1.5/25 Special Ratings Info: LA, Chicago, Philly, SF & Much More
Approved-By: Don Fitzpatrick
Date: Fri, May 25, 2001, 5:26pm
Reply to: shoptalk@TVSPY.COM
From: Don Fitzpatrick
Organization: Don Fitzpatrick Associates
Subject: Special Ratings Info: LA, Chicago, Philly, SF & Much More
DON FITZPATRICK's "SHOPTALK"
Tuesday May 29, 2001
Special Ratings Memorial Edition
May Sweeps For Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Houston, Orlando, Denver, Baltimore, Buffalo
KNBC Wins Key News Races Despite Anchor Changes Television: Local Nielsens show KABC continues to lead in the afternoon, while KCBS makes gains across the board.
By GREG BRAXTON, DANA CALVO
The Los Angeles Times
Despite a whirlwind of recent upheaval in the local news scene, including major anchor changes, KNBC-TV retained its dominance in the early-morning and important 11 p.m. races, while KABC-TV again won the afternoon news crown, according to local Nielsen numbers released Thursday.
However, KCBS-TV, which has historically trailed its news rivals, posted across-the-board gains in all its newscasts. Although the station is still far behind KNBC and KABC in the news wars, it scored significant increases in the early-morning, afternoon and evening newscasts.
Station executives attributed the increases to several factors, including the recent addition of former KABC anchor Harold Greene to the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. news, and former KNBC anchor Kent Shocknek to the 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. newscasts.
Meanwhile, format and anchor changes at KNBC in the last month have not dramatically changed thus far the station's front-runner status in the early morning or evening. The station's general manager, Paula Madison, cut the station's veteran morning team, Shocknek and Kathy Vara (who went to anchor mornings at KABC). She replaced them with Kelly Mack and David Cruz.
Said Madison: "We've maintained our position. And our viewers in the morning are seeing strong journalists and more solid news coverage."
Local news executives pointed out that all local stations experienced a drop in ratings due to an overall drop-off in audiences watching television.
Meanwhile, one of the most fiercely fought news battles took place at 10 p.m. weekdays between KTLA-TV and Fox-owned KTTV-TV. The competition ended in a squeaker, with both stations scoring a 3.9 rating. KTTV earned a 5 in audience share, while KTLA (owned by the Tribune Co., which owns the Los Angeles Times) earned a 3 share.
"Both stations will claim victory," said "KTLA News at 10" anchor Hal Fishman, but he added that KTTV often cuts short its hourlong news for special reports or other programming, as it has in past sweeps, a programming strategy KTTV continues to defend.
In other 10 p.m. news, KCOP's newscast jumped 31% in ratings from a year ago, when former KCBS news director Larry Perret joined the station after leaving KCBS.
This May sweeps will not be one to remember for KTLA's morning news operation. Ratings for "KTLA Morning News" slid 16% from a year ago, while the newscast lost for the second time in three sweeps to KTTV's "Good Day L.A.," whose ratings rose 10% from a year ago in winning this year's morning local news race. "Good Day L.A.," which is anchored by veteran newsman Steve Edwards, also beat ABC's "Good Morning America."
KTLA already had suffered a blow in early May when Barbara Beck, one of the original anchors of the newscast, which is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary, left the station in a dispute with management. A replacement for Beck has not yet been named.
Marcia Brandwynne, executive producer of "KTLA Morning News," downplayed the significance of the ratings drop. "The numbers have never been my concern," she said. "I just want to do a great show. I always resent it when the subject gets to be about the numbers. We were under a great deal of strain, and we expected to take a hit. Our balance is different. What I really care about is that we do a job that is credible and entertaining and creative."
She added that although the search for Beck's replacement continues, there is no rush: "This is a 'take our time' situation. It's our most key position."
KTTV news director Jose Rios said his morning and evening news are attracting younger audiences that are more attractive to advertisers as his station and KTLA compete for ratings.
