Houston Rockets Forward Following Harvey

Why This Matters: Less than two years after Hurricane Harvey struck, dynamic and diverse Houston is a market showing strong growth momentum.

Hurricane season began June 1. Less than two years after Hurricane Harvey struck Houston, the stations in DMA No. 7 have their emergency plans well ironed out.

“We are prepared,” D’Artagnan Bebel, KRIV-KTXH VP and general manager, said.

With that horrific event in the rearview mirror, Houston is moving forward. Houstonians have their eye on supplanting Chicago as the third-largest U.S. city. (The Census has Chicago ahead by about 400,000 heads.)

ABC owns KTRK and Fox holds KRIV and MyNetworkTV sibling KTXH. Graham Media has NBC affiliate KPRC and Tegna owns CBS outlet KHOU. Tribune has The CW affiliate KIAH.

On the Spanish-language side, Telemundo owns KTMD and Univision has KXLN and UniMás-aligned KFTH, along with four radio stations.

Comcast is the primary pay TV operator.

There are strong news players in Houston, and they are getting stronger. KTRK introduced a 3 p.m. newscast in September, moving Jeopardy! to 1 p.m. “It gives us the opportunity to present the news first in Houston,” president and general manager Henry Florsheim said. (Florsheim retires July 1.)

KRIV debuts news franchise “Fox 26 in Focus” July 8. A revamped take on the “Fox in Focus” segments that previously aired, the pieces will stick to a timely theme — say, veterans affairs or fostering children — for the whole quarter. “The goal is to make a difference, make a change,” Bebel said.

KPRC, which has a 12-person investigative unit, sends reporters well beyond Houston when big news breaks, such as Jacob Rascon reporting from Paris as Notre-Dame burned. “We aren’t afraid to get out of Houston,” Jerry Martin, VP and general manager, said.

KTMD introduced an investigative department late in 2018. It and the Responde division go to bat for viewers. “We’re really attuned to the marketplace from a consumer standpoint, and from an investigative standpoint,” president and general manager Tony Canales said.

In March, KXLN premiered news from 5 to 7 a.m. daily. “Houston is a news town — it never stops,” David Loving, president and general manager, said. “This adds to our arsenal of news products.”

Among English-language stations in the May sweeps, KTRK took households at 6 a.m. and KPRC won adults 25-54. At 5 p.m., KTRK won households and it and KPRC were virtually tied in 25-54. At 6 p.m, KTRK won households and KPRC grabbed 25-54. KHOU was tops in prime households while KTRK won 25-54.

In 10 p.m. household ratings, KTRK got a 4.4, KHOU a 3.1 and KPRC a 2.9. In 25-54, KTMD got a 2.1 and KXLN a 1.7. KTRK got a 1.4, KPRC a 1.0 and KHOU just shy of 1.0.

“This market is always going to be competitive,” Martin said. “We slug it out every day.”

The stations continue to innovate. KTRK has a new SkyEye13 helicopter and KPRC, which recently turned 70, a new building. KRIV has a fledgling news-entertainment program in Isiah Factor Uncensored and KTMD does hourly cut-ins — two minutes of news, two minutes of advertising — from 6 to 11 a.m. KXLN has a performance space on the third floor. “Music is the heartbeat of our audience,” Loving said.

Business is steady in Houston. “It’s exciting to work in a market that continues to grow and people continue to move to,” Florsheim said. ”

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.