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Fireside Chat with Tom O’Brien: Local TV and Digital Growth

by | Sep 13, 2017 | BIA, Blog, Broadcast

BIA/Kelsey’s new “Fireside Chat” series features lively interactions with industry thought leaders who take a break from the press of day-to-day business to offer up some perspective. We launch this series with our new Executive-in-Residence who’s starting with us this month,  Tom O’Brien. In our fireside chat, we covered a number of questions leveraging Tom’s vantage points in the local broadcast industry over his career. Ultimately, O’Brien’s pretty positive about the future of local TV, but he doesn’t see wins coming easily. It’ll take some work.

Here’s our first discussion topic. Download the full report here.

Tom, first, welcome to BIA/Kelsey’s EIR Program. It’s wonderful to have you joining us as both an accomplished executive and a long-time thought leader and innovator. You’ve got a deep background in local TV with networks, major groups and stations in executive management, sales, and even production. You’ve just come off an assignment as EVP/CRO with Nexstar to broaden local TV’s business model into digital domains for revenue growth and better services for audiences and advertisers. Let’s start with the existential point – how optimistic are you that local TV will be able to leverage digital and remain competitive into the future?

Tom O’Brien:

  • I’m very optimistic as local television is still inherently strong and has a good base to build from, and that is being recognized by smart local media companies.  The long-term, trusted relationship we have with our audience is valuable, but at the same time media companies can’t take that for granted by not evolving their product offering and changing their go-to-market strategy.
  • In any business evolution, there are winners and losers and the key is to ensure that your company is positioned to be a winner in the future. Progressive media companies and stations are being introspective and reexamining the value proposition for their local media business in light of the new capabilities available. They are ascertaining what their audience and advertisers need/want and then organizing around that to deliver.  Leveraging new and enabling technology should be a key element in this discussion. If they do that successfully, audiences and revenues will follow.
  • Building from a position of strength and playing offense is important, as the current media environment is ripe for an evolution of the business model.  There are many pure play digital players that are very envious of local media’s market strengths and will build better, and more current, business models to fill voids in the market if allowed to.
  • A good indicator of the digital progress the industry has made to date, is that a number of local TV companies are ranked in comScore’s top 30 list of U.S. news and information publishers.