Eyes on Orlando Market

Tourists may not be flocking to Orlando's famous theme parks as much as they have in recent years, but the city is still top of mind for many around the country. Matt Kenseth took the rain-shortened Daytona 500 title Feb. 15, the market housed numerous fans when the Super Bowl was in Tampa last month, and people all over the world have been following the tragic saga of missing toddler Caylee Anthony, whose body was found in December.

“That's really put Orlando in the national spotlight,” says Bright House Networks News & Local Programming VP Elliott Wiser, who oversees local News 13.

Area residents have also been following brush fires, the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays and an economic picture as dark as the skies that cut short the Daytona 500. Orlando has been crushed by the subprime lending meltdown. “That's trickled down to a whole bunch of our clients,” says WKMG VP/General Manager Henry Maldonado.

Whereas other markets have had myriad problems with Nielsen's Local People Meters, Orlando general managers report minimal glitches since the metrics were introduced, and say it's the first LPM market to show higher broadcast viewing.

The LPMs have tightened the ratings race, but it's WFTV's title to lose. Cox's ABC outlet won total day household ratings in November, along with primetime, morning, evening and late news—the latter with a 7.5 rating/13.3 share, ahead of Post-Newsweek CBS affiliate WKMG.

Duopolies abound: Cox owns WFTV and independent WRDQ, Hearst-Argyle has NBC affiliate WESH and CW outlet WKCF, and Fox owns WOFL and MyNetworkTV affiliate WRBW, while Entravision owns Univision outlet WVEN and operates the local Telefutura station. “It's a very competitive market with good owners,” says WOFL/WRBW VP/General Manager Stan Knott. “It keeps everybody on their toes.”

Indeed, stations are quick to try new things. WKMG added weekend morning news in January, the Bright House Sports Network expanded to Orlando last September, and WESH adds digital channel This TV on March 9. “We think it's a terrific multicast opportunity,” says President/General Manager Jim Carter.

WRBW debuts The Office and My Name Is Earl this fall. Entravision has been taking advantage of TV-radio synergy since acquiring local radio station WNUE-FM (Mega 98.1). “When we visit clients, we can offer them full market solutions,” says Entravision VP/General Manager Antonio Guernica.

WFTV had the nation's top broadcast Website in December in terms of unique visitors, according to comScore. VP/General Manager Shawn Bartelt says local TV can help push central Florida out of its doldrums: “We think we can help the businesses here come out of this recession a little earlier.”

E-mail comments tomichael.malone@reedbusiness.com

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.