Unique visitors to the NBC O&O Websites has quadrupled since the sites were rebranded, reports Forbes. NBC of course relaunched its sites last fall with the NBCNewYork.com/NBCChicago.com model, the sites offering way more lifestyle content than hard news.
Management-level hires of veterans from hot Web brands like Gawker and Thrillist in various markets reinforced NBC’s strategy to make the station sites buzzable (yup, just made that word up).
In 10 months since its beta launch of the new format, NBC’s local Web operation has grown its overall audience four-fold to 20 million unique visitors, nearly the same unique traffic volume as local juggernaut Yelp, which has been around for five years. It helps that NBC has been promoting the local sites with commercials during broadcasts of shows like The Office and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.
NBC aims to at least partially reshape the market for local advertising on the Web, currently estimated to be worth $14 billion by research firm Borrell Associates. Its success or failure will serve as test case for the notion that traditional media businesses can compete online by combining small staffs of professional reporters with free information pulled from other sources and Web users.
Rather than simply repost local TV news on the Web, NBC aims to create city-specific Web sites more authoritative than personal blogs and user-generated directories like Yelp, and faster and hipper than a local newspaper’s digital arm, says Brian Buchwald, NBC’s senior vice president of Local Integrated Media.