When something isn’t working, you have one of two choices — figure out why and fix it, or pull the plug.
Roanoke is ending the two-year run of TimesCast. It’s the end of a show, but not the end of webcasts for Roanoke, and that’s the important thing.
I was a fan of TimesCast, but over the past couple of months I’ve been concerned about it’s failure to evolve. As I dug deeper into the world of webcasts, I found many great vlogs from non-newspaper producers and started to get a stronger idea of what works on the web (this will be the topic of a future post).
Previously, I’ve praised TimesCast for being a “good enough” disruptive strategy. My thinking on this idea has evolved.
It’s one thing to produce short videos to illustrate a story that is “good enough” because the viewership of these are going to be impulse views, people captured by the topic of the video. The availability of lots of video on a news site will make the site more sticky, but you’re not asking people to make a habit of any one video program.
Disruptive video is a long-tail strategy. Episodic video is a head-of-the-tail strategy. Your goal is to grow a significant audience around a specific program, not just make many video options available to a news audience.
Programmed video, video that you expect people to watch episodically, either daily or weekly, must simply be very good.
The elements of a good webcast are:
- A theme/topic of interest to lots of people;
- Great talent;
- Creative production values;
- It isn’t like TV in style or substance.
TimesCast had some nice themed elements, and while the on-screen talent was quirky and interesting and could be entertaining, few of the news casters were powerful personalities (some talent coaching would have helped). The production values were good enough, but not necessarily creative.
You need a powerful hook if you expect people to make a habit out of watching your episodic webcast or vlog. TimesCast just wasn’t quite there.
I realize this is a stark departure from my previous posts in support of TimesCast, but live and learn.