Local TV Goes Mobile

Internet Broadcasting Inks Deal With Crisp to Carry Content, Ads on Cellphones

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Local news -- and advertising -- is coming to your cellphone soon.
Clayton Rose
Clayton Rose

79 local stations
Internet Broadcasting, which creates websites and sells ads for 79 local TV stations, has forged a venture to get news and weather onto the so-called third screen. The Minneapolis-based company has signed a deal with Crisp Wireless to deliver content to phones and other wireless devices. Internet Broadcasting, itself owned by three major station group owners -- Hearst-Argyll, Post Newsweek and McGraw Hill Cos. -- will deliver local fare such as weather radar images and sports headlines and scores.

The stations involved in the venture are NBC5i in Dallas; KCCI in Des Moines, Iowa; and WJXT in Jacksonville, Fla.

Clayton Rose, a former local TV producer and exec VP-business and corporate development, Internet Broadcasting, said: "We are extending and enhancing what we do on websites for the mobile environment. Crisp Wireless has technology that detects what your phone will allow to be presented."

New York-based Crisp Wireless counts AOL and Cingular (now AT&T) as clients. The company, founded in 1999, helps deliver multimedia applications to handsets.

Ad-supported venture
Mr. Rose said the venture will be ad-supported, with the stations selling their own ads. Internet Broadcasting is working on creating a national ad opportunity out of the venture.

That local TV stations are exploring the mobile field illustrates a giant sea change in the way local station groups are thinking about their online properties. Five years ago, few stations saw the need to monetize their web offerings, and most ad departments threw in their websites as part of broader on-air package deals. Now stations are finding new ways to draw revenue from their highly trafficked sites as ad dollars stream to the web and other emerging media.

Internet Broadcasting's main business is working with the major station groups; it represents a selection of broadcast network owned-and-operated stations as well as independently owned affiliates. The 10-year-old company, which is privately held, has gained traction in recent years as the audience for local TV websites has grown. Internet Broadcasting, which both creates and sells sites for the stations, has made its money from knitting together a national advertising offering from the local TV websites, while leaving the local online sales to the stations. The company's main competition comes from stations that want to do their own selling or web creation.

Rapidly expanding network
The company has been rapidly extending its news-oriented network beyond its local TV station partners. It recently signed deals to represent the websites of radio group Westwood One, and the company's network also includes the sports websites Knicks.com and Rangers.com for the local New York basketball and hockey franchises following a pact with Madison Square Garden (the sports arena and teams are part of the Dolan family Cablevision operation).

The company has a close relationship with NBC; it had previously helped develop NBCOlympics.com and is currently helping develop both content and ad revenue at NBC Weatherplus.com.

Among advertisers who have signed up to exploit Internet Broadcasting's national offering include Monster.com, which advertises alongside local TV websites' employment sections. Internet Broadcasting said its sites reach an average of 13 million visitors a month.
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