TV Stations Hit $1 Bil. in '08 Online Ads


NEW YORK Broadcast TV stations reached the $1 billion revenue mark in online advertising sales for the first time in 2008, a 36 percent rise over 2007. And while in the majority of markets newspapers are still outstripping the TV outlets with unique visitors, the broadcasters are gaining ground.

Last year, local TV sites surpassed newspapers in 22 of 80 markets in terms of unique visitors, compared with only 16 markets last year.

That’s according to a Borrell Associates report commissioned by the Television Bureau of Advertising. The study was released this morning at a conference attended by TV station representatives and the press.

In top 20 markets, TV site revenue grew 65 percent, year over year, with per-station online revenue surging past $1 million for the first time. Markets ranked 51 to 210 had an average gain of 33 percent. But there was a 3 percent decline in revenues by markets ranked 20 to 50. Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, said that decline mirrored a similar trend among newspaper sites. “In the mid-market levels, they came on very fast,” he said, noting that many midsize-market TV sites launched a decade ago. “They saw an awful lot of growth but hit a wall last year.”

“Some ownership groups are down 20 percent,” said a TV station executive requesting anonymity, in speaking of the online revenue trend. “The auto category has had a big impact not only on broadcast sales, but also [on] digital.” Because so many newspapers are closing down, he sees an important opening for local TV Web sites, as well as an opportunity to steal share from Yellow Page directory-type companies.

Borrell also sees a huge growth opportunity for local TV sites. He noted that out of an estimated $12.7 billion in local online advertising revenue last year, stations only garnered about $1.05 billion. That represents a mere 8.3 percent of all local online revenue. The broadcasters were outstripped by newspapers (27.7 percent), directories (10.8 percent) and pure-play Internet sites (47.2 percent).

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