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Healthy and Dynamic

With continued growth and rebounding tourism, the Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Fla., market "couldn't be healthier," says Bill Bauman, general manager of NBC affiliate WESH(TV). With "the best May book in eight years," the Hearst-Argyle station's business is "spectacular, and our local business in particular is very strong."

Bill Hoffman, general manager of Cox-owned ABC affiliate WFTV(TV), sees the market up 3%-5% in the first half of the year.

Stan Knott, general manager of a Fox duopoly WOFL(TV)/WRBW(TV), the latter a UPN affiliate, notes that "tourism is especially important with a lot of theme parks here and it looks like it is beginning to tick back up." Theme parks and other attractions drew more than 40 million visitors to the area in 2001, according to the Orange County Convention Bureau.

That's a bit of a sore subject to area broadcasters. "The failure of Nielsen to recognize hotel rooms is an injustice," says WESH's Bauman, referring to out-of-home viewership. "We would be a bigger market, and our ratings would be better" if Nielsen included the 110,000 hotel rooms that consistently have occupancy rates over 60%, according to the Convention Bureau.

The theme parks "are all big advertisers" especially during the morning news, when people are looking for an activity.

The population of the nine-county DMA is growing rapidly, increasing television households and making the market "exceptionally competitive," according to Knott, whose two stations share news resources.

"There is a tremendous misconception that Orlando is a retirement community," Bauman says, But he says in fact, it's a "very young, dynamic market with an [median] age of 33 years old."

Broadcasters are looking forward to next year's senate and presidential elections. With Florida Sen. Bob Graham running for president while up for reelection and with Florida seen as a swing state, they amount to "an absolute windfall from heavy political expenditures," says Hoffman.