Local TV Management Anticipates More Consolidation, Seeks Greater Revenue Sources

Local TV broadcasting business management anticipates more consolidation moves -- which began about a year ago -- as well as greater emphasis on new digital platforms.

Speaking at the Bernstein Future of Media Summit, Nexstar Broadcasting executives believe local broadcast could be whittled down to five or eight big TV station groups over the next three to five years. In 2014, there were 16 big local TV station groups, down from 33 in 2011.

Perry Sook, chairman/chief executive officer of Nexstar Broadcasting, said local TV will continue to be a different business than TV networks -- focused on helping local businesses, producing local content that is “platform agnostic,” as well as serving customers who can't served by “algorithms.”

While many local TV executives are expecting low-single-digit-percentage growth for advertising sales, higher double-digit results will come in the way of retransmission revenues and digital revenues in the next several years.



Steven Burns, chief financial officer of Tribune Media, believes original TV content for local TV stations will increase in importance.

For example, he says Tribune Media keeps 100% of advertising inventory for some of its original programming versus other deals, where it would share a percentage of that inventory with national syndication programmers.

Sinclair Broadcast Group -- which has a large network of stations, 160 in 79 markets, covering nearing 40% of U.S. TV homes -- would like to pursue more growth with acquisitions. If regulatory reforms change, Sinclair goal could be in 70% to 80% of U.S. TV homes.

Chris Ripley, CFO of Sinclair, believes as others do that TV’s core advertising business is a mature business. And like other TV groups, it is focusing on generating revenue from various sources. "How do we get into other people's playground?” he asks. Specifically, he sees a big opportunity in mobile video.

E.W. Scripps Co. wants to go further, says Adam Symson, SVP/chief digital officer. His company is looking to develop multiple sources of revenue, not just with advertising from digital platforms. Scripps is experimenting with direct-from-consumer payment models.

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