Is Local TV Behind In Digital Media?

TV stations are behind when it comes to competing with local digital media competitors -- and there are two primary reasons: lack of investment and unfamiliarity in a different competitive space.

With only 5% of a TV stations' overall revenues coming from digital media, Pat LaPlatney, president/CEO of Raycom Media, put it simply at an NAB panel: “As an industry, I would say we’re behind where we should be, and it probably reflects a lack of investment.”

But other executives believe it is the culture.

On the same panel, Adam Symson, president/CEO of E.W. Scripps Co., said: “Broadcasting has traditionally been a very protected business — protected by regulation and economically protected because not everybody could have a television station in a market.”

With digital media, it's a different story. A company can have as many local media platforms as the marketplace will bear. Free capitalization at work.



Now, the good news: TV stations have strong brand awareness in local markets. This is a big plus when it comes to extending that brand into the digital space. But it might not be enough.

Hubris? Local TV stations have weathered much from digital media. They still thrive. So why change? Plus, they seem to to have always been in a better position than many local newspapers -- even with print efforts to morph into digital media.

This is not to say that many big local TV station groups are just sitting around. They are investing in new technology -- programmatic ad platforms, OTT ad-selling businesses, among other areas.

But there must be more -- and better -- integration with linear TV. All that can be harder -- in terms of pricing, audience metrics, engagement and other areas.  

Just think about what national TV networks are going through when it comes to offering a single audience metric, across all screens, for big national brands to buy. That continues to be a difficult task.

Doing this effort locally? It will be much harder. And more digital investment money will need to be involved.

2 comments about "Is Local TV Behind In Digital Media?".
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  1. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, April 18, 2018 at 3:44 a.m.

    Advise me if I'm wrong here. TV stations are in the information and entertainment business. For far too long they've viewed themselves as in the "broadcasting" business.

    The average age of broadcast viewership remains, well, "old"...and seeming in spite of efforts to lure younger seems to remain old.  Raw viewership numbers have been steadily decreasing over the years.  Wouldn't the common wisdom be: meet your audiences where they are, not just where you are? Particularly if you are trying to attract younger consumers?  Extending your brand across platforms seems like a logical business practice.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 18, 2018 at 8:17 a.m.

    James, TV stations might take a long, hard look at the newspaper experience with digital. Even though ad revenues from newspaper websites have not reversed the overall downward slide of printed edition losses, they are significant and would be even greater if more effective selling coupled with original content was included in the package. And, certainly,as with older skewed newspapers, TV station news offerings on their websites are certain to attract a more upscale and younger audience. The problem is three-fold. One, the stations are fearful of fragmenting their 'linear TV" news ratings---which will decline anyway. Second, the stations would have to provide timely and, in many cases, original local news content on their websites, not simply rehashes of their broadcast telecasts. That costs money and the stations are not willing to invest in such for their digital ventures. Third, the stations would need a highly trained and specialized digital sales force that goes out and aggressively seeks business with advertisers---rather than waiting for the time buyer to call. That, too, is a departure from the TV norm.

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