Vorarlberg LIVE found spontaneous success

By Jenny Spiegel

Russmedia Digital GmbH Vorarlberg LIVE

Schwarzach, Vorarlberg, Austria

In the digital news sector, it’s all about speed. Whoever publishes the report first gets the clicks and the attention. Even if the phrase “details to follow” is the only information in the news report — what matters is that being the first to break it.

It doesn’t work like that in television, at least not when dealing with new formats. Here, a creative and economic process must come first to successfully start a format with the hope of gaining long-term viewer loyalty. 

Vorarlberg LIVE is an up-to-date news format broadcast in both digital and analogue. It is promoted and transmitted as the intersection of all available media channels of Russmedia Digital GmbH.

The 45-minute interview programme is offered online at VOL.AT and VN.at, live on YouTube and Facebook, analogue on Ländle TV, and as a podcast on podigee. After the broadcast, it remains available on YouTube and podigee.

Vorarlberg LIVE achieves an average of 50,000 daily views, hitting as many as 300,000 at peak times. For a small state with almost 400,000 inhabitants and the local public service broadcasting television programmes as direct competition, these are some impressive numbers. And yet this format was created without a plan — entirely spontaneously.

Vorarlberg LIVE was developed spontaneously but has grown into a trusted and anticipated programme.
Vorarlberg LIVE was developed spontaneously but has grown into a trusted and anticipated programme.

The success of spontaneity

In November 2020, Editor-in-chief Marc Springer and chief reporter Pascal Platsch stood under the “Vorarlberg Online. VOL.AT” logo and moderated a spontaneous special programme on the upcoming second severe lockdown in Austria.

Back then, the brand Vorarlberg LIVE — just like the broadcast concept of an almost-daily news programme — didn’t yet exist. But three days later, it did: Vorarlberg LIVE went on the air right on time for the start of the second lockdown in Austria on November 11, 2020.

This “unplanned” pilot gained almost 200,000 hits.

The idea arose from the journalistic need to inform Vorarlberg residents directly and live during the second lockdown. We invited politicians and experts to participate in interviews in the TV studio.

Vorarlberg LIVE offers the option of receiving information firsthand. Here, the latest reports from the print and online segments are addressed, and the reporting is enriched with the emotions and opinions of the guests.

Stay tuned (don’t switch off)

Since then, the product has evolved significantly.

It has become its own brand with a logo, opening announcement, regular broadcast dates and times, a set structure, and four experienced moderators. The improvised studio was replaced with a professional TV studio including a high-quality LED video wall. Most recently, new presenters’ desks, a new floor, and a new intro were added.

Close to the action

For a special show in December 2021 on the topic of vaccination, the call went out on all channels to send questions to the editorial team regarding all things coronavirus. These questions were answered live by doctors and discussed together with moderator and VN editor-in-chief Gerold Riedmann. Over 350 questions were submitted, summed up, and answered live.

This is just one example of how Vorarlberg LIVE can be adapted to address various topics. Under this brand, special programmes are also possible outside of the regular broadcast slots. This enabled experts to make live and direct references to spontaneous events, such as the announcement of the third lockdown and the resignation of the Federal Chancellor.

What started as a spontaneous special programme has become a recognised and successful news and video brand in Vorarlberg and Austria. This is a triumphant example of why it’s sometimes advisable to simply get started instead of accepting too many compromises while attempting to turn an idea into reality.

You can be successful without a plan — but you do need ambition and a great team.

About Jenny Spiegel

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