KATV Viewers Testify, Morning Ratings Climb

ABC affiliate KATV Little Rock, Ark., says that a viewer testimonial promotional campaign the station has been airing since 2011 has helped propel its Daybreak broadcast from an 18 share of households then to a 31 in last November's ratings.

KATV, the ABC affiliate in Little Rock, Ark. (DMA 56) — currently owned by Allbritton but going through a sale to Sinclair — continues its success in the morning news race with a 31 share in households at 5 a.m. in the November 2013 ratings book. Not bad for a newscast that had an 18 share in May of 2011 for the same time period.

Rob Thomas, KATV’s creative services director, says a viewer testimonial campaign of some 18 spots since 2011 helped drive up the viewership.

KATV Daybreak, Stager Family Testimonial:

“I firmly believe that collectively they have made a difference in establishing Daybreak as the newscast to choose when viewers get up,” Thomas says, adding that to keep the campaign fresh, the station decided to do its most recent testimonials a little differently.

“We recruited folks through Facebook to be part of a round table discussion,” Thomas explains. “We invited them into our conference room to talk about Daybreak. We asked open-ended questions and really just let them talk amongst themselves, which gave it the genuine feel necessary for a testimonial to be effective. They gave us enough material to produce a number of fresh spots. And the beauty is, it’s all in their words.”

KATV Round Table Testimonial, February 2014:


Thomas says his staff used three cameras and a boom mic to capture the comments.

Mark Rose, KATV’s general manager for the past four years, says doing testimonials is hard. “You have to find people who are passionate about your product.”

Rose says the station began to execute a plan to change and improve the morning news in early 2011 that involved new people, better content and promotion. He hired Nick Genty from a competing station to be his news director. Genty was instrumental in recruiting to KATV the most popular morning news anchor in town, Alyson Courtney.

Genty then moved a popular weekend sports anchor, Chris Kane, to mornings, a move Kane was initially reluctant to make. But, says Genty, “after his first day, he came and told me he loved it.”

KATV kept meteorologist Melinda Mayo on the show. “She’s the glue and staple of the morning news,” Rose says.

The new team went on the air in June of 2011 but the results were not immediate.

“The July 2011 ratings were not great, but it takes a while for the viewers to get used to a new team,” Genty says.

The KATV morning team (l-r): Melinda Mayo, Chris Kane, Alyson Courtney.With the new team in place, the station needed to address the newscast’s content and production, Rose says, adding that the station rejected a consultant’s concept of wheel redundancy.

“It’s an older concept where every 15 or 20 minutes, you repeat the same news,” says Genty.

Instead, the station added two newscast producers to help infuse the show with energy and creativity.

“We got the people off the couch, off the news desk, out in public, live, going places — it’s less formulaic. It’s news with personality,” Rose says.

“We have interviews, live music,” says Genty, “but we cover the news.”

Genty adds that in a market the size of Little Rock, there’s not much overnight news. “We’ll be on location live when it’s appropriate, but we don’t force it.”

In addition, Genty says Rose challenged him to get more involved with social media like Facebook and Twitter.

“We’re in a diary market, not a metered market where you have daily results,” Genty says, “so it’s great seeing how viewers react and respond immediately via Facebook and Twitter.”

“The newscast is fun, friendly, full of energy,” says Rose. “Lively, interesting, personality-drive,” is how Thomas describes it, adding, “that won’t work in every market, but it works here.”

“There’s a lot of chemistry between the talent,” says Genty.

The station started to see the morning news grow in viewers in the November, 2011 sweeps period. “It was the best Christmas I ever had,” Genty says.

In May of 2012, KATV saw that 18 share from May of 2011 jump to a 31.

KATV Daybreak, Tracy Testimonial:

“I have no idea whether growth like that has happened anywhere so quickly,” Thomas says, “maybe it has, but it’s rare. We’ve had extraordinary success in turning around the numbers. Four ratings periods since the changes — November 2011, May 2012, February 2013 and November 2013 — we’ve had clean sweeps in households and demos in the mornings. It had been more than a decade since the station had that kind of success. Testimonials can be very effective if done correctly and consistently. The most important element: people who are passionate about your product,” Thomas claims.

“Real people are gold,” Rose says.

KATV Daybreak, Kim Testimonial:

*****   *****   *****   *****   *****   *****   *****   *****   *****   *****   *****   *****   *****   *****   *****   *****   *****

Around the Internet

Here’s some interesting work I’ve seen recently on the Internet:

  • Here’s a spot showing how people helped each other during some recent snow storms in Raleigh, N.C., from WRAL.
  • When snow caused a massive traffic jam in Atlanta, WSB honored Georgians helping Georgians.

If you’ve got some work you’d like to share let me know.

Market Share by Paul Greeley is all about marketing and promotion at TV stations and appears every Monday. Greeley has more than 20 years of experience in local TV marketing. He’s been a writer, producer, editor, creative services director and VP of marketing for a top-20 broadcast company and has experience in markets large and small. Read other Market Share columns here. If you have some ideas or stories you want to share, please let him know. You can reach Greeley at [email protected] or at 817-578-6324.

Comments (1)

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Olga Alvarez says:

February 18, 2014 at 9:59 am

Mark Rose knows his market better than any GM I have ever met. He makes decisions that work.

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