Grand Central Stations

Battling to reach on-the-go New York viewers

As countless would-be actors and authors can attest, making your mark in the Big Apple is no minor accomplishment, and the well-funded stations in the country's largest DMA are doing their best to extend their content to New Yorkers on the go. Both WNYW and WNBC recently launched traffic-oriented mobile applications; WCBS debuted the CBS 2 New York Network, sharing content and revenue with bloggers; and WABC is riding with TAXI TV, which sees news content in half of the city's yellow cabs.

“The taxicasts are updated several times a day and allow us to spread our brand among people on the go,” says WABC President/General Manager Rebecca S. Campbell.

The ABC O&O had a smashing May sweeps, winning total day household ratings, primetime and morning, evening and late news. WABC added new graphics for what Campbell calls “a cleaner, classier look,” and leans on the experience of its anchor crew. “It's their ability to tell unique stories that sets us apart from the competition,” she says.

The market is expected to take in more than $1.6 billion this year. Despite its news eminence, however, WABC is the runner-up in revenue, says BIA Financial. The ABC O&O grabbed $300 million last year, trailing NBC O&O WNBC's $340 million. Next up was Fox O&O WNYW with $240 million, Tribune's CW outlet WPIX with $200 million, and CBS O&O WCBS with $187 million. Fox also owns local MyNetworkTV outlet WWOR, NBC owns Telemundo station WNJU, and Univision has WXTV.

Not surprisingly, it's a strong market for local cable news as well. Time Warner Cable covers the five boroughs with NY 1, and Cablevision blankets the 'burbs with its various News 12 channels.

WXTV General Manager Ramon Pineda says the local Hispanic population is nearing 20%; the percentage is higher in the key demos. He believes WXTV does a superior job reaching out to Spanish-speakers, citing an exclusive the station recently had on anti-Hispanic graffiti on Long Island. “We continue to super-serve our viewers by giving them what they don't get anywhere else,” he says.

In a city famed for its eight million stories, compelling ones exist at the station level. WCBS muscled into the No. 2 spot in key categories, including 5 p.m. news, prime and total day ratings in May. President/General Manager Peter Dunn credits extensive market research, clever promotion and the dedication of his team, including news director David Friend. “We've got a bunch of competitive people here,” he says. “I love the progress they've made in a short amount of time.”

The others are just as competitive. WNYW recently added Fox News Channel alum Greg Kelly to Good Day New York (Greg is the son of NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly), and is launching a “Web 2.0” version of in September. “It'll have better functionality,” VP/General Manager Lew Leone says, “and will give us greater ability to be creative and move content around.”

WNBC, which also airs in taxis, is relaunching its Website as well this fall; by December, its 24-hour cable news channel should be live. “We've got the broadest portfolio of products available to New Yorkers,” believes President/General Manager Tom O'Brien. “We're constantly expanding viewers' ability to use NBC 4 as a local news source.”

Next: Albany, NY