Market Eye: Charleston, S.C.

DMA #97 pumped by Boeing arrival

Tourism drives the economy
in Charleston, S.C.; pleasureseekers
are drawn to the abundant
charm of the waterfront
city and its famously warm
residents. An expansion of Charleston’s
port has allowed more and larger cruise
ships to pull into the market, giving
DMA No. 97 a healthy boost. “When we
see tourism up big, it’s big for everyone,”
says WCSC VP/General Manager Rita
Littles Scott.

Invigorated tourism isn’t the only development
Charleston is celebrating these
days. Boeing announced last fall that it’s
opening a major jet assembly plant in
North Charleston; the facility will employ
not only manufacturers but a signifi
cant number of white-collar managers,
some of whom have already arrived
to find housing. “It’s a real boost for the
economy,” says WCIV President/General
Manager Suzanne Teagle.

Raycom’s WCSC is the ratings champ
in Charleston. The CBS affiliate took all
of the major races in November, including
the 11 p.m. battle with a 7.4 household
rating/23.3 share, well ahead of Media
General-owned WCBD’s 2.8 rating/8.7
share. Cunningham’s Fox affiliate WTAT
did a 4.6 rating/9.6 share with its 10 p.m.
news; it shares infrastructure with Sinclair’s
MyNetworkTV affiliate WMMP.

A diary market,
Charleston will get
February sweeps
results toward the
end of March. Despite
WCBD airing
the Olympics, Littles
Scott expects
WCSC to hold onto
its ratings primacy,
thanks to anchor
longevity, a booming
primetime and
broad reach across
the market. “We cover not just Charleston,
but all of the DMA,” she says.

WCSC seeks to expand its reach with
the digital channel Live 5 Plus, which
debuted in January, but the competition
is hardly idle. Runner-up WCBD, which
uses its own digital tier to air The CW,
replaced an 11 a.m. news with the longerform/
lighter fare My News 2. Allbritton’s
ABC outlet WCIV is ramping up its game
with Ellen and Dr. Oz leading into early
evening news, which Teagle says connects
with guy/girl-next-door talent and
a non-sensational approach. “We’re fighting
hard and making inroads,” she says.

Stations are anticipating a robust 2010
political season, due in large part to departing
governor Mark Sanford, who famously
was off the grid for several days
last summer while canoodling with an
Argentine “soulmate” who was not his
wife. “The gubernatorial race will generate
a lot of excitement and a lot of interest,”
says WCBD VP/General Manager
Rick Lipps.

After the rough recent economic slump,
it all adds up to high optimism in what’s
known as Low Country. “A lot of positives
are going on,” Lipps says. “Once we
get over this economic debacle, we’ll be
poised for the long haul.”