Jay Leno in Little Rock: Not Bad for KARK at 10 pm

Jay Leno

The Leno Effect: Not terrible in Little Rock

The big media news today is no doubt the disaster that has been NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show,” which seems to be coming to head in the least surprising way possible. The bottom line: NBC’s experiment with Leno in primetime is a spectacular failure, forcing the third-place network to contemplate putting the former late-night king back in late night while somehow honoring its commitments with new “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien, himself a ratings disappointment.

Good luck with all of that.

But why all the wailing and gnashing of teeth? Leno’s primetime numbers are performing about where NBC expected — only about 5 million viewers per night. But a large audience wasn’t necessarily part of NBC’s plan. The plan was to produce a cheap nightly show that would draw a guaranteed audience, one that could easily be sold around and bring profits to the network.

The fatal flaw? Local affiliates need a strong ratings lead-in to their late local news, which in many cases is the most significant source of revenue those affiliates have. Leno’s low ratings, they complained, were driving viewers to other networks — or cable — where they were less likely to come back to the NBC affiliate’s late news.

In larger, metered TV markets — markets where the previous night’s ratings are delivered to affiliates the next morning — affiliate station general managers were watching their late news ratings drop like a brick. And many began complaining to NBC. Consider the scene in Baltimore a few months ago:

Baltimore may be called Charm City, but for WBAL — the local television station that carries NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show” — there isn’t much to smile about lately.

Usually, WBAL is in a neck-and-neck race for viewers against arch rival WJZ. But since NBC debuted “The Jay Leno Show” in prime time five weeks ago, the station’s 11 p.m. newscast — where silver-haired Rod Daniels’ 25-year run as anchor is the longest in Baltimore history — has been shellacked in the ratings. Now WBAL is a distant second.

And there was this from an NBC affiliate owner in Detroit:

Alan Frank, who runs two NBC stations including the affiliate in Detroit, told the trade publication Broadcasting & Cable over the weekend: “The handwriting is on the wall. The only question is what [NBC] is going to do about it.”

Here in Little Rock, NBC affiliate KARK-TV, Channel 4, has been running third place among most daily newscasts, including at 10 p.m. What’s the Leno Effect been like for the Nexstar Broadcasting-owned station? Advance numbers from latest November ratings book, which came out in late December, might surprise you.

It shows KARK, while still in third place, gaining audience at 10 p.m., going from a household rating/share of 5/11 in November 2008 to 6/14 last November. In fact, KARK logged bigger share gains at 10 p.m. than any of its local competitors, which each saw about a 1-point bump. Some demographic numbers (men and women 25-54) were also up slightly, as were all but one competitor.

In fact, this last November ratings period almost returned KARK to its November 2007 10 p.m. ratings level of about 6/13.

And there was another surprise looking at estimates for NBC primetime (7-10 p.m.) performance locally. Those numbers were up slightly as well, going from a 4/7 in November 2008 to 5/8 last November.

No doubt both NBC in prime and KARK at 10 p.m. have have seen stronger ratings in the past. And there are myriad factors that go into ratings, not to mention that these numbers are estimates based on paper surveys of only a sampling of the local TV audience. Still, it’s the best evidence we have, and it suggests that the Leno Effect might not be such a bad thing in Little Rock.

More on November Ratings in Little Rock

KATV, KTHV Still Tops in Latest News Ratings

More on NBC, Leno and Conan

Blame Jay Leno – Gawker

Late-Night Shift Sinking, NBC Wants Leno Back in Old Slot – New York Times

An Open Letter to NBC – Videogum

(Disclosure: I appear regularly on KTHV-TV, Channel 11, a Gannett-owned CBS affiliate that is a direct competitor to KARK and other local TV affiliates in the Little Rock market.)

