We’re always looking to identify TV station groups that really get it and are going to push hard to compete for local traffic and advertisers online. Is Fisher Communications the one?
Last week, Fisher – a publicly traded, Seattle-based owner of 12 full power TV stations, seven low power stations and eight radio stations – purchased Mike Orren’s Pegasus News, which had developed a prototype “pan-local” site in Dallas. Pegasus has a staff of about 12 full-time equivalents.
The further growth of Pegasus in Dallas and the implementation of Pegasus News on its sites will be Fisher’s biggest online effort to date. Previously, working with Broadcast Interactive Media, it had rolled out YouTube-like citizen journalism efforts in several markets, letting users contribute videos on a variety of subjects.
I learned more about Fisher’s intentions by reading Donna Bogatin’s Insider Chatter interview with Rob Dunlop, who is Fisher’s senior VP of new media. Dunlop told Bogatin that the company views the marketplace as “a whole” and rejects neighborhood-only approaches. That’s what made Pegasus’ Dallas-wide approach such a good fit.
Dunlop also liked Pegasus’ “Daily You” personalized news feature. Ultimately, the goal is to be “user-generated content friendly,” but not just have user-generated content. Dunlop also says that it remains important to aggregate news from professional content partners. As for advertising, Fisher intends to leverage its existing sales channels and utilize database marketing to maximize the benefits of Pegasus’ registration system.
While Fisher’s various broadcast markets are logical expansion markets, its near-term goal is to get Dallas right. Indeed, it may do some reverse launches, buying Texas-based broadcast properties around the online site. Bogatin notes that Fisher’s CEO is a former Dallas resident.
Separately, Mike Orren told me that when and if Fisher proceeds with implementation of Pegasus in its own broadcast markets, it is likely to be done under a unique brand. It would do this to avoid rigid broadcast codes and also to encourage more partnerships with other local media outlets.