Will Local TV News Survive Web-TV Convergence?

Forrester Research reports that in the next decade your TV will deliver most programming on-demand, and ads will be targeted based on your location and your behavior. Which begs the question of whether networks will continue to support a local affiliate structure with primetime programming when their content can be delivered direct-to-consumer. Perhaps networks would rather have their programming appear at local affilitates’ portals, too, increasing their audience size. It’s not necessarily an either/or question.

In any event, even without primetime programming, local TV seems to have a profitable franchise remaining in local news. Metro papers are beginning to fail, and their online publications have not generated ad rates that can support large newsrooms, much less the video capabilities of TV stations. At this point, it looks like local news is going video.

Will the ad-revenue-generating power of TV vs. online advertising increase Rupert Murdoch’s influence over the national conversation?

We have another indication, as if we needed another, that online ads do not attract ad revenues like their counterparts in television. Based on Olympics ad spending, TV video ads may be 100x more valued by advertisers than online video ads. Video ad spending on NBCOlympics.com was only $5.75 million, just 1.1% of the $505 million total for video ad spending. A crude comparison, but still…

In the national news supply chain, original content driving the national conversation has originated from the newspaper side — AP, NY Times, and Washington Post — which are converging to the low revenue world of online advertising. On the other hand, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, unlike those venerable institutions, can draw upon the resources of News Corporation’s high revenue-generating TV properties. More revenues, more original reporting, more control over the national conversation. Look for Murdoch’s influence over our top stories to increase.

Google replacing mainstream media with bloggers?

The Motley Fool reports that Google is sponsoring a headquarters for about 500 bloggers at the Democratic convention, and will do the same for the Republican convention. This is about the opposite of the traditional news model, in which a proprietary outlet pays for the facilities and the reporters, and controls the content.

For a long time, this blog has been predicting that news in America would transform — moving from a monolithic, establishment point-of-view to a multitude of voices competing in a freewheeling marketplace of ideas. Google’s news room may be a step toward fulfilling that prophesy.

Is porn the answer to newspapers’ woes?

Business Week reports that German papers are doing well despite the web, in sharp contrast to the U.S. The article quickly dismisses the fact that one of Berlin’s dailies shows nude women on the first page, before giving a host of seemingly more legitimate reasons they have avoided the U.S.’ slump. For example, a crisis in 2001 that forced changes that are bolstering German papers against the Internet.

But, did Business Week dismiss the nude pictures too quickly? Nudity has been one of the few, sure fire ways to monetize the web in the U.S. Perhaps it’s the old Playboy Magazine formula — readers who claim to buy it for the articles, but really don’t. It is not out of the question that a U.S. newspaper in desperation might try full frontal-page nudity, which one can imagine would be a milestone in the evaporation of journalism culture.

NBC Olympics coverage changes the rules — mass media to fragmented media

In Olympic games prior to the Internet, America was riveted to a handful of big events selected by the TV networks. But NBC, presenting its 11th Olympics, is changing all the rules by taking advantage of the fragmenting power of cable and the Internet.

Summing it up is 22-year-old Jonathan Mays who notes, “NBC has a dedicated soccer channel [on cable] and live stuff on NBCOlympics.com.” He likes the fact that he can follow the progress of the teams as they move from the group stage through quarterfinals and finals. In effect, he is creating customized Olympic coverage for himself.

Will the same thing happen to news? Will Americans follow the news that interests them most and only share an interest in a handful of big stories — Michael Phelps-sized stories? That seems to be where we are headling.