Local Market Spotlight: Salt Lake City

Nov 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Though station managers in Salt Lake City say the market is down for the year, they expect the Winter Olympics and other local events to impact ad sales for the fourth quarter and into 2002.
“In the weeks since Sept. 11, there does seem to be more economic activity than we thought,” said Steve Cohen, VP and general manager of ABC affiliate KTVX-TV. “The folks who have had weak ad sales and/or product sales have realized that if they’re going to get anywhere in the last quarter, they are going to have to make a push in the retail season.”
According to BIA Financial Network, Salt Lake City TV revenues were $161.6 million in 2000 and are expected to be $161.9 million in 2001. Top ad categories are automotive, fast food, furniture/electronics, health care and retail. Financial has also become a major category.
“We had a bank that was bought out by Wells Fargo,” said Kirt Burton, general manager of AT&T Media Services for Salt Lake City. “So all the other banks around are advertising and saying, `Bank with us because we’re here’-kind of the local vs. the national.”
According to BIA Financial Network, the market has 53 percent cable penetration out of 782,960 television households. Mr. Burton said AT&T offers 32 cable networks for ad inserts and 10 geographical zones.
“[Selling zones is] where we see some of our biggest growth,” Mr. Burton said. “It opens up our client base substantially. And a lot of times when money gets tight, we get some additional business because we can target better.”
While the other stations are dealing with a below-average market, NBC affiliate KSL-TV is reaping the benefits of being Utah’s official station for the Olympics. Jim Yorgason, VP and general manager, said the station is already 90 percent sold out for the Games. Because KSL is a sponsor of the Games, the station has greater access to other key Olympic partners. But Mr. Yorgason said the station is careful not to neglect its local advertisers.
“We want to be sure we have been very fair, very sensitive to everybody-that their opportunities aren’t overlooked,” he said. “The Olympics will come and go, but we’re here for the long haul.”
Though the majority of Olympics ad dollars will go to KSL, other station managers are hopeful they’ll get a piece of the pie.
“Not every advertiser’s going to be able to buy and place their money on KSL through the Olympics period,” KTVX’s Mr. Cohen said. “So we’ll get, in a sense, the spillover of Olympic dollars.”
John Rossi, VP and general manager of WB affiliate KUWB-TV, said some advertisers have told him they don’t want to advertise on the Olympics station. “They feel they’ll be paying premium,” he said. “And they’re looking to reach the alternative audience.”
In addition to the Olympics, station managers said, many upcoming events could also boost ad sales. Mr. Cohen said KTVX is the official station of the Sundance Film Festival, which “allows us to get to certain types of advertisers that normally would not be on the air in January on a television station in Salt Lake City.”