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Holding the Bag for the Turk Plant and More in This Week’s Arkansas Business

It’s Monday and time for the latest edition of Arkansas Business. This special edition focuses on utilities and includes the lists of the largest electric and natural gas companies in Arkansas. Among other highlights:

Jamie Walden examines the cases against Southwestern Electric Power Co.’s John W. Turk Jr. coal-fired power plant in Hempstead County and says that if Swepco loses its appeals, its customers in Arkansas and elsewhere could be on the hook for more than $876 million.

Another Twitter story! This time, our cousin the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal takes a look at the 140-character phenomenon in action among small businesses in Washington and Benton counties.

Also in the NWABJ, Rob Keys on Razorbacks’ coach Bobby Petrino’s $100,000 gift to the Razorbacks Foundation, believed to be the largest by a sitting coach in school history.

That decline in natural gas prices hasn’t curtailed drilling activity in the Fayetteville Shale Play in central Arkansas. Between 2007 and 2008, production and the number of wells drilled in the shale play region more than doubled.

Steve LaFrance, owner of USA Drug and twice the victim of embezzlement, is taking his latest alleged corporate thieves to civil court. Garret Sorensen; his wife, Katherine Sorensen; Katherine’s sister, Shannon Walters, already face federal charges.

Dillard’s Inc. of Little Rock is also going to court, taking several New York-based insurance firms to task for not paying up when. Its targets: two AIG subsidiaries.

Gary Lay isn’t the only Arkansas Mad Man who had problems with the Arkansas Lottery Commission’s advertising RFP. Mangan Holcomb also took a pass after reading the document. Meanwhile, The Natural Brands insists it’s going to continue to pursue advertising business in Arkansas.

We all know most newspapers would love to go back in time and live and in a world before the Internet. Now, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in northwest Arkansas has managed to travel back in time to 2007 — at least in terms of its circulation numbers!

KFSM-TV, Channel 5, continues to be the TV news ratings leader in northwest Arkansas, according to data compiled by Nielsen Media Research.

Reports: Rupert Murdoch to Charge for All Online Content

No more free ride

No more free ride

Rupert Murdoch, the Australian media baron who controls the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Fox News and dozens of other print and broadcast properties, says he will begin charging for all the online content of his newspapers and TV news channels sometime within “this financial year,” as his News Corp. posts a $203 million quarterly loss in part on plunging ad revenue.

From the Financial Times:

The comments by News Corp’s chairman came as he predicted a “high single digit” rebound in the group’s operating profits next year. The worst of the media sector slump might be behind the company, he said, as he reported “some good signs of life” in advertising.

“All content” apparently includes FoxNews.com, the Web site for the popular cable news channel, one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lackluster News Corp. earnings report. Fox reported operating income up 50 percent and primetime ratings up 45 percent from the same quarter last year.

Of his decision to charge for online content, Murdoch said:

“Quality journalism is not cheap. An industry that gives away its content is simply cannibalising its ability to produce good reporting.”

Murdoch’s lockdown would be a drastic change in strategy. While the Wall Street Journal has charged for online content for years, Murdoch’s other sites, like the New York Post and Fox News, are free. Murdoch had said he would begin experimenting with new paid models on his Web sites next year, but this week’s News Corp. earnings report have obviously prompted a change in thinking.

After the jump, more about what the move means, some questions it raises and other notes from Murdoch’s earnings report.

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Local TV Ratings, Million-dollar Homes in This Week’s Arkansas Business

Arkansas Business’ new edition is available now in newsstands and online. Here’s a sample of this week’s stories and opinion:

Who pays $1 million (plus) for a home? We’ve got a list of Pulaski County homes that sold for more than $1 million right here.

Meanwhile, condo sales at 300 Third in Little Rock surpass $41 million. George Waldon tells us who bought what units and for how much.

In the May ratings race, KLRT capitalized on Kris Allen-mania and “American Idol,” KTHV maintained the biggest audience and KATV continued to lead at 5 and 6 p.m.

Gwen Moritz weighs in the health care debate. Someone’s ox is about to be gored.

