Little Rock TV Market Wrap
Media Week profiles the Little Rock TV market in this week's market profile. Below is the portion dealing with the Little Rock TV stations. You can find the entire article HERE.
"The dynamics of the local TV marketplace have evolved over the years into a three-station news race. For years, KARK, which Nexstar purchased in March 2003, dominated the market by a wide margin. Today, that lead has all but evaporated as the three stations—KARK, Allbritton Communications' ABC affiliate KATV and Gannett Co.'s CBS affiliate KTHV—battle for ratings supremacy throughout the day.
KARK's Rogala, who took over Sept. 1, 2005 as vp/gm, acknowledges the market has tightened considerably. Nielsen Media Research measures viewership in the Little Rock-Pine Bluff market using its diary system; KARK is not a Nielsen client. Rogala, who most recently headed his own media consultant company, says KARK is working to reclaim its former market leadership.
Since his arrival, Rogala has put in place a new management team to help him achieve that goal. The new team includes Rob Heverling who started last September as news director. He previously served in the same capacity at sister NBC affiliate KNWA-TV in Fayetteville, Ark.
The company also promoted KNWA's general sales manager Mike Vaughn last September to director of sales at KARK. Rob Thomas started last December as KARK's new creative services director. Thomas formerly worked in promotions at KTHV before a brief stint as marketing manager at WLTX-TV in Columbia, S.C.
With severe weather common in the region, such as the spate of tornadoes that wreaked havoc in Arkansas and other parts of the Midwest last week, KARK recently built a new weather center and upgraded its weather-mapping and -tracking computer software, Rogala says.
In terms of programming, KARK made national headlines when it refused to air NBC's short-lived prime-time drama, The Book of Daniel. The station aired a local news special in its place, says Rogala. KARK plans to debut new syndicated talk show The Megan Mullally Show in September.
KTHV, which goes by the moniker "Today's THV," in February launched its digital channel THV2, the first in the market. The channel broadcasts 24-hour news and weather. It is available through KTHV's digital tier, the digital tiers of several Arkansas cable systems including Comcast, Charter Communications and Conway Corp., as well as online at THV2.com.
"We thought this [THV2] was innovative in that it would begin to make us even more of a 24-7 news operation," says Larry Audas, KTHV president/gm.
KTHV also creates news updates, along with newscasts and weathercasts for its Web site. The station also became the first in the market four years ago with high definition (although it still does not originate local programming in high-def, says Audas).
While much of the state's growth is concentrated to the north where Wal-Mart and Tyson Foods are headquartered, the Little Rock area remains strong for local media. "This is the capital city. There is a good, steady flow of both news and revenue here," says Audas, who adds, "It's a market that watches a lot of local news."
In the competition to attract news viewers, KTHV typically wins the morning news race, while KATV wins early news at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. The stations flip-flop in late news, says Audas.
With a relatively small but fast-growing Hispanic population, local media are also trying to serve area Spanish-speakers. For instance, the staff of local Spanish-language weekly, ¡Hola Arkansas! translate KTHV's 10 o'clock late news, which is then broadcast on the station's SAP channel.
KATV is one of the nation's top-ranked ABC affiliates. In the November Nielsen sweeps, KATV ranked No. 1 in households among ABC affils with 5 p.m. local newscasts, No. 2 at 6 p.m. and No. 6 at 10 p.m. In February, the station earned a 16 rating/29 share in households for its 6 p.m. newscast. Executives at KATV did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story.
KATV's lead female anchor, Kate Sullivan, resigned effective April 7 to become morning co-anchor at CBS flagship WCBS-TV in New York. Sullivan started at KATV in 2000 as a reporter before being promoted to anchor two years later.
Clear Channel Communications owns the local duopoly of Fox affiliate KLRT and UPN affiliate KASN. KLRT launched its 9 p.m. late news in 2004. Chuck Spohn, vp/gm of KLRT and KSAN, says he's pleased so far with the performance of the market's lone prime-time newscast. In February 2006, the newscast earned a 7 household share, versus the 4 share it earned in February 2005. Spohn says the newscast was five years in the making.
KASN, one of the top 10 UPN affiliates in the country in terms of ratings, does not produce local news. The station's programming consists of a court block from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by African American sitcoms including The Cosby Show, Girlfriends and The Bernie Mac Show, both before and after UPN prime.
Spohn says he cannot discuss the future of the station when the UPN and WB networks merge to form the CW network.
On March 30, the new MyNetworkTV network announced 30 more affiliation agreements, including one with WB affiliate KWBF-TV, owned by Little Rock-based Equity Broadcasting. The company also owns local Independent station KYPX. Executives at the stations did not return phone calls for comment. The new network launches Sept. 5."