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Man standing at the top of a mountain: time-shifted TV.

Keeping Up With Time-Shifted TV at the Local Level

June 13th, 2017   ||    by John R. Osborn

Distribution channels for local TV programming are expanding—and so are the opportunities for time-shifted TV. For context, a recent eMarketer report shows 81 percent of adults live in homes with pay cable, satellite services, or multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs). And of that 81 percent, nearly two-thirds also have some kind of streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) or linear over-the-top (OTT) service.

Thirteen percent of U.S. adults rely solely on SVOD or linear OTT services (cord-cutters or cord-nevers), while 6 percent live in TV homes receiving local digital broadcast signals only. At 35 percent of total media ad spending, TV continues to be the strongest ad-supported medium, according to eMarketer.

Growing numbers of cord-cutters and cord-nevers often tap into local broadcast signals to supplement their SVOD and linear OTT services in order to receive local news, sports, and broadcast network programming. And that’s good news for local advertisers who know how to work with the time-shifted TV trend.

Shifting to Where?

Local TV stations adjusting to the new ways programming and advertising are distributed should pay attention to how digital video recording technology is offered. A recent MediaPost article, for instance, discussed where disabled fast-forwarding is and is not being utilized.

  • MVPDs offer DVRs for a small additional fee. TV programs often count their ratings as C3 ratings, which CIMM defines as “the average of a live rating for a (national) commercial minute and up to three days of DVR playback viewing.” Most of these DVRs’ time-shifted TV is fast-forwardable.
  • MVPD-provided video-on-demand (VOD) channels also serve as surrogate DVR services, allowing consumers to locate and watch programs at their convenience. Fast-forwarding is often disabled by the network program owners, increasing value to advertisers.
  • Cloud DVRs, according to PCMag, are ways that programs are recorded in the service provider’s data center rather than in the DVR/set-top box. This expands storage, playback platforms, and the number of shows that are simultaneously recordable. Sling TV and Comcast Xfinity both offer cloud DVR services—often with a small surcharge. Fast-forwarding capabilities vary.
  • Independent third-party DVR/services, such as TiVo Roamio, help consumers record over-the-air and streaming television programs—and they organize the fragmented ecosystem for viewers. The good news? Local broadcast programming and ads are recorded. The bad news? TiVo (for one) includes a “skip commercial” function on playback.

Local Can Play Too

So what can local TV buyers and sellers do—relative to time-shifted TV—in order to maintain a healthy ad-supported business? There are many areas that should be addressed. For example, learn and monitor changes in the way TV distribution technologies affect the value of advertising. Is fast-forwarding disabled? Is there ad-skipping technology? These downstream changes can affect the value of local TV advertising. As always, the leverage of ad spending can make a difference.

Ensure and fight for inclusion in new streaming revenues from all VOD and SVOD services out there. According to TVNewsCheck, CBS recently addressed this in a new affiliate agreement that shares CBS All Access local streaming revenue, but also supports local stations in making direct deals with non-affiliated streaming services.

Data capture and data targeting are important new revenue generators for all digitally delivered media. Local television buyers and sellers must ensure the audience data being captured is part of any deal with distribution partners. This must include behavioral—including DVR recording—as well as demographic, geographic, and psychographic data. And it should also involve learning how to use that data to optimize value for advertisers and viewers alike.

While it might take some work to keep up with this TV trend, local advertisers should take advantage of the opportunities time-shifted TV has to offer.

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