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TV station revenue to shrink 17.3 percent in 2009, says BIA Advisory Services

The latest 2009 revenue estimates for television stations from BIA Advisory Services project a decline of 17.3 percent this year compared to last year’s total.

In its quarterly “Investing in Television Market Report,” the advisory service lowered its earlier projected 2009 revenue for the television industry to $16.6 billion, a level not seen since 1995. At the same time revenue declined, station sales slowed to 45 with a transactional value of $453 million during the first half of 2009.

"We believe that companies are waiting on the sidelines for an improved economy and for the right opportunities to make strategic acquisition," said Mark Fratrik, VP BIA Advisory Services.

The speed at which stations return to profitability is linked to the pace at which they change their view of what they are, according to BIA. Broadcasters must begin seeing themselves as local information and entertainment companies, and not simply transmitters of television.

According to BIA, stations can parlay their local content via various digital platforms into greater opportunities and use their local sales staff to cross-promote events and programs for advertisers. In particular, BIA is “very optimistic” when it comes to the potential TV broadcasters have for online revenue from Internet and mobile offerings.

"We project the industry will see Internet revenues of $556 million in 2009, moving up to $1.1 billion by 2013. This represents 19.7 percent compounded annual growth rate for online television broadcasting advertising alone," said Michael Boland, mobile local media analyst for BIA's The Kelsey Group.

The government, too, has a role to play in helping local media companies, including broadcasters, regain a solid financial position, said BIA CEO Tom Buono. Eliminating cross-ownership and local ownership rules would go a long way toward assisting media companies to survive, something that’s “clearly in the public’s best interest,” he said.