Local Market Spotlight: Tyler-Longview, Texas

Sep 17, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Tyler-Longview, Texas, is pacing slightly ahead of last year with single-digit growth, even though national sales were down significantly, say some station executives.
“We probably bottomed somewhere in June. We didn’t get the increases we wanted, but we do have small increases,” said Ron White, sales manager for Fox affiliate KFXK-TV and UPN affiliate KLPN-TV. Both stations are owned by White Knight Broadcasting. “We have made up for national and regional with local business. It’s done with good old-fashioned retail sales calls-you call and make the appointment to meet face-to-face with the advertisers.”
According to BIA Financial Network, Tyler-Longview TV revenues were $35.1 million in 2000 and are expected to be about $35 million in 2001.
Top ad categories in the market are auto and fast food. The medical and legal categories were up from last year.
“It’s going to be a good political year next year,” Mr. White said. “It’s just Texas politics.”
“We’re a huge Cowboys football market, so we’re very proud of our football packages,” Mr. White said. “We run the Dallas Cowboys on Fox. Our football package sells have been wonderful. This year we’ve been able to sell numerous smaller packages to advertisers who really haven’t had a chance to advertise in football, because when it sells out it sells out. This year you’ll see a lot more local advertisers in football.”
One successful sales project at KFXK helps promote Longview-based country music star Neal McCoy’s Angel Network, which provides financial aid for the everyday bills incurred by local families with terminally ill children. The station sells packages to clients and donates 10 percent of sales to the Angel Network. The advertisers are featured in the promos with the children.
Michael Spiesman, president of Continental Television sales, said the Tyler market is “by all definitions hot.” He said there has been double-digit growth in the first six months of the year. The marketplace is “significantly stronger than that in the third quarter,” he said.
“Auto budgets are up, but surprisingly that is not what is driving the market growth,” Mr. Spiesman said. “The real story in the market is the retail sector, led by supermarket spending. Telecommunications got a big lift with new activity from a couple of different cellphone carriers. The final contributor is fast food, where many advertisers were up significantly vs. a year ago.”
The local economy is healthy, with Tyler being recognized as the “rose capital of the world.” Texas Eastman, a branch of Eastman Kodak that makes various kinds of plastics, is a large employer in the market. Neiman Marcus has a distribution center in Longview, and Target has a distribution center in Tyler.
The Dana Corp. began building a manufacturing facility in Longview early this year and plans on completing it in spring 2002. The company, one of the world’s largest suppliers of components, modules and transmissions to major auto manufacturers, is looking to staff the facility.
“Our economy is not as bad as you read about it being in other places,” Mr. White said.
According to BIA Financial Network, the market has 61 percent cable penetration. Cox is the major cable system in the market. Brent Skinner, general manager of Cox Cable Rep’s Southwest division, said top ad categories on cable are auto, restaurants and financial. Cable Rep offers advertisers up to 32 cable networks for digital ad insertions and up to 31 geographical regions within the market.
“Tyler is a very strong market for us,” Mr. Skinner said. “We have an awful lot of coverage in the Tyler DMA. We have approximately 130,000 households that we reach. My feeling is that in local business, people can be more efficient. They can advertise close to home, whereas with a broadcast station you have to advertise in a larger area.”