Local Market Spotlight: Traverse City-Cadillac, Mich.

Aug 6, 2001  •  Post A Comment

The first half of the year was soft for national ad sales for Traverse City-Cadillac, Mich., and some station managers say the market overall is pacing flat from a year ago.
Top ad categories are auto, restaurants, resorts and furniture.
According to BIA Financial Network, Traverse City-Cadillac TV revenues for 2000 were $29.8 million and are expected to be $27.6 million in 2001.
Chris Webb, vice president of sales at ABC affiliate WGTU-TV, said business is coming back in the third quarter, and “fourth quarter is beginning to pace-it’s been a strange year.”
Chris Jordan, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Continental Television, said auto is down by double digits in the market, but fast food and consumer products are only off slightly.
“The note here that gives us optimism for the second half-the DMA is only 119, but the market, however, ranks No. 52 in retail sales per household,” Mr. Jordan said. “The reason being it’s a very heavy tourism market.”
In fact, tourism is the largest industry in the market, which has many lakes, is located on Lake Michigan and near Canada. Also, there are cherry farms, apple orchards, wineries and about 30 resort hotels in Traverse City alone. “We attract tourists from Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, Milwaukee-from all over the Midwest,” Mr. Webb said. “This is like the playground of the Midwest.” The population will increase in the summertime to half a million people.
To combat the soft national sales market, WGTU hired two new sales executives last month, and the station is beginning to sell its Web site. Mr. Webb said the station also has another revenue stream from producing the National Cherry Festival, an annual weeklong event with three major parades.
NBC affiliate WPBN-TV General Manager John Llewellyn said local advertisers understand the market is “the largest DMA east of Mississippi. We have 25 counties in the DMA. In the last census, of the top 10 counties in Michigan that showed growth, six of the top 10 are in our DMA.”
He said the market is growing. With the advent of SUVs, which make driving easier during snowy winters, more people are spending time in the market as opposed to in the past when many just summered in the area.
“If we could get [a Nielsen] measurement of seasonal residents, it would obviously be a big help to this market,” Mr. Llewellyn said. “Local advertisers understand the influx of people that we get here.”
WPBN has recently added a sales executive just to sell its Web site. Another popular ad sales project at WPBN was the “$40 million auto sale,” where about 18 local car dealers signed up and the station ran specific spots for each dealership in what Mr. Llewellyn called a “four-day blowout” sale at the dealerships.
The market has 54 percent cable penetration, and Charter Communications is the main cable system. Phil Orth, ad sales manager for Cable Rep, which sells for Charter, said Cable Rep offers 24 networks for insertions in Traverse City and 12 networks in Cadillac. Advertisers can buy 16 different geographical parts of the market.
“Our growth has been nothing short of phenomenal. Revenue has increased 21/2 times just in the four years I’ve been here,” Mr. Orth said. “We get just about every local buy of significance in the market. We’ve made television really affordable to most businesses … so the mom and pop store can still exist and do business with us and have significant exposure.”