"We're both very competitive, and we both give it our best shot," Rios said.
In local Spanish-language TV, preliminary Nielsen ratings indicate that viewers seem to have developed a habit over the past year.
Since last May, the prime-time rating shares remained the same for the two major Spanish-language stations, Telemundo's local affiliate, KVEA-TV, and Univision's local affiliate, KMEX-TV. KVEA's telenovela lineup, which included an immensely popular Colombian show about the love life of an ugly economist named Betty, drew a 1.6 rating overall. KMEX's series of melodramas imported from Mexico drew a 5.1 rating again.
KVEA's local 6 p.m. newscast audience share remained the same at 1.5, and its 6:30 p.m. network news audience increased from 1.2 to 1.3, or about 8%. "We've got momentum," said Ken Hansely, research director for KVEA. "This is a pat on the back for us."
The change in ratings occurred at the beginning and end of each day. KVEA's 11 p.m. newscast drew a 1.4 rating, which is an increase of 40% compared to the same period last year. And KMEX's 5 a.m. local newscast drew a 1.3 rating, up 63% from last year.
Ratings Drop Again for WBBM at 10 p.m.
BY ROBERT FEDER
The Chicago Sun-Times
Just when you thought the ratings couldn't get any worse for WBBM (Chicago), they did. Wait a minute: That's the same thing we wrote at the end of the February sweeps. But it happens to be true again. Nielsen numbers released Thursday for the May sweeps show the CBS-owned station's 10 p.m. weekday newscast down 15 percent--despite a 10 percent increase in its prime-time lead-in, those odious "Survivor Extra" segments and a first-place finish for CBS nationally.
In other words, the ratings that prompted WBBM to pull the plug on Carol Marin's critically acclaimed no-nonsense news format--and led to a complete management overhaul--were substantially better a year ago than those being delivered by the current anchor team of David Kerley and Tracey Townsend. "The 10 o'clock news is not where we want it to be," a spokeswoman for Walt DeHaven, vice president and general manager of WBBM, said in the understatement of the year. "We are continuing to brand the team and develop the product."
WLS finished first at 10 p.m. with a 14.2 rating and 22 share--about equal to its performance last year and still three points ahead of WMAQ, which held steady with an 11.3/18. WBBM's 4.6/7--down from last year's 5.4/9--also trailed reruns of "The Simpsons" on WFLD with a 7.3/12 and reruns of "Friends" on WGN-WGN with a 5.7/9.
The nightly rerun of WMAQ's newscast on Pax Net's WCPX at 10:30 p.m. averaged a 1.2/2, leading WMAQ to claim a combined total of 12.5/20 for the double run.
One local ratings point equals 32,448 households, and share is the percent of sets in use.
WLS led the market in all of its weekday news time periods, marking the ABC-owned station's first clean sweep since NBC-owned WMAQ signed on with its 5 a.m. newscast. WLS's move up to first place during the 5 a.m. hour coincided with changes in the show's format and the addition of Judy Hsu as co-anchor alongside Hosea Sanders.
But WMAQ sustained its worst losses in its afternoon news block, declining 24 percent at 4:30 p.m. while WBBM grew 31 percent at the same time. Lead-in ratings were an obvious factor, with the syndicated "Rosie O'Donnell" and "Extra" on WMAQ losing nearly one-third of their audience and "Judge Judy" on WBBM up 35 percent.
Another plausible explanation for WMAQ's decline focuses on the younger demographics its newscasts attract. While those viewers are more highly coveted by advertisers, they also tend to be lured away from afternoon newscasts in greater numbers by good weather or Cubs broadcasts. The month of May had both.That scenario prompted one competitor to scoff: "Old people go out in good weather, too."
