Market Eye: Deep in the Heart

San Antonio is still growing, as are its TV stations

Nielsen is expanding its sample size in San Antonio, and the stations there are growing their local presence as well. KSAT has extended its 6 p.m. news to an hour, just as WOAI did a few years ago. Telemundo station KVDA debuted a 4:30 p.m. newscast last November, while KSAT premiered a 1 p.m. lifestyle show in the fall. “It’s pure local,” Phil Lane, KSAT VP and general manager, says of SA Live. “It shows the value of local TV—there is an appetite for it.”

Nielsen will better measure the growing market by increasing the sample size from 400 to 500 homes this year. The station chiefs hope for higher household ratings, and at least more consistency.

The market is on fire. San Antonio has increased from DMA No. 36 as recently as 2012 to No. 33. BIA/Kelsey has the market at a very impressive No. 23 in revenue rank. The population is booming, and riches unearthed from the Eagle Ford Shale pay dividends.

It’s a good race between KSAT, the Graham Holdings-owned ABC affiliate, and KENS, the Gannettowned CBS station. But the largest newsroom in town may just go to the Sinclair operation. Sinclair owns Fox affiliate KABB and NBC outlet WOAI, while closely aligned Stephen Mumblow owns CW affiliate KMYS. Sinclair keeps separate management and news teams for its Fox and NBC stations. “The stations have their own personalities,” says John Seabers, WOAI general manager and Sinclair group manager. “We need to maintain what’s unique about them so we don’t end up with homogenous product.”

0504_MarketEye_Chart.jpgDean Radla is the GM at KABB-KMYS. The CW is staking its claim with sports, including Dallas Cowboys preseason games, Sinclair’s American Sports Network action and a Thursday Night Lights football series, set to kick off Aug. 27. “It’s one of our most successful franchises,” says Radla.

Fully 55.6% of the market claims Hispanic origin, according to BIA/Kelsey. NBCUniversal owns Telemundo station KVDA, and other Spanish-language options include the Univision-UniMas pair, KWEX and KNIC. Corridor TV has MyNetworkTV station KCWX. San Antonio’s primary subscription TV operator is Time Warner Cable, which operates a local news channel.

KSAT cleaned up in the February sweeps news races, taking mornings, early evenings and late news, putting up a 9.7 household rating/17 share at 10 p.m. ahead of KENS’ 5.9/11. (The gap was wider in adults 25-54.) KENS, runner-up in news, took the primetime households race, while KSAT grabbed prime in viewers 25-54.

KENS has an Eyewitness News brand and a new news director in Jack Acosta, who came from sibling KHOU Houston.

While it pulled the plug on a 4 p.m. weekday news, KSAT has a full lineup of weekend morning news and plans to relaunch its website with more video in June. The station employs an “Expect More” news brand and swears by that axiom, too. “We live and breathe that every day,” says Lane.

The beloved Texas Folklife Festival goes down next month, celebrating local heritage. Radla, a lifelong San Antonio resident, has seen the great growth take place but says the area retains its charms, including a family atmosphere and lively entertainment options. “You feel a great sense of community,” he says.

LOCAL SHOW ‘SPURS’ VIEWERSHIP

Phil Lane, VP and general manager of KSAT, is elated by the station’s “absolutely fabulous” 1 p.m. lifestyle show, SA Live, which he says is averaging around a 3 household rating. As the name indicates, the show is shot live, at the Buckhorn Saloon in downtown San Antonio. It covers what’s going on, where to eat, what to do with the kids. The program debuted last fall in reaction to what Lane calls weak syndication options. “The syndicated market did not present anything,” he says. “We see more value in local than what syndication is providing. It’s disappointing.”

Also disappointing—the beloved Spurs’ exit from the NBA postseason. San Antonio is accustomed to the team advancing well into the latter rounds. “It feels different with the Spurs not in the playoffs,” says John Seabers, WOAI GM. “It kind of changes the dynamic in the market.”