Local TV

A TV Station Just '4' Women

WOTV Grand Rapids tries rare gender-focused strategy 6/03/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern

While the local TV programmers are intently focused
on reaching out to female viewers with both
their content and their sponsors’ marketing messages,
WOTV Grand Rapids (Mich.)
may be the only station in the nation
that wears its female-friendly
marketing on its sleeve. Over a year
ago, the LIN ABC affiliate rebranded
itself “WOTV 4 Women”—with female
talent and female-oriented local
programming focused on food, family
and other pertinent categories.

Not one of a handful of local television
veterans could think of another
broadcast station branding itself to
appeal specifically to one gender or
the other. “It’s the first I’ve seen of
it,” said a career local news exec who
requested anonymity. “I’ve never seen anybody go that far.”

A unique set of circumstances compelled WOTV to
launch its “4 Women” brand. It is in a double-hyphenated
market, Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, where
WOTV is one of two ABC affiliates, owing to the FCC issuing
a second ABC license in the early 1970s due to the
DMA’s vast reach. Gannett owns ABC station WZZM. LIN
owns WOTV, which is clearly the smaller station of the two.
WOTV posted a 0.5 total-day household rating/1.9 share
in the February sweeps, while WZZM put up a 2/8.3. Both
were well behind LIN’s other Grand Rapids station, WOOD.

“WOTV 4 Women has information every West Michigan
woman needs to know,” read WOTV4Women.com when
it announced the rebrand, mentioning tips on balancing
work and life.

Diane Kniowski, VP and general manager of WOOD-WOTV,
would not comment for this article, but did speak about WOTV
in a recent B&C story (see “Market Eye,”). Kniowski
said the decision to rebrand in January 2012 stemmed in part
from the 2010 U.S. Census. “When I
looked at the survey, two big things
jumped out: women and people 50-
plus,” she said.

Women represent a whopping
57% of local news viewers across all
dayparts, according to SmithGeiger
research. In a sense, every station is
programming to them—especially
ABC affiliates with their femalefriendly
network fare. “The really
savvy major groups, one way or the
other, build programming around
that notion,” said a veteran consultant,
mentioning the Cox and ABCowned
groups as examples. “It’s not rocket science.”

WOTV had an estimated $3.3 million in revenue in 2012,
according to BIA/Kelsey. Rivals say the rebrand has not moved the
ratings needle. A previous WOTV iteration featured “My ABC”
and appeared to take on WZZM directly. WOTV used to have
its own news team and facility, but it now shares with WOOD,
which produces 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts for WOTV.

Local TV veterans suggest some women viewers feel programming
targeted to them can come off as pandering, while
others say it’s a worthwhile strategy for standing out. “In
the difficult universe of 2013, where [viewing] is sliced and
diced, maybe something like this can work,” said the veteran
consultant. “But I’d be highly skeptical going in.”

E-mail comments to mmalone@nbmedia.com
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