A high per-capita income market that’s a veritable hub of high-tech names (Microsoft, Nintendo) has shaped Seattle into a strong arena for quality journalism. Over the last few years, the three biggest competitors in the local TV race—Belo’s NBC affiliate KING-TV; Cox’s CBS affiliate KIRO-TV; and KOMO-TV, Fisher Communications’ ABC affiliate—have all won Edward R. Murrow Awards. KIRO’s award for “overall excellence” marks the second win in six years.

While KING continues to lead in local news ratings, both KIRO and KOMO are in a fierce battle for the No. 2 spot. In many dayparts, all three outlets are separated by tenths of a rating point. KOMO holds the No. 2 spot in early news at 5 p.m. (it also has the market’s only news at 4), while KIRO ranks No. 2 in late news. In the morning news race, KIRO, the only station besides KING to start at 4:30 a.m., scored a breakthrough No. 1 ratings finish among adults 25-54 with its 4:30–6 a.m. newscast.

The stations all leverage various relationships and corporate resources to gain an edge. Belo also owns Northwest Cable News, as well as independent KONG-TV, on which it repeats several KING newscasts. KONG runs neck and neck at 10 p.m. with KCPQ-TV, Tribune’s Fox affiliate. Locally headquartered Fisher operates KOMO and Univision affiliate KUNS-TV, along with three radio stations (KOMO-AM, KVI-AM and KPLZ-FM), out of a single facility, making it easy to share news and personalities across both media. The company recently launched 44 hyperlocal neighborhood Web sites.

While the TV market moved up one place in rank, it was based on a relatively small increase in TV households of 14,020 and the decrease of 16,360 TV households in Tampa, Fla.

Arbitron commercialized its portable people meter ratings service in mid-July. Months ahead of the transition, station owners changed and refined formats. In April, Bonneville’s KIRO-AM threw out its simulcast of News/Talk KIRO-FM in favor of Sports—taking on and already beating Clear Channel’s KJR-AM, formerly the market’s sole Sports outlet.

After failing to find a buyer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Hearst shut down the paper after 146 years, leaving The Seattle Times as the sole major daily. The P-I migrated to an online-only publication, supported by a smaller staff. The independently owned Seattle Times has been able to convert 84 percent of P-I subscribers, increasing the Times’ circ by 30 percent to 260,000.

Clear Channel Outdoor is the dominant out-of-home provider, with poster, bulletin, wallscape and taxi media inventory. The outdoor giant also has the advertising contract for the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The Profile:

V DMA Rank: 13
Population 2-plus: 4,444,931
TV Households: 1,833,990
TV Stations (Net/Ind/Multicast/Public): 7/8/2/4
Wired Cable Households: 1,259,250
Radio Metro Rank: 13
Population 12-plus: 4,758,100
Radio Stations (rated): 46
Newspapers (Daily/Weekly): 12/56

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