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We all know that TV has gotten more complex—or, from my perspective, ripe with more opportunity. There are more commercial and distribution models than ever for TV (hello content!), which, in other industries, would spell opportunity to most incumbents with a strong portfolio of assets.
For broadcasters, their business was formulaic for a long time—create or buy programming, then distribute. Then came windowing, as audiences were time-shifting their viewing; then digital, as audiences were watching in partner OTT experiences where content was licensed or ad revenue-shared.
Now, broadcasters are consolidating their power and going direct to audiences with owned and operated, authenticated and OTT products. At the same time, the number of vMVPDs (virtual multichannel video programming distributors) is growing, resulting in new carriage relationships and guaranteed revenue.
Whether distributed, AVOD (advertising subsidized video on demand) or SVOD (subscription subsidized video on demand), broadcasters must begin to look at their media business as a portfolio of assets. Then, they must begin to look at monetization as a strategic business planning function, in lieu of just a Business Development (BD) or ad sales function.
People still want to enjoy their TV programming!
Yes, audiences are shifting. Yes, they are cutting the cord, but they are still watching episodic TV programming across every distribution channel; their appetite in time-spent-per-day consuming has consistently increased, fueled by mobile video. The treatments, narratives, genres, and formats remain consistent—just more broadly spread.
The voracious appetite, bandwidth across devices, newfound mobility of TV, and the tireless formula of what makes good content, offers broadcasters a Cartesian moment in their history. They can choose their own destiny. If they are honest when looking in the mirror—and are confident that what they do best is create and program great content—then it is time to double down and shift more dollars into original productions, and approach monetization with a broader, more flexible lens.
Yes, linear TV audiences are declining, but ways to make money are growing. For me, it is most telling to see the number of employees at a broadcaster in business development, negotiating carriage, and licensing, versus the size of ad sales teams. Until quite recently, ad sales teams have kept linear and digital TV siloed, with different teams selling and overseeing operations.
Advertising revenue can be a challenge for broadcasters
For most broadcasters, the amount of revenue that comes from carriage fees is about even with advertising revenue. Given this parity, why is there such a disproportionate amount of time, attention, resources, and technology to power each line of business?
A big gorilla in the room (one of many!) is that both carriage and advertising businesses at broadcasters are run in and with Excel. Yes, it is spreadsheet jockeying that quantifies the values and strategies of $100s of billions of dollars in revenue.
As I often say about linear TV ad sales, with the number of growing digital and OTT channels, business models, and number of vMVPDs, running your broadcast content portfolio with Excel is like racing F1 with a Datsun. A broadcaster cannot obtain the visibility, accurately predict demand and revenue or subsequently evaluate all possible scenarios when so deeply ill-equipped.
It is a new day for TV. Grab it by the remote, and lean in to own your future, broadcasters. Or, lean back, and let your shareholders decide it for you.