RTDNA Survey: Stations Growing Web Revenue

Around 35% of the TV station websites are believed to be
profitable this year, up 4.3% from the number last year, according to the "TV
and Radio on the Web" survey released by RTDNA/Hofstra University. Only 14.4%
of the nation's TV stations expected to lose money on the web this year.

News directors at 43% of stations conceded they did not know
if their site is making money-suggesting that online is not yet a major
business priority for a number of local news outlets.

Stationsare expected to bag nearly $1.4 billion in local online revenue in 2010, a
21% improvement over 2009, according to a study released earlier this week by
Borrell Associates and the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB). Stations
rang up some $1.15 billion in interactive business last year, a 10% boost over
the year before.

The RTDNA survey said TV sites are "maturing" as they emerge
as legitimate breaking news outlets. Text, photos and video are essentially
universal, while audio, live cameras, recorded newscasts and blogs are increasingly
being utilized. Less popular are streaming audio, podcasts and assembling
Web-only newscasts.

Nearly 36% of stations simulcast live newscasts on their
websites. Just 2.7% produce web-only news programs.

"These numbers suggest that, more and more, stations are
deciding that certain web elements aren't working that well for them--or aren't
worth the effort--and they're either scaling them back or not bothering with
them at all," said survey director Bob Papper, professor and chair of the Department
of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations at Hofstra University.

The survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2009.
Valid responses came from 1,355 of the 1,770 TV stations in America, a 77% response rate.

The mid-size markets feature the most profitable station
websites. Markets 1-25 showed 34% of station sites being profitable, while
markets 26-50 posted a 46% and markets 51-100 a 47%. When we reach markets
101-plus, the number slides back down to 27%.

The survey also found that 400 people lost their local news
jobs in 2009-significantly less harsh than the 1,200 people who lost TV news
jobs in 2008.

Michael Malone

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.