Market Eye: Spurring the Economy

Revenue-rich central Texas market features a big-time new player
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The local NBA squad, the Spurs, got in hot water for sitting key players during a recent nationally televised game, but it appears everyone else in San Antonio is hustling up and down the proverbial hardwood. Leader KSAT will break ground on a 30,000 square-foot facility in January. Rival KENS has big changes in its anchor crew, while KWEX made history with an exclusively Spanish-language Congressional debate in the fall.

As with many markets around the U.S., Sinclair Broadcast Group has a much larger profile in San Antonio than it did a year ago. Earlier this month, Sinclair closed on Newport Television’s WOIA, an NBC affiliate. Sinclair already had Fox station KABB and a services agreement with Stephen Mumblow for CW-aligned KMYS. John Seabers, former GM at KABB-KMYS and a group manager at Sinclair, takes over WOAI. Dean Radla sits atop the existing duopoly.

“Sinclair taking over WOAI is probably the biggest news in the market,” says Robert McGann, KENS president and general manager, who calls Seabers “a very good broadcaster.”

Post-Newsweek’s KSAT is the longtime leader in DMA No. 36, but the race is tightening. McGann says the shift started when Oprah Winfrey signed off from broadcast TV, and KSAT, in 2011. KENS launched a 4 p.m. news in advance of KSAT doing so. “The race is closer because of the retirement of Oprah and Post-Newsweek not renewing Dr. Phil,” he says. “That’s when we took over the leadership of 3-7 p.m.”

Univision’s KWEX is a power, too. With Spanishlanguage news cut-ins in the morning, along with 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts, the KWEX anchors are a steady presence around town. “Of any marketplace, I would say they are held in one of the highest regards in their community among broadcast stations,” says Jeff Zimmerman, KWEX VP and general manager.

KSAT, an ABC affiliate, is hardly idling. Phil Lane took over the GM job in 2011. The station expanded its 10 p.m. news to an hour and added Good Morning San Antonio to weekends. “Now we have more hours of local news than anyone in the market,” says David Cuccio, KSAT creative services director.

CBS affiliate KENS took the sign-on to sign-off and primetime titles in November. KSAT won the competitive morning and early evening races, as well as late news with a 9 household rating/ 15 share—ahead of KENS’ 8.1/14. KWEX put up a 4.7/8 at 10 p.m.

More than 55% of the market’s population claims Hispanic origin, according to BIA/Kelsey. NBC owns Telemundo station KVDA. Corridor TV has MyNetworkTV affiliate KCWX. The main subscription-TV operator is Time Warner Cable.

The San Antonio market is booming, with restaurants and healthcare facilities springing up all over town, and the Eagle Ford Shale drilling project pumping money into the economy. BIA/Kelsey ranks San Antonio as the No. 24 revenue market in the U.S. KSAT grabbed an estimated $43.25 million in 2011, while KENS claimed $38.4 million.

“Overall, San Antonio had a good year,” McGann says. “The marketplace is fairly strong. We certainly weathered the recession.”

KSAT kicks up new business from a robust deals site, DealoftheDaySA.com.

Jeff Goldblatt, formerly of WMAQ and WFLD Chicago, came on board at KENS as a main anchor in August. Fred Lozano wrapped up a 30- year on-air career over the summer, with Matt Garcia added to mornings on KENS. McGann uses words like “utility” and “urgency” to describe the news brand. “We’ve pressed investigative reporting and will continue to press investigative reporting,” he says.

Zimmerman notes that KWEX was the first Spanish-language TV station in the country. “We look forward to making more history,” he says.

E-mail comments to mmalone@nbmedia.com and follow him on Twitter: @BCMikeMalone

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