local tv stations and the internet

this week I have spoken to two local tv stations about their internet strategy. one station has already made an investment in developing their website – adding video players and bulking up the amount of free content on their site. but my sense is that they have not seen the returns that they wanted. the other station has made less progress and only uses their site as a bulletin board – telling their TV viewers what is coming on and when – i assume they do not get much traffic. both acknowledge that the internet is a medium that they need to focus on, but it seems as if neither has figured out how to do it.

the TV business is very capital intensive and there is no doubt that the web is more capital efficient than TV. but with ad revenue for forecasts for 2009 looking doom and gloom, how are local tv stations going to make ends meet? can they figure out a good way to diversify revenue by adding an online component? and has anyone figured out a way to monetize the local internet market?

every major media network is trying to do an internet play, ala hulu. at the same time, no one has quite figured out how to monetize that traffic (although there are rumors that hulu may be cash flow positive this year). but what does that mean for local stations? for stations that have an affiliate relationship with a nbc or cbs, they may be able to get hand-me downs, like CBS rolling out their hyperlocal ad network to make it easier for local stations to monetize. yet, this says nothing for independent stations.

i know i have raised a number of questions here and have given no answers. so, if you have an answer, let me know! if you have seen good examples of local, independant tv stations making progress in their web properties or presence, please send them my way – i would love to learn more.

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