The Real Battle for Viewers




October 19, 2018


The typical third or fourth place station that does news will remain close to the bottom for years. The second place station will stay in second place, and the market leader will continue to lead. You might be inclined to say, “But, I won the late news in July and that was a first.” It was probably also a fluke. When you move up in every news time period and hold the gains for three consecutive major books then you have defied the odds. If you are skeptical, read the numbers from all of the LPM markets for the last five years. There are no exceptions.


The industry keeps coming up with all kinds of clever ways to change this pattern. Most are simply doing things that the viewers expect anyhow. The newest trend is to get original content into the late news. From the viewers’ standpoint it is a great idea. The bad news is that it is not difficult to copy.


Brands Work!

The only thing that will move numbers is a relevant and differentiated brand.

Without a powerful brand, your news is simply a commodity like wheat or pork bellies. The only difference is investors spend money to trade commodities. People spend their time to watch a TV newscast or watch/read information on some app.


Most local television management is clueless when it comes to building emotionally connected brands. Don’t feel badly. I was too, until I spent three years studying how categories like automotive, fast food, and cpg build powerful brands.


In each case, a successful brand starts with the product. In automotive let’s take BMW and Lexus. BMWs handle well and are generally quick. They have somewhat of a rough ride that lets you feel the road. It is a driver’s luxury car. Lexus is well made, uniquely designed, and is smooth riding. In a word, BMW is “driving” and Lexus is “comfort”. Both have their place.


Let’s move on to watches. What is the difference between an Apple watch and a Rolex, other than the cost? Apple’s watch serves a lot more purposes than simply telling the time. It is also a phone and heart monitor, among other things. Apple builds a watch for active people and conveys that image. Rolex tells the time, and it is debatable how well it does that. So while Apple sells “cool”, Rolex sells “prestige.”


What does your news product convey? What makes it different? Hint, it is not a tagline. Building a winning brand is a process. First, you must identify the core values that are held by people in your DMA. Each market is unique. GC Media specializes in helping its clients build powerful and emotionally connected brands. Contact us at


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