New Fisher Websites Attract Early Buzz

Station group pushing ambitious digital strategy with GalTime.com
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It's been a busy seven-plus months since Fisher Communications brokered a consulting deal with Acme Communications to manage Acme’s The Daily Buzz program and the show’s potential digital offshoots. At the time of the announcement, Fisher agreed to provide consulting services for the popular syndicated morning show, which airs on 165 stations, mostly CW affiliates, around the country. The announcement also hinted at “newly created digital platforms” for Daily Buzz—and those ambitious plans are becoming clearer.

Fisher soft-launched female-focused GalTime.com with a small batch of Buzz stations in late October and November; a larger rollout kicks in this month. In January, Fisher will launch a second site, also named for a segment within Daily Buzz, called HeadDrama.com, centering on relationships. A third site, unnamed but focused on health, is in the offing for later in the first quarter.

The initiative doesn’t stop at the Web— notably, Fisher hopes each of the three microsites will appear as special on-air programs, with the potential to be regular weekly series. “We think all those represent great opportunities for stations to get ratings and make some money,” says Troy McGuire, Fisher VP of digital content and executive producer of the Orlando-based Daily Buzz from 2004 to 2007.

Acme launched Daily Buzz on its stations in 2002, and the small station group finds itself in a unique position today. Over the summer, Acme announced a restructuring that involved heavy personnel cuts, and made clear its intent to sell off its six stations. In September, LIN Media acquired two of the outlets. Acme appears intent on unloading the remainder of its stations; the group is not saying what the future holds for Daily Buzz, but Fisher certainly appears to be in a good position to take ownership of the program if and when Acme exits the TV business.

Fisher took over production of Buzz in the licensing and consulting agreement it worked out with Acme in April. Fisher has also been working with the tech outfit DataSphere on a high-profile hyperlocal initiative that has seen Fisher stations, as well as outlets in other broadcast groups, launch sites representing various communities within their DMA.

In September, Fisher launched Buzz Brands, which it describes as “an integrated, multi-platform content and advertising solution for broadcasters” based on “lifestyle verticals” stemming from Daily Buzz. The success of the community site rollout has spurred Fisher to work with DataSphere on the microsite launches.

Partner stations will have the opportunity to localize content on their local versions of the three sites and sell sponsored content to area marketers. Similar to the DataSphere-driven community sites, the Daily Buzz sites offer vendors a price point that will attract those who perhaps cannot afford television.

“We’re trying to bring unique advertising solutions to the platform,” says Randa Minkarah, Fisher senior VP of business development. “But at the end of the day, we’re creating compelling content for people.”

The Web content comes in a number of forms. Some of it is created by Buzz reporters and producers based in Boston, Orlando and Seattle. Other content is provided by local advertisers in the form of advertorials talking up the spas, fitness centers and boutiques that have initially lined up to partner with local versions of GalTime.com.

Station partners say GalTime is a good fit with their female-friendly CW primetime schedule, which includes standouts such as Gossip Girl and 90210. Capitol Broadcasting’s WJZY in Charlotte, N.C., added the female-focused site in November. “We like the concept,” says Shawn Harris, VP/general manager of WJZYWMYT. “We think The Daily Buzz really speaks to our core audience, and GalTime in particular speaks to them too.”

The microsites are also aimed at stations that don’t air local news—and may not have a strong local programming presence as a result. Just as the Buzz program offers windows for stations to insert local weather, news or product placement, the sites give local users a taste of market flavor as well.

Acme’s KWBQ-KASY in Albuquerque, N.M., added GalTime to its newmexicoscw.tv last month. The site offers health and beauty tips, sex advice, and an Ask an Expert section tapping a range of local specialists in everything from finance to interior design.

“The best part of [GalTime] is, we don’t have local news product, so it really gives us local content,” says Kern Dant, KWBQ-KASY director of sales. “And it’s already making money.”

The revenue may be modest, but McGuire says the Buzz-y Web channels represent another revenue stream for stations transforming themselves into multiplatform content machines. “I think there’s huge potential when you add in the digital layer [of Daily Buzz],” he says. “I think it’s a home run for stations.”

E-mail comments to mmalone@nbmedia.com and follow him on Twitter: @StationBiz

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