Chicago: The Second City…or Third, Maybe Fourth City?
By: Jim Boyle
Chicago is causing pundits and number-crunchers to argue whether second, third or fourth is the right number? Whichever number one ascribes to the great Midwestern metropolis, Chicagoland natives were quite occupied in February 2011 listening to, watching, and reading nearly 900,000 advertisements with the vigor of a traveler tearing through O’Hare. Ad agencies and their clients invested over $211,000,000 in February to thoroughly reach, with needed frequency, every corner of bustling, broad-shouldered Chicago.
New, extensive data from leading research firm, Media Monitors, whose patented technology monitors local cable networks, newspapers, local TV stations and radio in as many as 85 markets, revealed quite a hectic February for Chicago, regardless of whom ranks it where.
For instance, the latest US Census data has kept the long-ago nicknamed Second City firmly as the 3rd largest city. How did that $211,000,000 get divided across 52 Chicago media outlets by the leading ad clients; mostly in household names and brands well known in The Loop.
|— Top 6 TV Stations||$ 90.7 million [#1 station was WLS-TV at $24.9 million estimate]|
|— Top 3 Newspapers||$ 83.4 million [#1 publication was Sun-Times at $40.8 million est.]|
|— Top 10 Radio Stns.||$ 15.1 million [#1 station was WLIT-FM at $3.5 million est.]|
Although tradition and the US government place Chicago as either second city or third, ESPN The Magazine Baseball Preview issue just projected Chicago as either first or fourth place. Confused yet? Don’t even ask which of the Second City’s teams is likely to be in 4th place, it would be impolite in mixed company. Even in February, as the Bulls and Blackhawks still frolicked indoors while the outside Bears had started hibernating, the city absorbed a startling amount of marketing information and insight. Back to the wide-ranging Chi-town data from Media Monitors:
|— Top 10 TV Stations||200,800 spots [#1 was TBS at 24,900 spots]|
|— Top 9 Radio Stns.||174,100 spots [#1 was WLS-TV at 23,400 spots]|
|— Top 20 Cable Nets||170,400 spots [#1 was WBBM-AM at 13,000 spots]|
|— Top 3 Newspapers||3,400 ads [#1 was Sun-Times at 1,380 spots]|
From the comprehensive local data on TV stations across 50 markets, among the Chicago TV stations that fetched the most ad revenue were WLS-TV, WGN-TV, and WMAQ-TV. All three of those popular stations topped $15 million in a very windy February; yes, there was a Mayoral election in February that added stereotypical hot air to the seasonal cold air.
From the far-reaching local Cable TV network monitoring detailed in 50 markets, the cable leaders in Chicagoland were different than some other major market leaders I’ve analyzed. Nevertheless, the 5 highest cable network spot share leaders nearly surpassed the top floor of the Sear Tower (do I have to use the other name, Willis Tower).
|TBS||24,900 spots||12.4% share of local market cable spots|
|TNT||23,600 spots||11.7% share of local market cable spots|
|Lifetime||22,500 spots||11.2% share of local market cable spots|
|USA||21,600 spots||10.8% share of local market cable spots|
|A&E||20,400 spots||10.2% share of local market cable spots|
|56.3% share of local market cable spots|
Not surprisingly, given the legendary Chicago fondness for brash politicians, hot and cold sports, and strong declarative talk – Chicago radio was led by mostly AM stations for advertising messages. But music is said to soothe the savage breast, or quicken one’s pulse in Chi-town night clubs, as mostly FM stations led in radio dollars.
|WBBM-AM||#1.) 13,000 spots||WLIT-FM||#1.] $3.5 million|
|WLS-AM||#2.) 12,400 spots||WVAZ-FM||#2.] $1.7 million|
|WMVP-AM||#3.) 11,500 spots||WBBM-FM||#3.] $1.6 million|
|WUSN-FM||#4.) 9,500 spots||WTMX-FM||#4.] $1.5 million|
|WSCR-AM||#5.) 9,400 spots||WDRV-FM||#5.] $1.2 million|
|WGN-AM||#6.) 9,400 spots||WBBM-FM||#6.] $1.2 million|
As you can see, Chicago is a robust city of many numbers and famous places, and apparently ranked in many ways by outsiders. Whether as the Second City, 3rd most populous city, 2nd busiest airport, or long-awaited 1st World Series ring for the Cubbies since 1908. Oh well, at least the Cubs get Robert Redford throwing out the first ball this year. More fortunately for advertisers and agencies that desire to grab the Chicagoland’s audience from their deep-dish pizza – Chicago listens, reads and watches media in a way that truly makes it a Second City that is indeed second to none.