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Local Market Spotlight: Fargo-Valley City, N.D.

Jul 30, 2001  •  Post A Comment

National sales are down from a year ago in the Fargo-Valley City, N.D., market, but the local economy is still strong.
“Business is off in this market, but it’s not down to the extent the rest of the world is,” said Chris Jordan, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Continental Television. “The local economy here is a lot healthier than most markets.”
According to BIA Financial Network, Fargo-Valley City TV revenues were $25.3 million in 2000 and are expected to be $22.7 million in 2001.
Mr. Jordan said while auto ads are down, they are pacing better than some other markets in the country. He said the retail category is “steady and growing,” especially with Home Depot expanding in the area. He predicts ad sales will continue to improve in the second half of the year.
Ad spending in the agriculture category is “huge” in the market this year, Mr. Jordan said. Agriculture spending will be one of the top five categories in national sales this year. “They buy a lot of ads,” he said. “If they’re introducing a new herbicide or a new bug spray, they advertise on television to the farmers.”
Top ad categories on the air in the market are auto, restaurants and furniture.
NBC affiliate KVLY-TV General Manager Charley Johnson agreed with Mr. Jordan’s assessment.
“It hasn’t been too bad-I don’t think we’re as bad off as other markets,” he said. “This market has historically been immune to big ups and big downs. We don’t have the same upswings, and we don’t take the same tumbles.”
The market has 35 percent national sales and about 65 percent local sales.
Mr. Johnson said the market is on the North Dakota and Minnesota border, with some viewers who live in Moorehead, Minn. “Fargo and Moorehead are twin cities divided by the Red River of the North,” Mr. Johnson said. “About 45 percent of our viewing area is from Minnesota.
“Fargo is growing, according to our last census figures. It’s up to 91,000, and it was low 80s 10 years ago. A lot of people are leaving rural North Dakota and coming into town.”
Mr. Johnson said Fargo has become a regional service center, with three hospitals, two universities and a private college.
A couple of banks have their telephone service centers in the market, a trend that began in the last five to 10 years. Those centers each employ a few hundred people.
Cable One is the main cable system in the market, offering advertisers up to 20 channels for insertions. Advertisers can buy seven different geographical parts of the market. Top cable ad categories are banking, insurance, beverages and wholesalers.
“We’re on target where we want to be, and we’re making good headway,” said Scott Geston, general manager at Cable One. “For the advertiser, it’s a better value. They not only reach their demo, it’s a more cost-effective buy. It was very soft initially, but it has picked up.”
Mr. Geston said Cable One is working harder to increase sales, and it has also developed turnkey promotions for businesses to partake in, such as specialized custom promotions via direct mail and e-commerce. “We have CableOne.mall, a Web site where people can buy goods from local merchants; that is added value for local merchants,” he said.