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Sac Race in California Capital

Why This Matters: California’s booming capital city is home to a bustling local television scene.

Business is booming in Sacramento. It’s the California capital, it’s welcoming new arrivals priced out of San Francisco and the city is even getting a Major League Soccer franchise. “There’s lots to do and lots to see,” said Jose Suarez, KCSO president and general manager. “And lots of wineries.”

DMA No. 20 is not only Sacramento, but Stockton and Modesto, too. It’s a giant market, and Hearst Television’s KCRA is the only station with a helicopter. A stable team of seasoned journalists, dedicated digital approach and unique corporate commitment give KCRA the top perch. “We consistently deliver good, solid journalism to people when they want it and how they want it,” Elliott Troshinsky, president and general manager, KCRA-KQCA, said. “We tell the local stories that matter to them.”

Hearst TV, CBS and Univision Communications have duopolies. Hearst has the NBC and MyNetworkTV stations. CBS has KOVR-KMAX, a CBS-The CW pair. Univision holds KUVS-KTFK, which air Univision and UniMás.

Nexstar Media Group owns Fox affiliate KTXL. Tegna has ABC outlet KXTV. NBCUniversal/Telemundo closed on KCSO earlier this year. Comcast is the market’s primary pay TV service.

The stations are pushing to gain a ratings point or two. KCRA-KQCA has syndication rookies The Kelly Clarkson Show and Tamron Hall. “It’s early in the game, but I think they’re both well-produced,” Troshinsky said.

Justin Draper recently marked a year as VP and general manager of KOVR-KMAX. He described Sacramento as “a walkable city” and likened the market to “the Midwest of California,” due to its relaxed pace and upbeat residents.

KMAX has Stockton Kings basketball, a G League affiliate of the Sacramento Kings. “That gets us into Stockton in a positive way,” Draper said. Digital news platform CBSN Sacramento debuts early in 2020. KOVR airs primetime an hour earlier than the competition.

KTXL has a new $1.3 million set. “On time and under budget, and it looks fantastic,” said Leigh White, VP and general manager. “It has a relevant look that will really help with our storytelling.”

White noted Nexstar’s increasing presence in California. “We expect to share a lot of resources in the state,” she said.

KXTV aims to offer more than the headlines. “We focus on adding context and depth to give viewers a better idea of the why behind a story and how it might affect them,” said Risa Omega, president and general manager, mentioning “documentary-style” content. KXTV also conducts “listening sessions” to see what’s on viewers’ minds.

Univision’s KUVS debuted its local news app over the summer. Steve Stuck, president and general manager, said the anchors are seen as a mix between a celebrity and family in DMA No. 20. “We bring talent to parades and you see that connection,” he said.

KCSO has plans to be a bigger news presence. Suarez started in May and said he’s hired 15 people, including all new department heads and reporters. “I’m excited about the journalists we’ve hired and their output so far,” he said.

KCSO is fixing to introduce a 5:30 p.m. news by year-end.

KCRA took the 6-7 a.m. news race by a mile in May, posting a 3.8 in households and 1.4 in viewers 25-54. KCRA won 5 p.m. easily, and its 5.7 in households and 1.6 in 25-54 at 6 p.m. beat the 2.3 put up by KOVR and 0.8 posted by KUVS. At 11 p.m., KCRA had a 3.7 in households, ahead of KOVR’s 1.5, and a 1.0 in 25-54, with KOVR at 0.5.

Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto has high tech, agriculture, finance, healthcare and those wineries. “It’s a unique blend of different ethnicities and work communities,” Stuck said.

News a Primary Focus on Secondary Stations

The duopolies in Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto have put a robust news stamp on the secondary stations. Hearst TV’s KQCA rebranded to My58 and offers a lively lineup of local news, including 7-9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 10-11 p.m. seven nights a week. The 10 p.m. news got a 1.5 household rating and 0.6 in viewers 25-54 in May.

Elliott Troshinsky, president and general manager of KCRA-KQCA, said it makes sense to extend the market’s most trusted news brand. “People who watch My58 have an appetite for local news and information,” he said. “We continue to believe in the strength of local news in the local marketplace.”

On CBS-owned KMAX, Good Day runs 4:30-10 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 to 11 a.m. on weekends. The station also does a 6:30 p.m. newscast during the week.

Good Day used to be Good Day Sacramento, but the shortened name better reflects the vast market. It turns 25 next year. “It’s a truly hyper-local show, not just news, weather and traffic,” said Justin Draper, VP and general manager. “It focuses on what’s going on in our DMA.”

UniMás-aligned KTFK, for its part, has a 10 p.m. network news program that debuted earlier this year. Enrique Acevedo and Patricia Janiot anchor.

It’s a healthy amount of news for these sidebar stations. “There’s an appetite for it, definitely,” Draper said.

Michael Malone
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.