Local Market Spotlight: Bakersfield, Calif.

Nov 26, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Station managers in Bakersfield, Calif., said strong local ad sales and growth in the market could mean business will be slightly up for the year.
“The market is fairly hot because with the last census the city population is up 41 percent, and that [makes] Bakersfield the 12th-largest city in California,” said Wayne Lansche, president and general manager of CBS affiliate KBAK-TV. “And the county’s up about 22 percent, so we’ve got a tremendous number of new businesses that have moved in here in the last 16 months.”
According to BIA Financial Network, Bakersfield TV revenues were $30 million in 2000 and are expected to be $29.4 million in 2001.
Top ad categories are automotive, fast food, furniture and health care. Mr. Lansche, whose station has a local sales agreement with Fox affiliate KBFX-TV and the cable-only WB affiliate KWFB-TV, said casinos have also become a larger category.
“The Indian casino business is better than it ever has been,” he said. “There’s one in the market, and there’s one on the fringe. Actually it’s in the Fresno market, but they advertise here.”
According to BIA Financial Network, the market has 72 percent cable penetration among 187,180 television households. Don Stone, director of advertising sales for Time Warner Cable’s Bakersfield division, said the market’s weak national ad sales have caused the company to forge stronger relationships with its local advertisers.
“It’s forced us to be a lot more innovative, trying to find out what their needs are and partner with them and help them get results and strike long-term deals,” said Mr. Stone, who noted that his company has increased local business by 15 percent from last year. “But it’s stuff that, when things do turn around, we’ll be much better off for it.”
Two issues that station managers expect will impact ad sales in California next year are the Winter Olympics and the state elections.
“We’ve got the governor’s race, which should be fairly heated, and the congressional races,” Mr. Lansche said. “But in California, it’s the ballot [propositions] that usually spend the most money in the election. … We think political next year will be rather strong.”
At the stations that are exploring additional revenue streams, community events and high-tech opportunities are most popular. Tom Randour, VP and general manager of NBC affiliate KGET-TV, said the station organizes a health fair and basketball tournament each year, while Mr. Stone said TWC does partnerships with its Road Runner broadband Internet service.
Other stations, including UPN affiliate KUVI-TV and KBAK, prefer to stick to the basics. A source from Univision Television Group, which owns KUVI, said the station is “focused on the bread-and-butter of the business,” while KBAK’s Mr. Lansche said he has seen too many people “waste a lot of money trying these other revenue streams.”
“We try to concentrate on your typical revenue streams,” he said, “only do it better than what we have in the past.”