More signs that broadcast TV will stay healthy

Broadcast TV cameraLast year, I wrote (here and here) about the way that TV video systems were changing, and that TV broadcasting’s future was unsettled. This week, there are several signs that good old fashioned broadcast TV might do pretty well for a while.

Most recently, the National Association of Broadcasters launched a site promoting The Future of TV. Much of the site promotes mobile DTV, of which I’m still skeptical. The NAB talks about getting mobile DTV added to cell phones, but they’re having trouble even getting a $1 FM radio chip added to cell phones. Standalone devices still look pricy, although I hear that the Consumer Electronics Show will include some battery-powered regular and mobile DTV sets. I wouldn’t mind having something like that in the basement when a storm rolls through.

Speaking of storms, a Rasmussen poll released this week (and quoted here) said that over half of us still rely on local broadcast TV as our primary source for weather information. That’s exactly the edge that a local station has over anyone else; it can broadcast whatever is important and immediate to local viewers.

While those are positive signs for local broadcast stations, the topper came in a TV Business Report article which described a new Moody’s Investors Service report. Moody’s analyzed all aspects of TV viewing, and when it came to locals, Moody’s saw an advantage that no one can match. Local stations might continue to lose viewers, but they “will still generate a sizeable share of local advertising dollars as the content will continue to generate the largest audience.”

In other words, don’t fixate on the audience numbers, think about the advertisers. If you’re a local restaurant or car dealer, where can you get exposure to more customers than through local broadcast TV? Certainly not through the local newspaper with its dwindling readership.

So even if advertisers are paying for 80% of the audience local stations had five years ago, there’s still no better way for them to attract local customers. As long as that holds true, broadcast TV stations should be just fine.