Local news membership appeals to 40% of consumers, and more initial findings from The TV Membership Project


By Jed WilliamsLMA Chief Strategy Officer

There is a clear demand for local-branded membership programs — an outsize opportunity relative to other sectors — and the time to move on this opportunity is now. But with paid-content saturation rising and limited customer mind and wallet share to compete for, local media companies must articulate a well-defined, compelling value proposition in order to translate white-space opportunity into meaningful traction.

These are the headlines emerging from the research phase of The TV Membership Project, a first-of-its-kind Accelerate Local initiative designed to empower broadcasters to build new direct-to-consumer revenue streams. The cohort is comprised of FOX Televisions Stations, WRAL/Capitol Broadcasting Company, and Meredith Corp’s owned and operated stations. Several cohort members met recently to discuss the most important and opportunistic findings yielded by extensive market surveying conducted by Magid, LMA’s research partner in the project. Next, each of the companies will spend the next several months designing, building and deploying the initial version of a membership model.

The quantitative data tells a compelling story around untapped local brand opportunities, and TV broadcasters’ right-to-play in satisfying unmet consumer needs.

  • While 86 percent of consumers have paid for online content in the past 12 months, local news and information lags significantly at just seven percent, opening the door for local brands with compelling user value propositions to seize an advantage. In fact, Magid estimates the outsize local brand opportunity to be 14x, based on the one percent of sampled users who said they currently have a membership to a local brand and the 14 percent who answered that they would be likely to buy into one in the next six.
  • A few more reinforcing stats on the value of well constructed and articulated local memberships:
    • 40 percent believed it’s appealing
    • 37 percent said they would be likely to use it
    • 12 percent would be willing to pay

Courtesy Magid

“Pay for what?” you’re likely asking. The answer may be different than what many presume. And that answer requires a fundamental expansion of the definition of valued content beyond news to include curation and experiences, including and especially with local businesses. Unique rewards, curated discounts and specials, events, things to do (particularly for families), and community connections are all highly valued.

Courtesy Magid

However, beyond the “what” of membership features and benefits, the “how” of its delivery — in other words, the customer experience underlying the product or service — is just as essential. The message is unequivocal: consumers value convenience, savings, accessibility, and ease of use. Most of all, it simply has to make their lives better; check this box and there’s ready demand.

The time to move is now, and that’s precisely what the three participating broadcasters will do, armed with deep data insights and actionable recommendations to illuminate their paths. Early pilot-phase work is underway, with the cohort sharing learnings and best practices as the “design, do” process unfolds. LMA/Accelerate Local will document the key insights and results over the next several months, and will issue a full report on the next phase in the coming weeks.