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Glenn Halbrooks

Nielsen 2012-2013 DMA Rankings Are Released

By September 10, 2012

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Most people working in local television eagerly await the day that Nielsen releases its yearly list of DMA rankings. This list shows the size of local TV markets and which ones are growing or shrinking.

A photo of a broadcast transmission tower
The Nielsen DMA rankings estimate how many TV homes are in a given market.
Photo © sundstrom / stock.xchng
The 2012-2013 Nielsen list is now out. This news will have people at affiliate stations across the country scanning the rankings to see whether their city has suddenly made a huge leap upwards.

This year's rankings contain no dramatic shifts. In the top 100 DMAs, two markets went up three spots -- Grand Rapids, Michigan, from 42 to 39, and Oklahoma City from 44 to 41. Birmingham, Alabama, dropped three places from 39 to 42.

Otherwise, there were the usual handful of markets that changed one or two places. New Orleans moved up a slot to 51, continuing its slow recovery from the audience drops the DMA suffered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Overall, the range extends from market 1 New York City, with 7.3 million TV households, down to tiny Glendive, Montana. It ranks 210 with a little more than 4,000 TV homes.

This annual list provides bragging rights when a market shows steady growth, like for people working in Las Vegas or Ft. Myers, Florida. People working in television in those two DMAs over the past 20 years don't have to leave town to get a job in a bigger city. They can just watch as their market size grows as more people move in.

Some people negotiate media contracts that contain "out clauses" if they want to take jobs in larger markets. For them, it's important to know which cities are in the top 50 or top 100 if their contract allows them to jump to those levels without penalties.

Advertisers are also interested in this list. Some national companies and their agencies will buy only the top 100 markets. That may mean that market 100 Greenville-New Bern-Washington, North Carolina, may see ad dollars that market 101 Ft. Smith, Arkansas, doesn't get.

When comparing this year's market rankings to the 2011-2012 list, you'll see that markets often make small moves over a period of years. Still, it's interesting to see where you current market ranks, as well as the other markets where you lived earlier in your career.

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October 28, 2013 at 12:06 am
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