KARN’s Ratings Boost, Newspapers Woes and Gene Cauley in This Week’s Arkansas Business

This week’s Arkansas Business is online now. Among the stories in the June 8 edition:

KARN’s Dave Elswick claims an Obama bump in the latest Arbitron ratings survey, with the conservative talk channel perfoming well in light of a Democratic president who lost in Arkansas.

Arkansas’ newspapers saw advertising revenue declines of between 30 and 40 percent for the three months ending May 30, according to Tom Larimer of the Arkansas Press Association. But other industries are hurting, too, Larimer says.

The Gene Cauley saga continues. This week: The Feds look into the attorney’s real estate investments in light of Cauley’s theft of $9.3 million in client funds. And there’s plenty of it. Also: A timeline of recent events.

Twice bitten. Editor Gwen Moritz notes that USA Drug has been hit twice by embezzlement by company vice presidents.

Kris Allen, Affiliated Foods & the John Glasgow Reward in This Week’s Arkansas Business

What's next for Allen's career?

What's next for Allen's career?

Lots happening in this week’s Arkansas Business, online now. And yes, that’s Kris Allen on the cover. Highlight’s from this week’s edition:

A Sort of Homecoming – Kris Allen vies for the title of American Idol this week. Win or lose, how will his life change after the results are in? Mark Hengel talks to agents, money managers and another Arkansas reality TV champ, Korto Momolu, about Allen’s prospects.

Great Timing – Allen-mania strikes right smack-dab in the middle of May sweeps. And you better believe Little Rock Fox affiliate KLRT Fox 16 is wringing it for all it’s worth.

The Search ContinuesThe reward for missing CDI Contractors CFO John Glasgow increases by $100,000. “There’s someone out there that knows what happened to John, and we just feel like money talks.”

Winners and Losers – In the aftermath of Affiliated Foods Southwest’ bankruptcy, a few companies stand to benefit. And then there’s the co-op’s employees and investors.

Brother, Can You Spare $9 Million? Little Rock attorney Gene Cauley’s got major problems.

This Is D-Mac’s House – Former Razorback super-star Darren McFadden, now with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, just bought a $638,000 home overlooking the Arkansas River. And that’s to say nothing of that giant painting of himself.

Rebound – In the mortgage lending game, things are finally looking up.

Moving Out – More than likely, Verizon Wireless will pare its Little Rock office holdings by 230,000 SF to 425,000 SF. Who’s up for some Riverfront office space?

Lost Its ImmunityJeff Collins says northwest Arkansas has lost is economic immunity card.

About Face – Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan has a very popular Facebook page.

Former Alltel Execs Start New Ventures & The Recession and Arkansas Companies in This Week’s Arkansas Business

Difficulties at the printer delayed the mailing of this week’s Arkansas Business newspaper. But you can find the complete edition online in its usual spot, or here in this virtual print edition. Among this week’s stories:

Executives of Alltel Corp. of Little Rock aren’t sitting on their wealth. Several are launching news ventures, Scott and Joe Ford among them.

The recession has been mixed for Arkansas public companies. While Wal-Mart and Murphy Oil have fared well, transportation companies like JB Hunt have taken it on the chin. Here’s a look at how Arkansas public companies performed.

In case you haven’t heard, something’s up at Affiliated Foods. Sale, merger, bankruptcy, whatever — more signs of activity as Affiliated goes after members with past due bills and credit lines.

KLRT makes it a three-way tie for key demos in the Little Rock TV news race in March. (And in northwest Arkansas, KFSM reigns supreme.)

Vincent Insalaco’s “War Eagle, Arkansas” film gets some additional distribution ahead of its June 12 opening in Little Rock.

Publisher Jeff Hankins considers another Democratic administration’s attempt to fix health care and underlines what issues must be addressed.

In his second recent commentary for Arkansas Business, Stephens Inc. COO Curt Bradbury, speaking as a Bank of America shareholder, wants the government to leave BOA alone so it can earn its way out of this mess.