A Real Youth Market

Business has been good for the Salt Lake City TV market. The 35th-largest Nielsen market is growing, Utah's unemployment rate is less than 3%, and the state boasts a population with a notably low median age, 27.1 years. That's great for Salt Lake City stations, whose DMA covers virtually the entire state.

Given a political climate where politics don't get center stage, Salt Lake doesn't see the biennial political fluctuations that many markets thrive on. Still, there's a steady stream of revenue elsewhere.

The market took in estimated gross revenue of $154.8 million last year, according to BIA Financial. And only about $1.5 million of that was from political spending, says David D'Antuono, VP/general manager, KTVX, an ABC affiliate owned by Clear Channel. He says TV advertising is up 9.1% from a year ago.

The market is, of course, shaped largely by its Mormon history. Salt Lake City was founded in 1847, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is still headquartered here. Through Bonneville International Corp., the church owns local NBC affiliate KSL, the No. 2 station sign-on to sign-off. Bonneville also owns the No. 1, 2 and 4 radio stations in the market and takes advantage of that for group sales.

Salt Lake City advertising reflects its youthful market. Even as car sales are stalling elsewhere, "automotive seems to have picked up a bit for us," says KSL General Manager Bruce Christensen. Also doing well are the 'big-box' and furniture retailers.

In April 2006, Clear Channel purchased a second station in the market, Acme Communications' KUWB. The station changed its call letters to KUCW in September when it became an affiliate of The CW.

The broadcast market is rounded out by CBS O&O KUTV, which airs top syndicated shows The Oprah Winfrey Show and Dr. Phil; Fox O&O KSTU and MyNetworkTV affiliate KJZZ, which is owned by Larry H. Miller, owner of the NBA's Utah Jazz, whose games air on the station. But apparently even when the Jazz aren't scheduled, KJZZ doesn't begin airing low-rated MyNetworkTV shows until 11 p.m.

In fall 2005, KJZZ partnered with KUTV and, as a part of the deal, airs the KUTV-produced 2 News on KJZZ in the afternoons and evenings and second runs of such shows as Dr. Phil.

Because of the market's demographics, "the younger-skewing shows do extremely well," says Tim Ermish, VP/general manager, KSTU. The station is looking forward to grabbing those lucrative young demos when it begins airing off-net episodes of Family Guy next year.

Stations are still cautious about multicast channels. Like many NBC affiliates, KSL airs NBC-owned Weather Plus. KTVX airs local-content-intensive channel The Hive on its digital channel.

But Salt Lake stations are much more adventurous with their Websites and have seen exceptional results on them in the past few years. KSL redesigned its site at the end of 2004 and has seen it explode in popularity.

"We went from 15 million [page views] in January '06 to 63 million in December," Christensen says. Although it's a news site, classified ads drive about 40% of its traffic. "It has become a local eBay and is a huge driver," Christensen says.

Other stations are also finding success online. KTVX's Website has "grown tremendously and rapidly," says D'Antuono, and is "becoming very significant." In September, KSTU was the last of the Fox-owned stations to relaunch its site and, in the three months since, says Ermish, has seen 75% growth month-to-month "no matter what metric you use."

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