Market Profile: Detroit

Detroit has had a front-row seat to the recession, suffering 17 percent unemployment in a state with the highest unemployment rate. Among the top 25 Nielsen markets, Detroit had the steepest drop in TV households at 1.9 percent.

Still coping with the aftereffects, the city has laid the groundwork to transition from a market dependent primarily on the auto business to a more diverse economy. Attracting a number of businesses that can harness unemployed autoworkers and engineers, Detroit is working to attract renewable and alternative energy and medical technology companies. For example, a 320-acre Ford plant is being turned into a manufacturing park for renewable energy companies. The auto business is also strengthening, with Chrysler adding shifts and
General Motors making a commitment to alternative energy.

Advertising is beginning to return from such categories as auto, fast food, retail and, of course, political. With a governor’s race gearing up, media outlets are expecting activity for the primaries in August, along with several statewide races and issue advertising around property and housing taxes.

Newspapers took big hits in Detroit, making it one of the few markets that doesn’t have daily delivery of a paper. Last March, The Detroit Media Partnership cut home delivery of both the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News to Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. A third daily, the Detroit Daily Press, tried to fill the hole in late November, only to go on hiatus soon after launch.

Taking advantage of the lack of a daily paper, local TV stations have focused editorial on jobs and unemployment. WJBK, Fox Television’s owned-and-operated outlet, created a Jobs Shop, which posts a job of the day online and on-air, promotes local job fairs and offers editorial focused on saving money and how to find jobs.

News ratings tend to be high in a shift town where news begins early. An estimated 20 percent of TV viewers tune in to morning news, dominated in the ratings by WJBK, which starts its newly expanded five and a half hours at 4:30 a.m. The leader in other news dayparts is WDIV, Post Newsweek’s NBC affiliate, which holds first place in early news at 5 and 6 p.m. and in late news at 11 p.m. Defying the usually negative Leno factor, WDIV ranks No. 1 in late news of all NBC outlets in local people meter markets.  WXYZ-TV, E. W. Scripps’ ABC affiliate, runs third among the news outlets. It’s the only station with a 7 p.m. newscast.

For years the only CBS O&O without local news, WWJ-TV currently airs 2.5 minute snack-size news reports out of prime time. Last May, the station launched a two-hour First Forecast Mornings program (5-7 a.m.), featuring news briefs on the quarter hour from the Detroit Free Press and continuous updates of weather and traffic.

In radio, both Clear Channel and CBS Radio tweaked formats less than a year under Arbitron’s portable people meter ratings service. In September, CC dropped Country on WDTW-FM for Hot Adult Contemporary, taking on Citadel Media’s WDVD-FM, the top-rated station in the market. A month later, CBS Radio dumped Smooth Jazz and debuted AMP Radio, a Top 40 format on WVMV-FM. With the change, WVMV challenges the higher-rated Top 40 station in the market, Clear Channel’s WKQI-FM, ranked No. 4. Rounding out the top five-rated stations are No. 2-ranked CBS Radio’s Country WYCD-FM, Clear Channel’s Urban WJLB-FM at No. 3 and Citadel’s Talk WJR-AM at No. 5.

CBS Outdoor dominates the out-of-home market with full bulletin coverage, bus advertising, walls, murals and five digital billboards. Lamar Advertising also has a bulletin presence.
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