KRON looks to take on KTVU with 10pm newscast

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(Photo: KRON)

(Photo: KRON)

San Francisco independent station KRON will move its late night newscast from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m., station management announced on Monday.

The move would put KRON (Channel 4), which already produces over eight hours of local news during the business week, against KTVU (Channel 2) which has dominated that time slot for decades.

“Being on at 10 o’clock, when the appetite for local news is the greatest, is a natural evolution to our commitment,” Ashley Messina, KRON general manager, said in a statement released to the website TVNewsCheck.com.

KRON currently airs a half-hour late night newscast at 11 p.m. The newscast competes against at least three other stations — KPIX (Channel 5), KGO-TV (Channel 7) and KNTV (Channel 11) — at the same time along with KTVU’s rebroadcast of its hour-long 10 p.m. newscast on sister-station KICU (Channel 36).

In the ratings, KRON often comes in last place compared to the three live broadcasts and is occasionally bested by the tape-delayed rebroadcast of KTVU’s newscast on KICU.

KRON’s attempt to take a slice of KTVU’s 10 p.m. pie comes at a time when the latter is struggling to retain its dominance. Although KTVU remains the news leader in the San Francisco market, the gap between itself and its competitors has shrunk since the station was purchased by FOX in October 2014.

The FOX-ification of KTVU — including the decision, later reversed, to brand news programs as “FOX 2 News” — has caused some loyal news viewers in the predominantly-liberal San Francisco news market to abandon the station. Competitors — particularly KGO and KNTV — have grown their own respective news audiences due in large part to KTVU’s shift away from hard news in favor of stories concerning conservative politics and entertainment news (like most FOX-owned stations, KTVU airs the gossip program TMZ;  some TMZ personalities have appeared on KTVU newscasts in recent months).

KRON believes there’s an underserved audience of news viewers who don’t want to watch KTVU but also don’t want to wait an hour for someone else’s broadcast.

Still, taking on KTVU will be an uphill battle. KRON has slashed human and financial resources over the last several years — its on-air journalists are expected to act both as photographers and reporters at the same time, and the channel was forced to move in to a building owned by a competitor after it sold its studio space on Van Ness Avenue for a mere $26 million.

KRON won’t be putting all of its eggs in the 10 p.m. basket: The station plans to relaunch its 11 p.m. newscast as a condensed, 15-minute broadcast. The station hopes the excerpted broadcast will provide people with a quick recap of top stories without having to sit through an entire half-hour show.

KRON, now an independent station, served as the San Francisco area’s MyNetwork affiliate until the network transitioned into a syndication service in 2009.