Study of 21 pubTV stations shows median of 57 underwriters

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A 7 a.m. session with an overflow crowd? The results of the 2010 Local Underwriting Category Study lured folks in, coffee in hand, at the PBS Annual Meeting in Austin. The research was conducted by Enginuity Workshop, formerly Public Radio Partners. The workshop’s Jim Taszarek said he believes this is the first such report for pubTV, although pubradio has compiled similar research for years.

Notable: Event revenue pulled in a half-million dollars at one station (the report didn’t name stations but  linked to their data). Another sold $600,000 in sponsorships for high school sports broadcasts. Another drew $200,000 in pledge drive sponsorships.

The median number of underwriters per station was 57. Four stations — two large and two very small — had more than 100 each. Banks and credit unions were strong performers, providing 11 percent of support. But the largest category, 14 percent of revenue, was the catch-all “Other,” which includes corporate and private foundations as well as sponsors unique to certain metro areas (such as oil companies in Houston).

The genres ranked by underwriting revenue: First, prime time. Then news and pubaffairs, kids and how-to.

Will there be a followup next year? “We’re pushing for that,” Taszarek said. “We gotta go deeper here. Do more case studies so we can say, here are 10 things that are working well, you can do these three and generate a few hundred thousand dollars more for your station.”

The crowd was so engaged that the meeting ran long, and there was a request for Taszarek to facilitate ongoing discussion so stations could share what he called their “Aha!” moments of underwriting sales inspirations.

All stations were invited to participate in the study and 21 did: 10 from Markets 1-25; six from Markets 26-50; five from Markets 50+. Five are state networks. Data is based on fiscal 2009 net underwriting revenue excluding tradeouts.

Stations in the study: New Jersey Network; KETC in St. Louis; Chicago’s WTTW; KVIE in Sacramento, Calif.; KCET in L.A.; Oregon Public Broadcasting; WHRO in Norfolk, Va.; WJCT, Jacksonville, Fla.; Austin’s KLRU; KTXT in Lubbock, Texas; UNC-TV of North Carolina; Smoky Hills Public Television, Bunker Hill, Kan.; Georgia Public Broadcasting; WPBS, Watertown, N.Y.; WKNO in Memphis; Minnesota’s Twin Cities Public Television; Rocky Mountain PBS in Denver; KUED, Salt Lake City; San Antonio’s KLRN; WSRE in Pensacola, Fla.; and KHET, Honolulu.