The agreement, announced Jan. 2, marks the beginning of a targeted syndication push, said Next Avenue Executive Director Judy Diaz. “We’re investing a lot in content, not just in money but in the time it takes to create the pieces,” she said.
The plan is a win-win, expanding Next Avenue’s content distribution while raising revenue, Diaz said. Additionally, the deal allows Next Avenue to develop custom online content exclusive to RLTV’s website.
RLTV pays a monthly syndication fee to post up to 150 Next Avenue articles on its site; Diaz declined to reveal how much the Baltimore-based network is paying. The coverage areas of the partners mesh nicely, encompassing relationships, finances, health and retirement.
Personalities with shows on RLTV, available nationwide to more than 25 million households on Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon FiOs and several other cable companies, include former Today host Jane Pauley and Brady Bunch mom Florence Henderson; its lineup also offers titles familiar to pubcasters such as Home Again with Bob Vila and Victory Garden. The network is programmed by Elliot Jacobson, a production executive with PBS credits.
Next Avenue was launched in May 2012 with streaming video from public TV content partners PBS, American Public Television and the National Educational Telecommunications Association. Huffington Post is also a media partner. Next Avenue is approaching other “like-minded organizations” for similar syndication agreements, Diaz said.
Next Avenue publishes between 20 and 25 original articles each week, in addition to daily blog posts, all written or edited by veteran journalists. The editors also curate and rewrite content from more than 27 partners, including the National Institute on Aging.
TPT President Jim Pagliarini and Diaz, a former PBS managing director of audience and brand strategy, developed Next Avenue, originally called the 50+ Life Stage Initiative, over the past five-plus years.
It’s one of the first standalone, original-content websites in the pubcasting system not tied to a television show, and the task of launching it presented quite a learning curve, Diaz said. “A lot of us are TV people,” she said. “This is a different type of site. It’s not about TV schedules, or a preview of programs. It’s a fully editorial site.”
She’s especially pleased with the traffic to and engagement around the site’s Work & Purpose content; one piece, “The New Job-Interview Dress Code,” captured 18,000 page views. Articles about relationships between parents and children are also popular. “The Six Things You Shouldn’t Say to Your Adult Child” was the most popular article on the site last year with more than 32,000 page views. A follow-up article about what adult children should never say to their parents was also among the top 25 stories of 2012.
Diaz is optimistic about Next Avenue’s progress since launch. In its first full month, June 2012, it captured 66,000 unique visitors; this month, “we’re on track to over 150,000 uniques,” she said. That’s well on the way to its goal of 300,000 by the end of August.
The number of participating stations has grown from 73 to 83, and three stations have helped to promote the site by picking up Next Avenue’s weekly e-newsletter, which can be localized with a station logo and offered to sponsors for ad placement.
Next Avenue also just hired a sales team to “aggressively pursue corporate sponsorship,” Diaz said. A $500,000 grant from the Anne Ray Charitable Trust via the PBS Foundation was another bright spot.
“We still have so much potential,” she said. “This template could be really valuable to the system, something replicated in other categories, targeting certain demographics or age groups and niches like history or science.”