Local online publishers find success in monetizing video, podcasts

By Ricky Campbell | Oct. 5, 2016

Scott Brodbeck of ARLNow.com, Field Walsh of TXK Today and Charlotte-Anne Lucas of NOWCast SA talked about their experience with monetizing podcasts and video Saturday at the LION Publishers 2016 Summit in Chicago.

Some local independent online news publishers have found success using various video and audio formats to engage their audience and to bring in additional streams of revenue.

In an era of Serial fame and Facebook Live videos, a panel of three at the LION Publishers 2016 Summit in Chicago Friday -- Field Walsh of TXK Today, Scott Brodbeck of ARLnow, and Charlotte-Anne Lucas of NOWCastSA -- suggested podcasts, business feature videos and live streams as additional ways to connect with communities.

Brodbeck said his site has posted weekly interviews with community members, from county commissioners to famous comedians stopping by on their way to a gig. While Brodbeck's podcasts have run anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and 20 minutes, Lucas said her video conversations last about 17 minutes because that's the length of a TED Talk. Lucas also live streams events happening in San Antonio.

When it comes to podcasts, "the challenge is to get people to listen," Brodbeck said. Most podcast providers -- Brodbeck recommends SoundCloud or Libsyn -- allow publishers to see how many downloads each podcast receives, but there are currently no metrics to find out how long a listener tunes in. One way to gather better analytics, Lucas suggests, is to upload audio to YouTube.

There's a podcast called "Startup" by a former NPR Planet Money reporter and This American Life producer that Brodbeck recommends to local independent online news publishers. Sponsored content or radio-like ads are ways to fund podcasts.

Walsh said his biggest success has been with 3- to 5-minute sponsored content videos TXK Today posts on its Facebook page. In a business feature style, the TXK Today team captures the audience's attention by sometimes pairing the videos with a giveaway, he said. Walsh admitted he might have an advantage over some publishers since he's done plenty of video work -- but it is worth trying.

As a nonprofit, Lucas' site finds underwriters for both its 17-minute conversations and its live streams, which include events such as San Antonio's local pride parade.

Check out more entries in our 2016 conference blog »