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Local News Expansion Contracts

Local-TV-news early fringe expansion into the 4 p.m.-5 p.m. hour has slowed nationwide, and even before that was primarily concentrated (nine of 10 expansions) in the top 100 markets.

That's according to the update of a study from Katz Television Group Programming, which recommends caution for any station considering following suit.

According to director of programming research Lisa Hollaender, the least likely network affiliate to expand into the 4 p.m. hour was ABC. That's because that is usually reserved for King World's Oprah.

Ironically, a lot of stations began looking at expanding into the hour back when Oprah was planning to end her show. "Now that Oprah has signed to continue her show through 2011," says Katz' Bill Carroll, "the urgency for news expansion has waned."

Of the stations that have expanded, nearly a third are riding the strong lead-in of Dr. Phil, another King World show and essentially a spin-off from Oprah.

Of the stations that did expand, about half showed household share growth in the first sweep after the news addition--which in almost all cases was a half-hour newscast at either 4 or 4:430. Overall, however, only 40% of the stations were able to improve per-expansion shares over the long haul, while 45% were down and 15% flat.