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Archie Gianunzio Talks NAB Small Market Television Exchange

September 27th, 2016   ||    by Melanie Brown

The 2016 National Association of Broadcaster’s (NAB) Small Market Television Exchange, held September 15–17, brought together sales players in TV markets 75+ to talk about the state of broadcasting in smaller markets. This year’s conference branched out to focus heavily on digital and other emerging opportunities. We talked with Videa’s Vice President of Sales, Archie Gianunzio, to get the latest insights from the national meeting.

What were the major trends that emerged from this year’s NAB small market exchange?

There was a lot of talk about how you get the younger generation to want to work at a local TV station. There was some trepidation, but also a lot of interest and excitement about the prospect of bringing in fresher viewpoints, and using those viewpoints to start targeting audiences better with the content.

And, of course, digital. Moving into the digital realm is something that broadcasters have been trying to do for twenty years now. The focus was a lot more on how to sell multiple streams: television plus mobile plus digital. Also, how to target advertisers and agencies to make that happen.

Digital played a larger role in the schedule this year. How did you see local television adapting to or competing with digital’s emergence?

Every TV station is really a digital player. It’s interesting because it’s almost like they don’t realize they’re already part of this. And the emergence of digital—and so much advertising spend going to digital—should fit right in with a broadcaster’s portfolio because they’ve got on-air, they’ve got online, and they’ve got mobile.

What tends to happen is either a TV station tries to get a buyer who’s used to buying television to buy digital, or they try to go after that digital money, and they try to sell it as a broadcaster, where digital people are used to dealing with people who just sell digital.

The issue has always been getting in front of the right people at an agency or an advertiser to convince them that utilizing multiple platforms at the same time will benefit the advertiser more than just one or the other.

Based on the ideas discussed at the conference, what are some big opportunities for small market television in the years to come?

It’s going to focus on digital, mobile apps, streaming, and on demand. I think what came up a number of times is the idea of targeting a younger generation that isn’t watching television the way that the older generation is. For a broadcaster who also has a mobile app or online presence, it shouldn’t be as scary as it is to have a part of their audience connect with them outside of a TV set.

As much as broadcasters talk about multiple screens, we know they’re not really aiming their content or planning their broadcasts to that audience. And I think that’s the biggest opportunity, not just for small market TV, but for any broadcaster, and even some cable providers. They’re going to have to get the content in front of the audience where the audience is. Furthermore, that content has to be what the audience wants to see, or at least have a good enough cloak on it that they want to take a look.

These broadcasters need to think about how to provide that while at the same time not alienating viewers who have been watching for years and years. So I think the biggest opportunity is getting the product, broadcast television, in front of a younger audience in a way that that younger audience is going to connect and engage with.

The younger generation wants to feel like they’re an integral part of something, and an older company’s environment isn’t always conducive to that feeling for an entry level employee. How do you see this all coming together?

Broadcasters will have to make some changes in the way they operate. Broadcast television has been around since the ’50s, and a lot of these stations operate exactly the same way they did sixty years ago. I think that’s the challenge, even down to human resources.

Are they providing the same employment opportunities as a start-up? That’s what they’ll have to compare themselves to, and that’s where the real work has to be done. Many of the changes will be made because there will be younger people driving it. They’re not there yet to do it, so that’s the first big step.

When we go back to the same conference next year, it’ll be interesting to see how many of these stations bring with them younger people from the station that they’ve hired in the last year to share their ideas.

Specifically at a TV station in a small local market, you have the potential, and probably are already doing a lot of community outreach. Whatever a station is doing in the community, whether it’s supporting a local road race or working at a homeless shelter, can blow up if they get a younger generation involved. Then they can start to capitalize on the things they’re doing.

There are definitely broadcasters who are very community-minded. Everything they do is now getting pushed out to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, and a lot of the response has grown tremendously in these smaller markets because it’s available digitally.

The feeling at this conference, and at most, is that there is a definite power in broadcast television in that these broadcasters have already been online, on demand, on mobile for years now. The power of television isn’t going away. It’s going to morph and it’s going to change, and what you hear at conferences like this is not only a willingness, but an excitement about what the future holds.

As long as there are people in broadcast who have that desire to figure out what’s next, the sky’s the limit.

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