It was chilly and snowy outside, but there were many hot ideas on how to attract customers at the Minnesota Telecom Alliance’s Video Peer Group at the Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, MN. Viodi produced a mini-version of our local content workshop as a prelude to this event. This was an opportunity for us to learn from Minnesota operators as to the challenges of producing local content, while imparting some painful lessons we have learned about content production. A special guest-speaker, Stephen Henning of Lakes Country TV, gave us an overview of his Minnesota-based television program and the interesting way he financed this look at some of the unique attributes of rural Minnesota.
As reported before, local weather on the television is a popular local content application. And the weather is a driver of VOD buys, as one operator reported concurrent peak utilization of up to 20%; the peaks in VOD consumption are often directly related to weather conditions (the nastier it is outside, the more people want to hunker down and watch on-demand). Even with this sort of excellent consumption, based on the upfront investment cost, the stand-alone business case for VOD seems extremely difficult for the smaller operator.
The MN operators have always been and continue to be innovative as evidenced by the number of operators that are implementing a dual strategy of video distribution, whereby they are distributing their local content on the web with their own video servers as well as to the TV through traditional mechanisms. This broadband approach offers an alternative way to provide on-demand.
One of the key challenges operators face is leveraging their resources, such that they can create a robust and on-going local content operation within their existing budgets. One operator marketing person called this challenge an, “unfunded mandate.” Still, through things like sponsorship from local businesses and working with their communities, operators are finding ways to create local content. Several operators mentioned the creation of online and television on-demand product and service tutorials as a source of local content that would help their customer service efforts (see this article for information on what one operator is doing with video tutorial creation) to be one way operators are reduce customers
To this theme of local, the MTA did the right thing by bringing this conference to a venue within one of their member companies’ service area (CTC). The facility at the Grand View was first class and state-of-the-art (HD projectors, etc.) and the grounds were beautiful and relatively affordable. Even the speaker gifts of wild rice soup from the Christmas Point Wild Rice Company of Brainerd, MN were from a local company and provided a unique way of remembering this special event.
Note: Local content attendees, look for an email with a link to notes from our event.