Should Local TV Embrace Consumer-Created Content?

See the Video: Sweeping Vision Presented at TVB Conference

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NEW YORK ( -- Local TV stations are missing a revolutionary opportunity by not buying into the consumer-created video-content craze, media analyst Tom Wolzien told last week's Television Bureau of Advertising conference.

'Former amateurs'
In his address to the annual marketing gathering, Mr. Wolzien emphasized the potential power of online business models organized around the use of amateur-generated video. He also asked, "Can consumer-created content posted by amateurs actually remain consumer-created content posted by amateurs? Or, if people start to realize that somebody's making money off of this, will the amateurs suddenly become people formerly known as amateurs?"

He went on to tell broadcasters, "If you can deliver eyeballs, you've got content" and potentially large audiences.

40 million video views daily
For instance,, started in early 2005 and now one of the best-known sites built around amateur video, reports that it serves more than 40 million video views and processes as many as 35,000 new video uploads daily.

The TVB is a national trade organization of broadcast groups, ad sales agencies and more than 500 TV stations across the country. The group's focus is primarily on the local broadcast advertising market and on developments that potentially strengthen or challenge local broadcasters.

Over the past 18 months, the distribution of new forms of video across the Internet has exploded. Widespread consumer adoption of broadband connections has fueled the trend while new kinds of Web- and digital device-based technologies have driven it further outward.

Low-cost editing software
Meanwhile, the emergence of low-cost sophisticated editing software has afforded the average joe with video communication tools previously available only to high-level media professionals.

That fact and the availability of low-cost, high-quality video cameras play heavily in Mr. Wolzien's vision for local TV stations as major players in the consumer-created content field.

"There is the potential here to create the greatest local video-collection system ever known by using people with their cheap cameras ... Then moving that content through the Web -- with the best material going on to broadcast stations and the broadcast networks," he said.

'Build an infrastructure'
"It's surprising to me that so far nobody has built a system where they go into the middle schools and high schools to give cameras and cut deals to get the content out," he said. "They go to church groups and other types of civic organizations to build an infrastructure for video collection on a formalized basis."

"The local broadcast industry has that capability," he said.

Mr. Wolzien, heads Wolzien LLC, a year-old New York-area firm. Previously, he worked as a media analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. for 14 years and in a series of production and business management positions at NBC.
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