For Immediate Release: April 23, 2010
Contact: Ryan Murphy, ryanm@rtdna.org

WASHINGTON – The “TV and Radio on the Web” portion of the RTDNA/Hofstra University Annual Survey found that more TV-station web sites are turning a profit in 2010 and many sites are increasing their content while eliminating site elements that may not be working well.

According to the survey, TV station web sites have continued to climb in profitability – up 4.3 percent in the last year. The survey also found that web sites with bigger staffs are more likely to make a profit.

Radio web sites didn’t fare as well as TV. For those sites, the percentage making a profit and breaking even both fell, although modestly.  The percentage losing rose.

The survey found TV web sites maturing.  Text, still pictures and news video are now essentially universal on all TV web sites.  The use of audio, live cameras, recorded newscasts and blogs are increasingly being utilized.  However, streaming audio, podcasts and assembling your own newscasts have each leveled off or declined.

“These numbers suggest that, more and more, stations are deciding that certain web elements aren’t working that well for them  — or aren’t worth the effort — and they’re either scaling them back or not bothering with them at all,” said survey director, Bob Papper, professor and chair of the Department of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations at Hofstra University.

Consistent with results from prior years, the largest stations tend to have the most complex web sites.  There are no meaningful distinctions based on network affiliation or geography, according to the survey.

Radio stations saw an increase in audio streaming and blogs, according to the survey. Still pictures and news video both dropped slightly this year.  The complexity of the radio website had little to do with the market size.  The key determinant of complexity was how many people work in news.  The consistent jump in website complexity comes when a station or group has at least three people in news.

Based on the survey results, Bob Papper has suggested that staffing for television web sites has gone up, on average, as much as one full-time employee and one-part time employee over the last year.

The survey also found that newsroom employees “helping on the web” for television sites went up 10 percent over the last year. 

RTDNA Members can access the full data from the survey by clicking here.

About the Survey

The RTDNA/Hofstra University Survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2009 among all 1,770 operating, non-satellite television stations and a random sample of 4,000 radio stations.  Valid responses came from 1,355 television stations (76.6 percent) and 203 radio news directors and general managers representing 301 radio stations.

Some data sets (e.g. the number of TV stations originating local news, getting it from others and women TV news directors) are based on a complete census and are not projected from a smaller sample.

The annual survey is conducted for RTDNA by Bob Papper, the Lawrence Stessin Distinguished Professor of Journalism and chair of the Department of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations at Hofstra University.  This research was supported by the School of Communication at Hofstra University and the Radio Television Digital News Association.

About RTDNA

RTDNA is the world’s largest professional organization devoted exclusively to electronic journalism. RTDNA represents local and network news executives in broadcasting, cable and digital media in more than 20 countries.

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