Hearst Television is an innovator in the television broadcast industry. Among other initiatives, the company live-streams news video to smartphones and tablets; is a leading partner with the ABC Network in rolling out the new Watch ABC app, which enables authenticated users to view simulcast programming from sign-on to sign-off; and is a leader among station groups offering Dyle mobile digital television service live to enabled handheld devices. As a corporate member of SPROCKIT, Hearst Television executives provides insights and mentorship to participating startups to help foster their own growth and to help advance the industry as a whole. Jennifer Lynn recently interviewed Roger Keating about his current role, industry insights, and the partnership with NAB.
Jennifer Lynn: Hello Roger. Could you tell us more about your current role as SVP of Digital Media at Hearst?
Roger Keating: Hearst owns 29 TV stations scattered around the U.S., and I oversee these stations’ sites, apps, and social expressions. I also form partnerships with other broadcaster station groups to pursue new opportunities created through digital disruption that require scale.
Jennifer Lynn: What are your initiatives?
Roger Keating: We are currently working to make our actual TV newscasts more “interactive” to increase the use of social platforms to distribute our local news content and drive tune-in back to our live newscasts, and to begin delivering our live newscast feeds “over-the-top” to connected TVs so that we can capture our share of that growing audience.
Jennifer Lynn: Could you share some insight on the involvement with SPROCKIT at NAB?
Roger Keating: Fifteen years ago I was the founder of a venture-backed company that attended the NAB show looking to partner with TV companies. We found that it was incredibly hard to break through the clutter and get noticed; I couldn’t understand then why the very companies that would benefit from the tech and monetization capabilities I was building out weren’t lining up to see me. Now that I’m on the receiving end of pitches, I see just how overwhelming the sheer volume of inbound inquiries from potential tech partners can be.
When Harry Glazer brought the NAB/SPROCKIT opportunity to my attention, I just knew I had to be part of it, given my history. I loved the efficiency the SPROCKIT program brings to both sides of the discussion – SPROCKIT makes it easy for busy media executives to isolate the most worthy ventures to spend time meeting with, and it gives busy entrepreneurs a target-rich environment with prospective partners and clients.
Hearst is a big proponent of leaning into opportunities to innovate, even though our core TV businesses remain strong. There is just too much upside from capitalizing on digital disruption to sit on the sidelines. The opportunity to have early, heightened, and extensive engagement with a curated group of young ventures operating in the TV space was just too attractive to ignore.
Jennifer Lynn: What mobile digital television trends are you seeing today?
Roger Keating: Video views over mobile devices are just exploding. At Hearst, we’re trying to serve the video news appetite over mobile in a couple of ways. We have turned up live news streams and on-demand clips that get delivered over the mobile carrier’s data network, which is how virtually all content creators do it. We have begun to increase distribution of sign-on to sign-off mobile simulcasts that require “TV Everywhere” authentication, but we’re also trying to use our own spectrum to deliver our TV programming directly to mobile devices, without having to fight the congestion. And of course, we’ve implemented apps/streams into both the iOS and Android marketplaces.
Jennifer Lynn: What are some challenges which you see companies today in the industry are faced with?
Roger Keating: We need to figure out how to feed the video news appetite of the millennial generation. Our current formats and production values aren’t resonating with as many millennials as the generations that came before them, and as such we have to either change the style of the content we create, or augment the “made for our traditional audience” material with “mobile/social first” programs. Further, we need to more fully embrace the social platforms millennials use to learn about the world around them. I’m not sure that any traditional media players have been able to fully resolve these challenges, and we are continuing to explore new ways to address them.
Read more on how demand for mobile is driving marketing efforts across multiple industries: Mobile Marketing Continues To Explode.