TiVo's Rogers: Local TV Needs Radical Ad Rebooting For Long-Term Revival

by , Jan 29, 2009, 11:00 AM
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Pop-up ads on your TV screen? Pre-roll commercials before your DVR rolls into "Heroes"?

Just wait. All this is probably coming, says Tom Rogers, president/chief executive officer of TiVo. The TV advertising business will change radically -- and for some, crushingly. Rogers was addressing the suffering National Association of Television Program Executives meeting in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Here's the really bad news: Few TV executives wanted to hear any of this; about half the venue was filled to hear him speak.  It was worse on the NATPE floor, with fewer attendees in recent memory, according to many executives. Key attendees are sitting out the event  this year: TV station executives, who have been suffering one of the worst periods in some time with free-falling advertising revenues.

And then Rogers threw out more warnings: Remember what's happened to the music industry and newspaper business? Don't think it can't happen to the TV business.

(Ugh. Back to the Venetian. Let's booze.)

NATPE executives will take great pains to tell you their event hasn't been about  U.S. TV domestic syndication in years, and not just about TV stations looking for more answers to grow revenue. In the recent past, executives would say the event is about international TV, or about national and local TV advertising, about the Internet, or about it being a digital event for all TV, or just about "content."

Schizophrenia attacks even those in poor economic times. But wait, there's more.

"In two to three years, the TV industry is going to face an advertising crisis that is more severe for it than this current financial crisis," said Rogers. "You need to take this threat as immediate...The entire landscape of TV consumption is about to be turned on its head."

Perhaps those who did hear Rogers speak were thinking that they would rather put Rogers' speech on their DVR "To Do List" -- maybe recording his remarks for future playback, perhaps when the economy revives.

NATPE has turned out to be a sober event, throwing more cold water on TV companies that are already thinking about radically changing their business model. But transitioning every resource into local digital/internet video and commerce businesses won't be enough for many to keep their heads above water in 2009.

Maybe you just want to fast-forward right now.

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