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NBCU exec: TV stations looking to streamline local marketing efforts

Feeling the pinch of a decline in national spot TV, stations are working together in markets to help secure and ease the purchase of local schedules.

Valari Staab, president of NBCUniversal Media LLC's owned television stations, speaking at the S&P Global Market Intelligence TV & Radio and Finance Summit in New York on June 14, said that with ad agencies under margin pressure from clients, more buys are gravitating to national TV and digital outlets, which are easier to execute. To compete, local market-holding companies are being established, helmed by a point person to help navigate buyers across the market and make it easier and less expensive to buy local TV.

"The decline is not in local sales, but rather in national spot," she said, noting that for a campaign to fully reach a market, schedules may have to run across six or seven stations.

After the presentation, Staab said NBC (US) stations are taking lead roles in establishing joint marketing initiatives in some areas, while other broadcasters lead the effort in other DMAs.

Staab said that while much has been made of broadcast's ratings decline, stations continue to amass huge audiences, reaching 70% of people in the market. "Any digital business would like to be able to say that," she said.

NBCU also benefits from selling to both the English and Spanish communities via its NBC and Telemundo networks. That allows the company to reach an entire market, Staab said, where with traditional duopolies, English-language stations wind up selling against each other.

NBC has been emphasizing ad sales training over the last two years, increasing employees' knowledge base and certification to move digital inventory and pitching opportunities with both English and Spanish stations as part of an overall portfolio sell.

Staab said the company is also working to educate agencies, which are "experiencing just as much change as we are." To that end, she said some are "breaking down the silos of just buying local broadcast, digital or cable."

While local news is critically important, generating around 50% to 60% of station revenues, Staab said her station group is benefiting from Telemundo Deportes being the Spanish-language rights holder in the U.S. to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, which kicked off in Moscow on June 14. The tournament, like the Winter Olympics in February, is being backed by the "symphony" treatment across NBCU, which marshals promotional and content resources across its linear and digital assets.

Staab said with the 2026 World Cup coming to the U.S., Mexico and Canada, and the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, NBCU sees large opportunities for stations in the next decade that take the properties to the market together.

The World Cup and the Olympics, which NBCU holds the U.S. multimedia rights to through the 2032 Summer Games, are also drivers of retransmission-consent revenue for the stations, Staab said.