Shattering Scatter - Don Seaman-TVB

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Cover image for  article: Shattering Scatter - Don Seaman-TVB

There's some institutional lunacy that defines the national television buying marketplace. What other buyer/seller dynamic exists where if sellers set their demands too high for a buyer's liking, the buyers walk away, only to come back to the same sellers later in the year— and usually will be paying more?

When you think about it, it's really a very troubled relationship.

The networks risk the possibility that their shiny new shows aren't so shiny after all and that they're not delivering to their initial upfront expectations. Advertisers are risking their need for GRPs and a lack of inventory that might be sewn up by others by the time their Scatter needs arise.

What if advertisers had another choice other than this deeply flawed relationship? How impactful would a credible alternative be, having a real walk-away point that would pay off in more than just an empty negotiating threat?

They do – and it's been here all along. It's local television.

Local delivers a customizable, targeted national footprint at lower cost. And it delivers the content —and corresponding GRPs — that aren't available nationally. How much more credible of an alternative could there be?

The most justifiable reasoning is cost. An ongoing analysis of SQAD data by the TVB proves that Spot Television costs are lower than Scatter in most dayparts, and has been for several years. This includes Prime, where TSA-level costs are lower than Scatter by up to an average of about 25%. TSA includes the homes reached by an affiliate's entire signal, not just what falls within the DMA. Essentially, it's with spill. Incidentally, this is also what you'd get by buying Network Scatter as well – it's not tidy geographically, either.

Other Spot dayparts, such as Early AM, Early News, and Late Night, are widely accepted as more cost effective than network. But it's clear now that you can have your prime and save money, too.

Another fundamental advantage that Local Spot Television holds over Network Scatter is in exclusive content, therefore increased inventory. A basic part of the broadcast day for many, if not most, TV viewers, is the local news. On an average day, 78% of Americans get news from their local broadcast stations. This content simply isn't available on a national basis. No network content finds people where they live, work, and shop as effectively and routinely as Local Spot Television.

Lastly, Spot Television allows "near national" advertisers the opportunity to be national in scale but regional in execution. For example, for a large chain that has nearly 200 locations in Texas but only 2 in New York – neither in New York City – a nationally distributed buy includes a vast amount of potential waste. By reallocating dollars where they will do the most good effectively weight-averages a national buy. It also mitigates the impact of advertising your product to viewers who can't geographically be your customers – but can certainly be driven to your competitors, influenced by your misdirected ad.

So it is possible to escape the "definition of insanity" of expecting a different outcome while taking the same action. Local Spot Television not only offers network content, but additional content that you can't get there. It offers targeting. It offers surplus. You get more, you pay less. It's called value.

Once you walk out of that network showroom, head down the block to Local Broadcast, where the prices are good, the customers are hungry, and there's always something in stock that you're looking for.

Don Seaman joined the TVB in January 2012 as Manager of Marketing Communications, where he is responsible for promoting and raising awareness of the TVB, and of Local Broadcast Television’s value propositions within the traditional and digital media industries. Don can be reached at

Read all Don's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at Local Matters.

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