Local TV Stations Refine Web Sites; Respond to News-Surfing Viewers
Byline: Dan Caterinicchia, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Washington-area television stations are enhancing their Web sites to stay competitive as more viewers surf the Internet for news.
The upgrades include everything from streaming video and Internet-only broadcasts to custom forecasts for weather junkies.
The recent Web site redesign at WUSA-TV (Channel 9) includes more live video streams as well as unedited sports interviews, said Rick Garner, the CBS station's Web site manager.
"Our goal is to continue including as much video as possible on our site," said Darryll Green, president and general manager of WUSA.
WUSA was the first local station to offer video "podcasts," programs that can be downloaded to Apple Computer Inc.'s IPods or other digital media devices. The station has recorded more than 11,000 video downloads since it started the service Oct. 27.
WJLA-TV (Channel 7) began offering video podcasts Nov. 2, followed by WRC-TV (Channel 4) Nov. 29.
WUSA started a unique webcast more than three years ago. It is usually about two minutes long and made available after the noon broadcast. Mr. Garner said WUSA's "By the Way" stories, which are offbeat news items, have proven popular online. So has its new CustomCast service that provides weather updates twice a day for up to four different places.
"Weather is the most important driver of news in any market," said Michael Jack, president and general manager of WRC. The NBC station's Weather Plus digital cable channel offers live online updates throughout the day.
WRC also recently introduced a three-minute, Internet-only newscast that runs at noon, and the station encourages viewers to send in appropriate video and pictures that can enhance those Internet-only stories.
"It's about brand extension," said Vickie Burns, vice president of news and operations. "We're not an Internet operation, we're a TV news operation," but a short-term goal is to update the Internet webcast throughout the day.
A complete Web site redesign should be complete within two months, Mr. Jack added.
Robert Forsyth, director of operations and engineering at WJLA, said the ABC station does not do Web-only broadcasts because it has been putting the first 11 minutes of every newscast on the site for more than three years. …