Local Market Spotlight: Tulsa, Okla.

May 21, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Views about the Tulsa, Okla., market are mixed, with some station managers saying the market is pacing between 1 percent and 3 percent ahead of last year, while others say the market may be down 2 percent to 3 percent.
“When things are really good-like last year when some big markets were up 15 [percent] to 20 percent and enjoying political money-we were up about 3 [percent] to 4 percent,” said Bill Sevenoaks, general sales manager at NBC affiliate KJRH-TV. “This year it looks like the market may be down 2 [percent] to 3 percent,” but he added that some markets-he cited Detroit and Baltimore-are down 15 percent.
But Mike Vrabac, general sales manager at CBS affiliate KOTV, said the Tulsa market is pacing ahead between 1 percent and 3 percent. He said national is beginning to pick up.
According to BIA Financial Network, Tulsa TV revenues were $85.9 million in 2000 and are expected to be $87.6 million in 2001.
Top ad categories are furniture, fast food and auto. Mr. Vrabac said telecommunications is one category that is up. Mr. Sevenoaks agreed, saying Cingular, AT&T and Cricket Cellular have come out in the market aggressively. He added that home and housewares are also up.
KJRH General Manager Michael Kronley noted that in a recent issue of Newsweek, Tulsa was named third on its list of top new-tech cities, indicating that the market has a good economic base.
“Tulsa is a hidden gem-it’s a very sophisticated, upscale city,” Mr. Kronley said. “There are miles and miles of fiber optics.”
That’s because Williams Co., headquartered in Tulsa, was in the oil pipeline business and spun off a telecommunications division that laid fiber optics through its pipelines throughout the country.
Mr. Sevenoaks said MCI WorldCom employs several thousand people in Tulsa. Other top employers include TV Guide-which employs several hundred people-and Southwestern Bell.
Professional golf will return to Tulsa this year with the U.S. Open, which will air on KJRH, and a Ladies Professional Golf Association tournament will be held in the fall. Mr. Sevenoaks said spots for the U.S. Open are 99 percent sold out.
Mr. Vrabac said with the market’s stable local economy, national advertisers “might place business where business is good for them, and we do have a lower unemployment rate … and some recognition we get, like the Newsweek article, is favorable for us.”
KOTV employs one person dedicated to selling for the station’s Web site. It has another person dedicated to finding new sales opportunities for the station. Mr. Vrabac said since KOTV is now owned by Griffin Communications-which also owns sister station KWTV in Oklahoma City-both stations combined cover 80 percent of the state. He said sometimes the two stations partner on some sales packages.
Tulsa has 490,160 total television homes, and according to BIA Financial Network there is 60 percent cable penetration.
Vic Bailey, the general manager for Cox Cable Rep in Tulsa, said it offers advertisers 36 networks in which to insert and seven geographical zones within the market. Top ad categories on cable are auto, fast food and laser eye surgery. He said cable is pacing between 5 percent and 10 percent ahead of last year. “Everybody’s looking for efficiency, and that’s something that we excel in because they can get affordable frequency [on cable].”