Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori Expects TV Ads to Get More Personalized

Peter Liguori - H 2014
AP Images/Invision

Peter Liguori - H 2014

The company has high expectations for its metadata tracker Gracenote, purchased from Sony in 2014.

Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori on Thursday told investors that he expects television advertising to become as personalized as internet advertising within the next few years.

"TV will be one-to-one for personalization," Ligouri said at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles. "It has the same prospects as the internet. I think economic Darwinism dictates this."

He added, "It's crystal clear to us that we're going to have to push toward that moment."

Tribune Media, which owns cable network WGN America and regional cable news channel Chicagoland Television, also runs the metadata tracker Gracenote, which helps ad buyers reach their target audiences based on factors like location and media preferences. It was purchased from Sony in 2014 for $170 million.

"We believe Gracenote has a bright future in front of it," Liguori said.

Tribune Media went searching for a buyer earlier in the year. The company reportedly looked to offload assets piecemeal, including its various TV networks as well as its metadata services. The conglomerate sold its iconic piece of real estate, The Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, for $240 million to a Los Angeles-based developer in August.

The business as a whole lost almost $400 million in value over the course of 2015, a drop attributed to larger shifts within the cable landscape, including cord cutting and subscriber losses.

Liguori also addressed the retransmission consent dispute between Tribune Media and Dish that caused 42 Tribune stations in 33 markets to go dark to Dish customers in June after the companies failed to reach a deal.

"Did Dish have some impact on us?" Liguori said. "Yes, it did. That went on a bit longer than expected."

The Yale-educated executive extended his contract with Tribune Media through the end of 2017, according to an SEC filing made earlier in the year. The cable and broadcast television executive took a pay cut in 2015 after receiving a bonus in 2014 worth more than $11 million in options. Last year, he took home $5 million in stock on top of his $1.6 million salary.

Ligouri sat on the board of Yahoo! from 2012 to 2014. Prior to joining Tribune Media, he was chief of operations for Discovery Communications.