Ohio’s state capital is the largest city in the state and the 15th largest city in the nation. It is also one of the fastest-growing markets, home to a diverse group of businesses including Nationwide Insurance, The Limited Corp., Consolidated Stores, Big Lots, Wendy’s International and Ohio State University, the largest land grant school in the country, not to mention one of the fiercest sports competitors. Although Columbus’ bicentennial is three years away, the city is already starting preparations with more than a dozen major constructions projects.
The biggest media force in the market is family-owned Dispatch Broadcast Group, which owns the No. 1 local TV station, CBS affiliate WBNS-TV; cable channel Ohio News Network; WBNS-AM/FM; and the Dispatch Printing Co., which publishes the market’s only daily paper, The Columbus Dispatch, and ThisWeek Community Newspapers. Owned by the Wolfe family since 1929, the company’s multimedia platform was established long before the government set ownership regulations.
In a two-station TV news race, WBNS is the leader in mornings, noon, early news and late news, a position the station has held for 12 consecutive sweeps periods. Last week, the station, in partnership with AccuWeather Television Network, launched a 24/7 digital weather channel, airing on the station’s digital channel and on two cable systems, Wow! Cable and Insight Communications.
The only major contender to WBNS’ dominant news position is WCMH-TV, Media General’s NBC affiliate, which comes close to WBNS at 6 p.m. and in late news. A year ago, WCMH launched a half-hour news program at 4 p.m., the only station to offer local news at that hour.
The trend for local TV stations to share content marches on in Columbus. In March, WCMH formed a video content sharing agreement for commodity news with Sinclair Broadcast Group’s duopoly, ABC affiliate WSYX, and WTTE, the Fox affiliate, whose 10 p.m. news often out-rates the 11 p.m. newscasts. WCMH also formed a partnership with Bucknuts Media Group, a local sports Web and magazine publisher dedicated to Ohio State football and basketball, to share content and collaborate on advertising and sponsorship opportunities.
Of Clear Channel Radio’s seven stations in the market, three are ranked among the top five, including No. 1-ranked Talk outlet WTVN-AM, Top 40 station WNCI-FM at No. 2., and Country station WCOL-FM in third place. Urban radio specialist Radio One fills out the top five with two stations, Urban Adult Contemporary WXMG-FM and Urban WCKX-FM.
In January, Dispatch introduced the market’s first FM sports station, ditching its Mix format on WBNS-FM for a simulcast of WBNS-AM, an ESPN Radio Network affiliate. The Mix format was quickly picked up by Saga Communications’ WVMX-FM, which dropped its Hot Adult Contemporary format.
The largest outdoor operator in central Ohio, Clear Channel Outdoor offers the market’s largest inventory of bulletins, posters, junior posters, wall murals, 17 digital boards and advertising at the area’s two airports. Other outdoor players include CBS Outdoor and Lamar Advertising, with bulletin and poster inventory.
* TV DMA Rank: 32
* Population 2-plus: 2,215,065
* TV Households: 925,840
* TV Stations (Net/Ind/Multicast/Public): 5/8/2/2
* Wired Cable Households: 624,280
* Radio Metro Rank: 36
* Population 6-plus: 1,448,200
* Radio Stations (rated): 27
* Newspapers (Daily/Weekly): 18/38