The closely watched 7-to-9 a.m. local news race showed Fox- owned WFLD narrowing the gap with Tribune Co.-owned WB affiliate WGN. Priming the pump with more contests, giveaways and gimmicks than your typical "morning zoo" on radio, "Fox News This Morning" averaged a 2.7/8--up 13 percent from last year's 2.4/8 when it was "Fox Thing in the Morning." At the same time, WGN's 3.9/12 declined 15 percent from last year's 4.6/14. For their one-hour newscasts at 9 p.m., WGN had a 6.5/9, while FLD had a 4.3/6.
From sign-on to sign-off daily, here's how local stations fared during May: WLS, 6.3/15; WMAQ, 4.5/11; WGN, 3.7/9; WFKD, 3.5/8; WBBM, 3.1/7; WPWR, 2.2/5; WTTW, 1.8/4; WCIU, 1.7/4; WGBO, 1.5/4; WSNS, 0.7/2.
Ratings are used to determine advertising rates.
WPVI Back On Top in the Philly News Battle at 11
By GAIL SHISTER
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Action News is back in action at 11.
Barring the collapse of TV as we know it, WPVI (Philadelphia) will reclaim the 11 p.m. weekday news title it lost in February to archrival WCAU for the first time since May 1971.
Heading into the final night of May ratings sweeps Thursday, Action News, with Jim Gardner, had built its lead over WCAU's team of Renee Chenault-Fattah and Larry Mendte to almost a full rating point. But it's not all bad news for 'CAU. (More later.)
The 76ers provided an unexpected twist in the 11 p.m. Nielsen battle. By scoring record-setting ratings on cable's Comcast SportsNet in Tuesday's opening game of the NBA Eastern Conference finals, the team hurt 'CAU more than it did 'PVI or KYW that night.
Here's why: Loyal fans of ABC's NYPD Blue and CBS's Judging Amy stuck with those hits' 10 p.m. season finales, giving big boosts to Gardner and KYW's Larry Kane at 11.
'CAU had no such Must-See-TV. A special shot of NBC's quiz show, Weakest Link, with host-from-hell Anne Robinson, bombed. The resulting 11 p.m. rating was down almost three points from 'CAU's May sweeps average.
From April 26 through Tuesday night, 'PVI had an 11.8 rating and 22 percent audience share. 'CAU notched a 10.9/20, with KYW limping far behind at 5.8/11. (Each Philadelphia rating point equals 27,034 homes.)
Though CAU's the silver medalist, its news ratings are up in every time slot - including 13 percent at 11 p.m. - compared with May 2000. 'CAU enjoyed the same across-the- board news growth in February.
Longtime leader PVI, however, again lost ground in almost every news slot. With little help from ABC at 10, it's down 5 percent at 11.
If 'CAU news czar Steve Schwaid is bummed about his short reign at 11, he's disguising it well.
" 'PVI may be back on top, but the question is for how long? Our goal is to grow, and we have tremendous growth. They have losses. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We will win the marathon."
Across City Avenue, 'PVI boss Dave Davis says his shop's victory at 11 "is a tribute to viewer loyalty that's been built up over decades. Not one [sweeps] book. Not one year. Decades." (Translation: Eat my dust, Schwaid.) Back to the Sixers, boys.
Their win over Milwaukee delivered a 16.5 rating/23 percent audience share from 8:30 to 11:15 p.m. - breaking the 16.1 SportsNet record set in the 76ers' second-round victory over Toronto May 16.
With a 17.6 rating/25 share between 10 and 11, Tuesday's game beat ABC's NYPD Blue (15.0/21) on WPVI, CBS's Judging Amy (14.1/20) on KYW, and NBC's Weakest Link (8.7/12) on WCAU.
Ironically, the 76ers will soon help 'CAU. The remainder of the best-of-seven Eastern finals will be on NBC, beginning with Game 3 on Saturday.
Surprise in news sweeps / KRON and KGO in virtual tie at 6 By Tim Goodman, Chronicle TV Critic
The San Francisco Chronicle
Those who really care about the local news ratings race should get out their calculators -- the May sweeps looks faintly like Florida did during the presidential election.
