WXIN Indianapolis launched an hour-long lifestyle show in September. In October, it was the No. 1-rated program in its time slot. Good planning, a winning news lead-in, great talent and solid marketing have made Indy Now a winner with local advertisers and viewers while reflecting Nexstar’s corporate vision.
WXIN, Nexstar’s Fox affiliate in Indianapolis, launched an hour-long lifestyle show in September. The show, Indy Now, jumped to the No. 1-rated program in October in its time slot at 10 a.m.
Indy Now posted a 1.3 rating in adults 25-54, up 86% year-over-year, according to WXIN.
Indy Now’s content is part advertiser-sponsored content and part original content, partly broadcast live from Indy Now’s inside and outside studios and partly shot in the field.
Obviously, it’s a hit with viewers so far. Advertisers love the exposure, and the show fills a need many TV stations see as important when it comes to programming.
It’s “a desire to control our own destiny,” says Dominic Mancuso, WXIN’s general manager. He says syndication choices in “daytime early fringe programming [are] getting thinner and thinner every year.”
With dwindling options, Indy Now “gives us another hour that we can control.”
And the move to launch Indy Now falls in line with Nexstar’s corporate vision.
“Something that is very important to Nexstar is local, local, local,” Mancuso says. “We are a local broadcaster and anything we can do that is local content is great.”
Adding an hour-long lifestyle show to produce every day takes planning.
Mancuso says talks were in the works until COVID hit, but then as business began to get back to normal, “whatever normal is these days, we decided to launch it this fall and we put together a really solid plan.”
That plan started with consulting other Nexstar stations in other markets that have had successful results with this type of show.
Their top recommendation?
Find the right talent.
“The talent we settled on has been tremendous and when I say talent, [I mean] both the on-air people as well as the producer,” Mancuso says.
Indy Now is hosted by Jillian Deam, a former WXIN and WTTV reporter, and Ryan Ahlwardt, a singer-songwriter who spent five years with the well-known a cappella group Straight No Chaser.
Kerrigan Arnold, Indy Now’s producer came on board from another Nexstar station that had a successful lifestyle show.
“Having an experienced producer doesn’t hurt,” Mancuso says.
Another key piece of advice from the other Nexstar stations was to keep it interesting.
Seems obvious, but when you have a show that balances sponsored and non-sponsored content, “all the segments have to be interesting or you’re going to lose the audience,” Mancuso says. “You can’t make a distinction between the two. We don’t look at it that way. We try to make every segment in the program informational and interesting to the viewers. That is why we are No. 1 in the time period.”
Helping Indy Now to be the time period winner is the lead-in provided by WXIN’s morning news, which from 6 to 9 a.m. averaged a 2.0 aduots 25-54 rating in October. No other local newscast in the market has better than a 1.3 in that demo, according to WXIN.
“There is always a tease in the morning show throwing to the show coming right after it,” Mancuso says. “It is smart Xs and Os. Our marketing staff as well as on our news staff produces it.”
Response from advertisers has been positive.
“We have had a number of advertisers that have already re-signed to coming back on the show,” Mancuso says. “The ratings have been very good both in household and the demo. So we have been very satisfied as have our advertisers and, from the ratings, our viewers.”
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