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This just in: Spectrum News has launched an app to complement the local cable news networks it runs in nine states.
That headline probably won’t scare a lot of news directors. But maybe it should.
Station apps that allow you to take local news wherever you go are nothing new, of course. Aunt Sue at her condo in Florida can easily keep tabs on what’s happening back in Chicago. But Spectrum News, which is owned by Charter Communications, is trying to re-invent local journalism not just by creating a product for cord-cutters, but by flouting conventional formulas. That means a service that’s sharply differentiated from local TV news — one that tries to build loyalty rather than ratings in order to become essential to its customers.
“We always knew that we had a different model because we’re more of a subscription model than we are an advertising sales model,” says Mike Bair, EVP of Spectrum Networks. “[Local stations] have a very low threshold for what breaking news is and chasing crime because they’re worried about last night’s ratings and about generating ad sales. And in this time of a secular decline in ad sales, there’s an even stronger desire to create and steal share from anyone by creating more sensationalism around the telecasts. What we care about is engagement over time. We want the habitual viewer to tune in, day in and day out, so that at the end of the month, when they’re subscribing to Spectrum, they know