TV news turns to Web in search of young viewers

Several news networks are in the process of launching major online initiatives to attract a broader audience, and a more diverse group of advertisers

In an attempt to capture younger viewers, major television news operators are turning to the Internet. In recent weeks, Viacom’s CBS News and Time Warner’s CNN have joined News Corp.’s FOX News Channel in revamping Web sites to offer more free video news stories on demand.

The initiatives reflect a desire among TV news executives to reach a broader audience, and a more diverse group of advertisers.

Visitors to ABC News’s Web site have a median age of 45, nine years younger than ABC News’s median TV audience, according to Nielsen/NetRatings and research by the network, which is owned by Walt Disney Co.

Not only is the Web more widely used by young people, but on-demand videos also are more convenient for people who aren’t home in time for the 6:30 p.m. news. Time-pressed Americans also are increasingly less willing to sit through a half-hour program waiting for the one story they are interested in, said Jeff Marshall, who oversees digital-media buying for Publicis Groupe’s Starcom USA.

Consumers selecting a video story on a Web site are more likely to be engaged as they watch the video — and an accompanying ad, Marshall said. In contrast, viewers sitting passively through a TV news program aren’t always paying as much attention.

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