Where does local television go from here?
NBC changed direction by cutting programming costs and adding Jay Leno’s less expensive show to their schedule at 10 PM. This is the hour traditionally used for big drama series and as lead in to late local news.
The critics seem to hate it. The audience is someone mixed. Leno has good nights and bad nights in Nielsen.
But how bad can it really be? NBC knows that network TV viewers tend to be older. So producing a show that attracts them might actually work, even if the audience numbers are a little lower.
Certainly they can’t beat the cost for producing Leno versus a major drama production. Leno wins that one hands down. The accounting department loves it and the margins are pretty good.
Local television operators must wonder what the future holds for them. They produce very little of their own content outside of local news.
Once all markets had locally produced kid’s shows and other programming, but that era is long gone. Shows like Sally Starr in Philly , Chuck McCann and Johnny Seven in New York. Locally produced Romper Rooms and Bozos were in almost every market.
The networks really don’t need local television stations anymore. Over air TV was the only way to reach an audience before cable and Direct TV. Today, fewer and fewer viewers actually pick up the station signal out of the air.
The internet further shifts the paradigm.
Now programs once only seen on over air TV are available on Hulu or other sites whenever the viewer wants them. My shows, on my time, my way.
So why do the networks continue to operate under the old model? Probably because Madison Avenue is still locked into buying advertising the old way.How do they quantify the on-line audience to an advertiser’s satisfaction?
One day some network executive is going to suggest doing an NBC Entertainment Channel, or CBS Programming Network and the old network with local affiliates will be toast.
Local TV will be too.