Are There Cracks In The Local TV Station News Money-Making Machine?

TV news executives are closely watching what Sinclair Broadcast Group did by eliminating all local news programming in five TV market stations it owns.

Stations including WNWO Toledo, Ohio; KTVL Medford, Oregon; KPTM Omaha, Nebraska; WGFL Gainesville, Florida; and KPTH Sioux City, Iowa have been affected.

According to a report, a local-market TV reporter in Medford, Oregon was told by superiors that news programming was not getting strong enough ratings. That sounds ominous, and may suggest that local TV stations' emphasis on growing news content may be reaching the tipping point.

Local news programming in these outlets will be replaced with Sinclair-owned “The National Desk” show -- something that “provides real-time national and regional [emphasis added] news” -- content from Sinclair's TV  stations across the U.S.



This begs the question: Are viewers in certain small markets just not tuning into news? Perhaps other live TV news content from national and regional platforms is getting more play.

Specific high-interest news content will always seem to draw in local TV station news viewers, such as climate change-events including floods, tornados, rain and rising temperatures -- as well as ongoing dysfunction in the political environment.

The latter has played a big role due to ever-higher political advertising TV station revenue. But how long will this be sustainable, with encroaching digital media?

At the same time, major TV station groups continue to seek better monetization for all of their content.

To an extent, this is due to concerns that retransmission and carriage revenues from traditional and streaming distributors alike may continue to soften in future years. In that regard, we see big TV station groups looking to bolster up revenue sources, and moving into more national TV businesses/networks.

Last year, Nexstar Media Group closed a deal to buy a majority stake in broadcast network The CW. Three years before, E.W. Scripps acquired ION Media, another broadcast-based TV network -- creating a national TV network group. Other TV station groups continue to push locally based digital TV networks.

And it may be not just TV news content that is in trouble at local TV stations. 

The U.S. syndication marketplace is getting tough with TV producers, as it is under pressure to cut costs. 

This is partly because local TV stations are seeking other content -- and not just more locally owned TV news content.

In a more disruptive media world with ever more digital media distractions, they will need better-performing TV shows overall -- syndicated, TV news or otherwise.

Talk about your newfangled  “attention” metrics? Go more basic for the moment: It's about eyeballs -- nothing but eyeballs.

1 comment about "Are There Cracks In The Local TV Station News Money-Making Machine?".
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  1. Ben B from Retired, May 25, 2023 at 7:54 p.m.

    I think that WWMT will air news at 4PM come the fall since DR. Phil has ended and that WXMI Fox17 & WOOD-TV have 4PM newscasts which will be a 1 year for WOOD-TV that is what replaced Ellen when she ended her talk show. Sinclair owns WWMT in West Michigan. 

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