The multicast networks that stations are using to populate their subchannels are estimated to generate between $250 million and $350 million a year in total ad revenues, growing 4% to 5% a year. “It’s still early in the game, says Katz TV Media’s Bill Carroll. “They’re in the ‘build-out phase,’ the news being they’ve extended the reach, and enhanced the profile, of broadcast stations. A few are already visible in ratings terms, and others are quickly becoming so.” Here’s a look at the diginet trends and our exclusive ranking of the top 25 by TV household coverage.
ABC will shut down the diginet in January, replacing it with some form of local programming, probably a news channel.
After years of experimentation, broadcasting specialty networks on subchannels is starting to draw viewers and revenue in amounts that really matter. Some peg the take at more than $200 million. While classic TV shows and movies are popular formats, others see the future in original programming.
Even in small markets, broadcasters are generating up to $1 million in annual revenue with a single subchannel, according to panelists at a NATPE session on multicasting.
Multicast programmers will be at this month’s NATPE exhibition hoping to expand and improve their affiliate lineups. And their growing importance to the industry is reflected in the show’s scheduling of a panel dedicated to the business on Monday afternoon (Jan. 23) featuring representatives of Me-TV, Antenna TV and Live Well.
The new additions — In Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Tucson, Omaha and Boise — bring the multicast network’s coverage to 47% of U.S. TV households.
New additions from Gannett, Allbritton, Bonten and Great Plains bring the new diginet’s total lineup to 32 stations.
With the addition of Quincy Newspapers’ WSJV South Bend-Elkhart, Ind., the multicasting channel featuring lifestyle programming now counts 26 outlets and reaches 40% of U.S. TV homes.
With the addition of the Scripps outlets that reach 10% of TV homes, the lifestyle channel has boosted its coverage to more than 40%. The channel counts 16 other affiliates: eight ABC-owned, five Belo, two Lilly Broadcasting and one LKK Group.
Emily Barr (left) and Peggy Allen are the ABC execs charged with developing the programming and expanding the distribution of the O&Os’ Live Well multicast channel. The diginet featuring lifestyle programming aimed at women and produced mostly by the stations is now shopping for additional affiliates with the goal of reaching 50-60% of TV homes by the end of the year. The two outline their strategies and goals as they compete for a valuable — and increasingly in demand — chunk of stations’ spectrum.