I have no doubt that Akron/Canton could have been a viable market. And, it would have included the hinterlands that stretch quite far to the south; areas that are not now served directly by anyone. New Philadelphia and Dover come to mind.
There are three problems preventing an Akron/Canton TV market from happening today:
1) The economy in the area stinks. To high heaven. And it's even worse now than it was, thanks to the deep recession we are now in. Akron's hanging in there, but down somewhat from its peak. Canton...I think they're holding that city together with duct tape or something now.
There has been some growth in the area between the two cities (Green, Jackson Township, Akron/Canton Airport area, etc.), but not enough to offset the losses elsewhere. Even when the economy rebounds, this will still be a problem preventing this from happening.
2) The Cleveland market stations will move heaven and earth to prevent it. As much as they don't pay a lot of attention to the area south of the Ohio Turnpike, they need the viewers in Akron/Canton - badly. Without the southern part of the market, Cleveland drops from market 17 to who knows? Barely top 30?
3) Unlike Youngstown, 40 miles to the east, Akron is well covered (signal-wise
) by the Cleveland market stations.
The Cleveland TV "antenna farm" is not that far from Akron. It is in the Parma area, just 20 miles from the city of Akron. There are people in the Akron area who get a stronger OTA signal than folks up, say, in Mentor or Willoughby...or Lorain/Elyria.
If all the towers were near downtown Cleveland, it'd be another story, but they aren't.
Reception around here starts getting flaky south of Canton-ish (Tim L would have more on that). And yes, Dover/New Philly is outer fringe, with a difficult time receiving even the strongest Cleveland signal.
Oddly enough, the Steubenville station (WTOV/9) makes some effort to serve that area, and Wheeling's WTRF to a much lesser extent. You even hear the "Severe Weather Team 9 Forecast" on local radio stations in Tuscarawas County.