The Wall Street Journal (paid sub. req.) is reporting on moves being made by local TV stations to build their brands online.
TV stations have suffered body blows from the Web. Lucrative 11 p.m. newscasts are sinking in the ratings as more viewers go to the Internet for cable channels to get weather and sports information.
While newspapers have had success building heavily trafficked Web sites, “people still don’t automatically think to visit a TV-station Web site,” says Brent Magid, chief executive officer of media consultancy Frank Magid Associates Inc. “Stations need to do something online to get noticed.”
WITN, a Greenville, N.C., station owned by Gray Television Group Inc., is hosting video tours of houses for sale on its Web site, while Nashville’s WKRN, owned by Young Broadcasting Inc., started blogs on everything from religion to hunting. Meredith Corp.’s WNEM in Flint, Mich., produced a whole program — a type of senior-citizen talent show, including a voting element à la “American Idol” — for its site.
The paper argues that the majority of local stations enjoyed 40% profit margins as recently as the mid 1990s (compared with 25% to 30% today) because they had little competition. Many didn’t see a need to invest in their Web operations as a result.