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Market Eye: Land of Kings

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As California’s capital, and ground zero for the state’s epic budget battles, Sacramento has no shortage of news. Throw in the recent drama about the NBA’s Kings possibly leaving the market for Anaheim, and it has been a hectic time in DMA No. 20.

The city is considering funding proposals for a new arena, and the Kings recently committed to stay in Sacramento—for now. “They’re here for a year,” says Kevin Walsh, KOVR-KMAX vice president and general manager. “Hopefully they’ll stay longer.”

Sacramento–Stockton-Modesto’s station general manager scene has its own comings and goings. Gannett is looking for a boss at KXTV after Anita Helt departed nine months into the job; a station rep says news director Tim Geraghty is managing the day-to-day. Jerry Del Core took over Tribune’s KTXL last October.

Elliott Troshinsky remains the general manager at KCRA-KQCA, and KCRA remains a power. Hearst Television’s NBC affiliate won all the news races in the May sweeps, along with total day household ratings, and Troshinsky reports that KCRA’s 6-7 a.m. news beat all others combined. Late news was closer: KCRA put up a 5.6 household rating/13.1 share at 11, while CBSowned KOVR posted a 5.3/9.5—albeit at 10 p.m.

KCRA was honored with a 2011 Edward R. Murrow Breaking News award for its coverage of the Roseville Galleria Mall fire last fall. Troshinsky says the station thrives on rock-solid news product, day in and day out. “We present news in the most complete and professional manner, and we do it consistently,” he says.

KTXL, which last summer made national news by airing a spot for a medicinal marijuana dispensary, won the primetime race in May, ahead of KOVR. KOVR airs primetime from 7-10 p.m. Much of the market is comprised of state workers who rise early, says Walsh, with some commuters to the Bay Area as well. “People tend to like the 10 p.m. newscast,” he says. “They can get what they need [before going to sleep].”

The market features multiple duopolies, including CBS-owned KOVR and CW affiliate KMAX, and Hearst TV’s NBC-MyNetworkTV pair. Both little-sister stations air local morning news when the Big Four outlet goes to the network show. Univision has O&O KUVS and TeleFutura affiliate KTFK. KUVS’ news lineup includes morning show A Primera Hora and strong 6 and 11 p.m. broadcasts.

Comcast is the dominant subscription TV operator.

Sacramento is in party mode, with the state fair going on the last two weeks of July. With so many government jobs in the market, eyes are on Governor Jerry Brown’s management of the budget matter.

Housing values are fairly stagnant, but station general managers say skies are brightening. “Things are starting to come back a bit,” says Troshinsky. “We’re seeing some positive movement.”

Stations are innovating to get ahead. KCRA is swapping Dr. Oz in for Oprah Winfrey and will add Anderson Cooper’s daytime show, Anderson, in the fall. KQCA shows This TV on its .2 channel, while KRCA has the Hearst TV franchise More TV, a mix of local and syndicated programming, on its digital outlet. “It’s like a traditional independent,” says Troshinsky. “We’re getting great response from both viewers and advertisers.”

KMAX this fall will pick up syndicated talker Jeremy Kyle and sitcom ‘Til Death. The station also has a pair of new homegrown shows. Typical of CBS-owned stations, KOVR-KMAX is executing a joint TVradio- Web strategy with its corporate siblings, with a little outdoor advertising mixed in. KOVR-KMAX GM Walsh believes it’s a significant point of differentiation for his sales crew. “The synergy approach separates us for advertisers who look for those different mediums,” he says. “It gives more strength to any kind of campaign.”

KCRA-KQCA’s Troshinsky says the likes of The Voice and America’s Got Talent, as well as NBC’s upcoming fall slate, are giving him hope for primetime. A few hits in prime, coupled with KCRA’s humming news product, would make for a formidable combo. “I don’t see any reason,” says Troshinsky, “why we wouldn’t continue to widen our margin of victory.”

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