Local TV

Market Eye: All-In in Albany

Household ratings title is up for grabs in New York’s state capital market 10/15/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

What’s Working In Albany-Schenectady-Troy

TV stations are licensed to serve the public good, and WRGB Albany is doing so by helping nab the bad guys. Those include corrupt government officials, or the heels highlighted in WRGB’s news segment “Perp Patrol,” which shows mug shots, describes crimes and urges viewers to help bring criminals to justice. Vincent Nelson, general manager, says the segments have bagged around 100 perps this year, many of whom turn themselves in after seeing their mugs on TV. “These kinds of things take a lot of resources and focus to support,” he says, “but we feel like we’re certainly doing the right thing.”

Liz Bishop hosts the segments. While most of WRGB’s advocacy efforts are about scaling back wasteful costs, Perp Patrol may be helping out that cause as well. Delivering swifter justice, after all, cuts down on the police resources needed to chase down Albany’s most wanted. “It’s a helpful service to the community,” says Nelson. —MM

You can’t blame the crew at WNYT Albany if they’re feeling
a bit lonely these days. After all, Fox affiliate WXXA has a
new shared services agreement with Young Broadcasting’s
ABC affiliate, WTEN. Coupled with Sinclair owning both
CBS outlet WRGB and CW affiliate WCWN, WNYT—an
NBC station—is the only Big Four outlet without a partner.

WNYT has withstood challenges,
such as NBC’s ailing primetime, before.
“We haven’t had to deal with that,” says
Steve Baboulis, WNYT VP and general
manager. “But we will, and I think we’ll
continue to be highly competitive.”

M&A activity in Albany-Schenectady-
Troy has been brisk. In July, Newport
Television did a 19-station deal
with three buyers. A few weeks later,
Newport dealt WXXA to Sheldon Galloway’s
Shield Media for $19.5 million.

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Late last year, Sinclair acquired the
Freedom Broadcast stations, where
WRGB was a crown jewel. After Freedom’s
lengthy sale process, the staff appreciates
knowing who its owner is for the foreseeable
future. “Sinclair is dedicated to growing local
news,” says Vincent Nelson, WRGB-WCWN
general manager. “It’s good to be owned by such
a stable entity that’s in growth mode.”

WCWN will be the market’s new broadcast
partner for the New York Yankees in 2013, airing
about 20 games. It’s also the Mets’ broadcast
station. Other players include Venture Tech’s
MyNetworkTV affiliate WNYA and Time Warner
Cable’s YNN, which turns 10 this month.
The broadcast competitors give YNN good
marks for its round-the-clock reporting.

Hot Congressional races are shooting cash to
stations. A burgeoning high-tech industry has
helped the economy hold up better than other
upstate New York markets, but it’s still a struggle.
Albany is the No. 58 TV market, but it’s No. 64
in revenue, according to BIA/Kelsey. “Way too
many people are unemployed,” says Nelson.

The ratings and revenue races have tightened.
WNYT, WRGB and WTEN were in a virtual tie
in total-day household ratings in the May sweeps.
WRGB won primetime and took 11 p.m. news
with a 5 rating/19 share, just ahead of WNYT’s
4/18. (WTEN was tops in adults 25-54.) WNYT
won mornings and early evenings.

“The interesting thing about this market is
how close the news ratings have become between
the three stations,” says Andy Alford,
WTEN VP and general manager.

Young came out of bankruptcy with money
to invest. WTEN flipped the switch on HD last
year, and expanded its noon newscast to an
hour. The station this fall added the syndicated
Steve Harvey at 10 a.m. and Katie at 3 p.m. The
station has a permanent set at Saratoga Race
Course for the venue’s summer season, with
afternoon and early evening newscasts on-site.

WRGB over-indexes CBS primetime by 30%,
says Nelson, thanks to strong local news, highrated
daytime offerings such as Ellen and a robust
Web strategy. “It’s a nice day of programming,” he
says. “Wherever possible, we interact with viewers
on any screen when they want to see us.”

WRGB’s advocacy, evident in news segments
such as “You Paid For It,” works particularly
well in a capital city market, where residents
are sensitive to government waste.

WNYT has Anderson at 2 p.m., Rachael Ray at
3 (Ray is from the Albany area) and Dr. Oz at 4.
Primetime is seemingly reinvigorated so far this
new season. Baboulis is reluctant to blame NBC
for the tighter ratings race, and he notes some
new network shows, following promotional
bullhorns such as the Olympics, will be a boon.
“We feel very confident our primetime performance
is improving by a wide margin,” Baboulis
says. “It helps when the network does well.”

E-mail comments to
mmalone@nbmedia.com and follow him
on Twitter: @BCMikeMalone

What’s Working In Albany-Schenectady-Troy

TV stations are licensed to serve the public good, and WRGB Albany is doing so by helping nab the bad guys. Those include corrupt government officials, or the heels highlighted in WRGB’s news segment “Perp Patrol,” which shows mug shots, describes crimes and urges viewers to help bring criminals to justice. Vincent Nelson, general manager, says the segments have bagged around 100 perps this year, many of whom turn themselves in after seeing their mugs on TV. “These kinds of things take a lot of resources and focus to support,” he says, “but we feel like we’re certainly doing the right thing.”

Liz Bishop hosts the segments. While most of WRGB’s advocacy efforts are about scaling back wasteful costs, Perp Patrol may be helping out that cause as well. Delivering swifter justice, after all, cuts down on the police resources needed to chase down Albany’s most wanted. “It’s a helpful service to the community,” says Nelson. —MM

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