De neergang van de ‘RTL van binnenkort’

– door Peter Olsthoorn

De „RTL van binnenkort”. Een „nieuwe Vice”. Een video-producent die van Endemol „een kleine jongen wil maken”. De twee oprichters van het Nederlandse online-videobedrijf Zoomin.tv hadden grote ambities. Sinds 2000 melden ze een omzet van miljoenen euro’s als wereldwijde makelaar van gekke én serieuze webvideo’s.

Maar eind 2017 schrijft het Zweedse mediaconcern MTG, dat twee jaar eerder voor 51 procent eigenaar is geworden, het videobedrijf letterlijk af. Zoomin, ooit 88 miljoen euro waard, komt voor 0 euro in de boeken. Eind mei kopen de Zweden het resterende belang, voor ‘slechts’ 6 miljoen (plus een schuld van 11 miljoen).

Wat is er gebeurd? Opkomst en (bijna) ondergang van een ambitieus Nederlands webbedrijf – vol rechtszaken, beschuldigingen van wanbeleid en een maandenlange boycot door YouTube. Het verhaal van Zoomin illustreert de bredere moeilijkheden op de markt voor online-video.

Boksende oma’s
Het begint in 2000 als internetondernemers Jan Riemens en Bram Bloemberg een videobedrijf opzetten dat snel een internationale producent en distributeur wordt van filmpjes van duizenden freelance-makers. Het duo speelt in op de opkomst van breedbandinternet. Met amusement voor jongeren, van boksende oma’s tot games, sport en show, maar ook met politiek en sociaal nieuws.

De video’s vinden hun weg naar grote media: Yahoo, AOL en MSN in de VS, de Spaanse krant El País en de grote Duitse uitgever Axel Springer. Zoomin deelt in de opbrengsten van de reclame rond de video’s; dat is het gangbare bedrijfsmodel.

Tot circa 2008 gaat het goed. Dan komt de glorietijd van YouTube. Een concurrent voor Zoomin én een nieuw distributiekanaal. Het bedrijf gaat meer video’s exploiteren direct via YouTube en minder op nieuwssites. Later volgen video’s via Facebook en Tencent in China. Ook hier deelt men de opbrengsten uit reclame.

Zoomin groeit hard. Zeggen de eigenaren. Maar bedragen noemen ze niet. Vanaf 2010 stijgt de omzet volgens hen gemiddeld 36 procent, in 2014 70 procent.

Op dat hoogtepunt hapt MTG toe. De Modern Times Group, een snelgroeiend mediabedrijf uit Zweden, probeert zich om te vormen van tv-groep naar digitale uitgever. Voor bijna 45 miljoen euro koopt MTG een belang van 51 procent. Dat maakt Zoomin 88 miljoen waard.

Kroon
De overname is de kroon op het werk van Riemens en Bloemberg. Al twintig jaar pionieren ze online. Riemens met financiële nieuwssites en samen met persbureau Novum dat ze in 2015 verkopen aan ANP-eigenaar Veronica.

Zoomin is een groeidiamant, zegt MTG bij de overname in 2015. In interviews belooft oprichter Riemens een omzet van 100 miljoen in 2018. Zoomin wil ook een mondiaal netwerk van studio’s opzetten.

Het loopt anders: in het jaarverslag over 2016 meldt MTG dat het Zoomin-belang 10 miljoen minder waard is dan de 45 miljoen die het een jaar eerder betaalde. Dat komt door „tegenvallende reclame-inkomsten”. Een jaar later volgt een afwaardering met ruim 30 miljoen. En eind mei, onverwacht, de volledige overname voor een veel lagere waardering.

Dan is de afdeling Benelux al drie maanden dicht. In februari kwam na zeven maanden een eind aan het dienstverband van ‘countrymanager Nederland’ Lucas van der Eerde. „Ik ben blij dat ik vertrokken ben”, zegt hij. „Zoomin is een raar bedrijf.”

