know when to pull off the road, or choose an alternate route if they looked too bad.)
Almost all smartphones come with built-in weather apps, and many display weather on the opening screen.  A recent survey found that 79% of smartphone users in the 18-44 demographic have their devices with them almost all day.  More specifically, the IDC study found that 89% of 18-24 year-olds are using their smartphones within 15 minutes of waking.  And weather is among the top three categories of importance in using news apps.

Now, the globally popular Google Maps is adding real-time traffic coverage, from recent acquisition Waze.  With the addition of real-time traffic in many areas, Google Maps provides extra functionality to basic mapping and navigation.  But the critical difference here is adding local real-time value in the ability to assess the quickest routes, and avoid road construction and closures.

In the meantime, Google Now is breaking ground in terms of anticipating user wants and needs.  As users build up their profile, Google Now can pre-emptively notify users of traffic reports when they're headed out, and if there are other accidents on the route, notify travelers when they happen.  There's also reports that Google Now is experimenting with adding local news reports to the information it filters through.

The latest Pew State of the Media Report shows that local broadcasters have been increasing the proportion of air time devoted to weather and traffic (29% last year, opposed to 25% in 2005).  Still, the Pew report noted that audience demand for the topics were “ripe for replacement by any number of Web- and mobile-based outlets.”

The massive reach and prominence of mobile devices and apps are impacting how people get news and information.  The ability of major national and international apps like Google Maps and The Weather Channel to provide localized (and increasingly personalized) content makes them at least somewhat competitive with local TV newscasts.  The ability to do so at any time, at any location, and the growing ability to personalize content and delivery provides additional levels of value and service, and over time will likely lead to such apps being the place to go for weather and traffic information.  Local TV news needs to prepare for that eventuality.

Source  -  Local TV facing increasing competition in weather and traffic,  LostRemote
79% Of People 18-44 Have Their Smartphones With Them 22 Hours a Day (STUDY) All Twitter
Always Connected, IDC-Facebook research report
Local Media App Trends: Summer 2013, Stepleader Digital

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