The Next TV Summit panel “RIP Broadcast TV?” looked at the viability of the original TV platform in the era of streaming TV. It also discussed how broadcast TV is extending its reach on newer platforms. Rob Weisbord, chief operating officer and president of broadcast at Sinclair Broadcast Group, spoke about the importance of the broadcast “ecosystem” in retaining its relevance, including diginets and mobile apps. “We look at everything as spokes to a wheel,” he said.
As much as the major subscription streamers dominate the traditional primetime, Weisbord said consolidation is inevitable for that sector. Programming costs, he added, mentioning Netflix movie The Gray Man, are not sustainable, and perhaps the streamers will consider licensing content to station groups.
Jim Long, CEO of LocalBTV/Didja, said Sinclair has the right idea about connecting with viewers on all platforms. “Sinclair is doing exactly what they should be doing,” he said. “Be where the consumers are.”
The panelists made the point that, as much as viewers rely on Netflix, Hulu and other subscription streamers, those platforms don’t provide local programming. “Localism is the most important thing to us,” said Kevin Dunaway, VUit VP, affiliate relations & content development, adding how VUit has 300 station partners. “We want to partner with [stations] because that content is important to all those areas.”
Dunaway made the point that a local programming event, be it a sports game or a parade, can often get significant viewership beyond the event’s home market.
With viewers facing so many viewing options, some say there’s greater demand for local content. “We always say that content is king, but maybe it’s even more true than before,” said Stephane Guez, CTO at Dalet. “If you don’t do it well, people are going to click somewhere else.”
ATSC 3.0 looks to enhance local broadcasters’ relationships with viewers, and users, in their communities. Guez called ATSC “just another way to make it easier to combine traditional broadcast and IP distribution.”
Another unique selling point for local broadcast is over the air, and free. “We have a very attractive proposition,” Weisbord said. “We have 50 plus years of heritage doing this and nothing replaces that heritage.”
NYC TV Week continues Wednesday with the Hispanic Television Summit. ■
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.