Prior to the Internet, order PEG stations and Community Media organizations benefited from substantial US cable subscription – station revenues were funded by subscription surcharges. Today, view an increasing number of Americans are “cutting the cord” and relying on the Internet and streaming services for video, information and entertainment. As the Wall Street Journal article and chart to the right shows, community access stations’ cable viewership will continue to decline in the coming years, threatening both revenues and viewership.
Community Media organizations need to embrace the new paradigm to stay relevant, to maintain their reach, and to open doors to new revenue sources as the once preeminent source of traffic and revenues dries up
In this respect, Video-on-Demand (VOD) provides many community media centers an opportunity to defend their audience and even expand it by providing content that promotes social media sharing and search engine rankings. Unfortunately, most community media centers and PEG stations implement Video-on-Demand imperfectly – e.g., a link to a YouTube page or just embedding a video playback system’s player on the website – which provides no benefit or SEO.
To realize VOD’s full potential to dramatically increase reach, it is imperative that stations follow these guidelines:
- Keep your videos on your own website, under your own domain so that any “link popularity” accrues to your site, not YouTube or your video playback provider. Another benefit of this is that your videos appear in the search results of your web site’s search function, if you have one.
- Deploy the VOD catalog to create as many pages as possible centered around your video content – one effective approach is to create a page for each episode, linking those episodes to a program/ show page and in turn linking those from a channel page; additional pages can be created by providing genre pages or enabling tagging
- Enable social sharing for each individual episode page so that shared links direct visitors directly to the relevant content; optimize the social share button to including its individual show name and thumbnail in any share
- Ensure that new videos are added regularly to the VOD catalog in order to benefit from “freshness” as calculated by search engine ranking algorithms.
If you’ve read this far, your initial reach will be “sounds great, but this is a lot of work and my station is short staffed with a limited budget!” Fortunately, staff or budge limitations not loner limit community media from implementing these best practices and dramatically boosting visitors.
Polar Design’s Community Media Platform (CMP) is a Software as Service based system that integrates your web site readily with leading video playback solutions like Leightronix, CASTUS, TelVue, Tightrope and can be made to work with others. CMP not only pulls video content and embed codes, but programming content such as program names, episode names and numbers, descriptions, channels, categories, program air dates, thumbnails, and much more. The solution then stores this content directly into the database of web sites’ content management solutions (e.g., WordPress, SilverStripe, etc.) so that VOD content is published automatically (or if a station prefers, after staff review).
Seamless integration of video playback and scheduling systems with a website’s content management solution allows community media centers to build out and maintain with little ongoing effort a robust VOD section on their website. This includes at a minimum well-organized channel, program and genre pages, along with individual pages for each episode that can be combined with program or episode-specific content to further boost engagement and SEO. Centers thereby can ensure that their web sites are engaging and totally search optimized without having to worry about ongoing maintenance by staff or contractors to keep the same level of content.