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Local Market Spotlight: Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo

May 7, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Some station managers in the Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo, Calif., area say the slowdown is mainly attributable to automotive spending and retail.

“Retail is softer than we thought, so those are two we are paying attention to the most,” said Bob Grissom, general manager at ABC affiliate KEYT-TV, Santa Barbara. “In soft times it’s the old adage that big-ticket items are affected first and most.”

Top categories are auto, retail, fast food, restaurants, telecommunications and health care.

According to BIA Financial Network, Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo TV revenues were $34.8 million in 2000 and are expected to be $31.3 million in 2001.

“This is a triple-hyphenated market, where each station truly serves its own community it’s located in,” Mr. Grissom said. “It’s really like three mini-DMAs. In our southern part of the market, we get a lot of viewing and a lot of ad sales in Ventura County, which is technically in the Los Angeles DMA. It helps us a lot.”

While tourism creates economic dollars in the market, it is still the traditional categories that create television ad dollars, Mr. Grissom said.

General Manager Richard Armfield of NBC affiliate KSBY-TV in San Luis Obispo said he thinks local business is up. But he thinks the recent Pacific Gas & Electric bankruptcy filing will filter through the economy.

“They didn’t pay all of their tax bill very recently, and that’s already causing layoffs at a couple of school systems because they were the taxpayer that was paying the salaries,” Mr. Armfield said.

Mr. Armfield said PG&E also has the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in the area. It is the largest taxpayer and one of the largest employers in San Luis Obispo County.

According to BIA Financial Network the cable penetration in the market is 80 percent out of 227,240 television households.

Cox Cable Rep offers advertisers 42 networks in which to insert in Santa Barbara and 24 networks in the Santa Maria part of the market. It also offers advertisers three geographic zones in which to advertise.

Kevin Flint, Cable Rep’s business development manager, said Cable Rep is pacing ahead of a year ago and is on budget.

Mr. Flint said auto, real estate and legal services are top categories.

“One of the reasons is because we’re able to put some creative production into those categories,” Mr. Flint said. “We can get creative in the production area for the legal category and real estate category to help them produce commercials.” He said Cable Rep has helped “We the People,” a legal document company, make national-grade commercials that the company can use in other markets.

Cable Rep, with its new business development department, is also looking for ways to bring in new revenue streams to replace lost national dollars. Mr. Flint said the department is in the process of booking a well-known comedian to perform at a local venue. That performance will be branded as a Comedy Central event because the cable network is a partner in the project. The show in June will not be on the air.%