Report: TV Stations Online Revenue to Grow

TV stations grew their share of local online advertising last year, from 8.3 percent to 8.7 percent, according to a new Borrell Associates report released Tuesday (April 20) by the Television Bureau of Advertising.

The only other medium to increase local online share was pure-play Internet companies such as, ReachLocal and Yahoo, which claim more than six times the local online revenue of TV stations.

This year, TV station online advertising is expected to grow 21 percent to nearly $1.4 billion, doubling last year’s 10 percent growth rate. After this year, Borrell is calling for growth to moderate to 13 percent in 2011 and 7 percent in 2012, following a pattern of newspaper online growth. Since 2004, newspaper share of online ad spend has slipped from a high of 44 percent in 2004 to a low of 23.6 percent last year.

TV stations could buck that trend, as long as they heed the lessons of newspaper companies, Borrell advised. “What would make this prediction wrong is if stations added significant sales resources to pursue nontraditional broadcast advertisers,” the Borrell report said. “To date, we have not seen that occur. In fact, we saw a number of stations eliminate online-only sales positions last year and push greater online responsibility onto existing broadcast reps.

About one in eight TV stations reported growth of 40 percent or more in 2009. While growth is robust, for most stations, online revenue is less than 5 percent of a stations’ total gross revenue. About 84 percent of the 573 stations in the Borrell survey made less than $1 million in Web sales last year.

As far as audience is concerned, TV Web sites still lag their newspaper counterparts. In the 95 markets measured by The Media Audit, TV sites led in 22 markets, while the major daily newspaper led in 73.

While local online advertising growth is slowing, local mobile is growing and is seen as a big opportunity for local media. Last year, local mobile surpassed $200 million, of which 12 percent or $29 million went to TV broadcasters.

“I expect that figure to skyrocket into the billions within two years as the transition from desktops and laptops to hand-held devices takes off,” Borrell said.

The Borrell study, “Benchmarking: TV Web Sites Defy Gravity,” was the fifth study the research firm conducted for the TVB. Results were in part based on a survey of 573 TV stations.