Friday, March 12, 2010

Is KSTP-TV actively trying to lose money?

It intrigued me that local TV station KSTP plans to launch what can only be described as a boatload of "hyperlocal" websites in the next year. One commenter on the MinnPost story nailed it squarely on the head by saying that KSTP (and the Hubbards who own the station) are two years late in trying something that has already failed across the country.

I can also attest to the "hyperlocal" idea being worthless. Without giving too much away, I proposed a hyperlocal website at my place of employment just over two years ago. Just like everything else, it was dependent on local/area advertising. My proposal, on paper, sounded like a sure thing but even as I read it just minutes ago I realized that, given the current economic environment, the sales figures would never have even come close to the rather conservative dollar amounts I had projected.

And to think that an even more conservative-minded company thinks they can successfully staff and fill multiple hyperlocal news/content websites with anything remotely captivating, much less original, is insane. My project proposal incorporated multiple existing elements and products to it and could still be easily rolled out to other communities/neighborhoods. KSTP's plans, while somewhat unclear, really make no mention of incorporating their suite of niche products to give them further exposure. Hell, I have no idea if KSTP even has any truly worthwhile niche products but I don't expect the websites to be islands of content either.

The mere mention of the KSTP sites containing press releases makes them seem even less valuable. Sure, it's legit information but publishing it in the general news flow immediately devalues any legitimate news the sites may contain. And the plans they have for expanding them to their outstate markets including Duluth-Superior and Austin-Rochester makes even less sense. Those areas are still havens for the newspapers who own those markets. Attempting to launch a competing product under the umbrella of a less-than-reputable name is suicide and KAAL-TV in Austin is considered by residents to be a laughingstock. The station, under the ownership of Hubbard, has virtually abandoned coverage of its home market in favor of the more lucrative Rochester market. That bare-bones operation barely turns a profit as it stands now and further diluting it for the sake of hyperlocal websites which the community newspapers and their websites in the area already cover quite well will ensure that the outstate KSTP hyperlocal websites are the first to be shuttered followed soon after by those in the Twin Cities.

But if KSTP is curious about my well-researched plan and wants to talk to me, I'm more than willing to listen. Let's just say I know the Austin market quite well. Call me...

And while I'm whoring myself out, check out MinnPics. It's the home of the best of the best of Minnesota photography!


Peter Himler said...


You are right in pointing out how many media companies have rushed into the local space without a clear revenue model to sustain their ambitions.

You may want to check our, which has addressed this very challenge through two innovative a platforms that enable local publishers to easily capture the long tail of local advertisers.

Here's a recent story on PaperG's latest technology, PlaceLocal:

"Startup Automates Display Advertising"

All best,
Peter Himler (for PaperG)
Twitter: PaperG

Sornie said...


Thanks for the comment. I actually have experience in using Paper G's Flyerboard product and was involved in promoting it. I saw a lot of value in it but I'm not sure if it was customers who didn't understand it or our sales force who didn't see the value in some money versus no money. I will have to check out PlaceLocal though.