This bold prediction isn’t pegged to anything TV stations might be doing. It’s more about their network TV affiliate associations.
Speaking at the MediaPost Outfront Forum on Wednesday, Adam Gerber, global chief investment officer at Essence, pondered a world where TV networks would be getting a 0.2 prime-time rating five years from now.
Considering broadcast erosion, and growing competition everywhere, that isn’t so farfetched.
In turn, ask the more serious financial question: How can legacy TV media companies continue to operate and fully monetize an expensive linear TV network?
Now full on to a broader context: What happens locally? Would you need as many as five network affiliates in certain DMAs? Then move on to a more obvious trend: Local TV marketers are already moving lots of money to local digital platforms.
For their part, TV stations have been trying to cope with digital realities, such as investing more in local TV news, and expanding news time periods.
In addition, as an industry, they are transitioning to a digital media-like new standard -- ATSC 3.0, which will make TV more interactive in a number of areas, as well as improve advanced advertising.
Also, they have been taking on more inventory to sell -- creating locally based ad sales businesses such as Tegna’s Premion, which give local marketers added reach -- packaging those ad avails with traditional local TV inventory.
However, it’s not just about national TV ratings declines -- local TV viewing is also sinking. And without big national TV shows on local TV stations -- due to perhaps fewer broadcast networks -- there will be even less viewership.
In the near term, the positive is that local TV ratings will still see big political TV dollars in the coming years -- especially those marketers attached to local TV news content.
Still, without any major TV network prime-time content, the financial equation will be challenging. Some TV stations were able to revamp into independent TV stations. But generally, this is rare.
Know this: Consolidation and/or transition is coming for linear TV, national and local. When will the lights turn off for some?