NATPE 2013

Station Execs Bullish; Resolute On Spectrum

A NATPE panel says the ad outlook for this year is strong, even without last year’s political spending. When asked about the seemingly slow pace of development of mobile TV, Brian Lawlor of Scripps, said: "This is a massive undertaking for content providers, technology, cell carriers, manufacturers and broadcasters. The better news is that we have 70-something markets lit up, with devices on the market.” Concerns include Aereo and The Hopper, while the panelists emphasized their intentions to keep all their spectrum to continue to innovate and serve their communities.
TVNewsCheck,

The short-term and long-term outlooks for television are strong, both in terms of this year’s ad revenue and, over the long haul, in terms of delivering original and acquired TV content over the air to traditional TV sets and mobile devices, according to station executives on a NATPE Executive Outlook panel moderated by TVNewsCheck Editor Harry Jessell.

The ad outlook for 2013, coming off of last year’s robust political- and auto-fueled year is good.

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“We’ve heard industry executives say 2% to 4% — we’re on the 4% side of that,” said Deborah McDermott, president-CEO of Young Broadcasting. “There could be good political spending this year with gun issues, immigration issues and health care. There could be quite a bit more spending than in most off-political years.”

Although 2013 is an off-election year, Brian Lawlor, SVP of television at E. W. Scripps, expects ad spending to be strong. “For us, services like attorneys, medical and financial are very strong,” he said. “It’s not just big-box retailers but also local-based retailers where we can be part of the conversation about the campaign. Geography will also play a part in it. Right on the front page in Miami there’s a story about condo sales skyrocketing. That drives services and retail as well.”

Jessell asked the station executives about what sometimes feels like a sluggish move by TV stations to add over-the-air mobile content.

“Some people think it’s not moving fast enough,” said Bill Hoffman, EVP of Cox Media Group. “But this is very complex technology and we want to do it the right way.”

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Hoffman then explained the industry’s vision for mobile TV: “We want consumers to have a device — a handset or tablet — to use them as TV. It’s an extension of free, over-the-air, one-to-many television. It’s a simulcast of over the air. We think there’s an economic model. We think people will pay for mobility.”

Lawlor said there are reasons the industry appears to be moving at a snail’s pace on this. “First, you have to develop the standard,” he said. “What’s unique about this is that we’re talking about being able to stream one to many, where one stream is covering a DMA that a TV station is serving. It’s not cell towers. It’s not bogging down minutes on phones.”

He said discussions about standards have led to ongoing discussions with TV networks about providing content.

“The good news is that we’re still having those conversations,” Lawlor said. “The better news is that we have 70-something markets lit up, with devices on the market. It has taken a while. But this is a massive undertaking for content providers, technology, cell carriers, manufacturers and broadcasters.”

Jessell asked why more stations aren’t airing local newscasts on their websites.

“Watching a newscast on the web is a pretty crummy experience,” Lawlor said. “We don’t have rights to sports, so there are blackouts. You end up with a choppy experience.”

The stations executives were asked about Aereo, the Barry Diller-backed service that allows viewers to watch local TV on their computers.

“It’s a tremendous threat,” Hoffman said. “Our system is set up for DMAs with rights to syndicated shows. To have something come in without retrans fees, no copyright fees, just to pass through without paying for content is piracy.”

And Lawlor added: “The technology innovation is important. But we are content creators and we spend millions of dollars for content. If Aereo is going to distribute our content, they have a legal obligation to pay for it.”

While the station executives felt they could legally derail Aereo, they feel less optimistic about stopping The Hopper — Dish Network’s souped-up DVR that allows viewers to automatically skip ads.

“Every company will deal with that differently,” Lawlor said. “That is a conversation between broadcast companies and Dish. It may come up in retransmission discussions. That is probably one of the times we will initiate a conversation about that.”

Jessell suggested that stations may be sacrificing hundreds of millions of dollars by not selling perhaps 10% or 15% of their spectrum back to the FCC.

“Scripps takes very seriously our mission to serve the community,” Lawlor said. “Once you give up spectrum, you’re out. We’re committed to broadcasting and we’re in it for the long haul. We need our spectrum to innovate. We need it for mobile. We need space for data. If we don’t have spectrum, we’re a cable channel.”

“I’ll pile on what Brian said,” added Hoffman. “It’s a very important part of community service to shine a light with great investigative reporting. And we need to innovate technology. A couple of years ago, the buzz was 3D. Now, it’s 4K, which takes HDTV to the next level. You don’t need too many imagination beams to say, ‘I wonder what our television stations would look like if they were on 4K.’ ”

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Homebrew Nickname posted over 4 years ago
Totally agree, don't give up any spectrum!
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Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 29, 2016
  • 1.
    1.6/6
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    1.2/4
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    1.2/4
  • 4.
    0.9/3
  • 5.
    0.6/2
  • 6.
    0.3/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

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