The Local Approach, with Local Now
We’ve been working with Local Now for 3 years and have seen their business grow significantly over this time. We recently sat down with Josh Sharma, Vice President Ad Partnerships to get to know a bit more about the platform and find out more about their local approach to content, advice they have for buyers, and their predictions for the future of streaming and FAST services.
Can you give us a brief overview on Local Now and the content your platform offers?
Local Now is a streaming service owned by The Weather Channel, which in turn is wholly owned by its parent company, Allen Media Group. Local Now delivers localized content based on granular DMAs using the technology developed at The Weather Channel. Through the service, viewers are able to easily access broadcast-quality local news and weather programs as well as over 400 channels of additional content. When you need to know what’s going on in your community, Local Now can keep you informed. And when you’re just looking to unwind, the platform can keep you entertained with its extensive slate of movies and diverse channels.
What sets Local Now apart from other FAST services in the market?
At Local Now, the most visible differentiator we have is personalization in a localized environment. We offer customized streams with original programming across 225 markets, beyond the standard 210 DMAs in the US. On our platform, you’re able to keep a pulse on the heartbeat of your city – from your local sports team, to the day’s top headlines, and much more. There’s something for everyone in every market, and viewers have the ability to discover something new each time they visit our vast library of content.
Given your expertise working with advertisers at both the local and national level, what advice would you offer when it comes to drawing up media plans?
Considering the breadth of our offering, advertisers can buy according to what suits them, whether that’s audience or content-based. The advantage of Local Now is that it delivers local scale that can sometimes be difficult to achieve in a TV environment, national reach with local relevance. We encourage buyers to avoid being pigeonholed into just buying locally given the breadth and depth of our inventory as well as our audiences.
Are there any areas in which you’re making big investments, or any new products to be aware of?
With the stark rise in adoption of streaming services over the past several years, audiences are experimenting with free services, exploring content options, and constantly searching for new, relevant content. At Allen Media we recognize this demand and have made a big effort to focus on investing in original content. Personalization is arguably the key to a CTV-first world and our localized environment is essential to attracting new audiences and retaining existing ones.
We at Allen Media Group have the luxury of owning an arsenal of digital properties, which affords us the ability to play off of the natural synergies that exist. For example, our pride and joy, The Weather Channel, is soon going to market with a DTC product called TWC+ as well as a Spanish-language service, TWC Español, which will be available 24 hours a day. We also have Pattrn, a digital environment and climate desk that publishes stories and handles programming for distribution across all digital platforms including OTT. In addition, we’re working on a sports-centric SVOD service called Sports.tv which will bring a local twist to the sports streaming market.
Finally, WeatherFrame, our audience extension tool, is able to localize a message to any DMA, bringing another layer of personalization to the platform, and most importantly, improving the advertising experience to provide more value to the user.
What do you think the future of FAST services holds?
We believe FASTs will continue to mature and evolve as they have done over the past few years, in part due to changing consumer demands and shifting viewing patterns, as well as increased saturation in the marketplace. FAST services have been around for some time and the only real difference from the Pay TV experience is the manner in which content is delivered. Ad loads have been relatively the same and there’s no personalization. We believe there’s plenty of room for disruption to deliver on the promise of a new entertainment experience with a new iteration of FASTS, or a “FASTs 2.0”, which will bring improved viewing experiences and higher standards for how FAST services are distributed and developed.
Looking ahead, what’s next for Allen Media Group in both the short and long term?
It’s no secret that our Chairman and CEO, Byron Allen, has big ambitions to be a force in the media world. I can’t comment on what’s coming down the line in the future, but there are some massive opportunities with our current roster of assets. Anything to come in the future will simply be gasoline on the fire and further fuel our mission. We’re moving forward with the intention to take full advantage of natural synergies we have available to us and provide the user with a compelling and engaging entertainment experience.