Local TV Stations Turn To Datacasting As Revenue Source

Local “diginets’ -- those networks based on local TV stations' digital TV signals -- don't appear to be much of a growing business for the future. But other future digital businesses -- based around data -- might work.

According to one report, Rick Ducey, managing director of BIA Advisory Services, the market of locally based digital TV networks is matured. Those businesses amount to a collective $400 million to $500 million a year.

Analysts believe local TV stations need to turn their attention elsewhere -- like the promise of the new NextGen broadcast standard that ATSC 3.0 brings. Most of what seems obvious is the possibility of growing addressable advertising efforts -- all to compete with digital media.

All that is good, but can it get to “national” scale?

This seems an eternal problem for TV stations -- as with programmatic advertising efforts to make live, linear TV advertising easier to plan, buy and manage.



Still, others emphasize TV stations groups should focus efforts on services that sell local and national ad time to dozens of connected TV/OTT platforms.

What else could local TV station be doing? Datacasting. Apparently, new broadband standards works well, perhaps even better than existing cellular networks.

Datacasting on the ATSC 3.0 standard can flow more easily though all sorts of building material. Plus, it can reach more customers simultaneously and efficiently.

All this compares more favorably than cellular networks, which essentially sends one signal to one device. ATSC 3.0 can reach all connected devices at the same time in a given market.

Sound likes a great deal. But would Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile take this lying down -- companies that are already under pressure to push more 5G capacity for subscribers?

Additionally, this doesn’t seem like a comparable synergistic business that local TV stations are familiar with -- having little to do with programming, advertising (political and core marketers), retranmission fee business or otherwise.

Whatever local TV stations decide, they need to get going fast -- the trend line doesn’t look good.

Media agency holding company GroupM sees local TV advertising sinking 34% lower in 2020 to $14.5 billion this year, for core advertising (sans political). It was $22.1 billion in 2019.

It is forecast to drop 10.3% in 2021 to $13 billion for core advertising revenue; 14% lower in 2022 to $11.2 billion, with years after that leveling off.

More importantly, what kind of other changes will local TV stations confront with less advertising? We assume local TV news programming will remain a stable component for a long time.

But does this mean the end of juicy syndicated daytime talk shows? (Maybe Oprah can come back!)

1 comment about "Local TV Stations Turn To Datacasting As Revenue Source".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 30, 2020 at 9:55 a.m.

    Interesting, Wayne but I wonder how much revenue they can attract with such services. The great failure on the station end has been not developing original content for their websites and the kinds of sales staffs that could dig up business for such venues. TV spot sales has always been mostly a case of waiting for the buyer to call. That doesn't cut it any more. As for content---it's pretty obvious that digital content should be primarily on the informational end---though not, necessarily, mrerly reruns of the stations' own local news. Something more---and different---but still deliverable by the news teams---is required. Maybe more in the commentary vein or, perhaps, more about store openings, special deals offered by retailers, more about education or politics, etc. Up to now, the stations have been afraid that such  efforts might cannibalize their TV news ratings--and this is a possibility. But without some real movement in the audience attainment area as well as the superior targeting that might be offered to advertisers via digital sales, the long term prognosis for TV ad revenue growth is not very positive.

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