Local Market Spotlight: Charleston, S.C.

May 28, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Foreign auto spending is up in Charleston, S.C., said one station manager, who added that the market is doing well, especially with local advertisers.
“Insurance and fast-food spending are also up,” said Rita O’Neill, general manager at CBS affiliate WCSC-TV. “Attorneys is a hot category for us as well. In a small market like Charleston there are a lot of attorneys, and they’ve found that advertising is the way to go.”
According to BIA Financial Network, Charleston TV revenues were $38.1 million in 2000 and are expected to be $39.2 million in 2001.
Ms. O’Neill said the market is pacing about 10 percent below where it was last year. ABC affiliate WCIV-TV General Manager Stephen Brock agreed, saying the market was down between 5 percent and 10 percent.
“We had heavy political last year, and without political spending in the market, the market itself is not going to show any growth,” Ms. O’Neill said. “My feeling is it will come back, probably by third quarter. The local market is basically healthy. It’s the national sales that are pulling the market down.”
WCSC is the only station in the market that has a live Doppler radar and live traffic tracker, the latter being a series of cameras along major highways to show viewers traffic flow during newscasts.
Tourism is one of the main sources of income in the market. There is a large retirement community as well as growth in the coastal areas.
Mr. Brock said the market is growing. “It’s a very fast-growing market-we were [ranked] 122 about three or four years ago, and we’re 103 now,” he said. Tourism has become an ever-increasing part of the economy.”
WCIV also sells sponsorships on its 3-year-old Web site, Mr. Brock said. Last month it launched an apartment locator service on it. “The Web site for us is still very much a promotional tool,” he said. “But we are increasingly finding ways to sell it. I see it as a future revenue generator.”
The market has 252,560 homes, and according to BIA Financial Network there is 65 percent cable penetration.
Comcast Cable offers advertisers up to 32 cable networks on which to insert ads. This year it will be offering a breakdown of different geographical zones to buy as well, said Ed Bolling, Comcast Cable general sales manager.
Unlike the broadcast stations, cable is up from a year ago.
“Cable is a different kind of sell,” Mr. Bolling said. “We’re more of a targeted sell; we can target toward an individual’s needs. People now are seeing that cable can reach their prospective clients, and we get more and more repeat business and bigger and bigger budgets.”