Stagnerende inkomsten uit online-reclame spelen ook bij andere digitale uitgevers. Bedrijven twijfelen aan de effectiviteit van adverteren op internet. Ziet de kijker werkelijk de (hele) reclame waarvoor de adverteerder betaalt? Willekeur lijkt troef, terwijl online-marketeers altijd beloofden dat zij zeer specifiek de juiste doelgroepen kunnen benaderen. Is ook voldoende gewaarborgd dat reclame van grote merken niet wordt getoond rond video’s met seks of extreem geweld?

read more here: nrc.nl

Building A Brand In A New Era Of Broadcasting

In January, the Catholic League tweeted out a “study” purportedly detailing that right-wingers are better looking than left-wingers, using FOX News and MSNBC anchors as exemplars. KARE 11 Breaking the News anchor Jana Shortal retweeted the tweet with these comments: Gross. You really should think about how in any way this tweet reflects the values of an organization of faith.

A few days after Carrie Fisher’s death, Shortal tweeted: She was so proud of EXACTLY who she is. Fuck, was.

Regarding President Trump’s Twitter habit, she tweeted: The leader of this country should take questions—not tweet his way to policy.

After musician Chris Brown hurled a racist insult at comic Aziz Ansari, who had insulted Brown on SNL, she tweeted: I wish there were trap doors in the ground to swallow up human garbage like you Chris Brown. #TeamAziz

This wasn’t always the path to getting ahead in TV news. It used to be: Look good, don’t swear, dress conservatively, keep divisive opinions to yourself.

Today it’s not so simple. Something extra is required to make it in broadcasting. “People need to find a way to get noticed,” says Micah Johnson, a former network reporter, news director, and founder of Phoenix-based TV news talent agency MediaStars.

In January, Christine O’Donnell, TV reporter for FOX’s Boston affiliate, thought she had found a way. She posted to a video to YouTube showing herself in bed, the straps of her nightgown visible on her bare shoulders. The news: She had gotten up several hours too early for work! It seemed interesting to her at the time, and just provocative enough, perhaps, to generate some clicks or likes. But after a day of pillorying on social media, her bio had been pulled off the station’s website and she was apparently out of a job. “There are so many expectations to build a brand, to perform,” says Johnson. “But there’s no mentoring or guidance. And when you f-up, you’re fired.”

Not your parents’ TV news

It’s no revelation to say media businesses in America are in flux, and television news is no exception. Its audience has been disrupted by the internet, a diversity of cable and streaming options and time-shifting of prime-time TV viewing. And a generation has tuned out.

“18- to 34-year-olds are not news consumers, and TV is not their main source of news,” explains Bob Papper, Hofstra University professor emeritus, who has conducted an annual study of the television news industry since 1994. Millennials consume TV news the same way they read newspapers or viral video—in brief, detached bits on their phone.

“You’re fighting to have your voice heard,” explains 1500 ESPN Radio personality Phil Mackey. “Rely on the old tactics and you’ll be dead or dying.”

The result is a sense of fundamental instability. “TV news’ business model is under siege,” says local entertainment industry attorney Tom Wiese, who once represented dozens of local TV anchors and reporters. “TV is competing with non-accredited news, there are limited barriers to entry and advertisers are creating their own content.”

The omnipotence of the previous era is gone. “We are not the empire of the ’80s and ’90s,” says Shortal. “Appointment TV is not a thing.”

Building a personal brand

There was a time when all someone needed to build a successful broadcasting career was a home at a respected brand like WCCO Radio or the StarTribune. “Today, people read people, not companies,” contends Star Tribune food and travel writer Amelia Rayno, who has built a sizable presence and brand on social media. “People want to know the people they read.”

And the phenomenon extends across media. As a result, “you’ve gotta have point of view and presence,” Wiese counsels his clients.

WCCO-TV sports director Mark Rosen says the calculus isn’t lost on veterans like him: “You have to stand out, you have to be unique.” For Rosen, now 65, that meant jumping on morning radio (KQRS) back in 1986, a niche he continues to occupy today, which continues to deliver upside. “It keeps me relatable. It’s definitely helped my brand because of the young male demographic [listening to KFAN],” he says, “and I would hope it brings benefits to my TV brand.”

