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Local Market Spotlight: Florence-Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Mar 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Station managers say national advertising is soft, but local ads are up in the Florence-Myrtle Beach, S.C., market, with a local economy driven by tourism.
“National hasn’t been what we wanted it to be, but we can survive,” said Billy Huggins, general manager at ABC affiliate WPDE-TV. “Myrtle Beach is commonly known as the Grand Strand. It’s a big, wide beach with little communities north and south. Right now there’s almost a billion dollars in new road construction, and with this new infrastructure coming, it causes additional growth.”
According to BIA Financial Network, TV revenues for Florence-Myrtle Beach were about $27 million in 2000 and are expected to be $28.1 million in 2001.
Mr. Huggins and David Carfolite, general manager at Fox affiliate WFXB-TV, said the market is probably pacing 5 percent below where it was a year ago because of soft national sales.
Top ad categories include auto, fast food and tourism. One category that is up is manufactured housing.
Mr. Huggins said auto has improved locally. “We’ve got several local advertisers that have decided they’re going to be aggressive, and so far they’ve had tremendous months,” he said.
Mr. Huggins said that to deal with the soft national side, at the beginning of the year WPDE dedicated one salesperson to sell for the station’s Web site, and the station is already having success with that. The Web site has a popular used-car network that advertisers want to be part of.
“Banner ads were an integral part of closing one of our large contracts,” Mr. Huggins said. “We took our time to build a very advanced Web site.”
Mr. Huggins said WPDE has a local marketing agreement to run WWMB-TV, the UPN affiliate in the market.
He said the market is growing, with about 13 million tourists expected in Myrtle Beach this year. Services industries are cropping up to accommodate tourism as well as retirees moving to the market. “I still think this is going to end up being a good year, and we’ll make our goals for the year,” Mr. Huggins said.
In addition to tourist-related businesses, Mr. Carfolite said large employers in the market are hospitals and textile and electronic-parts manufacturers. WFXB is reaching out to nontraditional advertisers.
“Since we’re a relatively new station, we’re talking to people that hadn’t considered us,” Mr. Carfolite said. “We’re a very young-skewing station, so we’re talking to advertisers such as appliance stores and auto dealers on the used-car side.”
Because WFXB has an LMA with Fox affiliate WSFX-TV, Wilmington, N.C., the station will launch Foxcarolina.tv this spring as a site to bridge both stations.
The market has a total of 230,260 television homes, and 72 percent have cable. According to Steve Houck at National Cable Communications in New York, CableVantage cable sales in Florence offers 14 networks, and Time Warner in Myrtle Beach offers advertisers 24 networks to insert ads.
A source in that market said cable sales in Florence have been “soft,” with manufactured housing slowing down.