Market Profile: Las Vegas

The Las Vegas market has been struggling longer than just about any other market in the U.S. It continues to lead the nation in housing foreclosures. Unemployment stands close to 14 percent—led by 29 percent among construction workers as development along the Strip stalled.

There are glimmers of hope. Last December, the City Center—a 76-acre complex of shops, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, spas and condos—opened. Next to City Center, the new $3.9 billion 3,000-room Cosmopolitan Resort is slated to open at the end of the year. Political advertising, said one TV station executive, could total $30 million as 24 challengers look to take on Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

Even with the recession, Las Vegas continues to attract between 35-40 million tourists a year, making the market a target-rich venue for out-of-home advertising. Clear Channel Outdoor splits the outdoor market with Lamar Advertising. Together they share some 80 percent of traditional and digital inventory. Digital outdoor inventory is big locally. Clear
Channel offers two networks to serve the two very distinct outdoor markets, a tourist network of eight boards and a general-market network of 16. Lamar offers 24 digital faces. CCO’s Spectacolor division offers the largest and most spectacular digital opportunities on the Strip, with four jumbo, full-motion and audio LED screens each at Fashion Show Mall and Miracle Mile.

Competition among the market’s TV stations is tight, even without local people meters. In mornings, there’s a virtual three-way tie among KLAS, the CBS affiliate owned by Landmark Media Enterprises; KVBC, Sunbelt Communications’ NBC affiliate; and KVVU, Meredith’s Fox affiliate, which tends to lead in mornings 5 to 9 a.m. with its all-local news. Stepping up its morning news game, KLAS in January pushed the start of its early news up to 4 a.m.

Three stations, KLAS, KVBC and KTNV, begin early news at 4 p.m., but KLAS is the only station with a 4:30 p.m. newscast. At 5 p.m., KVBC leads in the ratings, followed by KLAS, KTNV and KVVU. At 6 p.m., KVBC and KLAS are neck and neck, followed by KINC, Entravision’s Univision affiliate, and KTNV, which follows up its 6 p.m. newscast with the market’s only 6:30 p.m. local news. Late news is also a horse race, with KLAS narrowly beating KVBC, followed by KTNV, KVVU and KINC.

In February, KLAS launched a network of 11 neighborhood Web sites to complement its main site.

Bucking the trend of most papers, Stephens Media’s Las Vegas Review-Journal actually saw circulation creep up 0.8 percent last September, even as the paper was forced to cut a number of sections (moving some to the Web) and increase its newsstand price. The Las Vegas Sun, owned by the Greenspun Media Group, which became an insert in the LVRJ in 2005, still competes with the paper online. The larger LVRJ.com, which operates separate recruitment and local sports sites, collectively has 22 million page views a month, compared to LasVegasSun.com’s 7.5 million page views.

The radio market made the transition to Arbitron’s portable people meter service last December. That month the market said goodbye to Smooth Jazz on KOAS-FM, owned by the Riviera Broadcast Group. The station kept its name as “The Oasis” but now programs “the greatest music of all time.” KOAS’ format change caught on quickly, moving up to No. 2 overall in the February PPM ratings behind the perennial leader, KWID-FM, Lotus’ Spanish Adult Hits station.

Rounding out the top five are KKLZ-FM, Beasley Broadcast Group’s Classic Hits station at No. 3., followed by two Top 40 stations, KVEG-FM owned by Kemp Broadcasting and KLUC-FM owned by CBS Radio.