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Big Little Market

The weather may not change much in Palm Springs, Calif., but the television market has undergone a virtual revolution in recent years. Until 2000, this resort community 100 miles east of Los Angeles was a two-station town. KESQ-TV (ABC) and KMIR-TV (NBC), both UHF signals, delivered the bulk of local viewers. CBS programming came from L.A. via cable until KPSP-LP, a low-power station, signed on last fall.

"We're getting in late, but we jumped right in with four hours of local news a day," said KPSP-LP General Manager Bill Evans.

"This market has gotten a whole lot more stations and whole lot more competitive in the last couple of years," said Bob Allen, general manager of KESQ-TV, Fox affiliate KDFX(TV) and Telemundo affiliate KUNA-LP.

Hispanic viewers constitute nearly 38% of the marketplace, according to BIA. Univision affiliate KVER(TV)'s Notivalle
local newscast claimed a virtual tie with KESQ-TV's NewsChannel 3
at 6 p.m. in the May 2003 rating period. KMIR-TV's strong NBC prime time lineup barely edged out KVER's.

Los Angeles stations still get a share of Palm Springs viewers. Cable penetration, at 87%, is one of the highest in the U.S., and the local Time Warner system carries most of the L.A. signals. A non-duplication rule protects local stations for network-delivered programming but doesn't apply to syndication.

"KABC carries Oprah
at 3. I carry it at 4," Allen said. "This happens a lot."

A double-digit increase in national spot drove revenue up 17% between 2001 and 2002. Prognosticators expect 2003 revenue to grow about 5%. As in many other markets, automotive is the top revenue producer.

Because of its proximity to Los Angeles and San Diego, Palm Springs has become a big-city media center on its own scale. "People are shocked with how much media we have here in the valley," said Jeff Hocker, communications director at the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, citing the market's 18 radio stations and three local daily newspapers.