Market Eye: Sympathy 'Cards'Stan the Man coverage lets St. Louis stations go big on home field 2/11/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern
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The death of Stan Musial, the ultimate St. Louis sports icon,
was a giant news event in the market last month. Stations went
live with breaking news of the Cardinals star’s passing in the
early evening Jan. 19 and expanded their late news coverage. Several stations aired the funeral a week
later in its entirety, including a procession
to Busch Stadium, for as much as five hours of continuous coverage.
“Heroes are hard to come by, and St.
Louis lost one of the best,” said Lynn
Beall, president and general manager of
KSDK. “That’s why our coverage was so
important to St. Louis; it’s knowing our
community and having that connection
that has made our station so successful
for so many years.”
KSDK, a legacy station in DMA No. 21,
is in an intense fight to maintain its
primacy. NBC’s rebounding primetime
helps, but CBS-aligned KMOV’s network
shows have been popping for
years. “We’re very strong in primetime and
late news, and we’re making real progress in
early-evening news,” said Mark Pimentel, who
last June succeeded the retiring Allan Cohen
as KMOV president and general manager.
St. Louis is a robust TV news town, with
big-time competitors in Gannett’s KSDK and
Belo’s KMOV and a round-the-clock news presence
in KTVI-KPLR, a Fox-CW virtual duopoly
owned by, respectively, Local TV and Tribune.
Those stations air 10 hours of news a day, with
no newscasts competing with the sister station.
“Since 2008, we’ve gone from 45 hours of
local news a week to 75,” said Spencer Koch,
KTVI-KPLR president/GM. “It’s definitely impacted
KTVI went live with news at 4 a.m. two years
ago, and KSDK and KMOV followed. The fall
of 2011 saw KSDK add not only 4 a.m. news,
but 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. newscasts too. Oprah
Winfrey’s departure at 4 “allowed us to grow
our staff, expand our local advertising inventory
and, more important, provide our community
with news and information at times that
were not being served,” said Beall.
KSDK won the total-day household ratings
race in the November sweeps and tied with
KTVI in adults 25-54; the NBC affiliate also
won early evenings. KTVI was first at 6-7 a.m.
KMOV won primetime households and KSDK
took 25-54. Late news is similar: KMOV was
tops in households with a 9.2 rating/16 share,
ahead of KSDK’s 8.7/15, while KSDK won the
25-54 demo race at 10 p.m.
Sinclair owns ABC affiliate KDNL. Roberts
Broadcasting has MyNetworkTV affiliate
WRBU, which airs The Daily Buzz in mornings.
Roberts filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and may
be mulling a sale. Charter Communications is
the market’s primary subscription TV operator.
The stations are trying new things. KMOV has
Live Well Network on its dot-two. The station
has a new all-female 5 p.m. team.
“It’s too early to make proclamations, but the
early signs are very encouraging,” Pimentel said.
KPLR is adding local college sports, while
KTVI plays up its reach across the market.
The station uses DataSphere and an array of
local Patch sites to cover St. Louis at a micro
level. “There’s something like 90 different
communities, and we want to cover all of
them,” said Koch.
KTVI’s “You Paid For It” segments, focused on
civic waste, continue to be a hit with consumers.
Beall is pushing a full-on multiplatform attack
at KSDK, including building a substantial
presence on Facebook, where the station has
208,000-plus friends. “Broadcast television has
always been a passive medium,” said Beall, “but
with our multiple platforms on mobile, the Web
and particularly with social media, we can really
be part of a conversation with our audience.”