Hearst-Argyle Television (HTV) owns or manages 29 television stations which collectively reach over 18% of American households with televisions. Although independent Hearst is not owned by any network, the majority of its stations are affiliated with ABC, NBC, or CBS.
The company generated nearly 90% of its revenue from advertising in 2006. Pressures on television advertising include indirect effects from the troubled American automotive industry, which is one of the biggest ad spending industries, as well as direct threats from the flight of advertising dollars to the Internet. And while Web-driven online video may be in its nascent stages, the increased adoption of such substitution technologies pose a serious threat to poaching audiences in the future.
Even numbered years such as 2008 typically provide a boost to the overall television industry, as advertising spending rises because of cyclical events such as the 2008 Presidential election and the Beijing Olympic games.
The majority of Hearst's revenue comes from advertising--89% in 2006--with the rest derived from digital media revenue, fees paid by networks for placing their content on Hearst’s broadcasts, and commissions from cable companies for the right to retransmit content broadcast by Hearst.
Because of the cyclical nature of the advertising business, Hearst’s revenues are quite volatile, typically rising in even-numbered years due to increases in political and Olympics-related advertisements, and falling in odd numbered years. This trend is pronounced in Hearst’s revenues over the last five years; operating income is even more volatile, rising and falling as much as 30% from year to year.  In 2006, record revenues from political advertisements, a successful acquisition of a television station and the negotiation of agreements for cable companies to retransmit Hearst’s broadcasts all contributed to an 11% growth in revenues. However, a continuing weakness in automotive advertising weakened operating results. 
Hearst is among the leading companies in number of U.S. households with televisions reached by its stations. While larger networks such as CBS and NBC reach much higher percentages of households, Hearst is the leader among independent broadcasting companies in number of households reached.
Companies in the television industry compete for audience, programming, and advertisers, which makes for intense competition during times of weak growth in advertising spending and the migration of viewers to other entertainment media. Competition is somewhat limited by the requirement that each television station obtain a license from the FCC, which keeps the number of licenses granted in each geographic area low.Hearst's competitors include major networks such as Walt Disney Company (DIS)'s ABC, General Electric Company (GE)/NBC Universal, CBS, and UNIVISION COMMUNICATIONS (UVN), all of which own television stations across the country. It is important to note that while these national networks are competitors, most of Hearst's stations are affiliate with one of these major networks.
More direct competitors consist of smaller independent broadcasting companies, including the following:
Hearst's primary competitive advantage is its ability to reach some of the most desirable U.S. television markets (as determined by Nielsen Media Research) and do so with lower operating costs due to a smaller number of stations. The company also competes through technological innovation - its partnership with YouTube to broadcast on 26 YouTube channels is the first such alliance in the industry.