Local TV

Market Eye: New Owners Pepper Salt Lake TV

Sinclair, Nexstar bring their unique broadcasting styles to Utah 9/17/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

What’s Working In Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City’s stations have shown outsize digital might over the years, from KSL.com’s outrageous traffic, driven by classified ads, to KUTV.com’s 200,000- plus Facebook fans. So it’s no surprise that a station has a dedicated social media reporter.

Allison Croghan, formerly of KSNF Joplin (Mo.), assumed the title in June. After delivering the weather in the first half-hour of Good Day Utah, Croghan slides over to the Fox 13 Connect Center and scans Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube for local buzz. “I see what the trends are, what people are talking about and integrate it into the newscast,” she says.

If there’s a wildfire, for instance, Croghan might share what the city’s public information officer is saying on Twitter. “Social media, and Facebook in particular, is a really good platform for viewers to contribute to the newscast,” she says. —MM

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There has been extraordinary activity among the TV stations in Salt Lake
City, particularly with the ownership groups. A year ago, Sinclair Broadcast
Group acquired the Four Points Media stations, the crown jewel being CBS
affiliate KUTV Salt Lake City. Nexstar had provided services to the Four
Points stations; that arrangement ended following the Sinclair acquisition.
But Nexstar is getting back into Salt Lake City following its deal to
acquire a dozen Newport Television stations—including KTVX-KUCW.

While the Nexstar deal awaits regulatory approval,
KUTV is moving ahead as a star of the vast Sinclair portfolio.
“We’re very pleased with the opportunity to be part
of Sinclair Broadcast Group,” said Kent Crawford, KUTV
general manager. “We want to be backed by a group that
really understands the broadcasting business.”

Crawford, formerly KUTV director of sales, took over
as GM last October, following Steve Carlston’s move to
KNBC Los Angeles.

Salt Lake City TV made news recently when KSL,
owned by the Latter-Day Saints’ Bonneville International,
announced it would not air NBC debutant comedy
The New Normal, about a gay couple adopting a baby.
Jeff Simpson, Bonneville CEO, suggested in a statement
that The New Normal went too far for the conservative
broadcaster. “From time to time we may struggle with
content that crosses the line in one area or another,”
Simpson said. “The dialogue might be excessively rude
and crude. The scenes may be too explicit or the characterizations
might seem offensive.”

Simpson did not return calls for information on the
NBC affiliate.

CW affiliate KUCW is airing The New Normal. The
station already airs Saturday Night Live, which KSL refused
to run years ago. KSL’s
NBC cast-offs run in a Saturday-night block on KUCW.

The ratings competition has also undergone a shakeup
in DMA No. 33. As of June 30, KUTV-KMYU dropped
Nielsen for Rentrak. With Nexstar taking over KTVXKUCW,
those stations will likely split with Nielsen
too, as Nexstar does not subscribe. “I like the sample
size—50,000 versus Nielsen’s 400,” said Crawford. “We
anticipate more Rentrak activity in the market.”

Amidst all the changes, things are staying pretty
consistent over at KSTU. While KSL and KTVX have
undergone numerous news anchor switches, Tim Ermish,
KSTU president and GM, says Local TV’s on-air
gang has stayed steady. The Fox affiliate also flipped the
switch on HD—the last major station in Salt Lake City
to do so—for the May sweeps. That wrapped up an 18
month-long building overhaul. “We were the last to the
HD party,” said Ermish, “but it looks fantastic.”

KSTU thrives on lots of local news—adding a 4:30 a.m.
newscast in May brought the total to eight hours a day—
and a strategy to be first on the air in a given daypart, as
evidenced by its 11:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. newscasts. “We’re
more local, we’re on first, we have continuity with our
anchors,” Ermish said. “That kind of stuff resonates.”

Other players in the market include the independent KJZZ, which is owned by Larry H. Miller and features a
high school football game of the week, Wheel of Fortune
and Jeopardy!
and a double-run of The Office at 10 p.m.

Just over 13% of the market is of Hispanic origin,
according to BIA/Kelsey. Spanish-language offerings include
Univision-owned KUTH, which airs a Saturday 10
a.m. news, and Liberman’s Estrella TV station, KPNZ.

Comcast is the main pay TV operator, but Salt Lake
City’s satellite TV contingent is as large as its cable one.

A cadre of veteran Salt Lake City anchors made a
splash when SaltTVNet.com, a website featuring a who’s
who of past TV news talent, officially launched at the start
of 2011 (B&C, 11/15/10). Efforts to reach management
through the site were unsuccessful. SLC news vets say
the site’s profile has diminished considerably following
its noisy debut. “There was buzz at the very beginning,”
said Ermish, “but you never see it [mentioned] anymore.”

The Salt Lake City economy is healthy. The market’s
naturally conservative bent helped prevent the home
foreclosures that have dragged other parts of the
country down. Salt Lake City won’t see presidential
money—Mitt Romney (an adopted “favorite son,” said
Crawford) has the state sewn up—but it will see a little
spending from other races.

“We’re doing better than most states,” said Crawford.
“We feel we’re moving in the right direction.”

KUTV is moving in the right direction too. According
to Rentrak, the station won the major news races
in the May sweeps, along with total day and primetime
ratings, with KSL typically No. 2. KUTV’s 10 p.m. news
rated 9.3% in Rentrak, ahead of KSL’s 8.8%, though
KSL edged out KUTV in adults 25-54.

KUTV kicked off 4:30 a.m. news Sept. 10, brought back
7-8 a.m. news on weekends Sept. 15 and marked the
one-year anniversary of its 7 p.m. news on sister KMYU.
Crawford says KUTV has emerged as something of a template
within Sinclair. “They saw us doing seven hours of
news a day and they quite like the model,” he said. “Having
a strong broadcaster behind us has been refreshing.”

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

What’s Working In Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City’s stations have shown outsize digital might over the years, from KSL.com’s outrageous traffic, driven by classified ads, to KUTV.com’s 200,000- plus Facebook fans. So it’s no surprise that a station has a dedicated social media reporter.

Allison Croghan, formerly of KSNF Joplin (Mo.), assumed the title in June. After delivering the weather in the first half-hour of Good Day Utah, Croghan slides over to the Fox 13 Connect Center and scans Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube for local buzz. “I see what the trends are, what people are talking about and integrate it into the newscast,” she says.

If there’s a wildfire, for instance, Croghan might share what the city’s public information officer is saying on Twitter. “Social media, and Facebook in particular, is a really good platform for viewers to contribute to the newscast,” she says. —MM

 

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