Although the late-night news race is considered the "newscast of record" -- and that race is always hotly contested and filled with apples-and-oranges comparisons -- the 6 p.m. news this time around turned into a shocker and a squeaker.
KGO, which routinely dominates at 5 and 6 p.m., lost the latter by less than a few thousand viewers to KRON. It was the first sweeps win for KRON in the 6 p.m. time period in at least 20 years, and that may explain why KRON had people hit the streets on Wednesday, passing out flyers that told of what was going to be on the 6 p.m. news (and on NBC later that night).
JUST 2,500 VIEWERS
KRON won at 6 p.m. over KGO by four one-hundredths of a ratings point. By Nielsen standards, that's roughly 972 households and a mere 2,500 viewers. KRON had a 4.89 rating and 11 share compared with KGO's 4.85 rating and 11 share. When the numbers are rounded by Nielsen, however, it'll go into the books as a 4.9 and a tie. But these things are important to the local combatants.
KPIX, which airs its newscast at 6:30 p.m., was third with a 3. 64 rating and 8 share; KTVU) brought up the rear with a 1.84 rating and 4 share.
In late night, where there wasn't a need to round to hundredths, KRON again won the Monday-through-Friday battle with a 7.7 rating and 19 share. KTVU, which airs an hour earlier at 10 p.m., had a 7.4 rating and 13 share. KGO had 5.7 rating and 14 share; KPIX had a 3.9 rating and 10 share.
FIVE DAYS OR SIX?
The apples-and-oranges argument can be made not only about the time difference between the two local TV news powerhouses of KRON and KTVU but also the length of the metered week: KTVU wins Monday through Sunday.
At 5 p.m., KGO won with a 5.2 rating and 15 share; KRON had a 4.7 rating and 13 share, and KPIX had a 2.7 rating and 7 share. KTVU doesn't have a 5 p.m. newscast.
One rating point equals 24,317 households; a share is the percentage of households using TV at that time.
Success Has a High Price at WHDH
By MARK JURKOWITZ
The Boston Globe
On April 23, WHDH-TV (Boston)'s lead anchor, Kim Carrigan, suddenly found
herself out of job, told not to report to work for the crucial May ratings "sweeps."
Station owner Ed Ansin says Carrigan's agent proposed an untenable 25 percent salary increase that ended matters. Carrigan, who says there were no meaningful contract talks, views the episode as a coldhearted firing.
For much of the public, the precipitous departure of a popular, seven-year anchor delivering the market's top- rated 11 p.m. newscast came as a shock. But for many familiar with WHDH under the Ansin regime, the news was unsettling, but not very surprising.
"This is the way, from my experience, that they treat people," says former WHDH anchor Margie Reedy, now coanchor for NECN's "NewsNight."
"This is a tough business," Reedy says. But WHDH "was a whole different ballgame."
Since buying WHDH in 1993 for $215 million, Ansin has dramatically altered the playing field. An independent owner in an era of media conglomerates, he invested heavily in technology and transformed Boston's TV landscape with a formula based on graphics, pacing, and aggressive, tabloid- style news chasing. In a market once driven by high-powered anchors, he shifted the focus from the studio to the street. Along the way, a once ratings-challenged station has won the vital 11 p.m. news wars for 17 straight ratings periods.
The flip side of his success, however, is that Ansin presides over a working environment described by former staffers as "soulless" and "unhealthy." Despite working for a news leader in a top television market, staffers say they feel undervalued and expendable, having watched prominent players vanish unceremoniously.
Morale is sagging in the glitzy high-tech newsroom near Boston's Government Center. Reportedly, some insiders have even been rooting for bad May ratings to prove that the Carrigan move was a blunder.
