local news affiliates reach out with crappy services

If you haven’t seen the commercials, it appears that area residents can now look to WUSA (CBS) and WTTG (Fox) for a more personalized online service.

As you might deduce from the title – WUSA’s "9CustomCast" provides users with personalized weather services. They highlight the following four attributes: "Your own personalized forecast webpage, News and Weather delivered to your computer desktop, Forecast emails, and Severe Weather emails." These services are free – but you can pay more for other features, like even more detailed emails and animated "television style" weather maps that show changes over a 48 hour period.

Meanwhile, WTTG has deployed "MyFoxDC" in beta version. Who knew there was an alpha? This is another free service that allows users to register and create their own blog. "Become part of the myfoxdc.com community," is their catchy selling point. The account you create to establish a blog also allows you to comment on the leading news stories – you even get to use an avatar (oh boy!). The only other feature they note is the ability for people to subscribe to your posts and receive emails when you update – oh and the ability to comment on the news leading news stories. I was only able to glean this from their "come sign up page" – I wanted to explore the service in greater detail, but the site crashed my browser with a Visual C++ Runtime Error.

Personally, I’m not very impressed. Seems to me that the weather service is way behind the ball – hasn’t WeatherBug been doing this for almost 15 years now? And why would you want to blog on the Fox DC website when you could use any other service that’s been around for much longer (typepad, blogger, etc.) – and don’t cause runtime errors? Haven’t print media websites (Washington Post, Washington Times, etc.) been allowing reader comments for years?

What’s the hook? What’s the competitive advantage? There is none!

Perhaps Topper Shot (I pretty sure he’s the the meteorologist in the commercial) just wanted a chance to chat it up with the ladies around Georgetown – the cameraman does a most gratuitous breast shot of a Hoya coed towards the end of the spot…

And perhaps the GOP elite just want to look cool when they advertise a blog that’s got some semblance of "fox.com" in the url…

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