TV Stations Worry That Facebook Is Taking Over Mobile, Digital News

TV stations’ lukewarm industry-wide mobile and other digital plans could be taking more dings -- especially over controlling their content destiny on big social-media digital platforms.

Continuing growth by powerful Facebook looks to make more inroads.

It’s no secret that a large number of Facebook users -- some 1.8 billion of them -- are getting much of their news from the giant site -- not just national news but local news. And that isn’t good news for TV stations.

Given these media metrics, Facebook is increasingly difficult for TV stations to avoid. For many, Facebook can be a content offerer of a different sort -- like a cable operator. Stations can easily contribute content through Facebook’s Instant Articles effort -- a place where Facebook will give TV stations 60% of ad revenue that is sold.

And there can be more. One Canadian broadcaster, the CBC, produces an entire daily news program on Facebook Live.



It’s this last effort -- Facebook Live --  which perhaps should worry TV stations the most. The ease -- and ubiquity -- of Facebook makes it somewhat effortless for consumers to use it.

Now all Facebook needs to do to reach more prized local TV station viewers is a bit of marketing. That will pull more news readers/video consumers onto their platforms -- and out of TV stations' audiences.

Here’s the rub: With all the talk over fake news -- as well as proclamations from Facebook senior executives that they are not a journalistic enterprise -- TV news executives will continue to be nervous to jump in. And we haven’t even talked about issues of Facebook’s overstating time spent by consumers viewing video advertising.

Currently, we don’t have any estimates as to what Facebook delivers in terms of total ad revenues to TV stations. But it is still a very small piece of overall traditional advertising revenue for local TV stations -- some $21.6 billion.

This year, TV stations are estimated to make strong double-digit percentage gains in digital, pulling in some $1 billion in digital advertising from all its mobile/Web site efforts, according to BIA/Kelsey.

But now, look at all digital ad revenue: Google and Facebook controlling virtually half of all U.S. digital advertising. Will this market share for Google and Facebook extend to all of TV stations digital ad revenue in future years?

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