Local TV Stations Expand Sites, Leverage Content

Until recently, Web sites for local television stations served mostly as PR vehicles, but now they're increasingly becoming revenue generators. That was the conclusion of a Borrell Associates report, commissioned by industry group the Television Bureau of Advertising and released Tuesday.

Local station sites will generate an estimated $410 million in ad revenue this year--a 45 percent jump over 2005, according to the report. What's more, local TV sites have significant opportunities to expand their 11 percent share of the $3.9 billion local online advertising pie, stated the report. For the report, Borrell looked at about 575 local TV Web sites owned by companies such as Hearst-Argyle, CBS, Meredith, and NBC.

In the past, the companies generally used these sites to boost interest and viewership in a station's on-air product.

But now, with broadband access proliferating and online advertising continuing to grow, TV sites are increasingly adding new content. Local stations have recently started using their Web sites to provide expanded coverage free of on-air time constraints, such as full-length interviews with public officials. Stations are also offering podcasts of local news, and special programming on topics such as health.



"The stations are waking up to the importance of this medium," said Paul Trelstad, senior vp-Gannett Broadcasting, Tuesday in New York.

Trelstad added that the biggest growth opportunity lies in attracting national advertisers, who have been slow to embrace the medium. To date, the bulk of advertisers on local TV Web sites have been local businesses, such as car dealerships, according to the report.

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