Stations owned by the likes of Raycom, Local TV, LIN and Belo are partnering with Tributes.com on a co-branded Memorial Day initiative that will see viewers light a virtual candle or place a virtual flag in memory of a lost loved one.
Tributes.com launched in 2008 and bills itself as “the online resource for local and national obituary news.”
Other participants include WAVY Norfolk and WITN Greenville-Washington (N.C.). Tributes offers the virtual candles and flags for free, and sells the larger memorial packages, such as slide shows and music, for a fee. Partner stations share that revenue and also can sell ads and sponsorships to funeral-related businesses in the Tributes section of their websites.
Local television has been increasingly moving in on the obit business as newspapers, which have commanded the listings for decades, cut back on print schedules. Meredith Local Media, for one, has found a niche with its Obit Michigan program, which sees both owned stations and affiliate partners work with funeral homes to post funeral and memorial information.
Raycom’s WWBT Richmond introduced Tributes.com’s Memorial Day program last year. "We featured station employees talking about their deceased family members who had served our country, some of whom had died in the line of duty,” said Internet Sales Director Eric Lumpkin in a statement. “We ran them on-air during news segments and drove to the web stating, 'Tell us about your family members by going to NBC12.com and clicking on Tributes.' We felt this provided us with an excellent driver to the web and WWBT's traffic increased as a result.”
Tributes.com’s Obituary Network has close to 100 television partners with obituary sections on their websites, which are monetized through advertising and sponsorships.