Market Profile: Philadelphia

Comcast’s presence in the City of Brotherly Love, already hard to miss, is getting bigger. The cable giant not only towers over the skyline with the city’s tallest building, but also over media deals.

Potentially its biggest yet: its $30 billion proposed transaction to acquire 51 percent of NBC Universal. (The NBC owned-and-operated station in Philly is WCAU.) In an attempt to smooth the deal with regulators, Comcast, according to reports, has spent tens of millions of dollars in lobbying, likely to top $100 million before the final decision, which might not come until next year.

Though Comcast is the biggest subscription TV game in town (and in the nation), it lost 275,000 subscribers in third quarter nationwide. It competes with FiOS in Philly but also partners with it in local ad sales where the two services overlap.

CBS also has big reach in the market. With five radio stations (including No. 1-rated News KYW-AM) and two TV stations (owned-and-operated KYW-TV and CW affiliate WPSG-TV), its properties reach 90 percent of the market. The radio and TV stations share content and personalities (radio’s Danny Bonaduce is on both media in the morning, for example), and in September the two launched Last year CBS also created a CBS Always On network for digital newsstands in Philly, expanding last May to the City’s Independence
Visitor Center, for a total of 64 local screens in the network.

In the local TV news race, WPVI, ABC’s O&O, holds on to its top position by a comfortable margin. Battling it out for second place: Fox TV O&O WTXF is No. 2 in mornings in Adults 25-54 and No. 1 in Adults 18-49 from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. CBS’ KYW-TV and NBC’s WCAU are neck and neck in the early news ratings, while KYW is the solid No. 2 in late news.

In March, Fox’s WTXF was the first station to move up the start of the early morning local news to 4:30 a.m. CBS’ KYW and ABC’s WPVI followed suit a few months later.

Some big changes in radio station formats are changing the landscape. CBS Radio’s WPHT-AM, the top-rated Talk station in the market, debuts a new lineup Jan. 3, bumping Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck off the station. Another station could easily snap up the two surefire audience draws.

Also, crowd-sourcing radio, which allows listeners to control what gets played on the air using computers or mobile devices, is catching on here. Two stations in the market are using Jelli’s crowd-sourcing brand to program day parts: WYSP-FM, CBS Radio’s Classic Rock station (Mondays 7 p.m. to midnight), and WPST-FM, Nassau Broadcasting’s Hot Adult Contemporary station (weeknights 10 p.m. to midnight).

Sports radio, already strong, has been growing. In August, Beasley Broadcast Group launched the market’s only Spanish-language radio station, clearing ESPN Deportes Radio on 860 AM, WWDB-AM, which formerly aired Money Talk Radio. Philly now has three Sports stations, including CBS Radio’s WIP-AM and Greater Media’s WPEN-AM/FM simulcast of ESPN Radio. WFAN-AM, CBS Radio’s Sports powerhouse in New York, also draws a significant audience, as does its sister News station, WCBS-AM.

The drama over the ownership and future of the market’s two newspapers, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, which filed for bankruptcy in February 2009, is finally nearing resolution. In September, the papers received court approval to exit bankruptcy under the control of a group of its lenders including Angelo, Gordon and a unit of Credit Suisse Group, which bought the papers for $105 million.

Clear Channel Outdoor has the largest portfolio of billboard inventory in the market, followed by Steen Outdoor Advertising. Both have digital boards—Clear Channel with 10 and Steen with six. CC also has the advertising at Philadelphia International Airport, the fifth largest airport in the U.S. Titan offers transit advertising across the market’s rail, subway and bus system, and also has digital screens at Suburban Station in City Center.