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Market Eye: Growth Springs Eternal In the Rockies - Broadcasting & Cable

Market Eye: Growth Springs Eternal In the Rockies

Political ads, population boom boost Colorado Springs stations
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With the market growing rapidly, it only makes sense that the stations in Colorado Springs-Pueblo, Colo., are increasing their footprints. KXRM has added 7,000 square feet to its facility east of downtown Colorado Springs. KRDO is said to have increased its building another 2,500 square feet, while KOAA christened a new 25,000-sq.-ft. base, more than doubling its previous digs.

“Everyone is adding on because the market is growing,” says Evan Pappas, KOAA president and GM, “and continues to grow.”

Five years ago, Colorado Springs-Pueblo was DMA No. 92. It’s No. 89 now. Interstate 25 runs through Denver, then south to Colorado Springs, and then Pueblo. Colorado Springs’ massive military presence—it’s home to the Air Force Academy, Fort Carson and NORAD—means scores of military retirees. Younger residents turn up because they can’t find housing in the Denver metro.

KKTV bucked the trend by moving into a smaller, 10,000-sq.- ft. facility, albeit a state-of-the-art shop with virtual sets, in the heart of downtown. Broadcast operations don’t need nearly the space they used to, says Nick Matesi, VP and general manager, and reporters are armed with their own broadcast-ready gear. “They can literally work from anywhere,” he says.

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KKTV honed its deployment of TVU’s bonded cellular technology during the 2012 Waldo Canyon wildfires. There have been no significant fires or floods of late. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” says Matesi. “We are hoping to get through the year without a major disaster.”

Gray Television owns CBS affiliate KKTV. Cordillera has NBC-aligned KOAA. News-Press & Gazette holds ABC affiliate KRDO, while Media General owns the Fox-CW pair KXRM-KXTU. The latter had no fewer than three owners, including Barrington and Sinclair, over the course of 15 months. “Hectic is probably the best word for it,” says Steve Dant, VP and general manager.

Comcast is the market’s primary subscription TV operator, with CenturyLink gaining customers. It’s rare for four stations to command at least 20% of the market’s revenue apiece, as BIA/Kelsey had Colorado- Springs-Pueblo doing in 2013. “I’m biased but I think the market plays a little bigger than its rank,” says Dant. “The assets poured in by all four companies are significant.”

KOAA, with major anchor tenure and a robust presence on both sides of the market, is strong in adults 25-54 and KKTV in households. KRDO won February’s early a.m. household race while KOAA took 25-54. KKTV was tops in 5 p.m. households and KOAA again took those demos. KKTV won late news with a 7.8 household rating/23.3 share, ahead of KRDO’s 5.8/17.4, with KOAA taking the demo title.

Hot competition and stellar scenery make the market a unique one. “I could be stuck in traffic on I-25, but at least I’m looking at Pike’s Peak,” says Matesi. “It’s just a beautiful place to live.”

POT STILL HOT TOPIC

Marijuana remains a presence in Colorado Springs news, almost 21/2 years since the state voted to legalize recreational use. Angles include lagging tax revenue from sales, and whether more minors are using since the law’s change. “It continues to be a developing story as the state tries to figure out what the ramifications of [legalization] are,” says Steve Dant, VP and GM of KXRM-KXTU.

Some local newspapers take advertising from vendors, but the Colorado Springs stations have abstained. “We won’t even take ads for [electronic] vapor smoking,” says Evan Pappas, KOAA president and general manager.

Pot stories will continue in the local news, but some are eager for the smoke to clear. “It’s a topic, but it’s not an overriding thing,” says Nick Matesi, VP and general manager of KKTV. “Everyone outside of Colorado spends a lot more time talking about it.”

With the market growing rapidly, it only makes sense that the stations in Colorado Springs-Pueblo, Colo., are increasing their footprints. KXRM has added 7,000 square feet to its facility east of downtown Colorado Springs. KRDO is said to have increased its building another 2,500 square feet, while KOAA christened a new 25,000-sq.-ft. base, more than doubling its previous digs.

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