For years, TV station have used political experts on their newscasts to give insight on political races.
But now, TV stations are hiring political experts in the sales department as well.
For months, TV and radio station owners like Tribune, Sinclair Broadcast Group, CBS and Tegna have been preparing what amount to campaigns of their own geared to political media buyers.
Station groups have invested in hiring sales execs with deep roots in Washington and have taken steps to centralize their sales efforts through D.C.-based reps. There’s also been a premium on tapping new hires and consultants with expertise in handling the granular audience data analysis of vital importance to political media buyers.
Broadcasters’ willingness to invest in new people and new tools underscores the importance of the periodic political windfall to the bottom lines of station owners. The marriage of money and politics may be bad for democracy, in the view of many Americans, but it is a boon for anyone with an electronic bully pulpit to sell.
“We’ve seen a lot more strategy and effort going into staffing on the (buying) and on the sales side,” Wilner says. “Everybody’s going out and hiring political experts to talk to each other. You’re seeing a whole cohort of (TV) sales people in Washington that didn’t used to exist. It’s the station groups and others doing everything they can to get that revenue bump in the near term,”says Mark Fratrik, senior VP and chief economist at media consulting firm BIA/Kelsey.
Stations know there are huge political dollars out there and they want the biggest piece of the pie.
Just a couple of weeks ago, on Oct. 15th, executives from Tribune Broadcasting’s 42 TV stations around the country gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C., for a day of workshops, seminars and insights from guest speakers on the biggest money-making opportunity for many local TV stations over the next 12 months: political advertising.
Many stations are going to cash in big in 2016, but when 2017 rolls around look out.
It will be a tough time for stations that got fat off political dollars.
Enjoy it now, because n 2017 you can expect lots of layoffs in local TV.
Don't say you haven't been warned.