NewsON Venture to Bring Local Newscasts to Smart Phones & Tablets Nationwide, WTNH Set to be Among Participants

Five major broadcast television station groups collectively reaching two-thirds of U.S. TV households have formed NewsON, a new venture to provide live and same-day local TV newscasts on demand from leading stations around the country to consumers' mobile and selected connected TV devices. Two Connecticut-based TV stations are part of the NewsON venture – WTNH and WCTX, both in the Hartford-New Haven TV market, which are owned by NewsON partner Media General. The NewsON ( service will be provided by a new venture formed by The ABC Owned Television Station Group, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, Media General and Raycom Media.  In New Haven, the WTNH news staff produces newscasts for WTNH NewsChannel 8 and WCTX, known as MyTV9. news ON

Plans for NewsON were announced prior to the more recent announcement this month of Media General’s plans to buy Meredith Corp. for about $2.4 billion in cash and stock.  Meredith, which began as an agricultural publisher in 1902, is known for magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens and Family Circle. But its 17 local TV stations – including Hartford-based WFSB - are the centerpiece of the deal. The combined company—Meredith Media General— would encompass 88 stations that reach 30 percent of U.S. households, or 34 million homes.

Meredith had not been part of the NewsON venture, and it is unclear whether the combined company would remain in the plan, or whether a combined company may be required to divest of either WFSB or WTNH, which serve the same Hartford-New Haven market.

The free, advertising-supported NewsON service will be delivered through apps available for download from leading mobile and connected TV app stores.  NewsON will enable users to watch live and on-demand newscasts from their local markets or from any of the 112 participating news stations, in 84 viewing markets across the country, whose owners have already contracted to deliver their news streams through NewsON.  These include stations in eight of the Top 10 U.S. TV markets and 17 of the top 25.Picture1

Multiple stations will be available through NewsON in 21 markets, giving viewers the opportunity to "change channels" as they wish. The number of participating TV stations is expected to grow in the months ahead as additional broadcast TV station groups activate their streams into NewsON. Whether the Hartford-New Haven market will ultimately be among them may hinge on the outcome of the Meredith-Media General deal.

Media General is one of the nation's largest connected-screen media companies that operates or services 71 television stations in 48 markets, along with the industry's leading digital media business. Their portfolio of broadcast, digital and mobile products informs and engages 23 percent of U.S. TV households and 46 percent of the U.S. Internet audience.

"As a truly connected-screen media company, we are always seeking innovative ways to share our superior local content with a broader audience, no matter where, when or what screen or device they prefer," said Robb Richter, Chief Digital Officer of Richmond, VA based Media General.  He told Connecticut by the Numbers said the new service would provide “brand extension” for WTNH newscasts, and increase viewership.  “Now, about 15% to 20% of the market has downloaded their app.  This will draw more people to WTNH who have not. It’s a great way to gain more audience.”220px-Wtnh_news_2010

Richter said that the appetite for breaking news is strong, and that may be attractive to advertisers as well, as more people use mobile devices to watch locally originated newscasts.  The ability to send out breaking news alerts and live stream coverage of breaking local news provides a potential new revenue stream,” as well as providing viewers nationwide easy access to local coverage of news that may be of interest beyond a local region.

A recent commentary by former WFSB news director Mark Effron, now a college professor, points to the need for local news to find new ways to attract audiences – especially younger audiences, for whom watching television on a television is fast becoming a footnote in their media consumption.

“For them, watching content on channels and networks and stations hasn’t only lessened, it’s actually fallen off the cliff,” Effron observed.

NewsON officials stress that Americans place a great deal of trust in their local news teams, who are typically the first informers from the local scene of the biggest news developments around the country.  NewsON will bring instant access to live local news to a generation of viewers accustomed to using mobile and connected TV platforms to stay informed.

According to the March 2015 report "Local News in a Digital Age" by the Pew Research Center, local TV stations remain the dominant source of news for Americans in large and small markets.  NewsOn points out that the appetite for local and neighborhood news, the staple of TV station newscast coverage, is up to twice the appetite for national and international news, the study found.

