When I first started what was then called WCNT-TV (Wesley Chapel New Tampa Television) with a partner in 2016, my intent was to create something of a hyperlocal TV news station that would one day become a 24-hour “channel” featuring news and informational content solely about New Tampa and Wesley Chapel.
A couple of years later, not only had I taken over complete control of our online content from that former partner, we began focusing on short news and informational videos about the people, businesses and restaurants in our communities. That same year, as I was re-branding our online video content as NeighborhoodNewsOnline.net, with the help of a former producer, I applied for — and was stunned to receive — one of only 86 grants worldwide (and one of only 23 in the U.S.) from Google to expand that video content, as part of the online giant’s attempt to combat the growing proliferation of “fake news” online.
I was told by Google that even though our Neighborhood News print editions were only about two tiny (but growing) markets, a big reason we received a grant was because we had been in the business of providing real news to and for the residents and businesses of these two small submarkets of the Tampa Bay area for 26 years.
And, that grant money from Google did help us expand our online presence from an average of one video release every two weeks to more than two releases each week of 2019.
Unfortunately, Google didn’t see fit to provide us with another grant for 2020 in order to keep that momentum going the following year, which then ended up also being the year that Covid-19 changed everybody’s business.
Thanks to a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, however, I was able to retain and continue paying all of our employees, including videographer/video producer Charmaine George, but with most people not venturing out of their homes, and working mainly from home from March through much of the summer last year, it was harder for us to continue putting out the same amount of content and even harder to create and release content that people wanted to watch, despite having so much less to do outside.
Even so, we were still able to put out more than two video releases per week, with 74 total releases for 2020, which were viewed nearly 200,000 times, with a Facebook (search “Neighborhood News”) reach of more than 300,000, bringing our overall viewership to close to 2 million through our first five years.
Our ten most-viewed videos of 2020 (all of which were viewed more than 5,000 times each, reaching an average of 12,000+ people each on Facebook) were primarily about new business and restaurant openings, especially Aldi, the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus of Pasco County (which had three of our top-10), The Grove, Aussie Grill, Main Event and Pasta di Guy.
Our pace for new video releases has slowed somewhat in 2021, and fewer of you have been watching them, although we also have been encouraged by the fact that our most-watched video ever was our exclusive sneak peek of the all-new Grove Theater (photo) in January, which has, to date, been viewed by more than 32,000 people with a Facebook reach of more than 53,000. We also have had decent viewership of videos about New Tampa’s new Fresh Kitchen and others.
To that end, our plan is to greatly expand our focus on dining and new business opening videos for the rest of 2021. So, if you or someone you know has a new business or one opening soon in either of our distribution areas, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for watching!