ABC Stations Launch 'Localish' for Mobile Millennials

Facing a generation that’s cutting the cable cord but is glued to its iPhones, the ABC Owned Stations Group is creating a new brand designed to appeal to mobile millennials.

The new brand, dubbed 'Localish,' focuses on hyper-local stories produced by the stations with a national appeal, distributed on digital and social platforms.

Like other traditional media organizations, the ABC stations are looking to remain relevant to younger, digital native consumers.

“Localish is built around the idea of producing content for this mobile-first audience whose interests might be a bit different than what we produce day-to-day,” said Wendy McMahon, president of ABC Owned Stations.

“This is a new venture to create an environment where we can experiment with new kinds of storytelling and new kinds of distribution.”

In addition to being among the top-rated broadcasters in their markets, the eight ABC stations have a big digital presence and massive social footprints. That makes them well equipped to serve what it seems as a demand for local programming and information.

Wendy McMahon

Wendy McMahon

McMahon says that nearly 50% of all Google searches have local intent and there’s been a 900% increase in search inquiries using the words “near me.”

”We believe in the mission of the ABC Owned Television Stations, which is to inform and reflect and to serve our communities.” she said. “We have so many amazing people in each of our communities. These fantastic stories of either hope or things to do with your family and your friends on weekends, that’s every bit as important to our communities on a day to day basis as some of the harder news stories that we produce.”

The first series produced under the Localish brand is More in Common, a series about celebrating unexpected connections between people. The show has been appearing on Facebook Watch’s new news section and attracted more than 9 million video views and 95,000 followers.

With the official launch this week of Localish, three more series are being added:

  • Secretly Awesome, which introduces viewers to spots locals love
  • My Go-To, which features local influencers bringing viewers into their favorite hangouts
  • Worth the Wait, which tells whether the the long lines at the hotspots are really worth it.

“We often say this brand is very much created by for and about millennials. The content is produced in a way that is digital, mobile and video first. There’s an addressable audience of about 63 million people. So there is a real need and intent for this type of content,” says Jennifer Mitchell, senior VP content development, ABC Owned Television Station Group.

ABC did some research and found that millennials feel better about their communities they live in than the world at large. “We are better positioned to serve this need given the deep connections that we have and have had for decades in our local communities,” Mitchell said.

Other shows due to launch in October are based on data that shows that certain categories are interesting to Localish’s target audience. They include Staycation, a travel series, Bite Sized, about food and Pumped, a fitness series.

The content can be found on the the website, the network’s iOS and Android apps and its over-the-top platforms including Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. It will also be on Facebook Watch, Twitter, YouTube Instagram and syndicated via Oath and Apple News.

“We’re also thinking about a strategic play around over the top, meaning we may be thinking about popping up an OTT channel,” McMahon said.

Localish is looking to have a dual revenue stream. Some distributors, including Facebook Watch are paying for content and negotiations are underway to get fees from other platforms. Localish will also have national and local advertising,with enhanced targeting available on the local front.

“We are in the branded content business,” McMahon added. “That’s an opportunity for a product that wants to be a part of this very advertiser-friendly brand.

The ABC Stations will be promoting the new Localish content in its newscasts and other programming. Promotion and content will also appear on the stations’ digital sites, social handles and apps.

“In addition to being the market leaders in their respective DMAs they’re also a tremendous megaphone,” McMahon said. “Because of the connection that we have with our communities, our audiences trust that when we invite them to participate and be a part of something, we tend to get support there.”

Localish will also be supported by other Disney properties, including ABC’s Good Morning America, World News Tonight, Nightline and the Disney Digital Network.

There will also be paid media supporting the launch, with much of that social platforms.

“We’re talking about holding events in some of our markets and inviting people and businesses that have been featured in some of the content to attend, along with some of the influencers we’re working with as part of these series,” Mitchell added.