"There's a mistaken belief that we don't consider newscasters to be important," Ansin responds. "That's not the case. Fundamentally, we do our best to maintain a good relationship. [But] the newscasts are not as dependent on anchors as they used to be because there are so many elements that come into play ... satellites and graphics and all sorts of electronic capabilities."
Current and former staffers say Ansin's core belief is that people are replaceable - even indistinct - cogs in a system built on "elements" like flashy presentation and live shots.
"The people here are really secondary," says former station anchor and reporter Darlene McCarthy. "From the company's point of view, it is the ideology of the station that brought it to number one."
"I don't know another newsroom that functions quite the same way," says Carrigan, who came to WHDH from Des Moines in 1994 and worked her way up to top anchor stature. "The emphasis is much more on the visuals and content than those participating in the newscast. In many positions, [they] think they can plug in whoever and whatever."
Veteran reporter Christine Caswell, who left last year, says she was assigned a shift that began at 3 a.m. on her first day back after maternity leave. "They just don't think about you personally," she says. "It's all about the show's needs and what their needs are." Once she became a mother "and my priorities shifted, that's when I realized they started looking at you differently."
Ansin says that within the industry, there is "tremendous demand" to work at WHDH. But he says "it's not for everybody."
"We're very demanding here," adds station general manager Mike Carson. "Frankly, not everybody likes to work at that intense a level because that's what it takes. You have to have an enormous commitment to excellence, and a lot of people don't like that."
Mike Lawrence is a 14-year veteran who left in 1997. "Even in a business not known for nurturing," he says, "WHDH is a hard-edged newsroom. And it certainly didn't matter whether people came or went."
Back in 1993, when she was an anchor, Reedy remembers a get-acquainted chat with Joel Cheatwood - who had been imported by Ansin to run the news operation - in which he abruptly told her he was taking her off the 5, 6, and 11 p.m. newscasts. "That was my introduction," she says. "I was not in the plan."
McCarthy, who was at WHDH from 1992 to 1997, says she was working on a Boston Marathon story when she was summoned back to the station and told by the news director "today's going to be your last day."
When asked about the departures of Reedy, McCarthy, and Caswell, station manager Carson said he could not recall specific cases, and chose not to comment on them.
Starting with Bart Feder, the holdover when Ansin bought the station, HDH has had seven news directors since 1993. In his defense, Ansin points out that the average tenure of a news director in local television is two years. But that's not so in Boston. At WBZ-TV, Peter Brown has had the job since 1994. When Candy Altman left as WCVB-TV news director last year to join the station's corporate parent, her tenure had actually predated Ansin's taking control of WHDH.
Sometimes the departures have come in torrents, with some people being pushed and others jumping. In one five-month period in 1998, WHDH lost its news director, assistant news director, and managing editor. Right before the important November 1999 sweeps, the station saw its assistant news director leave for a job in Buffalo and its news director head to a local AM talk radio start-up operation.
Inside industry circles, stories abound of WHDH staffers seeking employment elsewhere; a rough count indicates that in the past three years, about a dozen have migrated to chief rivals WBZ and WCVB.
Even anchors don't bask in job security. By the end of 1994, both Reedy and R.D. Sahl (now also at NECN), mainstays of the previous regime whose more cerebral style didn't fit the new game plan, were out the door. The next generation of WHDH anchors - the husband and wife team of John Marler and Cathy Marshall - lasted less than four years. In 1998, with several months left on their contract, they were summarily gone. Last month, it was Carrigan's turn amid eerily similar circumstances.
A 65-year-old Worcester native, Ansin has parlayed a family fortune into a unique position as the independent owner of two major stations - WSVN in Miami, where he lives now, and WHDH in his old stomping grounds.
A stolid, enigmatic man not known for displays of warmth or sentimentality, Ansin says "we're really an anomaly in the industry. There are very few major-market television stations that are privately owned." By all accounts, he is an active owner. (Ansin denies the rumor that he watches every WHDH newscast from Miami, noting "there's only 24 hours in a day.") Most significantly, he can impose his will quickly and decisively with no bureaucracy to answer to.
