Success Stories: Stations climb on reality bandwagon

Jan 27, 2003  •  Post A Comment

“Our blood drive days are over,” said Sheldon Davis, general manager of both the Sage Broadcasting-owned Fox affiliate KIDZ-TV and UPN station KXVA-TV in the Abilene-Sweetwater, Texas, area.
“We are a promotionally dependent company,” he said. “We are doing so many promotions for revenue that are all keying off of programming.”
In connection with Fox’s “American Idol” show, KIDZ-TV held its own preliminary contest to help find the nation’s next singing star. The winner went on to Los Angeles and will appear as a contestant in the current season of the show.
The UPN station recently held a similar model contest in search of the next glamour girl, who has a chance to appear on the new UPN supermodel program “America’s Next Top Model,” hosted by Tyra Banks. A local celebrity boxing match to play off Fox’s “Celebrity Boxing” is in the works as well.
“We are keying in on programs that are designed to attract clients to the station,” Mr. Davis said. Each local contest attracts several advertisers and a principal sponsor, he said, from Arrow Ford to the Mall of Abilene. “I am more concerned, however, about driving customers to their businesses. The only place people can go to get the free tickets to the finals is by going to one of our co-sponsoring advertisers. We are drawing traffic to the business. We always want to make the client our focus.”
“I am always looking for partnerships with media and try to come up with different things to do with each station,” said Kim Crenshaw, marketing director for Mall of Abilene, which saw foot traffic from as far away as Louisiana when it hosted the model search. Ms. Crenshaw said even teens from Massachusetts and Virginia heard about the event and sent in applications. The advertising dollars, she said, were well-spent.
Nexstar Broadcasting Group’s CBS affiliate KTAB-TV, which had about $3.8 million in 2001 revenues, has generated more than $50,000 this year from its “Hometown Sweepstakes,” in which advertisers who make a spending commitment have their products given away on air.
“Viewers can enter a drawing via the Internet or at sponsor locations,” said VP & GM Gayle Kiger. “We draw a name from all entries and read them on the air during our 6 o’clock and 10 o’clock newscasts.” The station also holds a phone-in contest and offers a weekly grand prize. One grand prize was a $5,000 hot tub.
By end of year, Abilene-Sweetwater TV revenues are expected to be around $12.8 million, up slightly from the $12.2 million the market brought in last year, according to BIA Financial Network.