NAB Small Marke Exchange – a report from the floor in Austin, TX

September 28, 2007

Titan is in our fourth year of sponsoring the NAB Small Market Exchange. We love this show. Held each year about this time, the SME is a collection of group owners, station owners, general sales managers and local sales managers. SME focuses on exchanging ideas that work. Those ideas are about making money. Those ideas are about taking what works in one local market and using it in another. 

This year, one of the big topics is how to monetize the web. Good question. Enormous topic… Years ago, local broadcasters faced their first real competition, not just from each other, but from cable. The very system (cable) designed to get their signal to viewers better became the competitor. In this case, the viewers won because there were more great channels like CNN, Weather, HBO, and etc. Stations survived this technological shift because, in their markets, LOCAL MATTERS. No one does local better than a local television station.

When cable came into the fray, it was easy to figure out who the competitor was. The company created the infrastructure, connected the homes, in most cases even carried the local stations on their systems and then signed up subscribers. Congress leveled the playing field by making sure each local station was carried on each local cable provider. News at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 P.M.  combined with great network content (think Friends) kept viewers connected to their local station. The system worked…cable or over-the-air.

This time it is a little harder to figure out who the competitor is. In some cases, content is available online before it even hits the airwaves. How does that work? Simple, really. The guy who owns the content simply said, “Hey, put that stuff online…” It isn’t any more complicated than that. What is complicated though is acquiring critical mass. Critical mass is acquired locally. The buzz at SME this year is the figuring out an on-ramp to the Web. Stations are looking hard at this notion of web-enabling their viewers. At Titan, we’ve built a digital media platform to do just that. We enable broadcasters and viewers to meet online. The next 12 months is going be a battle. My money is on the local broadcaster. After all, aren’t those the guys who taught us to watch television in the first place? Yep.