The NewsON service, current in BETA testing, is expected to launch to the public later this fall. “We are driving the evolution in local content creation and distribution and we are excited about the opportunities with NewsON," Richter added.



Two Sons of CT Use State University Program to Drive Local TV Meteorology Careers

Among the meteorologists reporting on the Blizzard of 2015 on Connecticut's local television stations are Dan Amarante and Sam Kantrow, who began their careers as student meteorologists-in-training at Western Connecticut State University and now can be seen on FOX Connecticut and NewsChannel 8.  Amarante has lived in Connecticut his entire life, growing up in Cheshire, and graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology. While at WCSU, he produced and anchored many school run weather broadcasts for the University’s website, as well as forecasts for the school’s radio station.dan amarante Western Connecticut State University has the state's only meteorology program, which was run for many years by WTNH-TV meteorologist Dr. Mel Goldstein.  The WCSU website is chock full of charts and maps highlighting the latest conditions.The site includes the latest  Geostationary Satellite Images from the Space Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin and the National Weather Service radar mosaic Northeast Sector loop.  Greater detail is offered in Surface Charts from the National Weather Service and a series of Upper Air charts courtesy of Unisys Weather.  The school has a Weather Center, where students produce forecasts and work with clients while studying meteorology.

After college, Amarante got his start at WGGB ABC40/FOX6 in Springfield, MA, where he was the weekend weather anchor.  He is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist, the highest certification from the American Meteorology Society.sam kantrow

Meteorologist Kantrow joined "Storm Team 8" on WTNH in February, 2011, first as weather producer and web meteorologist, and is now the on-air meteorologist for the weekend editions of Good Morning Connecticut.  Born and raised in Hamden, he is a graduate of WCSU and has a B.S. in Operational Meteorology and Weathercasting. Before coming to News 8, Kantrow interned at NBC Connecticut.  The WTNH website reports that "Sam’s weather interest began at a very young age, when the tornado that went through Hamden on July 10, 1989 narrowly missed his house! Ever since then, he has loved the weather, and anything about the weather. Sam grew up watching the meteorologists on News 8 and always wondered what it would be like to be in their shoes."

WCSU's Bachelor of Science in Meteorology is the only such program in Connecticut, and one of only a few in the Northeast. The university  has developed a foundation of courses in mathematics, computer science, physics, astronomy and earth science, combined with meteorology, to prepare you for television and radio weathercasting, operational forecasting, or for teaching or research in the atmospheric sciencesmap.  Students in the bachelor's program  earn credits while performing TV/radio weathercasts or doing real-time forecasting for clients in the university's on-campus Weather Center, according to the WCSU website.

The program meets recommendations for an undergraduate meteorology degree program from the American Meteorological Society.  Additionally, students graduating with this B.S. Meteorology degree will have all the course requirements for entry level positions as a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, the single largest employer of meteorologists in the country.wcsustackedBLK

The university also offers a graduate program - a Master of Arts in Earth and Planetary Science, Meteorology/Climatology Option.

Last October, WCSU hosted the 5th Annual Tri-State Weather Conference on campus in Danbury, presented by the university's Meteorology Program  and co-sponsored by the WestConn Student Chapter of the AMS, the New York City/Long Island Chapter of the AMS, NOAA/National Weather Service/Upton, N.Y and NOAA/National Weather Service/Taunton, MA.  The purpose of the conference was to enhance education, professional development and communication among private and public sector meteorologists, researchers, educators, students, emergency management officials, and weather enthusiasts.  Amarante, who joined FOX Connecticut in early 2011, was master of ceremonies for the conference at his alma mater.

The meteorology program at Western also includes among its graduates television meteorologists in a number of cities across the country. In addition to his work in Connecticut, Amarante has filled in as a weather producer at CBS 2 in New York City, and became snowed in at the station during the Blizzard of 2010.  Kantrow, who will be on-air reporting on the Blizzard of 2015 beginning at 3 AM on Tuesday, may find himself in similar circumstances, if forecasts for the day's snowfall come to fruition.