The Scripps station group has taken a major step toward keeping its viewers connected on myriad platforms, as it launches live streaming apps in its nine markets that, according to the company, "deliver live video programming to virtually any mobile device."
At times of breaking news, including severe weather, a user in a Scripps market, such as Cincinnati or Cleveland, will be prompted to view streaming content via the station's app. Clicking on the prompt opens a live media player that might be a simulcast of the station's content, or coverage that's unique to the mobile app.
Scripps claims it is the first TV station group to offer live streaming to mobile devices. The innovation is particularly timely, with various corners of the country sustaining severe weather in the form of tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires, not to mention the recent East Coast earthquake. Scripps's WMAR Baltimore, for one, experienced both Hurricane Irene and the earthquake up close.
"When it comes to delivering news and information, we already own live coverage on television and the web. That's what our audiences have come to expect of us. This move brings that level of commitment to the exploding smartphone and tablet consumer space," said Adam Symson, VP of interactive for the Scripps television division. "We'll now close the gap and aggressively deliver live continuous coverage to the massive and growing on-the-go audience."
As an example, Symson said a family ordered to move to their basement with a tornado approaching could watch the station's newscast in real time on an iPhone or iPad, with no television in the room-similar to CNN's new mobile app. Scripps' live streaming is built on the EndPlay web content management system and works on the Apple and Android operating system, on select Blackberry devices and via a mobile web browser.
The mobile apps differ from mobile DTV, which the group is also in the process of rolling out, in that the signal is transmitted over a 3G or Wifi network, as opposed to over broadcast spectrum. "With smartphone penetration so high, it seemed like the right time to launch," said Symson.
The project was about six months in the works. Symson says live streaming may represent a revenue stream for Scripps down the road, with sponsorships and perhaps a subscription model for users. "Right now it's an open pipe," he says, "as we gain user adoption."
Scripps's stations include WXYZ Detroit, WEWS Cleveland and WCPO Cincinnati.