News Articles

Mile-High Demand for News

Denver's young, wealthy population craves local product 10/27/2006 08:00:00 PM Eastern

No matter how many newscasts Denver stations put on, the appetite for
them only seems to grow. In recent months, nearly every news station in
Nielsen's 18th-largest market has added news hours, and ratings remain
strong.

The additions are on top of already healthy ratings for even the
lower-rated newscasts. Station managers say an affluent, educated population
drives demand.

“This is a young market with strong 18-49 demographics and a lot of
high tech,” says Bill Schneider, general manager of Fox-owned KDVR.

Illustrating that demand, six English-language stations offer late
newscasts in Denver. Whereas many markets have just one “early” late
newscast, usually supplied by a Fox station, Denver boasts three 9 p.m. news
shows, and all score in ratings.

The newest entrant at that time is MyNetworkTV affiliate KTVD, recently
acquired by Gannett Broadcasting to form a duopoly with powerhouse NBC
affiliate KUSA. KTVD's news, produced and staffed by KUSAers, debuted Sept. 5
to solid ratings, around a 1.6 in households. By October sweeps, when baseball
playoffs pushed Fox affiliate KDVR's 9 p.m. news late, KTVD's ratings
gained a rating point. KDVR's Schneider says increased competition from KTVD
is good for all the 9 p.m. news: “It will grow viewership, and we have an
opportunity to win them over.”

KDVR is the established leader at 9 p.m., and second-place CW affiliate
KGWN is also a player. To retain consistency during the baseball post-season,
KDVR is running short Webcasts with news headlines at 9 p.m.

Stations are also expanding in other dayparts. On Dec. 4, KTVD will add
a KUSA-produced morning news from 7 to 9 a.m. In the past year,
KGWN—Tribune's third-largest news station behind WGN Chicago and KTLA Los
Angeles—debuted an 11 a.m. newscast and added a 5 a.m. hour to its morning
block.

But the most compelling battles are taking place in early evenings. In
May, The Oprah Winfrey Show moved from McGraw-Hill's ABC
affiliate to CBS-owned KCNC, setting up a showdown in the 4 and 5 p.m. hours.
Since replacing its 4 p.m. news with Oprah, KCNC's
ratings spiked 19% in the time period, and the lead-in has bumped its 5 p.m.
news up 18%. The station also added a 6:30 p.m. local newscast following
CBS Evening News With Katie Couric.

“We've changed our entire 4-7 lineup, and people are finding it and
getting used to it,” says General Manager Walt DeHaven.

KMGH, meanwhile, is still finding its footing. The ABC outlet's
ratings are down since replacing Oprah with news, but
General Manager Darrell Brown believes the game plan will eventually work.
“News is the best counter-programming for Oprah,” he says.

KMGH also moved Jeopardy! to 6, where it leads into
Wheel of Fortune against news on both KUSA and KCNC.

Amid all the changes, KUSA remains news king in the market. The station
wins all major dayparts, including the key 10 p.m. news, where it nearly
doubles KCNC's and KMGH's ratings combined. Because KUSA has been strong
for decades, tuning in to its news is simply habit for many viewers.

With the additional KTVD newscasts, the station will produce a hefty 47
hours of news per week. The news department staff has grown by 10%—an
uncommon situation in an era of doing more with less.

Says General Manager Mark Cornetta, “You don't see a lot of growth
like that in our industry right now.”

 

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