Guess Who Has a Hyperlocal Foothold in 156 Locations?

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Plenty of major media players are trying their hands at local content and deals. This after years of mastering advertising at the DMA or community level. There are trials and full-on businesses all over the map from Gannett to NBC and CBS. I was curious about CBS because it felt like there was a lot going on there (but not necessarily a center holding the parts). Good time to get back to basics and ask the simple questions.

We reached Ezra Kucharz, President of CBS Local Digital Media and former COO of iVillage to talk a bit about what’s up and what’s working.

So what exactly is the CBS Local product for consumers, merchants and advertisers? “We are local media business that is focused on four areas: News, Sports, Music and Lifestyle content,” said Kucharz in an email interview. “We reach consumers online, mobile and over-the-air. Merchants and advertisers work with us to reach consumers whether on a national or local level.”

Are you doing “hyperlocal?” How does CBS define ultra-local or hyperlocal?
We typically do hyperlocal on a DMA level. We focus on places of hyperlocal interest.  When there is a hot restaurant, event, sports, breaking news, etc. in a specific community we cover it. We find this is what consumers want. As an example during this hurricane [Sandy] we have unprecedented coverage based on the over-the-air and digital team resources supporting our online efforts.

It seems the “local” part of CBS Local is an affiliation with the various in-market television or radio affiliate — is that right? Could you talk about how that works tactically?
We operate across the 156 stations owned and operated by CBS Radio and CBS Television Stations.  We at times work with the affiliates when we have initiatives that extend outside the markets where we own stations. We have a single digital team in each of our 29 O&O markets.

How is CBS Local structured? Is there central control or regional / local?
We have a corporate CBS Local team that works closely with our local market teams. We supply resources, infrastructure as well as strategic direction.

Do you consider yourself a local “network?”
We consider ourselves a local media company.  At times a network and at times a single entity.

We consider ourselves a local media company.  At times a network and at times a single entity.

Are you pushing out products to non-CBS markets?
Yes, at times we work with our affiliates in non-CBS owned markets. It should be noted that while we own stations in 29 markets, we have traffic from all 50 states and major DMAs.

Are you working with outside hyperlocal news/content sites or creating all yourselves?
While we create a large portion of our content, we do work with many third party content creators. We have many individual contributors as well as organizations such as Examiner providing us with original content.

Where do you see hyperlocal content and commerce going over the coming year and how are you going to be part of it?
We see a continued diversification of local revenue/commerce. We see video and audio advertising continuing to grow so that small businesses can participate. We are including video advertising opportunities in many of our new initiatives. Our directory business continues to grow as well. We see a continued focus on verticals such as automotive and health.

What business models do you see emerging for CBS Local?
We see video being a key piece of our business in the coming years. Consumers will find great video content on our sites and apps.

Rick Robinson’s Turf Talk column, which had been on hiatus since December, is now again appearing regularly on Street Fight. Follow him at @wideopensea.