In Miami, WSVN lost its NBC affiliation in the late '80s and reinvented itself with seven hours of daily news. "This was really unheard of," says Ansin, who sees himself - along with Cheatwood and top aide Robert Leider - as pioneers of a TV news strategy that critics call tabloid, but he calls an unmitigated success.
"We changed the tone, did it differently," Ansin says. "The key was being more aggressive, intensified coverage, more coverage. It was very successful."
When he arrived in Boston, WHDH had been a perennial ratings loser, and Ansin says "all three stations in the market were doing news the same way and had been doing news the same way since the '70s ... We became far more successful here than we imagined we could."
Cheatwood, who left WHDH in early 1997 and is now vice president for news at CBS-owned stations, helped transplant Ansin's Miami strategy to Boston. Widely respected, if not universally admired, sources say he was an effective buffer between Ansin and the staff because he was the news boss who had Ansin's full confidence. "I enjoyed the hell out of working for Ed," says Cheatwood. It is also station lore that Ansin evinced a very rare display of watery-eyed emotion when bidding Cheatwood goodbye at a station gathering.
Carson, the station general manager since 1993, is generally talked about as a good guy who has little choice but to enforce the Ansin culture. "I'm not surprised [staffers] feel that way because our personalities are so different," Carson responds. "I'm intimately involved with the decision-making on most of the day-to-day stuff," and "there are really very few times when I don't agree with his decision-making."
With the just-released May sweeps revealing that WHDH's ratings are slipping noticeably at 11 p.m., the station is now making new decisions. Ansin says his rivals' habit of adapting WHDH's innovations "continually causes us to have to strive to stay in the forefront of the news business." Weekend anchor Amy Johnson has emerged as the front-runner to succeed Carrigan. A new 4:30 p.m. newscast seems likely. And the content is being ramped up.
Carson says the changes will focus on "production values, the pacing is a little quicker. It was getting stodgy." But some worry that WHDH is about to adopt a more breathless Miami approach."Ansin has a [well] defined vision of what he thinks TV news is like in the year 2001 ... and it's working," says former staffer Lawrence. "In his philosophy ... anchor people don't matter. It's his win and Carrigan's loss."
WAGA News Numbers Soar in Atlanta
WSB-TV won the May Nielsen sweeps in local news, as usual, but WAGA made the biggest percentage gains in viewers. WXIA's news, meanwhile, continues its ratings free fall in the early evening, and WGCL keeps slipping despite big increases in spending.
WAGA's 5 p.m. news was up 52 percent from May 2000 and its 6 p.m. news up 43 percent. Partial credit goes to the 4-5 p.m. lead-in hour, when WAGA's syndicated combo of "Judge Judy" and "Divorce Court" beat "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in Atlanta during the May sweeps. It was Winfrey's first Atlanta loss since the days when Jerry Springer was at his peak with daily fistfights.
WXIA's news is hurting badly, down 47 percent at 5 p.m. from May to May and down 50 percent at 6 p.m. It's up at 11 p.m., but WSB still wins there, as it has for years. (--- Phil Kloer - Atlanta Journal- Constitution)
10:00 PM M-F
KPRC 10.81/17 (vs. 10.10/15 last May)
KTRK 10.56/16 (vs. 10.74/17 last May)
KHOU 10.43/16 (vs. 10.13/15 last May)
KRIV (9:00) 5.24/8 (vs. 5.82/8)
KHWB (9:00) 2.24/3 (vs. 3.6/5-before KHWB did news)
5:00 PM M-F
KPRC 8.00/16 (vs. 7.34/14 last May)
KHOU 7.66/15 (vs. 7.33/14 last May)
KTRK 6.46/13 (vs. 7.86/15 last May)
6:00 PM M-F
KHOU 8.92/16 (vs. 9.06/16 last May)
KPRC 7.84/14 (vs. 7.54/13 last May)
KTRK 7.77/14 (vs. 8.80/15 last May)
4:00 PM M-F
KHOU Oprah 7.26/16 (vs. 6.73/15 last May) KPRC News 6.67/15 (vs. 7.22/16 last May) KTRK Sally 4.56/10 (vs. 4.70/10 last May)
6:00 AM M-F
KTRK 5.78/21 (vs. 6.83/25 last May)
KPRC 4.48/16 (vs. 5.13/19 last May)
KHOU 3.03/11 (vs. 3.82/14 last May)
KRIV 2.71/10 (vs. 2.35/9 last May)
First time KPRC has won 10 since....?????(1970's maybe?)
