Tucson has big look, fierce news battles
By Allison Romano -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/13/2005 7:00:00 PM
In the Arizona desert, Tucson “is like a huge small town,” says Ray Depa, VP/GM for Emmis-owned ABC affiliate KGUN. The 72nd-largest TV market, it is one of the 10 fastest-growing in the country. And for a midsize market, Tucson fuels a heated news war.
Just one-tenth of a rating point separated Cordillera Communications' NBC affiliate KVOA and Raycom-owned CBS station KOLD in 10 p.m. news in November. KVOA edged out a win with a 10.1 rating/23.7 share to KOLD's 10/23.6. “People from outside often say our news looks like a top-50 market,” says KOLD VP/GM Jim Arnold. And the station has worked hard on its image.
In the past four years, KOLD has gone from fourth to first place in overall ratings. Key to its success was tweaking the news; a major factor was the return of chief meteorologist Chuck George after a stint at KPRC Houston. KOLD also upgraded its set, adding a new weather center. A fresh news-promotions producer also came on board. Aided also by CBS' surging prime time, KOLD is on a roll. Another win is prime access: KOLD's Who Wants To Be a Millionaire regularly beats KGUN's powerhouse Wheel of Fortune.
Tucson also supports a mix of English- and Spanish-language stations. Belo Corp. operates the only duopoly, with Fox affiliate KMSB and UPN station KTTU. Among Spanish-language stations, Univision-owned KUVE pulls in top ratings.
Population growth, expected to be 2% over the next five years (more than double the national average), is a boon to broadcasters' coffers.
This year, local stations are projected to collect $76.8 million in revenue, up 2% over last year. Furniture is a major ad category; transplants from California or the Midwest like to outfit their homes with serious Southwestern motifs. And it helps that regional company American Home and local retailer Sam Levitz Furniture duke it out on the air. Add carpeting and window coverings, and home-related products make up the third- or fourth-largest ad category, Depa says.
Part of the city's appeal is its ever-changing population. “This is not like Midwestern cities, where five generations of families have lived,” says Arnold. The population is young, thanks in part to nearby University of Arizona, along with a reasonable cost of living. “Most people are from somewhere else, and the weather is the attraction.”
|In this southeast-Arizona city, residents take advantage of the hot, dry weather and abundant sunshine. Twenty percent go camping and 24% go hiking. Twenty-eight percent of Tucson residents claim Hispanic origin.|
|Who||Share of population||Index*|
|*Index is a measurement of consumer likelihood. An
index of 100 indicates that the market is on par with the average of the 75
**Activities engaged in past 12 months
Source: Scarborough Release 1 2004 75 Markets Report (February '03- March '04)
|Below $50K HH||64%||125|
|BY THE NUMBERS**|
|Spent $500+ online||21%||112|
|Own domestic car||73%||105|
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