Many are surprised to learn that the number one station in Jacksonville. FL is not a NBC,ABC, CBS or Fox affiliate.
WJXT lost it's CBS affiliation back in 2002 when it refused to give into the demands of CBS. Many thought the station would soon die and become a vast wasteland for awful syndicated shows and infomercials.
But WJXT doubled down on news and it has paid off. 13 years after losing their affiliation, WJXT is still number one when it comes to news. And when it comes to news nothing pays the bills better than local TV news.
“Local news relative to the business of WJXT is critical,” General Manager Bob Ellis said. “It’s the single largest revenue driver on our television station.”
“The news shows are the cash cows. OK?” agreed former local news anchor Marcia Ladendorff, now a communications professor at the University of North Florida. “The news operation is also the image of the rest of the station.”
WJXT uses its independence to offer more than nine hours of local news per day, far more than its competitors, though WTLV and WJAX offer dozens of hours per week.
And when it comes to political ad dollars, WJXT has more time to sell.
None of the three news stations would divulge its revenue, but public information about what the stations charge for political ads tell why the competition for each ratings point is so intense.
As the Jacksonville mayoral campaigns heated up in late January and early February, WJXT charged Mayor Alvin Brown’s campaign $925 for one 30-second ad during the 6.p.m. newscast. WJXT led the 6 p.m. ratings at 8.1 (based on 2014 data), which is 52,650 households. Though WTLV rating was 6.7, the Brown campaign paid only $500 for a 30-second spot there. Challenger Lenny Curry paid $450 for his 30-second ad on WJAX, which had a 4.6 rating for that period in 2014.
Rates change at different times of day, but the higher ratings rule then, too. WJAX charged only $125 for a 30-second ad during news programming between 6 and 9 a.m. WJXT charged $375 per 30 seconds from 7-9 a.m.
That advantage multiplies rapidly: There are about 15 to 20 advertising availabilities for every half hour of news programming. WJXT 9.5 hours of news per day is more than its competitors.
So, if you're wondering why TV stations are expanding news as the 2016 election starts to heat up, you have to look no further than Jacksonville for your answer.
Bottom line, TV news pays the bills and makes stations rich. So go in and demand that the boss give you a raise.
Believe me, they can afford it.