Competition hits TV market

Two new stations may battle KTVZ for ratings

Chuck Chiang / The Bulletin /

Published Mar 30, 2006 at 04:00AM

KTVZ, Bend's NBC affiliate, may have seen the last of its uncontested hold on Central Oregon's local television advertising revenues with the latest Nielsen ratings report, which was released Tuesday.

The numbers showed the continued dominance of KTVZ, which had an 83 percent share of Central Oregon households tuned in to local commercial stations. Bend's other station, KFXO-FOX, recorded a 16 percent share in the report that measured viewership between Feb. 2 and March 1.

”We're very happy with the (report),” said KTVZ General Manager Jim DeChant. ”Both the Olympics and local programs saw increases in key demographic groups, and we're satisfied with the results.”

But this may be one of the last Nielsen reports with such lopsided results.

KFXO is scheduled to launch local news programming April 17, and Eugene-based Chambers Communications Corp. said last week that it plans to start a local television station in Bend, possibly as an ABC affiliate. Local news is a major driver of stations' advertising revenue.

Nielsen

COntinued from B1

KFXO and Chambers officials were traveling and unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Nielsen ratings are vital for television stations because they determine advertising rates, a big piece of stations' revenues.

”The Nielsen reports are absolutely necessary for any television station to make a profit,” said Anthony Chan, a broadcast journalism professor with the Department of Communication at the University of Washington-Seattle.

”Without it, no one would know if a station is viable,” he said. ”And viability equals advertisements, which equals money.”

The focus of competition between Central Oregon's stations will likely be on the local news because advertisements during regional newscasts can make up half or more of a station's revenues, according to industry experts.

”Local ads tend to be based on local news programs because stations in smaller cities tend to have few local programs besides news,” said Jim Upshaw, professor at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication in Eugene.

”This will be a big battle for local advertising, where KTVZ has had none up to this point,” he said.

University of Washington's Chan agreed.

”It's huge,” he said. ”Depending on the station, (advertising during local news) could definitely be over 50 percent (of overall revenue).”

The latest Nielsen report said KTVZ's local news at 6 p.m. weekdays was watched by 34 percent of Central Oregon households with their televisions on.

University of Oregon's Upshaw said the introduction of competing local newscasts may seriously tip the balance of power in the ratings and programming.

”There's going to be a battle for ads, a battle for ratings bragging rights, and a battle of having programming to back up those bragging rights,” Upshaw said. ”I would suspect KTVZ would be a little nervous in terms of how they will sell their ads (with new competition).”

Laura Bryant, media director at Bend advertising firm The Mandala Agency, is intrigued by the possibilities presented by the new competition for local advertising dollars.

”There's certainly enough advertising dollars to support all three,” she said. ”I'm just not certain if there's enough viewership to support all three.”

Bryant said KFXO is planning to charge roughly $15 to $20 per rating point for a 30-second spot during its planned 10 p.m. newscasts.

KTVZ currently charges about $12 to $15 for a similar spot during its 6 p.m. news.

”It's going to be very interesting to see what happens,” said UW's Chan. ”(KTVZ) isn't going to lose their market because they should have very solid support from the market at this point. But they have to be wary of their bottom line. The newcomers have to think about how to attract commercials because the NBC affiliate probably has a lot of viable advertisers right now.”

KTVZ's DeChant said he's not worried about the competition, whether it be advertising or market-share impact.

”We're not worried about what they're doing,” he said. ”We're focused on improving our products.”

Bend stations' nielsen results

Nielsen ratings are vital for TV stations because they determine advertising rates, a big piece of stations' revenues.

* KTVZ had an 83 percent share of Central Oregon households tuned in to local commercial stations.

* KFXO-FOX recorded a 16 percent share in the report that measured viewership between Feb. 2 and March 1.