Local TV

Market Eye: Raising Arizona

Tucson back on track after last year’s tragedy; news race remains torrid 2/13/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

What’s Working in Tuscon

Rentrak, a ratings alternative—or at least, additive— to Nielsen, has been signing up stations at a rapid clip. Tucson’s KOLD came on board last December. Those who study ratings for a living appreciate more detailed viewer information. “We haven’t had it long, but so far, so good,” says Debbie Bush, KOLD vice president and general manager. (KOLD will retain Nielsen as well.)

Post-Newsweek went group-wide with Rentrak’s StationView Essentials, while retaining Nielsen ratings, in December. A few weeks later, KOLD parent Raycom expanded its Rentrak partnership to 17 markets. “We believe Rentrak’s measurement can change the way our industry does business because there are significant advantages for both buyers and sellers of ad time,” says Paul McTear, Raycom president and CEO.

Bush is looking forward to overnight ratings and demos. “In a diary market,” she says, “that’s very attractive.” —MM

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More than a year has passed since a terrifying act of
violence struck close to home in Tucson, Ariz. But with
each step that former local congresswoman Gabrielle
Giffords takes, area residents feel their mood brighten.

The attempted assassination of
Giffords last Jan. 8 was a significant blow to the city’s collective
psyche, and it affected local businesses
too. “The event dampened
the mood of the business community,”
says Julie Brinks, vice
president and general manager
of KGUN. “There was a period of
community mourning, but we’ve
come out more positive.”

Tucson features one of the
classic three-way local TV news
races in the U.S. Raycom’s CBS
outlet KOLD, Cordillera’s NBCaligned
KVOA and Journal Broadcast Group’s
ABC affiliate KGUN all scrap for ratings points
daily. “It’s a tough, tight market with three or four
good competitors,” says Debbie Bush, vice president
and general manager at KOLD. “Journal
and Cordillera do a very good job with what
they do—and Belo’s a great company too.”

Bush knows the Belo operation—Fox affiliate
KMSB and MyNetworkTV outlet KTTU—intimately
since Raycom entered a shared services
agreement with Belo on Feb. 1 (“Station to Station,”
Jan. 30). All three stations fl ipped the
switch on local HD, and KMSB gets a morning
newscast out of the arrangement. (Bob Simone
and Bob Richardson, KMSB GM and news director,
respectively, departed in early February.)

The competition does not envision a major
shakeup to the pecking order. “The changes
across the street really don’t matter [to us],”
says Bill Shaw, president and general manager
at KVOA. “I don’t see the impact of it.”

KOLD won the morning news household
ratings race in last November’s sweeps. KVOA
took a very close 5 p.m. fight and tied KGUN
at 6, with KOLD a tenth of a point behind.
KOLD took total-day and primetime ratings,
along with 10 p.m. news with an 8.4 rating/21
share—better than KGUN’s 5.6/14.1.

KOLD thrives on a tireless local mandate from
corporate, says Bush. “Raycom is all about good
local news,” she says. “They do the right thing.”

Comcast and Cox are the main subscription
TV operators. Journal Broadcast also owns CW
affiliate KWBA and four radio stations in town.

Over a third of the market’s residents claim
Hispanic origin, according to BIA/Kelsey. Their
viewing options include Telemundo-owned
KHRR and Univision-owned KUVE; Univision’s
Noticias 33 is a power at 5 and 10 p.m.

The Sun Belt was beat up badly by the home
foreclosure crisis. The Tucson (Sierra Vista)
DMA dropped from No. 67 to No. 70 in the
most recent Nielsen rankings, but station general
managers say things are picking up. Giffords
resigned from Congress last month, and both
a primary and general election for her seat will
put cash in stations’ coffers. With the state’s controversial
immigration laws, long-red Arizona
may even be a swing state in the presidential
election. “Arizona is in play,” believes Bush.

Viewers are in play, too. KGUN added the
ABC owned stations’ Live Well Network as a
multicast last September. Brinks says Live Well’s
health and wellness programs line up nicely
with an ABC audience. KOLD added Me-TV.

Like any NBC affiliate, KVOA could use a
bump in primetime. But Shaw is optimistic, especially
with The Voice rolling again. “I see positive
signs on the horizon that we’ll improve our
lot in primetime,” he says. “It looks like [NBC
parent Comcast] is really paying attention.”

While housing values continue to plague
Tucson, other indicators have residents walking
with a bounce in their step. “I’m getting the
sense for the first time in three years,” says Shaw,
“that there are positive signs and results.”

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

What’s Working in Tuscon

Rentrak, a ratings alternative—or at least, additive— to Nielsen, has been signing up stations at a rapid clip. Tucson’s KOLD came on board last December. Those who study ratings for a living appreciate more detailed viewer information. “We haven’t had it long, but so far, so good,” says Debbie Bush, KOLD vice president and general manager. (KOLD will retain Nielsen as well.)

Post-Newsweek went group-wide with Rentrak’s StationView Essentials, while retaining Nielsen ratings, in December. A few weeks later, KOLD parent Raycom expanded its Rentrak partnership to 17 markets. “We believe Rentrak’s measurement can change the way our industry does business because there are significant advantages for both buyers and sellers of ad time,” says Paul McTear, Raycom president and CEO.

Bush is looking forward to overnight ratings and demos. “In a diary market,” she says, “that’s very attractive.” —MM

 

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