While Los Angeles’ economy continues to drag, crippled by unemployment and housing issues, a media recovery is taking hold.
With midterm elections just weeks away, hotly contested gubernatorial and U.S. senate races are pouring money into the market led by aspiring governor and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who has already committed $119 million, breaking the record for spending by a political candidate.
In a metro that is home to 14 percent of Hispanic TV households in the U.S., L.A.’s Hispanic media are highly competitive. The market leader is KMEX, Univision’s owned-and-operated Spanish-language station, which leads in prime time and in news. In July, KMEX’s early newscast, Noticias 34 at 6 p.m., won in Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34, a 66th consecutive sweep record that started in July 1994. KMEX’s news at 6 and 11 p.m. once again won in key demos.
There are seven Anglo TV stations carrying news, but the biggest race is among the top four network stations with KABC, ABC’s O&O station, holding the top spot in Adults 25-54 for its early news, followed by KNBC (NBCU’s O&O) and KCBS (CBS O&O). To replace Oprah for fall 2011, KABC picked up Dr. Oz at 3 p.m. to lead into the beginning of KABC’s early news block starting at 4 p.m.
Among all late newscasts, the 10 p.m. news on KTTV (Fox’s O&O) is No. 2 to KABC, but bests KABC in Adults 18-49.
Like other metros, TV stations are airing news earlier in the morning. This month, KCBS moved up its a.m. news to 4:30, following KTTV (which debuted its 4:30 in April); KNBC; KTLA, Tribune’s CW affiliate; and KABC, the first to make the early-early move.
Sales for the three major cable systems serving L.A.—Charter Communications, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable—are handled through Adlink, reaching more than 2.8 million cable households. The systems face increasing competition from AT&T U-verse in parts of the market.
Noted for its long commutes, L.A. is arguably one of the best markets for radio. With the exception of top-rated KIIS-FM, Clear Channel’s Top 40 stalwart, rival stations are separated by tenths of a rating point. KIIS has been facing increased ratings pressure from KAMP-FM CBS Radio’s new Top 40 challenger, now in third place.
Spanish-language radio, which used to occupy the top ratings rungs when L.A. was measured by diaries, doesn’t fare as well under electronic measurement. Univision, which has yet to sign up for Arbitron’s portable people meter ratings service, has the top two Spanish-language stations. KLVE-FM (Spanish Contemporary) is No. 8 and KSCA-FM (Regional Mexican) is No. 14, followed by Spanish Broadcasting’s Regional Mexican station, KLAX-FM at No. 15.
Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels are back on KSPN-AM, Disney-owned ESPN station, through a partnership with KLAA-AM, the team’s owned station in Orange County. As part of the deal announced in March, KSPN simulcasts 60 games, and KLAA clears ESPN Radio programming that doesn’t air on KSPN.
Just about every out-of-home format is available in L.A. from the nation’s largest operators including Clear Channel Outdoor, CBS Outdoor and JCDecaux, which has the advertising at the airports and, with CBS Outdoor, the street furniture contract.
L.A. is big billboard market, especially when it comes to TV and movie ads, but the growth of digital billboards has attracted controversy. The city recently halted the build-out of any new digital boards, the result of a long battle fought between the city and CBS Outdoor and Clear Channel Outdoor. Today there are 101 digital billboards, 90 owned by CCO.
The Los Angeles Times has taken a number of steps to try and reverse a 30 percent circulation drop and lift profitability. In February, the paper trimmed the width of its printed page. A number of sections have disappeared: the stand-alone business section, California local news, the book review, Sunday opinion and real estate. Despite measures, the last circ stats were down 14.7 percent to 616,606 on weekdays and down 7.6 percent to 941,914 on Sundays.
At the beginning of the year, the LA Times Media Group (which manages the Times, Spanish-language daily Hoy and the Times Community News group of suburban papers) formed a joint venture with US Local News Network to launch two news Web sites targeting Orange County, where the Times operates three local papers.
La Opinion, the largest Spanish-language daily in the U.S. and owned by independent impreMedia, cut its page size in February.
TV DMA Rank: 2
Population 2-plus: 17,098,700
TV Households: 5,666,900
TV Stations (Net/Ind/Multicast/Public): 7/27/7/5
Wired Cable Households: 3,059,570
Radio Metro Rank: 2
Population 12-plus: 10,999,100
Radio Stations (rated): 66
Newspapers (Daily/Weekly): 22/70