Battle on the Bayou

Competition in Shreveport extends to four states

The newsrooms in DMA No. 83 have a lot of ground to cover.
The market reaches no fewer than four states: home base Louisiana,
Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Such vast reach keeps the newsrooms nimble and fast, with reporters
doing double and triple duty. “We’ve transitioned
to content-gatherers—all our reporters
know how to shoot, and our photographers
can write stories up,” says James Smith, VP/
general manager of KSLA. “We’ve got more
one-person news crews in the field—we’re really
emphasizing that to cover more ground.”

Covering more ground counts in this ultra-
competitive market. CBS affi liate KSLA,
owned by Raycom, and KTBS, an ABC affiliate
owned by KTBS LLC, are in a sprint. The two
were virtually tied in the 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
household ratings race in last May’s sweeps.
KSLA won prime (“CBS is rockin’ and rollin’,”
says Smith) and total-day ratings and took the
vital 10 p.m. news race—KSLA’s 11.5 household
rating/24 share topped KTBS’ 9.5/20.

KSLA held a slim lead in 2009 revenue, according
to BIA/Kelsey, its $13.6 million ahead
of KTBS’ $13.1 million.

KTBS LLC also owns CW outlet KPXJ.
Rounding out the Shreveport field are Nexstar’s
NBC outlet KTAL, ComCorp.’s Fox affiliate
KMSS and KSHV, White Knight’s MyNetwork-
TV affiliate. Satellite television has an outsize
presence in Shreveport, more a function of DirecTV’s
and DISH Network’s strong marketing
efforts than any terrain issues for cable.

KSLA and KTBS sometimes mirror each
other’s strategic moves. Both made the jump
to local hi-def in mid-October. And both expanded
their 6 p.m. news to an hour in July.

In late August, KTBS became the only
Shreveport station with local news at 4:30
a.m. “It shows our commitment to local news
and local programming,” says George Sirven,
station manager. “We keep the market in tune
with what’s happening.”

The market offers riverboat gambling and
a large healthcare community. A GM plant
that produced the Hummer is shutting down,
taking an estimated 900 jobs, but the expansion
of Barksdale Air Force Base is expected
to make up for those losses. A film industry,
which kicked into gear when movies to be
shot in New Orleans needed new locations after
Katrina, is gaining momentum. “When you
drive around, you see fi lm crews,” says Smith.
“It has grown into a pretty big industry here.”

With four states’ worth of elections, political
money rolls in most autumns. Stations are
scrambling for available ratings points. Over the
summer, KTBS expanded its weekend 10 p.m.
news to an hour; sister KPXJ also airs its own
news at 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. KSLA uses its digital
tier for a weather channel and This TV, and its
9 a.m. news ends with the 15-minute, product
placement-friendly Hometown Show segment.
“It’s part of our plan to control our own destiny,”
Smith says of the local content expansions.

KTAL breaks news on its site. KMSS engages viewers with
contesting, including iPad giveaways during
How I Met Your Mother at 5 and 5:30 p.m.

But it’s the CBS and ABC affiliates that are
pulling away from the pack. “Shreveport really
is a two-horse race,” says Smith. “It makes
you want to do your best every single day—it
keeps you on your toes.”

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