Charlotte ObserversMore residents, more ratings points in banking and NASCAR hotbed 12/05/2010 09:01:00 PM Eastern
While the nation’s home foreclosures were a major blow for the banking industry,
both in terms of image and business, bank-rich Charlotte, N.C., is nonetheless
booming. The market was Nielsen’s 28th-largest DMA as recently as
2004 and is now No. 23, as some 400,000 more people have moved into the area.
Charlotte is home to Wells Fargo, which absorbed
ailing Wachovia, as well as Bank of America. “The banks
are actually advertising more,” says Tim Morrissey, president
and general manager of WCNC. “That category
has come back.”
There’s much more to Charlotte than banking.
The region is of course a motor sports
hotbed; the NASCAR Hall of Fame opened
in Charlotte earlier this year (“Where the
race lives on!” gushes the tagline). The city
is also home to an increasing array of artsy
offerings. The Harvey B. Gantt Center for
African-American Culture celebrated its first
anniversary in October, and the Bechtler
Museum of Modern Art will mark the same
milestone in January; both give Charlotte a
more sophisticated air.
Charlotte’s TV stations offer fairly sophisticated
fare, too. Cox’s ABC affiliate WSOC
won the morning, early evening, primetime
and total-day household ratings races in the
November sweeps. For the 11 p.m. news,
WSOC and Raycom’s CBS outlet WBTV
were deadlocked in households, both earning
a 6 rating/12 share. WSOC held the late
news advantage in adults 25-54 in November.
The market’s stations took in a total of $162 million
in 2009, according to BIA/Kelsey. WSOC led with $42.6
million, while WBTV booked just over $38 million.
BIA/Kelsey forecasts the total market revenue jumping
to nearly $181 million this election year, then slipping
back to $165 million in 2011.
Also in the race are Bahakel’s Fox affiliate WCCB;
Belo’s NBC affiliate WCNC; Capitol Broadcasting’s CWMyNetworkTV
duopoly, WJZY and WMYT; and Cox’s
independent WAXN. Time Warner Cable’s News14
Carolina is a 24/7 news option. TWC is the primary
pay-TV operator, while Charter has a presence as well.
Charlotte stations are looking to reach newly arriving
residents with expanded local-content offerings. WAXN
in September launched Eyewitness News This Morning on
TV64 from 7-9 a.m. Last February, WCNC added the 11 a.m. local show Charlotte Today.
WBTV has the lone 7 p.m. local news in the market;
the station added a 4 p.m. news on Sept.14. Dennis Milligan,
WBTV news director, calls that 60-minute broadcast
a “news in process” kind of program. “We felt it was
an important time period to better serve our viewers,”
he says. “We give the news as it stands at that moment.”
WSOC will go up against WBTV at 4 p.m. with Dr.
Oz after Oprah Winfrey departs broadcast TV for cable
next fall. WCNC also airs a 30-minute news at 4.
News14 Carolina offers both statewide news and
Charlotte-specific weather, traffic and breaking news.
The cable channel was wall-to-wall with local political
coverage on Election Day. “The biggest thing we hear
from viewers is [they like our] convenience,” says Alan
Mason, VP/general manager of News14.
The Capitol duopoly has a strong local presence, too.
WBTV produces the 10 p.m. news for WJZY, which
also offers the public affairs show Charlotte Now. The
program, which airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m., is hosted
by talk radio veteran Mike Collins. Double runs of Family Guy, Two and a Half Men and New Adventures of Old
Christine bookend the CW’s primetime lineup.
WJZY’s syndicated morning program The Daily Buzz
features local weather and content windows inserted
into the show. Shawn Harris, VP/general manager of
WJZY and WMYT, wants an even more local Buzz. “We
plan to have live news inserts in the [coming] weeks,”
With such a broad geographical region to cover, the
Charlotte stations tap into the community to add to their
Web content. WCCB’s FoxCharlotte.com
has “YouCharlotte,” which invites users to
upload photos and video of everything from
their pets to Charlotte’s expanding skyline
But you don’t have to be cute, cuddly or
particularly picturesque to have your photo
on either WSOCTV.com or WCNC.com.
Both feature slide shows of police mug shots
from the region. (Izzie Mae Banner violated
her probation, if you’re scoring at home.)
WCNC’s site employs YouNews for more
traditional user-generated content.
WBTV’s community sites initiative helps the station cover all corners
of the market. Milligan says page views have
climbed from 24,000 in its April debut to
around 240,000 currently, and local organizations
such as police departments are now
sending news releases to the station for inclusion.
“We expect it to grow substantially,”
Milligan says. “We’re about a third of the way to where
we want to be in terms of traffic.”
While the election season spelled a modest windfall,
local TV business was up close to 10% through the first
three quarters of 2010. Charlotte’s general managers are
enjoying the revenue rebound and are hopeful it will
continue into the new year. “Two years ago, we stared
into the abyss,” offers WCNC’s Morrissey, “but things
have come back dramatically.”