April 6, 2020

I was recently asked if we’re on the eve of a local media apocalypse. Admittedly, I had such an allergic reaction to the question that I needed to sit a spell. I even asked myself, “Am I the emperor, the one who stands before you with no clothes on?” Could I be so out of touch that I can’t see the forest through the trees? Maybe. But, maybe not.

Let’s look at how we got to here. Back in the day, we received our local television channels with an antenna. Most of us got three stations, but some of us couldn’t get any. That’s why cable television came to be. One person put up a monster antenna and that antenna served the community with reliable TV reception and that became cable. So, you see, cable TV was borne out of broadcast TV.

Decades later, with the advent of the smallish, pizza-sized satellite dish, it was once again broadcast television that drove adoption. When the satellite companies were able to offer local channels, adoption skyrocketed to nearly 30 million homes. Again, local channels were the key.

About the time satellite television was reaching their peak subscriber numbers (late 2000s) the Internet was getting more of our attention, especially when it came to streaming. That’s when and why I started Syncbak. All local broadcasting needed was a technology to reach viewers over-the-Internet. We now call this OTT.

So, if the success of both cable and satellite were undeniably driven by the presence of local television stations, how can we possibly be on the precipice of a local media apocalypse? We can’t. We aren’t. While the Internet has disrupted many things, when it comes to local broadcasting, it’s an enabler more than anything else.

Here’s why –

We are all somewhere. There’s a handful of stations right were you are at this moment who are on the pulse of what’s happening in your community. They are also on the Internet. You don’t need an antenna, cable or satellite to get their content.

We are all going somewhere. The COVID-19 pandemic will eventually give way to travel. Wherever you are going, or thinking of going, there is a local broadcaster in that market on the Internet, ready to inform you.  You don’t need an antenna, cable or satellite to get their content.

We are all from somewhere. Right now, because of technology developed by Syncbak, I can look in on news, weather and sports from my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. In fact, because of the Internet, we can look into any market. You don’t need an antenna, cable or satellite to get their content.

News is breaking somewhere. Who can forget the image of O.J. Simpson in his white Ford Bronco meandering down the Los Angeles freeway? Sure, the networks eventually broke in with coverage, but it was local broadcaster who was first on the scene covering that seminal moment. God forbid the Juice gets on the loose again, you won’t need an antenna, cable or satellite to get their content.

It is true that broadcasting is local. It is also true that the Internet is global. But, if you put the two together, you’ll see, rather than a local media apocalypse, we are at the dawn of a whole new era in broadcasting.