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How Local TV Stations Are Beating the Skinny Bundle Craze

October 31st, 2017   ||    by Monta Monaco Hernon

When it comes to the modern TV landscape, consumers have a plethora of content—and the ability to watch on pretty much whatever device they choose. It’s no secret that over-the-top (OTT) services are putting increasing pressure on pay TV operators to offer more options when it comes to channel lineup.

So, with the looming concern of cord-cutting, slimmer bundles are showing up on even more menus.

Most Loyalties Lie With Local

Amidst all this, however, the value of local TV stations has been reaffirmed once again. A recent Spots n Dots article explains that while people want to reduce the heftiness of their monthly bills, they’re only interested in lower-cost skinny bundles if these include broadcast networks. Local affiliates of ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX are usually among the top five when consumers choose which stations they would like included in their television package.

In the Spots n Dots article, Steve Lazano, president at the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB), highlights the notion that despite the availability of a plethora of devices, consumers are still gravitating to the one that will give the best viewing experience—television.

Nielsen data has put the average programming watched live or delayed on a daily basis at nearly five hours. In fact, even in the sought-after 18–34 demographic, the numbers show that the amount this group watches on their devices does not add up to the attention garnered by the big screen itself, Lazano says.

There’s some indication that ad spending by national firms is, shall we say, hesitant due to regulatory uncertainty and the changing nature of retail. But if—as the above evidence indicates—television is standing firm amongst the horde of devices, and local is still a hot commodity on the pay TV lineup, it would seem local TV stations are as important as ever to viewers and, therefore, to advertisers as well.

The Most Local of Local Is . . . News

Lazano hit the nail on the head when he emphasized that local TV networks offer a unique medium. “We continue to have what everyone wants but can’t replicate—and that’s local news,” he says. “That’s why these skinny bundles always want the broadcast affiliates, because it’s that important to their viewership and their subscriber sales.”

What makes local news so invaluable? It starts with trust, built up through one emergency situation after another. Broadcasters offer round-the-clock coverage in their communities, providing information that residents need—and in a crisis, residents turn to the familiar faces they see in their living rooms each day. These newscasters take part in local events and highlight local happenings, which makes them a recognizable part of their communities.

This trust, along with the sense of community, can carry over to the advertisers sponsoring the commercial breaks. And by participating in fundraising or local sporting events, brands can create an atmosphere of caring and foster loyalty. So, for those in the TV industry, the choice of platform and delivery method might still seem to be in the air, but the inclusion of local news is not.

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