Market Profile: Atlanta

Call it “Hot-lanta.” Inventory has been tightening on the metro’s TV stations going into the final stretch to the midterm elections, squeezed as much by major advertising categories as political. Even radio stations, in a market that is still considered “under-radioed” (fewer signals than other top markets), are feeling the pinch.

In many ways, Cox Media Group, headquartered in Atlanta, leads the market’s media with top-rated WSB-TV, the ABC affiliate, metro daily the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and five radio stations. Since CMG was created last December, the local media outlets have stepped up cross-selling, touting  reach of 94 percent of Adults 18 plus.

WSB-TV is the local news powerhouse, topping every one of its news dayparts and drawing 54 percent of the news audience. It’s also the highest-rated 25-54 station among the top 10 markets.

Though WSB is the news leader, WAGA, Fox Television’s owned-and-operated station, airs the most news in the market. A year ago the station added an hour at 9 a.m. and this past April added 4:30 a.m., for a total of 67.5 hours, about 40 percent of the station’s weekly schedule. WAGA’s 10 p.m. news is No. 1 in its time period in Adults 25-54 and 18-49.

WXIA, Gannett’s NBC affiliate, is No. 3, but WGCL, Meredith Broadcast Group’s CBS affiliate, is working hard to gain ground, hitting No. 2 in May at 11 p.m. in Adults 25-54, a first for the station. In late August, WGCL also added news at 5 p.m., giving it a block of news from 4 to 6:30 p.m. To put more resources on news, WGCL outsourced sports coverage to WQXI-AM, owned by Lincoln Financial Media.

With no geographic boundaries to stop growth, Atlanta continues to sprawl and has some of the toughest and longest commutes in the country. To catch early commuters, all TV news stations added a 4:30 a.m. newscast this year. The commutes also make for a strong radio and out-of-home market.    

There were a number of recent changes in Atlanta radio that promise to shake up the ratings rankers. In August, Cox became the latest radio owner to migrate spoken word formats to the FM dial to attract younger audiences, simulcasting No. 3-ranked News/Talk WSB-AM on the FM dial at 95.5. With the change, The Beat, a Top 40 Rhythmic format, moved to the Web and a digital side channel. Early ratings have WSB-AM up 55 percent and vaulting to the top of the ratings to surpass current leader, WVEE-FM, CBS Radio’s Urban station.

Five Urban radio stations compete for African Americans, about one-quarter of the market.
With so few Urban stations, five are among the top 10 highest rated in the DMA.  

Cox’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution has it much tougher than its radio and TV station partners. Daily circulation fell 24.7 percent to 195,582, in large part because the paper intentionally reduced its distribution area from 49 counties to 20. In the past year, the AJC cut staff, moved to new headquarters, reduced the number of sections and raised its single-copy price to a dollar from 75 cents.

Though the paper doesn’t share a newsroom with WSB-TV, the two are jointly running PolitiFact on the Web, a section on politician’s views and issues. The AJC’s Web site ranks first among the local news and information sites in the market, reaching 36 percent of Atlanta adults monthly.

Clear Channel Outdoor added 15 new digital billboards to the market this year for a total of 21. The outdoor giant, which also offers broad coverage of traditional outdoor formats in the market, also has the advertising at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The company recently announced a partnership with Geodelic to offer air travelers an app called Flysmart for finding services and amenities in the terminals.

CBS Outdoor also has a presence, offering some digital boards and commuter rail avails. Olympus Media, a midsize outdoor player in Atlanta, is working to grow its coverage with the recent acquisition of 133 boards from Action Outdoor Advertising for a total of 752. The company also claims to be the largest provider of LED billboard advertising in the metro with 29 displays.

Comcast Spotlight is the cable interconnect in the market, offering advertising across 70 cable networks, including Fox Sports Net and Fox Sports South, and Web sites from both cable providers Comcast and Charter. AT&T’s U-verse, in the early stages of building out in the market—and thus a big local advertiser—has yet to make significant inroads.

Vital Stats

TV DMA Rank: 8
Population 2-plus: 6,368,695
TV Households: 2,407,080
TV Stations (Net/Ind/Multicast/Public): 6/13/2/4
Wired Cable Households: 1,346,410
Radio Metro Rank: 7
Population 12-plus: 4,413,800
Radio Stations (rated): 39
Newspapers (Daily/Weekly): 22/70  


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