Wrapping up NATPE
Some final thoughts on the proceedings--
1. Almost to a person, industry officials said that contrary to predictions "local television is not dead." Not only is it not dead, many executives, including those at Hearst, Gannett and Post-Newsweek, said they are expanding their local news operations. I suppose that could be either denial or wishful thinking, but I got the sense that most executives believed the ad market has turned around and that the financial cycle is on an upswing. By extension, that should be good news also for local television sports, which has gone though a difficult period the last few years.
2. The "next big thing" in television is going to be mobile TV, which should be a reality by the end of 2011, and executives said they had technical standards worked out even before the digital transition. The new concept is "TV Everywhere," which would allow consumers to watch content on a variety on screens and in a variety of places. Those in the industry say they are still working on business models for mobile TV, but live sports should figure in prominently.
3. The big issue at the FCC is spectrum allocation and specifically trying to get back underutilized spectrum from broadcasters. Expect a fight, because the bandwidth is extremely valuable and losing it would hurt broadcasters both financially and in terms of programming.
As always, sports will play a major role in all of these discussions, although outgoing NBC President Jeff Zucker admitted that live sports--the cash cow of the networks--really doesn't give companies anything in terms of what he called "online exploitation." Figuring out ancillary markets and opportunities is the key for content in the 2010s.