KARK App Rolls Out Streaming Weather

In June, KARK-TV, Channel 4, broke into the live-streaming news market with a new version of its mobile app, billed as the only one of its kind among local TV stations.

Besides being faster than the previous version, the app has a streaming feature so users can watch weather broadcasts as they happen.

“This means when the Arkansas Storm Team springs into action, you don’t have to miss a second of the coverage,” the station’s website stated. “The streaming coverage further demonstrates KARK’s mission to serve as ‘Your Weather Authority.’”

Events and breaking news will also be featured on the app, the site says, but the app doesn’t feature news coverage beyond that.

Why not? It ties into the reasoning behind why the market has been relatively slow in breaking into mobile live streaming.

The other local stations all have apps — sometimes more than one — but creating streaming news services has been full of clerical and cost-related issues.

KATV-TV, Channel 7, in Little Rock, for example, has several apps but no live streaming. General Manager Mark Rose said the station is looking into it but there are still several issues that need to be ironed out.

“There are some challenges that all stations are going to have to a certain degree,” Rose said. “It’s similar to the same challenges that we have online.”

The main challenge: rights.

“We get all our news data that we don’t develop on our own from The Associated Press, CNN and other sources,” Rose said. “Those are just news content providers. Then you have sports challenges like NFL, ESPN, NBA, etc. There are certain limitations of how you can use that content. For broadcast, there’s that standard agreement you have. But with mobile and Internet rights, there’s not a standard.”

So a TV station may be able to legally run a national CNN story on TV, but the same program would be illegal to stream on a mobile device.

Stations are all working on getting past that barrier, Rose said. KATV has rolled out a live-streaming weather feature on the station’s website, but he isn’t sure about spending the capital on a mobile version.

“Weather is one of those unique animals,” he said. “When severe weather is happening, it’s the most important thing in your life, right then. But for the other 360 days a year, for live weather, it’s not going to have a lot of hits.”