Market Eye: Staying Classy in San DiegoNew owners mean hotter competition in sunny Southern Cal 4/02/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern
With a rich batch of local news outlets—network affiliates,
independents, Spanish-language stations—
San Diego has long been one of the more competitive
TV news markets in the nation. Add to the mix a
couple of new owners vowing major commitments to
their stations, and the contest is getting even tighter.
Comcast grabbed KNSD last year, and
Scripps took over KGTV last fall. Managers at
those stations are excited about the new parents.
“It’s nice to be owned by a broadcaster,”
says Jeff Block, KGTV vice president and general
manager. “It’s great to have Scripps’ resources—
not just financial, but their expertise
in other markets too.”
KNSD is getting what Richard Kelley, president
and general manager, calls “a very fair and
very substantial investment” from corporate.
“We’ll be shoring up our news operation and
be better on the street,” he says.
KNSD won mornings and was runner up
in early evenings in February, but CBS affiliate
KFMB rules. The station won primetime,
early evening and late news—the latter with
a 3.9 household rating/10 share at 11, ahead
of ABC affiliate KGTV’s 2.8/7. Pat Nevin took
over KFMB in August and ushered in changes
immediately. KFMB added 4:30 a.m. news,
Live! With Kelly at 9 and Anderson at 4.
“We’d been a consistent station for a long
time,” Nevin says. “But a number of time periods
changed for fall.”
Nevin attributes the success to local ownership
(despite the name, Midwest Television is
based in San Diego) and affiliation consistency
(KFMB has been a CBS outlet since signing
on). Midwest owns one TV station, but several
radio outlets; Nevin also oversees a local JACK
FM and an AM news talk outlet.
Despite housing woes, San Diego has long
outperformed its market rank when it comes
to revenue; Nielsen’s No. 28 DMA, it is No. 20
in terms of revenue, according to BIA/Kelsey.
The violence in Mexico has sparked an influx
of new residents. The Spanish-language offerings
include Televisora DeCalimex’s XEWT and
Entravision’s XHAS-KTCD-KBNT group.
The local economy is picking up, with robust
automotive advertising brightening the
picture for stations. “The market seems to be
moving in the right direction,” says Ray Schonbak,
vice president and general manager at
KSWB. “I feel positive about where it’s going.”
Tribune owns KSWB, a Fox affiliate that does
eight-and-a-half hours of news a day. Texas Television
has independent KUSI, Televisora Alco
owns MyNetworkTV affiliate XDTV, and CW
affiliate XETV is part of Grupo Televisa. Three
English-language stations offer 10 p.m. news,
with KUSI winning in February. KUSI also airs
a monster five-hour Good Morning San Diego.
Cox is the main subscription-TV operator,
followed by Time Warner Cable.
All are doing what they can to get ahead.
KGTV should improve its early-evening performance
with Katie at 4 p.m. next fall. KNSD
now does its own weather in early evenings,
after sister KNBC Los Angeles provided it the
last few years, and has beat reporters dedicated
to the military and the Hispanic community. It may be some time before the
resource infusion spells significantly higher
ratings, but Greg Dawson, vice president of
news, says KNSD’s content is stronger. “The
amount of good journalism and enterprise reporting
has increased dramatically,” he says.
That’s what it takes to stand out in San Diego,
says Mike McKinnon, KUSI owner: “In
this market, you don’t take long weekends.”