Indianapolis' TV Race
WTHR leads pack; WISH gains ground
By Allison Romano -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/13/2005 7:00:00 PM
I ndianapolis, the 25th-largest TV market, sports a competitive local TV scene. Out in front is Dispatch Broadcasting's NBC affiliate WTHR. The station is No. 1 in all news parts and overall ratings. A standout NBC outlet, it earns higher prime time and network-news marks than most stations and carries syndication dynamos The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Phil, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!.
WTHR has retained its distinction as top-rated news despite losing two star faces: veteran meteorologist Bob Gregory and lead co-anchor Anne Ryder, who remains a special-projects reporter. “We've actually grown our share,” says GM Rich Pegram. “It reflects well on our 'Eyewitness News' brand.”
WTHR's strongest competitor is LIN Television's CBS affiliate WISH. In February, WTHR's 11 p.m. news nabbed an 8.8 rating/18 share, while WISH kept pace with a 7.9/16. And buoyed by its Oprah lead-in, WTHR dominates 6 p.m. news. McGraw-Hill owns the ABC affiliate WRTV, the third-rated news station. Tribune Broadcasting operates a duopoly with Fox affiliate WXIN and WB station WTTV. Comcast Cable and Bright House Networks are the dominant cable operators.
Still, WISH is gaining a new advantage. LIN agreed to buy UPN station WDNY last month from Viacom as part of a two-station, $85 million deal, pending FCC approval. The combination would create Indianapolis' second duopoly. “As a CBS affiliate and heavy-news station, we appeal to 25-54s, while UPN does a great job with the younger audience,” says WISH VP/GM Jeff White, a 26-year station vet, who is pleased by the cross-promotional opportunities.
One wrinkle: Indianapolis, like other parts of the state, doesn't observe daylight- saving time. That means city stations time-shift their prime time programming during certain months of the year. Stations keep their schedules consistent with Eastern Time, sometimes tape-delaying shows. The state legislature is debating whether to mandate daylight-saving time statewide.
Local broadcasters, however, enjoy firm financial footing. Indianapolis' economic base isn't tied to one industry. “That makes the market shine much stronger than other Midwest cities,” says White. Pharmaceutical giant Ely Lily calls Indianapolis home; Ford and Chrysler have large plants nearby. Last year, stations in the market took in $203.1 million in gross revenue, according to BIA estimates, up from $187.2 million in 2003.
Local media buyer Bill Perkins, president of Perkins Nichols Media, credits local news for driving demand. “We have awfully good news product.”
The Indianapolis 500 isn't the only race worth watching here.
|*Index is a measurement of consumer likelihood. An index of 100 indicates that the market is on par with the average of the 75 local markets.
Source: Scarborough Release 1 2004 75 Markets Report (February '03-March '04)
|Who||Share of Population||Index*|
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