I was passing by in mid-afternoon, so there was no production going on, but I could take a look at the equipment. There were three high-end studio cameras on robotic pedestals (only one person is needed to operate all three cameras) plus a smaller camera on a fixed pedestal looking out the window for street shots. I looked up the list price for a typical high-end studio camera from Sony that's like the ones used at WBBM, and it costs $100,000 (U.S.).
By comparison, Panasonic can equip a HD webcasting studio with three automated cameras, a camera control unit and switcher for $23,000. One person can simultaneously switch the show and operate the cameras. Add in everything else you need--tripods with heads and dollies, a computer for graphics, an audio mixer, wireless microphones, LED lights, a live streaming encoder and software--and you'll be
WBBM, of course, is an over-the-air broadcaster that's also carried on cable, satellite and IPTV systems all over the greater Chicago area, so even though its news programs are struggling in the ratings, it gets a huge audience in comparison with what most people could attract through webcasting. However, the webcasting operation can run at a tiny fraction of WBBM's budget, so:
- It doesn't need to generate a lot of revenues to be profitable, and
- Once it reaches profitability, it will have a much higher operating margin than the broadcaster