Market Eye: Up in the Air

News helicopter share grows in Denver (DMA #16)

Spring snow is a part of life in
Denver, with multiple squalls
dropping feet of the white stuff
on the region the last week of
March. As a result, weather
drives viewership in DMA No. 16, and
KCNC has a unique approach that might
cause consultants to howl. The CBS O&O
offers a full weather report in the first 10
minutes of its late news, with no weather
in the rest of the program.

This flies in the face of conventional local-
news wisdom, but VP/General Manager
Walt DeHaven says “First Forecast” is
a hit. “Weather is an element people want,
and then they want to get on with their
lives,” he says. “We have to stop thinking
in terms of what we do, and start thinking
about what we should do.”

Given Denver’s taste for snow, the
Winter Olympics were a major success
for Gannett’s NBC affiliate KUSA, the
nation’s top Local People Meter station
for Games viewing in adults 25-54. The
region is, after all, home to some boldface
Olympic athletes, such as skier Lindsey
Vonn. “It’s home for a lot of people who
won medals in the Olympics and were the
stories of the evening,” says KUSA President/
General Manager Mark Cornetta.

KUSA won all the major races in February.
It also won big in November, losing
only primetime to KCNC, with KMGH
the runner-up. Gannett’s
Denver operation
thrives through
a wide range of
content platforms,
including a MyNetworkTV
a Universal Sports
digital channel and
another offering 24/7 weather. Abundant
two-way communication with viewers
is also key. “Staying connected helps us
continue to innovate,” Cornetta says.

Comcast is the major cable operator
in Denver, whose primary employers
include grocery chain King Soopers
and Qwest Communications. Satellite
TV service EchoStar is also based in the
area. It’s a rich news market with solid
operators. All the major news outlets are
involved in a content pool for planned
events, and KCNC and KDVR will join
KUSA and KMGH in a helicopter share
in the coming months.

Peter Maroney stepped in to manage
Local TV/Tribune’s Fox-CW duopoly,
KDVR and KWGN, last month.
McGraw-Hill’s ABC affiliate, KMGH,
added a 2010 Peabody Award to a wide
trove of prizes for its investigative work.
New digital channel KCDO shows retro
programming and a 10 p.m. news from
KGWN Cheyenne.

With the DMA’s Hispanic population
at 21% and growing, Spanish-language
options include Univision outlet KCEC,
TeleFutura affiliate KTFD, KMGH’s Azteca
affi liate and Telemundo’s KDEN.
KCEC is pushing multi-platform business
through its Entravision 360 initiative;
KDEN airs Telemundo’s regional
Acceso Total Friday mornings.

Denver’s size and independent-minded
populace make for lots of breaking news,
say managers, such as the Balloon Boy
story that gripped the nation last fall.
“Big stories seem to float through here,”
says KMGH VP/General Manager Byron
Grandy. “At times, they’re strange and