The broadcast television networks face a double whammy as advertising markets soften and audience erosion to cable and the internet continues. Big Three auto makers are among their biggest advertisers, and are not likely to be increasing their TV budgets. Showbiz bible Variety even headlines, "Needed: Network bailout?"
But with the economy in a tailspin -- and the Big Three auto manufacturers, some of TV's best advertisers, near ruin -- the biz may finally have to pull the emergency cord.
"This day was going to come," says one conglom bigwig. "I don't think the business can be sustained without real change at this juncture. ... We have a gun to all of our heads."
Already smarting from a writers strike-impacted season, the networks haven't had much more to celebrate this fall. Collectively, the Big Five (including the CW) are down 13% among adults 18-49 vs. last year.
The Fox broadcast network runs fewer hours of programming than the big three ABC, NBC, and CBS. Reducing broadcast hours, and possibly mimicking cable by repeating the same show in different time slots during the week might be one way to stay solvent by cost-cutting.
But like the other major liberal media support group, the daily newspaper industry, broadcast television networks face a grim future.
Hat tip: Susan L.