If stations are willing–and able–to embrace new sales ideas using digital platforms, they will be able to do more than survive, they will thrive, say panelists.
“Cancel the funeral,” says Christine Di Stadio. “TV isn’t going anywhere; it’s going everywhere.”
Di Stadio, the digital media maven for the New York Times Broadcast Group, made the assertion at a WorldNow-sponsored panel at NATPE that was one part practical advice on how to grow revenue on new digital platforms, one part pitch for WorldNow Web development and support and advertising services (all three panelists were WorldNow clients) and two parts motivational—just get out there and do it.
“It’s all about personal media,” Di Stadio said. “We’ve evolved from one screen to many screens. In a culture that likes to choose, you have to give them those options or you turn them off.”
The New York Times’s flagship station is WREG, the CBS affiliate in Memphis, Tenn.
The market generates about $100 million in local spot revenue for the stations to fight over, Di Stadio said. The number goes up and down, she said, but Memphis is essentially a “no-growth market,” not a lot different than most other TV market these days.
“The only way we—all of us—are going to grow is to create [revenue] and we are going to do it through digital media,” she said.
“By combining TV and the Web together, we are able to target print, direct mail and yellow-page advertisers,” she said. “It’s the only way we are going to grow.”
Her goal is to grow the group’s revenue 10% and cash flow by 5% by bringing in new advertisers on the Web and on related cell-phone services. “This is real revenue,” she said. “It’s not a reallocation of dollars from one budget to another.”
Panelist Paul King, corporate Internet director for Raycom Media, would agree with Di Stadio that TV broadcasting is not dead, but he believes it soon could be if broadcasters don’t fully embrace the new media.
“Evolve of die,” he warned. “We have to be moving forward because if we don’t we are going to get passed by, our revenue is going to decrease, we are not going to be able to approach the advertiser in a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ solutions-based way,” he said.
Raycom’s latest Web initiative has been classified advertising, King said, citing the success of WIS Columbia, S.C., which generated $235,000 in new revenue in the first year from its classifieds with the lucrative real estate category yet to be fully exploited.
Appearing via video, WIS General Manager Mel Stebbins cited the revenue. “The thing that is so important about that is that it is brand new money,” he said. “We never had it before because we’ve never been in the employment business before. This money is coming from the newspapers.”
Paul Singer, the general sales manager of KOIN Portland, Ore., said the CBS affiliate is just “an average station in an average market” with annual revenue of about $30 million.
But, he said, with the help of WorldNow he has produced what he believes is a first-rate Web site and is on his way toward achieving his goal of capturing $1.5 million in annual Web revenue.
“If you’ve got an average TV station, a good group of people, a passionate general sales manager, this can be done,” he said. “You can get the money that is out there.”
The residents of Portland are environmentally conscious and admonish each other to “Think Green” as they race to recycle, Singer said. “I’m in the TV business,” he added, “and green means just one thing to me. It means money.”