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Report card on the Bay’s KNTV

Jan 6, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Nearly a year after becoming an NBC owned-and-operated station, San Francisco’s KNTV scored some big demographic victories in news in the November sweeps, but still has its work cut out for it.

KNTV’s ratings on average are only about 70 percent of what now-independent KRON was generating as an NBC affiliate, said Dino Dinovitz, president and general manager of KRON.

Perennial powerhouse “Today” show, for instance, generated a 1.8/19 in adults 25 to 54 this past November on KNTV, compared with a 2.5/26 on KRON in November 2001.

In KNTV’s defense, said Linda Sullivan, president and general manager for the station, San Francisco now counts five major players instead of four, since both KRON and KNTV now compete in the same designated market area (KNTV used to be considered part of the Monterey-Salinas, Calif., market, which ranks at No. 120), . By that same token, while KRON isn’t generating the ratings it was as an NBC affiliate, its because the game has changed and it doesn’t carry network prime-time programming anymore, Mr. Dinovitz said. “I think the first year you really have a difficulty making comparisons because you have to acknowledge it’s an apples to oranges comparison,” he said, adding that in 2003 KRON and KNTV can compare themselves to where they were in their new roles a year ago.

KRON needs to improve its demos for all newscasts and find strong programming from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., he said. The station did well with its move to carry “Dr. Phil” in prime time at 8 p.m. and generated a 5.6/9 in households during sweeps, which beat 90 percent of regularly scheduled shows on its competitors.

On the news side, KNTV beat the direct competition in demos for late local news at 11 p.m. with a 2.3 rating and 12 share for adults 18 to 49. Local Fox powerhouse Cox Broadcasting-owned KTVU-TV had, however, stronger numbers for its 10 p.m. late news, including a 3.8/12 among adults 18 to 49.

KNTV was also strong in the morning, with its 6 a.m. newscast beating ABC O&O KGO-TV, CBS O&O KPIX-TV and independent KRON-TV, owned by Young Broadcasting in adults 18 to 49 with a 1.1/18. (KRON used to be the NBC affiliate in the market.) KTVU’s morning news was, however, still strongest in nearly all demographic categories at 6 a.m., including a 1.5/23 in adults 18 to 49.

Despite these early successes, KNTV still lags in other areas such as its early-fringe newscasts and daytime programming. “We have been concentrating on the bookends-the 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” said Linda Sullivan, president and general manager for the station. “The 11 p.m. is the signature, as the news of record, and the 6 a.m. is a growth area for ratings, audience.”

The 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts need work and the station plans to invest some marketing muscle behind them, she said. Those newscasts were tied for last with KPIX among adults 18 to 49.

In prime time KTVU holds the 18- to 49-year-old crown with a 4.1 rating, followed by KNTV with a 4.0, KPRX with a 3.7, KGO with a 3.6 and KRON with a 1.3.

Moving to a new facility

KNTV’s household rating for prime time was a 6.8/12, behind KGO and KPIX. Daytime programming generated a 1.1/5, behind KGO, KPIX and KTVU. Stronger daytime programming should provide a better vehicle to promote the evening newscasts, Ms. Sullivan said. Since she joined in May, the station had added close to 20 employees, mostly in news. KNTV also plans to relocate to a new facility in San Jose, Calif., this year and build a digital newsroom there, she said.

In addition, KNTV has found a solution to its most pressing problem-the fact that its signal does not reach nearly 100,000 homes in the Bay area. The area’s terrain is complex and most stations have some dark holes, she said. KNTV will likely relocate its transmitter within the next six weeks, she said.

The marketplace changes have not only impacted KRON and KNTV but also the other players. KTVU, for instance, strengthened its morning news numbers, said Jeff Block, VP and general manager for KTVU. “When there is a change, people sample new things,” he said. “It gives everyone the opportunity to win over new customers.”