The Bay Area, famed for cable cars and high tech, is an anomaly. It
covers three cities—San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose—and their expansive
suburbs, a daunting assignment. Only 13% of the population lives in San
Francisco; Oakland and San Jose are each large enough to rank as a top-25
market. But sprawl in the nation's sixth-largest TV market is secondary to
the area's new challenge: Nielsen rolled out local people meters (LPMs) Sept.
30. Stations get daily demo ratings, which can swing wildly.
“We're in for a year of transition,” says KNTV General Manager
While coping with LPMs, stations program to an eclectic audience: a
highly educated population, thanks to nearby tech paradise Silicon Valley and
various universities, including UC Berkley and Stanford. Plus, the ethnic mix
is unique: 11% of residents are of Asian decent, 18% of Hispanic origin.
“Addressing the needs of all these viewers is difficult,” admits
Mike Antonitis, president and GM of independent KRON.
All this diversity “makes late news a battlefield,” says Tim McVay,
GM for Cox Broadcasting's Fox affiliate, KTVU. KRON broadcasts at 9 p.m.;
KTVU follows at 10 p.m. The Big Three stations—CBS-owned KPIX, ABC O&O
KGO and NBC O&O KNTV—offer 11 p.m. shows. While no one station dominates,
there is extraordinary viewer demand for weather and traffic reports. One or
two ratings points can separate the top-rated stations across dayparts. In
prime time, KPIX is the market leader, buoyed by strong network programming;
KGO leads in fringe.
NBC's San Jose-based KNTV is the newest addition in the marketplace.
(NBC also owns a Telemundo station there.) KNTV became an NBC station in 2001
after Young Broadcasting's KRON converted to an independent. Distance means
KNTV is missing 400,000 homes, but a new transmitter should close the gap by
Although local broadcasters benefited from the late-1990s Internet boom,
they've endured a revenue pinch since the bubble burst. “We're not as
vibrant as five years ago, but each successive year has been a bit better,”
says Ron Longinotti, president and GM for Viacom's San Francisco duopoly,
KPIX and UPN station KBHK. Year-to-date, the local ad market is posting
low-single-digit growth, executives say. TV revenues are up to $710 million
this year, from $670 million in 2003, per BIA.
Comcast is the dominant cable operator, with a robust 66% cable
penetration. And 29% of cable subscribers have upgraded to digital cable,
according to Scarborough Research.
“What sets us apart,” says Longinotti, “is our incredible
The television industry's top news stories, analysis and blogs of the day.
Thank you for signing up to Next TV. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.