TV news programmes sometimes refer to content published on their own website. It could be a way of trying to increase engagement, but does it work? Dutch publisher RTL Nieuws is finding out.

Frances Brisam is editor for and is eager to learn more about the behaviour of her audience. She identified two reasons why she wanted to find out if it was beneficial to refer to the website during TV programming.

  1. “The first reason is that it makes a connection between newsrooms. It is nice - and important to show that we can help each other.”
  2. “Secondly, We want to see if we can improve our online content, the way we refer to that content and make it more valuable to our TV audience. But we need to know what works best. That’s why we asked smartocto to help us analyse the editorial data. We’ve already found some interesting insights.”

How they do it

RTL Nieuws has two possible moments in their 19:30 main broadcast where they address an online story. Sometimes they have an item on their website that goes into more detail or information. “For example: after an item about the World Cup tournament football, we shared the article where visitors could see the whole Dutch selection. We only do that if it really complements the TV item.”

The other moment is fixed at the end of each broadcast. The presenters end by telling viewers, most often more than one million people, what they can see on the website. In the newsroom, they call this a ‘procla’ - Dutch slang for proclamation. “The chief editor of the website has a daily meeting with the chief editor of the broadcast. They decide together what item or article should be put in the spotlight.” Viewers see a big mobile phone on the screen, scrolling through the RTL Nieuws app.

How smartocto helped

This story is about the way energy companies will compensate high costs for gas. There was a new peak long after the story was published.

Brisam had already seen a peak in views in the story’s graph in the smartocto Tentacles tool. “But we also wanted to know how many extra views were coming via the TV broadcast. Together with the smartocto support team, we decided to check the numbers of the first 45 minutes after the end of the TV news. If you compare that amount with the previous 45 minutes, you have an educated guess about the effectiveness of sharing the story on TV.”

Brisam has also been trying to find answers to the million dollar question about what works well - and what is less effective. The outcome: stories with interactive tools and explainers are the best ways to keep the attention of their audience. Examples of this are pieces like ‘see which neighbourhood most bikes were stolen in’ and ‘this is why the costs of health insurance have increased’.

Translation: Arkey is sitting in a wheel chair and shines in a toy book of [equivalent of Amazon]
Translation: Massa tourism in Italy is back and with that the misbehaviours: 'Worse than ever'

Focusing on those kinds of topics is not the end game. “The editor who composes the website is following the timeline of the story and sometimes picks a prominent place if the webstory is finding renewed interest”, Frances Brisam says. “I think it’s a good development that across newsrooms, both television and digital, editors are more aware of the course of the stories we make. It feels like we are now able to extract the value that a story has.”

The tip box

  • Stories will often perform differently on different channels - but do you have connections between, say, your front page and your TikTok account? Or your TV programming and your newsletter?
  • You can extend the life of the story - and create follow ups - by utilising different platforms, formats and channels. How many of your stories do this right now?
  • Read more about omnichannel strategy in this useful primer