Sleepy, maybe, but growing


Springfield, Mo., is a growing but historically underperforming market, with executives looking to break the $50 million revenue mark in the next few years. It has been a sleepy market, station execs agree, that hasn't yet drawn the attention of the major station groups.

With the local and advertising economy driven largely by small local business, ad rates are lower than in similar-size markets. But, as many markets nationally dropped precipitously in 2001, Springfield held nearly all its 2000 level, even without political.

"We had a lot of telecommunication advertising last year," said Mike Scott, general manager of dominant local station KYTV(TV). The cell-phone business, he says, virtually replaced what was lost in the dotcom crash, as AT&T, Southwestern Bell, Alltel and Spring each staked out a piece of the local wireless market.

Although NBC gets the lion's share of viewers as well as revenue—with more than $18 million in a $45 million market—it's CBS affiliate KOLR-TV that wins prime time.

Stations look forward to a good political market this year, with state-legislated term limits opening up lots of state offices, congressional seats up for reelection and a U.S. Senate race. Although nearby Branson, Mo., helps bring in local tourism advertising such as restaurants, says local ABC affiliate KSPR General Manager Jim Schluesser, Springfield remains the economic focus of the market.

Multichannel reception totals a relatively low 76%, and serving the entire area is a problem. "We're a 34-county DMA," says Scott. "There are parts of our rural areas, in southwestern Missouri and northern Arkansas, that are totally unserved." Scott and other station executives in the market hope to expand local viewership when DirecTV brings local stations onto its satellite service. Springfield has the highest satellite penetration—30%—among the top 100 DMAs.