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The Case for Hometown Television

May 1st, 2018   ||    by Rick Howe

In recent years we have seen monumental changes in the television industry: new distribution alternatives, sophisticated targeted advertising and dramatically new business models. But through all that we often ignore the ongoing impact of local “hometown” television.

That’s easy to understand, because hometown television is ubiquitous. Hometown television is everywhere, all the time. Hometown television literally surrounds us, like the air we breathe. We simply assume it’s there.  Hometown television is part of our past, our present and most definitely our future.

Consider some of the following key points:

Hometown Television…

• Is free. With an inexpensive in-house antenna (no more climbing on the roof), an astonishing variety of television programming is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There’s not another television service in the world that can distribute the quality of programming we enjoy, without charging the viewer. It is unique, improbable and (to anyone outside the U.S.), economically impossible. But it works, and has done so for nearly 70 years.

• Distributes premium content. Netflix, the reigning king of online television services, was born out of broadcast television. With revenue from reruns of hit primetime shows, Netflix created a colossus of content that appears to threaten the very fabric of the television ecosystem. In reality, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, CBS All Access and the other OTT services are nothing more than an additional (and incremental) television windows. And, exquisitely-defined distribution windows are what enable television studios to continue to produce premium content.

• Offers a direct to consumer relationship. In fact, local broadcast television has always maintained the advantage that every television network and video services strive to achieve — a direct to consumer relationship, without middlemen. Of course, cable and satellite providers pay for the rights to re-distribute local broadcast television; it is a solid core of their subscription bundles. As the subscribers to those services trim (or cut) their cords, the one platform that remains available to everyone is Hometown Television.

• Excels at viewer engagement. Local news anchors are not merely on-air personalities – to a substantial audience in each and every local market, they are family members. We see them every night, we trust what they tell us. We cheer their accomplishments and cry at their losses. When they appear at local charity events, we stand in long lines for their autograph, their handshake, or simply a smile. And when they tell us a hurricane is coming, WE GET OUT OF TOWN!

• Drives business. For local business owners, hometown television is affordable, effective and provides measurable results. While Facebook and other social networks battle their own demons, local television stations continue to provide advertisers with a premium environment, engaged viewers and scale. That’s right, if you want to maximize effective reach in any DMA, you simply cannot do it without television advertising.

Hometown Television advertising can now be aggregated nationally. With platforms such as Videa, media buyers for national brands can leverage automation to better reach target audiences with more speed, accuracy and transparency while using existing workflows. Videa reaches 70 million local TV households, with proven success with automotive, quick service restaurants, healthcare, retail, grocery, consumer goods, regional sports, motion picture and cable market sectors.

And finally, Hometown Television will explode with the advent of ATSC 3.0. As recently noted in Media Wave: “The introduction of ATSC 3.0 will offer added choice and enhanced services to viewers, greater opportunities to advertisers, and competitive advantages to local stations. The road to get to this perfect harmony requires careful coordination, the roll-out of new hardware, and the consolidation of new datasets. This is where local television stations can play a pivotal role.”


Rick Howe, The iTV Doctor, provides consulting services to the video industry, specializing in the positioning (and re-positioning) of companies in the advanced television space, as well as providing business and product development services.  He is a Cable Pioneer, class of 2011, having worked with both Time Warner Cable and Showtime Networks in their formative years. He is also a member of the Television Academy Interactive Media Group.

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