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Do ratings still matter to TV stations in the age of streaming?

Do ratings still matter to TV stations in the age of streaming?

The following is an excerpt from a Star Tribune article. Subscribe to read the full article.

Businesses change just like people do — in little ways that are barely noticeable when you see or interact with them frequently but that add up to something substantial over time.

Take the television stations that most of us watch every day in the Twin Cities.

Day in and day out, year in and year out, they don’t seem to change much. Their broadcast day looks like it has since the 1960s: morning news shows, daytime talk shows, evening news shows, prime time network shows, late news.

But the business of local TV broadcasting has been utterly transformed. First with the arrival of digital broadcasting in the late 1990s, then high-definition pictures immediately after that and then, over the past decade, by new competition from social media and streaming services.

The number of things we can watch — and the number of places where businesses can advertise — has exploded. And yet, Minnesota’s big TV stations WCCO, KSTP, KMSP and KARE are doing pretty great.

“The Twin Cities stations have always been sort of a hotbed of innovation,” said Brent Magid, chief executive of Magid, the Minneapolis-based consulting firm that itself has been a transformative force in media. His father, Frank Magid, formed the company in 1957 and, in 1977, was called “the nation’s leading television news doctor” by Time magazine.

Similar changes and incremental revenue opportunities have happened at local stations across the country, Magid said. His company provides consumer research on a subscription basis to the sales teams at TV stations, which allows them to help advertisers craft their message. “They can go out and be super helpful to their advertisers,” he said.

The challenge for local broadcasters, Magid said, is to help advertisers manage the bifurcation of the audience, because younger people are more likely to access content on digital platforms than by watching broadcast TV.

“Innovation has to involve not only the product, but distribution,” he said.

“People under the age of 45 are quite radically different in what appeals to them versus people who are over the age of 45,” Magid said. “And those traditional media companies were really built around, and targeted for, the 45-plus audience.”

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