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!)