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Market Eye: Ark-La-Tex-ural Digest

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Shreveport may not be the most cosmopolitan setting, but its top stations flaunt big-town tech ambitions. KTBS simulcasts its local news on smartphones and tablets via a mobile app. On March 1, leader KSLA also started streaming its newscasts live to handheld devices; the station’s mobile page views are around double those on

“How cool is it to be in a city park, and when the weather gets nasty, you can watch our newscast on your iPhone?” says James Smith, vice president and general manager at KSLA.

Sitting on the Red River in northwest Louisiana, DMA No. 83 features a two-horse race between KSLA and KTBS. One key difference: ABC affiliate KTBS is family owned, with CW affiliate KPXJ as the sole group-mate. KSLA, on the other hand, is part of Raycom. Smith mentions the significant presence Raycom—its stations clustered in the southeastern U.S.—enjoyed at the Super Bowl. “It gives us extra coverage that maybe the other stations can’t do,” he says.

Besides Louisiana, the station signals go to slices of Texas and Arkansas and a sliver of Oklahoma; the region is known as Ark-La- Tex. A Margaritaville casino is set to open in a region already popular with gamblers. Drilling in the Haynesville Shale has slowed, but has nonetheless buffered the economy for years. “A lot of new business moved in,” says George Sirven, station manager at KTBS. “There was a lot of excitement and a lot of revenue.”

Nexstar owns NBC affiliate KTAL. Mark McKay took over as general manager in February 2012; his career started at KTAL in 1980. He’s had a busy year, overseeing a move to local HD as well as a rebrand. The overhaul included a new control room and set. “We basically ripped everything out and put in all new stuff,” he says. “It was time to make the transition.”

KTAL now goes with a “Local News That Matters” brand. “That’s the niche we’re going after,” says McKay. “Before, we were all over the place.”

As is Nexstar’s way, KTAL does not get Nielsen ratings.

KTBS sister KPXJ airs entertainment fare and local events such as a regional spelling bee and Mardi Gras parades. “We broadcast events that some stations no longer do,” says Sirven. “It enables us to bring more local content to the viewer experience.”

Communications Corp. of America owns Fox affiliate KMSS. The parent has the stations on the block, and CEO Steve Pruett departed in February to run Chesapeake TV.

KMSS manages MyNet outlet KSHV, which is owned by White Knight. Shreveport’s satellite TV penetration is exceptionally large. Shreveport was originally a test market for DirecTV, giving it an outsize presence here.

The stations were awaiting February ratings at presstime. In November, CBS affiliate KSLA won total day household ratings, primetime, 6 p.m. and late news, the latter with an 8.3 household rating/21.1 share, ahead of KTBS’ 6.4/15.9. KTBS won mornings and 5 p.m.

KTAL recently added anchors Jacque and Dan Jovic, a married couple, from WWJ Cleveland in what McKay calls a “package deal.” KSLA has This TV and Bounce TV on its multicast tier; Bounce in particular is standing out. “Advertisers are starting to ask for it specifically,” says Smith.

KTBS switched to DoApp for its app affairs and has an array of multicast offerings on the duopoly, including local news, AccuWeather and Me-TV. Like its rivals, it continues to plug away on an all-screen approach. “No matter where you are—the office, on the road,” says Sirven, “you can stay in touch with all the things that are happening in Shreveport.”

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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.