Though diversifying audience is a solid tactic, young broadcasters rarely have that opportunity or flexibility early in careers. As a result, most are using social media to build a brand.

“To get a job, it’s the first thing they look at after your [clip] reel,” says agent Mendes Napoli, who ran KSTP-TV’s news division from 1988-93 and now owns LA-based Napoli Management Group. “To build an audience you must be active in social media and have a distinct presence.” Both Napoli and Johnson describe social media technique and strategy as a primary component of the service they provide clients. “Our concentration is social media influencers,” says Johnson.

How important is social media in TV newsrooms? Texas-based ShareRocket markets real-time tracking of talent social media influence. Three national TV ownership groups, including FOX Television (FOX9 locally), are investors, and Johnson says many FOX affiliates have a ShareRocket monitor posted prominently in the newsroom.

The payoff of social media influence is real, Johnson insists. MediaStars secured Jenni Hogan, then a KIRO-TV traffic reporter, a six-figure salary “solely due to social media presence,” he says. Johnson is quick to note, though, that creating such a presence is no small feat: “To be an influencer in social you have to do it constantly.”

The social media channel of choice is Facebook. “Twitter is easy, but there’s less engagement,” explains Napoli. “We advise clients to focus on Facebook.”

The social minefield

The most notable common denominator among young local broadcasters feeling pressure to deliver social media influence is the sense of jeopardy involved. “Most of it is boring and not engaging,” says Wiese, “because shock and awe could cost you big time.”

Former WCCO-TV morning anchor Jamie Yuccas, now with CBS in New York, relates the story of a young broadcaster she knows who was told by her news director “to add 100 followers ‘this week.’ Didn’t say how.”

In local TV, Yuccas found an audience craving personal detail. “People want a connection with news personalities in local markets, but it’s such a fine line between your private and public life.” For example, “it’s clear women add followers when they tweet pictures of themselves, but they are often inappropriate,” argues Yuccas. “But they are under pressure, and management isn’t providing great guidance.”

$45,000 to $80,000
Twin Cities
TV reporter salary

$100,000 to $500,000
Twin Cities
TV anchor salary

Source: Micah Johnson, MediaStars

Ex-newsroom execs like Johnson and Napoli say the murky social media landscape is often a blind spot for news directors. “[Managers] don’t know what they want,” says Napoli, “but they know what they don’t want when they see it.”

Local broadcasters point to colleagues who post images from the gym or home in outfits they could never wear on-air. Johnson says it’s a national phenomenon: “People post racy stuff because it builds likes and follows.”

“Newspeople aren’t always thoughtful about how they use social media,” adds Yuccas. “I was in Orlando after the [Pulse nightclub shooting] and a lot of TV people were posting happy images of themselves. That’s detrimental to your brand.”

Step in the wrong topic, and newsies can even be chastened tweeting news. “I tweeted a link to a story about the Democratic boycott of the Trump inauguration,” says Cory Hepola, KARE 11 weekend anchor and reporter, “and people got angry even though it was just factual.”

Which is why broadcast reporters often default to the personal.

On the print side, there are few rules, and young journalists feel empowered. “There is a culture of sharing and you have strong feelings. We put so much out there. It’s super-tempting to cross lines,” says Rayno. “We have very few policies or rules. . . . I was once asked to stop tweeting about alcohol.”

Those trying to build a durable career in television can take comfort in certain constants. “People watch people they like,” says Napoli. “Genuine people that speak with authority, not arrogance, and are connected to the community. That hasn’t changed.” Hofstra’s Papper suggests the industry has sustained itself so well through its structural decline that “It has hindered development of a digital strategy. But the challenges are undeniable.”

So undeniable, in fact, that TV news’ foundational product may be obsolete. “I doubt the 30-minute newscast has staying power,” says KARE’s Hepola. “Local news has staying power. Trusted facts have staying power. Storytelling is timeless.”

read more here:

http://tcbmag.com/Industries/Marketing-Advertising-PR-and-Media/Building-A-Brand-In-A-New-Era-Of-Broadcasting