David Zurawik: “Baltimore TV news needs to get better if this city is ever going to improve. And in all the years I have been writing about media at The Sun, I have seen very little evidence that any of the major stations here are committed to making that happen. That’s one of the most disheartening things I know about Baltimore media. And it was reinforced this month by an outside review of local TV news.”
Look for Hillary Clinton ads to start appearing on WJZ and WBAL Wednesday or Thursday. The Democratic frontrunner’s campaign bought airtime Tuesday on the two top-rated Baltimore stations for an ad that is expected to show the candidate’s relationship to the African-American community.
In this second installment of a new weekly series, NetNewsCheck and audience intelligence firm Shareablee benchmark the social media activity of local media outlets in Baltimore. This week’s Social Scorecard shows WBFF, Sinclair Broadcasting’s Fox affiliate, leading in social media actions, narrowly topping WRBS-FM. There’s also a breakdown of Baltimore’s top 10 social performers over a six-month period.
The Baltimore riots in late April following the death of Freddie Gray led to the preemption of lots of local TV shows, with stations airing nonstop news coverage and resulting in many advertisers’ commercials getting bumped. The news produced record ratings, and that bump has continued. Media buyers say stations have been able to make good on the preemptions without much trouble.
Coming off a healthy 2014 fueled by Olympics and political spending, Baltimore has hit the annual January slowdown experienced by most media markets, creating plenty of opportunities for buyers and their clients. It’s too early to tell whether ad spending in 2015 will approach last year’s levels, but with advertisers coming in slowly so far this month, it’s a buyer’s market.
Despite solid spending for the recent Maryland primaries, spot TV and radio in Baltimore are just even to last year, with lots of inventory available. But that will change as the fall elections approach, with a hotly contested gubernatorial campaign expected to suck up inventory and raise prices for non-political advertisers.
In a little over a week, more than 2.7 million consumers in Central Maryland will have access to the streaming antenna/DVR technology to record and watch live television online.
Holiday retail spending came in lower than expected. TV stations are offering last-minute deals in an effort to woo advertisers with bargain prices.
After a busy 2012 fueled by record political spending, the Baltimore media market has cooled, both for spot TV and radio, and revenues are not expected to see gains. On TV, spending and pricing are flat to the same time in 2012, creating a buyer’s market. Inventory can be tight in certain dayparts such as primetime and early and late news, but others allow for more flexibility.
Media markets around the country are tightening up with political dollars funneling to TV. Baltimore is seeing tight conditions as well but without the benefit of strong political spending. After a slow start to the year, television spending and pricing now are up mid- to high-single-digits versus a year ago in response to high demand from a number of categories.
“WMAR was the first station on the air in Maryland,” says Bill Hooper, GM of the Scripps ABC affiliate. “Now it’s the first station to serve our viewers in the morning with earlier news than any other station in the local market.”
Hearst Television taps the general sales manager of its WXII Winston-Salem/Greensboro, N.C., to succeed Jordan Wertlieb as head of its Baltimore NBC affiliate.
The general manager of Hearst’s WBAL Baltimore Joins the group owner’s corporate staff in New York.
Hearst’s Baltimore NBC affiliate will replace Oprah at 4 p.m. after Labor Day with Ellen DeGeneres.