Local Market Spotlight: Omaha, Neb.

Apr 30, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Station managers say the Omaha, Neb., market is flat because local sales are up while national is down. But a local mayor’s race is heating up, giving the market some political money.
“It’s a strong market-we’re the 75th market in households, 62nd in cost per points,” said Chris Leister, general manager at CBS affiliate KMTV-TV. “If you look at retail sales numbers, it’s above average. Right now there’s a good mayor’s race going on.”
According to BIA Financial Network, Omaha TV revenues were $67.8 million in 2000 and are expected to be $65.9 million in 2001.
Top ad categories are auto, telecommunications, retail and restaurants.
KMTV is coping with the soft national sales with an expansion in its sales department, hiring three local account executives.
Mr. Leister said radio has taken about 4 share points from newspapers in the past few years. “They’re just much more aggressive in growing local business,” Mr. Leister said. “And that’s our future-we can’t depend on national anymore.”
KMTV is trying to follow the radio model in terms of ad sales. “The best thing about this market in a year like this is it’s not an aggressive growth, but it’s a very steady, locally driven market,” Mr. Leister said.
He said the market is probably pacing between 4 percent and 5 percent ahead of the previous year, and while bigger markets have been hit hard by the lack of ad categories such as dot-coms, Omaha hasn’t been affected. “When the rest of the world is soft, this market doesn’t have as far to fall,” Mr. Leister said.
Mr. Leister said the government laid a “huge fiber-optic backbone” for the Strategic Air Command during the Cold War, and all the B-52 nuclear bombers were based there, along with the communications for the nuclear command center. Mr. Leister said because of the fiber-optic backbone, the market now has the largest processor of credit card transactions, First Data Resources. He said many insurance companies have back offices in the market. The market also has the largest telemarketing center in the country because of the fiber-optic backbone.
“It’s very diversified, with higher-than-average income and education,” Mr. Leister said. “It’s just a very solid market because it’s diversified.”
Fox affiliate KPTM-TV has a local marketing agreement to run The WB affiliate KXVO-TV.
KPTM-TV General Manager John Carpenter agreed that the market is “fairly stable” compared with others around the country, because of the diversified local economy. “The consumer economy here is still pretty strong. We’re not seeing a whole rash of layoffs here,” he said. “There’s a high family income here. It’s a very strong white-collar market. It’s not that we’re recessionproof, but we’re probably able to weather the storm better than many other markets.”
KPTM is strong in the 18 to 24 and 18 to 49 demos, Mr. Carpenter said. “So we do a high share of the categories that are related to kids, such as soft drinks and fast foods,” he said.
Omaha has 375,070 television homes, and the market has 71 percent cable penetration, according to BIA Financial Network.
The largest cable system is Cox Communications, whose Cable Rep offers advertisers 42 cable networks for insertions. Cable Rep General Manager Mike Miller said the company will add one more channel this year. Cable Rep divides the market into four geographic zones so advertisers don’t have to buy the entire designated market area.
Cable is pacing double digits ahead of a year ago.
“We did a very good job on annuals. We got advertisers to commit to the whole year with us,” Mr. Miller said. “We have programs that do very, very well, and by showing [advertisers] last fall, we got them to commit to annual packages with us for this year.”
Top ad categories on cable are auto, financial and restaurants.