The TV Broadcasting Business Stinks

The Long Tail: The TV broadcasting business stinks Chris Anderson has a post out on the collective performance of stocks that own television properties over the past 12 months and surmises that the TV broadcasting business stinks.

* Belo (BLC): -11.6%
* Emmis (EMS): +8.7%
* Fisher (FSCI): -3.1%
* Gannett (GCI): -24.2%
* Gray (GTN): -38%
* Hearst-Argyle (HTV): -6.9%
* Media General (MEG): -17%
* Meredith (MDP): -2.4%
* New York Times (NYT): -30.7%
* Sinclair (SBGI): +29.1%
* Tribune (TRB): -24.8%
* Young (YBTVA): -80.2%

Average: -16.8%
Dow: +4%

While it’s hard to conclude anything with certainty based on 12 month stock performance charts, Chris most likely is right.

I can’t help but think of the TV Broadcasting business in comparison to the Music business when Napster first reared it’s head and popularized digital music downloads. They are stuck in a catch 22. On the one hand there is no doubt that consumers are demanding their TV in different better ways. They are demanding control and are for the first time being given the tools to take that control. Timeshifting, placeshifting, competing digtial media (internet, blogs, podcasting, etc.), BitTorrent — all of these ultimately eat into the revenue of the TV broadcasters. And yet they can’t really bring us anything super compelling because even as they see their demise, they are addicted to the advertising revenue and to a degree the DVD revenue that they know will still last for several more years.

I’d like to say I feel their pain but quite frankly I don’t. When rather than give me as a consumer something worthwhile and exciting they give me BS talk about how “God intended” for us to watch TV “live,” it just makes me gloat that much more in their demise.

And I smile as I realize that here it is Sunday night, a time when I was once sitting on my couch watching 60 Minutes with commercials, and instead I’m sitting here at my PC having just finished my FlickrNation podcast, with a nice glass of burgundy, kids asleep, blogging about the decline of the broadcasting business and listening to a kick ass cover version of Van Morrison’s Bright Side of the Road by the Hothouse Flowers. And 60 Minutes has still recorded and I may or may not watch it later this week depending on what’s on it — but most certainly without the commercials.

Damn, this long tail thing sure is working out well.

“Let’s enjoy it while we can. Help me share my load. From the dark end of the street to the bright side of the road.”

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