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Adam Symson: Improving the Forecast - Broadcasting & Cable

Adam Symson: Improving the Forecast

Scripps’ chief digital officer makes weather, helping viewers priority
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B&C's 2011 Local TV Executives of the Year

In the late spring of 2011, Adam
Symson remembers watching Scripps’
WCPO ABC affiliate in Cincinnati at 2 a.m.
during an outbreak of severe weather, when
the station’s chief meteorologist suddenly advised
viewers to take cover.

Symson quickly shepherded his family into
the basement, where they used the station’s
weather app on his iPad to track the storm’s
progress. “It is a great app, but not being able
to watch our coverage on TV got me thinking
about how we could leverage technology so
consumers could get our great live weather and
news coverage wherever they go,” Symson says.

Several months later, on Sept. 1, that personal
revelation led to the launch of a live streaming
video from Scripps stations on mobile apps.

The project, which marked the first time a
station group had offered live mobile streams
from all its stations, helps explain why Symson
earned the distinction of 2011 B&C Multiplatform
Broadcaster of the Year.

Symson, 37, came to his current position
as overseer of all Scripps digital efforts after
working in TV news,
where he says he learned
the importance of quality
journalism, a perspective
that remains a
crucial part of the company’s
digital strategies.

In 2002, Symson
moved over to Scripps
corporate, where he
held a series of jobs before
being put in charge
of the interactive businesses
at the TV stations
in 2007.

His team has since been
revamping the station group’s Websites, significantly expanding its mobile offerings with
new apps and working to establish better
business models.

This has led to double-digit annual revenue
growth and significant increases in usage,
with mobile unique visitors jumping 143%
and mobile app downloads increasing 84%
in the last year.

Scripps is part of the Pearl consortium of
nine broadcast groups that are backing the
launch of consumer mobile DTV service Dyle
with the Mobile Content Venture
in 2012. Scripps is also
one of 10 broadcast groups
working with ConnecTV to
roll out an innovative social
media platform in 2012
that will let viewers interact
with friends while watching
television.

Closer ties between
Scripps’ television stations
and newspapers in the
digital arena are also in the
works now that Symson
has been charged with a
mandate to better integrate
all company digital operations.

“We are starting with a white sheet of paper”
to expand content, build audiences and
create new business models, Symson notes.
“There is an incredible upside with these
assets.”

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