Ad sales in the Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.-Asheville, N.C., market have not dropped as precipitously as in other markets this year, or since Sept. 11. But the market was something of an under-performer to begin with.
Though ranked No. 36, the market ranks only 49th in revenue, with a fairly low per-capita income and widespread population. The DMA covers not only the three named cities in two states but counties in Georgia as well. With no network-owned stations in the market, its network affiliates are spread over four cities in two states: Hearst-Argyle-owned WYFF (NBC) in Greenville; Media General-owned WSPA-TV (CBS) in Spartanburg; Meredith-owned WHNS (Fox), Media General's WASV (UPN) and Sinclair-owned WLOS (ABC) in Asheville; and Sinclair's WBSC (WB) in Anderson, S.C. Add to that another, smaller Media General CBS affiliate, WNEG-TV, in Toccoa, Ga.
"And most of our counties are pretty small," says veteran local salesman and WYFF General Manager Dave McAtee. While WSPA-TV holds the edge in households sign-on to sign-off, WYFF has the edge in demographics and in sales. Greenville has the largest population in the market, with Spartanburg second. The mountainous terrain in the North Carolina part of the market—where WLOS is strong—contributes to its unusually high, nearly 20% DBS penetration.
Both news and sales follow those geographic patterns, notes Jason Brown, WSPA-TV research director. It's hard for a news outlet to cover the whole market, and it's hard for an advertiser to buy the whole market. "You can't buy one station and cover the market effectively," he says. "To cover the market, you need to buy [the Big Three-affiliated] stations."
McAtee believes that next year will be a good one in the market, with the Olympics on his NBC station—although it's producing only moderate sales, so far—and U.S. Senate elections in both North and South Carolina.