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Stations Pin Hopes on Web

Apr 13, 2008  •  Post A Comment

At first blush, Web site ad sales growth for local television broadcasters looks great; station sites should see a 45% rise in revenue this year to $1.1 billion, according to the Television Bureau of Advertising.
But when one digs deeper, the picture isn’t so rosy. Ad revenue was flat for local broadcasters for the first two months of this year compared with last year, according to the TVB. That’s not a healthy figure, especially in a year when political advertising is supposed to boost the bottom lines for TV stations. The overall economic slowdown, coupled with a contracting local TV audience, has spelled a tough few months for local broadcasters.
CBS just laid off 160 staffers at its local stations, citing both the economy and new investments in technology that creates a need for fewer employees.
However, CBS has been adding staffers at its local digital division. CBS’ local stations grew digital revenues by 72% from March 2007 to March 2008, said Jonathan Leess, president of the CBS TV stations digital media group.
Given the overall slowdown in local TV money, broadcasters desperately need the revenue their Web sites generate, even though on-air still brings in the bulk of the ad dollars. Local broadcast stations should generate $14 billion in total local ad revenue this year, with local online dollars making up only about 8% of that, Gordon Borrell, president of local media research firm Borrell Associates, said.
“The Web sites are doing well and they are becoming tall pygmies,” he said. “Whether they can get enough growth hormones to play basketball, I am not sure.”
Stations need to make sure they continue to focus on selling traditional commercials, Mr. Borrell said. “A couple of stations in each market will die. I don’t think an individual market can support four to five local broadcast channels,” he said.
Station groups are hoping digital sales will help them thrive. “Digital is finally the key or the path to future opportunities for growth for TV stations,” Mr. Leess said.
Web traffic is growing 50% year over year, with the CBS-owned stations collectively logging about 13 million unique online visitors each month. In addition, each month CBS delivers about 25 million video streams of local content on its station sites and via syndication partners.
There’s room to grow online too. Right now TV station Web sites have captured only 11% of local ad dollars and 75% of all TV station Web inventory is unsold, in part because TV stations need more online-only ad reps to sell the spots, Mr. Borrell said.
A digital salesperson can both sell digital ads and help traditional salespeople land more cross-platform sales, CBS’ Mr. Leess added.
That’s why stations will likely devote more resources to the Web, said Chris Rohrs, president of TVB. “They’re the growth engine for TV stations right now. The traditional business is really flat,” he said. “We’ll come out at the other end, and the Web helps get us through.”

3 Comments

  1. I think it’s a big fraud. TV stations across the land just LOVE telling viewers that they should ‘log onto our web site for the latest up-to-the-minute news.” It’s a joke. When you go to any of them, they are filled with banner/click ads for stupid things like dating sites, real estate, and other lame money-grabbing appeals. They want you to go to their web sites because it means more eyeballs for the stupid click-ads they bludgeon visitors with.
    TV news is nothing but GLUE that holds car and furniture store commercials together. True story. The people who bring you inane ‘yuck-yuck’ anchor banter, who ‘BREAKING NEWS!!’ you to death, who give you worse and worse weather forecasts even though the technology keeps getting better and better, are going to tell ME to visit THEIR web sites? I don’t THINK so.

  2. I think it’s a big fraud. TV stations across the land just LOVE telling viewers that they should ‘log onto our web site for the latest up-to-the-minute news.” It’s a joke. When you go to any of them, they are filled with banner/click ads for stupid things like dating sites, real estate, and other lame money-grabbing appeals. They want you to go to their web sites because it means more eyeballs for the stupid click-ads they bludgeon visitors with.
    TV news is nothing but GLUE that holds car and furniture store commercials together. True story. The people who bring you inane ‘yuck-yuck’ anchor banter, who ‘BREAKING NEWS!!’ you to death, who give you worse and worse weather forecasts even though the technology keeps getting better and better, are going to tell ME to visit THEIR web sites? I don’t THINK so.

  3. I have stumbled upon your site in google blog news. How did you find a way to get there?

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