Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pew - State of Local TV News

Pew has just released its State of the News Media 2015 report, and I'll be sharing some results and comments.

2014 saw local TV station revenues increase (mostly from huge rise in political advertising), and some increased viewing for most local news programs.  Overall revenues increased 7% from the previous year, but still remained below 2012 numbers (when even more political advertising and the Presidential race helped spike local TV revenues).
The year also saw a continuation of the rise in the share of revenues coming from news programs, accounting for 84% of over-the-air revenues.  While good news for potential growth of local news programs and coverage, I'm not convinced that such a level of reliance on one programming source for station revenues is good for the long-term financial health of local broadcast TV.

The study also predicted a substantial growth in retransmission consent fees (from SNL Kagan numbers) over the next few years.  This comes with three big caveats, however;

  • Broadcast networks are demanding an increasing share of retransmission consent fees from local broadcasters, so it is unlikely that local stations will benefit that much from projected increases
  • It's starting to look like multichannel rights fees are starting to plateau.  Larger MSOs are starting to resist network demands for licensing fees, as the amounts are approaching audience perceptions of value.  This is contributing to cord-cutting and the push for a shift to "a la carte" pricing.
  • The economics of "a la carte" are likely to be substantially different than the existing business model, and are unlikely to sustain current revenue levels.  Particularly for local TV broadcasters, which must provide their primary service broadcasts free to the public (by FCC regulations)

As for local TV news, Pew notes that the number of hours of local TV news seems to have reached a plateau.  That's one factor contributing to limited growth in news staff salaries.

(I'm trying Pew's embed function for the graphics - my apologies if it's not working right)

Source - The State of the News Media 2015, Pew Research Center report

What's Your Plan for SportsDay (May 2)?

From Nielsen