Monday, September 29, 2008

NBC says local TV profoundly affected by downturn

The state of local TV advertising appears to be in trouble. And while the economy may be cited as the main reason, perhaps it is technological change that is affecting its health. National TV advertising, per Jeff Zucker, continues to perform. ""We haven't seen an advertising slowdown on a national level yet in the United States but obviously we're concerned about it, and I think if you're not concerned about it you're in denial," he added."

But the reason for the downturn may not be all an economic fault. Syndicated programming, once the mainstay for local TV, can now be accessed via the web; local news is similarly received the same way. In addition, it is now possible to customize a national ad so that a different message reaches the target audience. Segmented based on geography, age, income, family size, and any number of attributes. Cable sees this as an opportunity and has created Canoe Ventures to organize all the largest cable systems into a "national" group to then be segmented to reach a targeted audience across the cable universe.

But where does that leave the local broadcaster who is geographically limited to what it can sell. And worse, must compete with its own national network for eyeballs as not only on the network itself, but also on web sites, cable nets, and VOD. Specifically, for the local NBC broadcaster such as WNBC in New York, how can they compete for ad dollars, when its shows are also on, hulu, and iTunes, as well as on news content cable nets like MSNBC, entertainment content on USA, Bravo, Oxygen, and others plus their respective web sites. When businesses need to target geographically to advertise, they now have the tools to cut up and target these national audiences even more effectively. No it is not just the economy that is hurting the local broadcaster, it is the industry and the technological changes that are occurring that have negatively impacted them.