Political HotbedAlbany stations beef up on big issues 6/17/2005 08:00:00 PM Eastern
It may be a political off-year, but TV stations in the Albany-Schenectady, N.Y., market are enjoying an unusual burst of political advertising. Advocates and opponents of such issues as the construction of casinos by Native American tribes and the building of a new stadium for the New York Jets have spent several million dollars to get their messages across to politicians in Albany, the state capital.
“Political this year is far greater than the political money last year,” says Jeff Whitson, VP/general manager of Fox affiliate WXXA; his comments reflect the fact that New York was not a battleground state in the 2004 presidential race. But issue advertising, currently the market's hottest category, is tightening Albany stations' inventory this year.
The infusion will help them post slightly better ad revenue than last year. The market, Nielsen's 55th-largest, took in $84.2 million in gross revenue last year, according to BIA Financial, up from its 2003 tally of $80.4 million.
The state government provides Albany's economic backbone. Still, the region has created a “Tech Valley” of new high-tech facilities; General Electric's Global Research Center, IBM and dozens of others have set up shop there. (GE used to own CBS affiliate WRGB.)
Stations hope technology will be the next economic motor. “There is more of a corporate base in the economy now,” says Steve Baboulis, VP/general manager of NBC affiliate WNYT. “Housing prices have started to climb, and there is a lot of building.”
WNYT reigns as the market's top-rated station and local-news leader. The Hubbard Broadcasting-owned station is the most watched in early-morning, early-evening and late news and boasts marquee syndicated shows The Oprah Winfrey Show and Dr. Phil. ABC affiliate WTEN airs Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!.
Time Warner Cable is the region's major cable operator and runs cable news channel Capital News 9.
Albany is one of the largest TV markets to remain on the diary system instead of upgrading to set-top meters that kick out overnight household ratings. (Installing set-top meters would require additional investment from Nielsen Media Research and the stations.) So, as a diary market, Albany reports ratings information only during the four sweeps periods.
Local broadcasters expect the political money to keep flowing. In 2006, New Yorkers will vote in a high-profile gubernatorial election, as well as U.S. Senate and House elections and state Senate races. Once again, Albany expects to be at the center of it all. Says Bob Furlong, VP/general manager of WRGB, “Next year will be very big.”
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|*Index is a measurement of consumer likelihood. An index of 100 indicates that the market is on par with the average of the 75 local markets.
Source: Scarborough Release 2004 75 Markets Report
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