When it comes to new media, Jason Gould is an old hand. He headed up an interactive media firm in the uncharted days of digital in the early 1990s, and was a pioneering force in helping broadcasting tap its digital potential while director of new media at Chris-Craft United Television in 1997. Today, Gould runs Newport TV's Inergize Digital; he is tasked with creating compelling content and stoking interactivity on the dozens of station Websites Inergize manages around the country.
That content ranges from local news on mobile applications, to weather, to Web games based on hit TV properties like Survivor and America's Next Top Model. As broadcasters look under every last rock for untapped revenue, Gould says stations' digital portfolios hold prodigious potential. “There's almost an unlimited amount of revenue opportunities with our platform,” he says. “It all depends how you want to slice and dice and use it.”
The TV station Web space is an increasingly competitive arena, with Inergize battling WorldNow, Internet Broadcasting and Broadcast Interactive Media, among others, to manage and monetize content and stream video on station sites. Having put in a long stint in sales at KGSW Albuquerque (now KASA), Gould, 52, understands that business thoroughly.
“He knows what sales managers go through,” says KPSP Palm Springs VP/General Manager Don Perry, who worked with Gould at Clear Channel Television. “He's unusual in that he gets sales and the business side, and gets the technology side, too.”
After KGSW, Gould moved to the interactive firm Northern Lights Communications, where he was president and CEO, focusing on what is known as Interactive Voice Response in telecommunications (such as trivia games on 1-900 numbers). He came back to local television with the Chris-Craft station group, and it was there that Inergize's core team was formed. Station swaps between Chris-Craft, Fox and Clear Channel over the next few years saw Gould end up at Clear Channel, where he headed up the media giant's internal services department, handling Web business for its numerous radio and TV stations.
In 2007, Clear Channel decided to seek outside Web clients, and changed the department's name to Inergize so rival station groups would not be stuck with the Clear Channel branding at the bottom of their sites. Clear Channel sold its 56-station group to Newport for $1.1 billion last year, and Inergize shifted to Newport along with it. The 25-person staff, based in Minneapolis, handles the Newport station sites as well as those of some Scripps, Gray and New Vision stations, along with newspaper and magazine clients.
Gould believes Inergize offers partners a broader array of cutting-edge content. Around 60 are using the Seek It Local search directory to grab local ad dollars that would typically go to the Yellow Pages. Inergize offers a rich lineup of online games, and recently launched its own e-mail system for users.
He's also at work on a local news distribution program for mobile devices; Inergize, partnering with DoApp, is awaiting approval on the project from the iTunes Store. “I think we've got more bells and whistles on our platform than the competition does,” Gould says.
CBS Television Distribution Senior VP of Interactive Media Chris Rooke, who's worked with Inergize on syndicating CBS programming to partner Websites, credits Gould with knowing how best to monetize content for both providers and distributors. “He really has a strong understanding of all the stakeholders involved,” Rooke says. “It's nice to be able to work with someone who can straddle the different worlds and who understands the vernacular of each.”
When he's not mapping—and executing—Inergize's growth strategy, Gould unwinds with a little golf (“I always could be better”), a lot of yard work (“way too much”), and playing with his grandchildren in his native Minneapolis. He's well aware of how digital outfits have to see the future of interactive media to entice local-media partners. “I think stations are more aware of the importance of their digital strategy,” Gould says. “The opportunity for companies like us is significant, but this is a very fast-moving space.”