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Gray TV: Delivering its network of stations win-win digital experiences

To give its stations the tools they needed to best serve their communities’ needs, Gray TV upgraded their digital experience stack comprised of a traditional CMS and multiple point solutions to Arc XP’s digital experience platform.

When Gray Television purchased Raycom Media in 2018, they inherited 42 television stations on Arc XP’s digital experience platform (DXP). The acquisition offered Gray TV a unique opportunity to get a firsthand look at the difference between their legacy technology and Arc XP’s DXP.

Boxed in by the rigidity of an outdated CMS

As one of the largest broadcasters in the U.S., Gray TV works to ensure its member stations have the tools needed to best serve the needs of their communities.

At the time of the Raycom Media acquisition, Gray TV sought to improve the user experience for their station websites and the quality of content delivered to their audiences. Topping their list was a modern interface that provided the flexibility to include various elements into an article and lay each article out with a flow that made the story make sense.

Having the ability to ‘try Arc XP’s platform before we buy,’ Gray TV began to evaluate their existing content management and digital experience stack to rethink what kind of platform would best meet their growing network’s needs.

Upgrading to deliver next level storytelling

Ultimately, Gray TV elected to move forward with Arc XP as their digital platform of choice, moving 60 existing stations from their legacy CMS to Arc XP’s DXP.

Featuring a natively built and fully integrated video platform, Arc XP enabled Gray TV to eliminate the separate video management system and middleware environment they had been using to connect that management system to their legacy CMS. Flexible page layouts and rich multimedia elements enabled their stations to now tell comprehensive stories with an intuitive flow, embedding tweets, imagery and videos to create an experience that is both modern and informative for audiences.

Using Arc XP’s multisite content facilitation capabilities, Gray TV could now share and distribute content across their landscape of national and regional stations in a way that was never possible before.

“One of our goals in changing our technology was gaining the ability to share content across stations. To be able to take content produced in one market and have another market easily get that content and place it on their site. And then anytime content was updated, those updates would automatically carry across all places the content was used,” said Brandon Omohundro, Vice President of Digital Operations for Gray Television. “With Arc XP, we went from a situation where we had small pockets of regions sharing content, to an environment where any station could get any story from any other station. Now, it’s clicking a button and if you see it, you can use it.”

From a technology standpoint, moving to Arc XP also solved many of Gray TV’s site performance challenges. With a fully hosted and managed experiences platform built on AWS, Arc XP delivered site stability, increased performance, and an overall improved end-user experience.

What’s more, the migration to Arc XP eliminated the technical resourcing barriers that had hindered Gray TV’s stations from fully enacting initiatives and meeting stations’ needs. By simplifying the user experience, Gray TV’s stations were able to accelerate content creation, leading to increased engagement and ultimately, additional ad revenue opportunities.

Accelerating from concept to execution — at scale

Following the migration of their existing stations to Arc XP, Gray TV completed two additional acquisitions, comprising 29 stations in 20 new markets. Because of Arc XP’s architecture and the experience of its customer support teams, the migration of these stations occurred at a record pace with all 29 sites redesigned, built, and launched within just three months.

In migrating to Arc XP, the biggest hurdle to tackle was the content migration. “There was a lot of data, a lot of years of content, a lot of images and videos that had to be moved over,” said Omonundro. “Arc XP gave us access to the necessary APIs to write into their system. Our development team created the scripts that would get the video and story content from our old CMS and then migrate them in a way that tied everything back together.”

South Florida Weekend, the City Weekend accompanying site for Gray Television station, WFLX, in West Palm Beach, FL.
South Florida Weekend, the City Weekend accompanying site for Gray Television station, WFLX, in West Palm Beach, FL.

Simultaneously, as Gray TV acquired these station groups, they launched their City Weekend sites, a new initiative to expand their audience base, increase traffic, and boost ad revenue by providing audiences with market-specific lifestyle content related to events, food, art, and culture.

Gray TV leveraged Arc XP’s Themes product as base page templates to quickly build the City Weekend sites and then customize different elements for each site to have its own market-specific look. Utilizing Themes, Gray’s small technical team was able to take the first set of 23 sites from concept to launch in just four months. Now, Gray TV is launching new City Weekend sites in under three weeks.

Uncovering the next opportunity

Today, Gray TV has over 150 sites on Arc XP’s digital experience platform — a number that continues to grow.

“As Gray TV continues to expand, it becomes increasingly important to provide stations with the tools that allow them to serve their communities and provide information quickly and accurately,” said Mike Braun, Senior Vice President, Chief Digital Officer of Gray Television. “With Arc XP, we are now able to give every station and every journalist the tools they need to meet their community’s needs.”

Effortlessly sharing content across stations and optimizing performance on all fronts, Gray TV is engaging digital audiences more efficiently and effectively than ever before, while continuing to drive their bottom line.