BIA/Kelsey Expert Commentary: Ducey on Local TV’s Bounce From New Media

Fresh from the annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters, it is clear that local TV stations should continue to extend their advertising and programming on — and for — new media platforms, including the Internet, cable and mobile TV. “Just having a presence on these multiplatform extensions won’t add revenues and viewership; there must be a unifying strategy and strong execution,” said our colleague  Rick Ducey, BIA’s chief strategy officer, who was a featured speaker at the show. “Multiplatform strategies make stations unique, drive new growth, and boost their symbiotic relationships with their advertisers and viewers.”

Ducey noted that stations have begun earning increasingly significant money from their locally targeted Web sites as they learn the ropes of being Web publishers. But he thinks these revenues are only “scratching the surface” of what is possible for local television stations seeking diversified and growing revenue streams.

A major issue for stations, of course, is whether they have outgrown their dependence on networks (and vice versa). But Ducey said there is strong incentive for local broadcasters to keep their ties to the networks because of their marquee programming.

“Local stations’ ties to the community and a locally deployed sales force with strong advertiser relationships are key differentiators in a media universe with virtually unlimited channels,” said Ducey. “Even while the economic interests between the networks and their stations have shifted, most of the viewing hours are still driven by the mix of local and network programming on local affiliated stations.”

What the stations and networks haven’t really done is to work together to leverage their respective strengths in the multi-channel era. “There may be a strong synergistic benefit to network and affiliated stations working together to exploit multiplatform revenue development opportunities rather than each going their own way,” said Ducey.

For instance, Ducey noted that “stations can monetize the value of their localism to market the networks’ cable program services, and do for program services what they did for network broadcast TV. A multiplatform business model leveraging local television station brands like that of NBC Local Media is a great example of extending into revenue growth in other media categories” — although this is currently limited to owned and operated stations.”

Looking forward, Ducey said local stations may also be able to “negotiate cash-producing arrangements with cable and possibly satellite operators to market broadcast content and “transform this local content into non-linear interactive streams.” Eventually, he added, the technology would accommodate such things as on-the-fly spot insertion of local ads and content.

Note: Ducey has been blogging the show for NAB here.

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