Market Eye: Peyton the Town Orange

Manning and Co., and KUSA, are wildly popular in Denver

How hot are the Denver Broncos? The football team’s games often reach a 75 share on KCNC. KMGH offers a weekly “appcast” called Orange & Blue Review for mobile platforms. Spanish-language KCEC even has Broncos En Español. “Big, big, big, big, big,” is how Rafael Henriquez, KCEC producer and assignment desk editor, describes the team’s appeal among Denver’s Hispanics. And beyond the hometown market, a Harris poll tabbed them as the new “America’s Team.”

KCNC got a bonus when the Broncos faced the Chargers on Thursday Night Football Oct. 23. “It’s all about the Broncos,” says Walt DeHaven, KCNC president and general manager.

KUSA has Nov. 30 to look forward to, when the Broncos are on Sunday Night Football. The Gannett station does not need a boost; a rock-solid news outfit and a deep relationship with the residents of DMA No. 17 keeps KUSA comfortably ahead of the pack. KUSA was recently awarded its 15th straight Metro Market Station of the Year award from the Colorado Broadcasters Association.

1101_Market_DeverNumbers.jpgMark Cornetta, president and GM, says an exhaustive research strategy makes for a unique relationship with viewers. “9News Listens ” brings 30 or so viewers from around the market in to the station for dinner and a chat about what they want, and don’t want, to see on TV. It’s a quarterly event that KUSA will likely increase.

“We have a strong return path with viewers and users,” says Cornetta. “The feedback is constant.”

Gannett also owns MyNetworkTV affiliate KTVD. CBS owns KCNC. Scripps has ABC outlet KMGH. Tribune has a Fox-CW pair in KDVR-KWGN . Entravision owns Univision-aligned KCEC, while NBC holds Telemundo station KDEN. Comcast is Denver’s primary subscription TV operator, though satellite TV makes up almost half of the subscriber base.

At presstime, KMGH’s search for a GM was ongoing; Byron Grandy resigned in late September. Steve Wasserman, divisional GM, is also interviewing potential news directors. The Trib pair too is looking for a news director since Ed Kosowski resigned in August.

Name a news race, and KUSA wins it, including late news in May with a 7.7 household rating/15.9 share, ahead of KCNC’s 5.9/12.2. KCNC won primetime.

Stations are hustling to get ahead. KCNC has weather fans pitch in with forecasts. KMGH introduced The Now at 4 p.m., a 6 p.m. news and The List at 6:30. “It’s a lot of big deal programming things in the last few months,” says Wasserman.

The political scene is on fire, with races that may be too close to call right now for governor and the senate, and a tight congressional race too. “It’s probably one of the most active political markets in the country right now,” says Wasserman.

It’s one of the hottest football markets too. Broncos-Chargers did a 41.4 rating/63 share October 23. “You think it can’t get bigger,” says DeHaven. “And it gets bigger.”

WHAT’S WORKING IN DENVER: MACRO APPROACH TO MICRO CLIMATES

The Denver DMA extends into Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska and New Mexico, so a station’s weather crew is challenged to cover such a wide swath. KCNC relies on its “Weather Watchers” corps spread throughout the DMA. Armed with a rain gauge and station training, the volunteers share their findings with the KCNC meteorologists.

The CBS station had hoped for 30-40 good Weather Watchers, says Walt DeHaven, president and general manager, but got 150 people in for a recent training. “It’s been extraordinary,” he says. “We get good data every day.”

KCNC did not invent the concept; sister WCCO Minneapolis, for one, has the Weather Watcher Network. “We totally copied what [WCCO was] doing,” says Dehaven. “Why reinvent the wheel when you have smart people around you?”