The Spin Cycle

Local TV News Audience Is Down, Revenue Is Up

By July 22, 2019 September 3rd, 2019 No Comments

Last week, the Spin Cycle explored the recently released Pew Research Center State of the News Media report, showcasing key audience and economic indicators across the U.S. news media landscape.

This data pinpoints the shifting ways Americans seek news and information in an increasingly digital world.

The press – often referred to as the fourth branch of government – is also very much a business. And its ability to make an impact with the public is dependent on its ability to attract eyes and dollars!

This year, instead of a single report, Pew developed a series of fact sheets spotlighting the most important info from each sector. Over the coming weeks, The Spin Cycle will dive into these reports. This week, our focus is on local TV news.

While television remains the most common place for Americans to get their news, with local TV outpacing cable and network TV, local TV news saw its audience decline across all time slots studied over the past year. Financially, local TV companies generated more revenue in 2018 than in 2017, consistent with a cyclical pattern in which revenue rises in election years and falls in non-election years, according to the Pew report.

In 2018, viewership for network local affiliate news stations (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) declined in key time slots – morning (6 a.m. to 9 a.m.), evening (4 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and late night (11 p.m. to 2 a.m.) – according to Comscore StationView Essentials® data. The average audience (defined as the average number of TVs tuned to a program throughout a time period) for the morning news time slot decreased 10% in 2018. Local TV average audience for the late night and evening news time slots also declined (14% for both). Audience for the midday news (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and prime news (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) time slots both declined 19%.

Local TV station revenue typically follows a cyclical pattern — it increases in election years and decreases in non-election years. In 2018, an election year, local TV over-the-air advertising revenue totaled $19.3 billion, a 12% increase over 2017, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of MEDIA Access Pro & BIA Advisory Services data. In comparison, local TV advertising revenue in the two most recent election years was $19.8 billion (2016) and $19.3 billion (2014).

Total digital advertising revenue for local TV stations increased 14% in 2018 (reaching a total of about $1.2 billion). Digital advertising revenue accounts for less than 10% of total ad revenue, according to the report.

Advertising revenue for 829 local TV stations defined as “news-producing stations” (stations that have a news director and are viable, commercial and English-language affiliates in the U.S.) was $15.8 billion, 82% of the total $19.3 billion revenue for the local TV industry overall, according to the BIA Advisory Services database.

Revenue from retransmission fees – the fees paid by cable and satellite systems to carry local channels – has been increasing rapidly in the past decade, according to estimates from Kagan, a media research group in S&P Global Market Intelligence. In 2018, retransmission revenue reached almost $10.2 billion, up from $9.4 billion in 2017; Kagan projects that this figure will reach $12.2 billion by 2023.

Six major publicly held local TV station companies – Tribune, Nexstar, Sinclair, Tegna, Gray and Scripps – report political advertising revenue separately from other types of revenues in their Securities and Exchange Commission filings, according to the Pew report. In 2018, the six companies reported a total of $1.2 billion in political advertising revenue, compared with $843 million in 2016 and $696 million in 2014, the two most recent election years. (Data points for 2012 to 2016 also include Media General, which was purchased by Nexstar in 2017.)

In 2018, 144 local TV stations changed hands at a cost of $8.8 billion, as annually reported by BIA Advisory Services. This is up from $4.7 billion across 107 stations that experienced changes in ownership in 2017.

Nike Cashes In on Women’s World Cup Success

The U.S. women’s national soccer team wasn’t the only winner of the 2019 Women’s World Cup!

Nike also took home the gold! Jerseys sold out on its website and buzz around its latest ad campaign lit up cyberspace.

The swoosh sponsored 14 of the 24 teams playing in the tournament this year, including three that made it to the final four. One of those is team USA. Professional soccer players make up Nike’s second-largest group of sponsored female athletes, behind track and field.

Within hours of the U.S. women’s victory, a special version of the jersey dropped by Nike with four stars – each star representing a World Cup win for the women’s team: in 1991, 1999, 2015 and this year.

As sales of Nike’s new World Cup merchandise are skyrocketing – many items being bought and worn by men – has stoked the ongoing debate about female soccer players still being paid less than men despite women’s games generating more revenue than men’s games.

After the win on Sunday, Nike aired a new ad for the women’s soccer team, showcasing some of these frustrations.

In it, a woman says: “I believe that we will make our voices heard and TV shows will be talking about us every single day and not just once every four years … And that women will conquer more than just the soccer field, like breaking every single glass ceiling and having their faces carved on Mount Rushmore … And that we will keep fighting not just to make history, but to change it forever.”

Aced Mic: Men’s Wimbledon Championship One for the Ages

The 2019 Wimbledon men’s singles final – pitting reigning champ Novak Djokovic against ageless Roger Federer – was an epic sporting event for the ages.

The world was seemingly glued to the All England Club to witness history: Djokovic aiming to defend his title, Federer on track to become the oldest man in the Open era to win a Grand Slam singles title and the potential to decide the winner if a tie break became necessary. It was definitely buckle-your-seatbelts-worthy.

In the end, it was top-seeded Djokovic who emerged victorious by the narrowest of margins, 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3), winning his fifth Wimbledon singles title in the first championship decided by final-set tiebreak – a rule put in place by the tournament in October.

Clocking in at four hours and 55 minutes, the match is the longest Wimbledon final ever, breaking the record previously set by Federer and Rafael Nadal in 2008.

With the victory, Djokovic tied Nadal for the most career victories over Federer (10) at majors. Overall, the two were playing each other for the 48th time, with Djokovic holding a 26-22 edge – including 3-1 on grass courts, all at Wimbledon.

It was riveting tennis at it best between two warriors of the game. The Spin Cycle hated to see either legend lose. It was more than a tennis championship, more than a work of art. These modern day da Vincis turned the court into canvas with every stroke – a thing of beauty that surely made Mona Lisa smile!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

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