Overall, Denver TV News Shows Slipping
By Dusty Saunders
(Denver) Rocky Mountain News
KMGH's Anne Trujillo donned firefighting attire and entered a burning building, while KUSA's Paula Woodward investigated a "parking trap" in Cherry Creek North.
Meanwhile KCNC offered the ongoing story of the conjoined twins. These were among the numerous May sweeps stories in the 10 p.m newscasts designed to attract viewers.
The end result: lower total audience shares on the three stations than a year ago.
Figures compiled with three nights remaining in the monthlong May sweeps competition (which ended Wednesday night) show that both KUSA and KCNC are losing audience shares compared with a year ago, while KMGH is retaining its audience share of 11.
Ratings leader KUSA has dropped four share points (24 to 20), while KCNC has lost two share points (17 to 15).
Figures are based on seven-nights-a-week averages.
The good news for KCNC is that though it's losing audience shares, it now trails KUSA by only five share points, compared with seven in May 2000. And KMGH can find a bit of silver lining because its audience figures held steady.
Do such figures mean KUSA, the self-styled "Colorado News Leader," is slipping after more than 25 years of domination? While this ratings book doesn't spell disaster, you might see a few more concerned frowns on executives' faces at KUSA's Speer Boulevard headquarters.
Since both KUSA and KCNC are losing 10 p.m. viewers, where did they go?
Executives at KDVR and KWGN will argue that their 9 p.m. newscasts are a major ratings factor. And figures do provide a platform. Fox 31, which didn't provide a newscast a year ago, has an 8 share. (Reruns of Cops in the 9 p.m. period showed a 5 share last May.)
KWGN, feeling the heat from KDVR, dropped a share point (from 7 to 6) but remains competitive.
Other figures, however, show that audiences for all local newscasts at 9 and 10 p.m. are on a slightly downward trend. A year ago, four newscasts had a 59-share total. This May, the five reports show a 60-share total -- something for the big-buck news analysts to ponder.
Meanwhile, most of the other local-news time periods, Monday through Friday, are retaining a status-quo look in station positioning.
Leader KUSA lost two share points at 5 p.m., however, while KMGH gained two from a year ago. KCNC, with a full hour of local news, is status quo.
KUSA's 6 p.m. half-hour gained a share point, while KMGH's remained the same.
KMGH, with Oprah Winfrey, still dominates at 4 p.m., followed by newscasts on KCNC and KUSA.
KUSA retains its huge lead in early morning (6 to 7 a.m.), while KMGH gained two share points and KCNC dropped four. KMGH's 11 a.m. news retains a 12 share, while KCNC is slightly ahead of KUSA at noon (14 and 13 shares, respectively). That noon battle could change in the final rating days.
The final three nights will determine the winner in prime time, with KUSA (NBC) and KCNC (CBS) running neck and neck. KMGH (ABC) has lost four share points over a year ago, following the national decline of the network. When final figures are sorted out, all network programming will be somewhat affected by Avalanche playoff coverage on KTVD, the local UPN affiliate. Nielsen figures often extrapolate special "non-network" programming in its reports. But overall results will show that Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy qualify as prime-time stars.
May Orlando Ratings
11th-Hour Victory for WESH's News Team
By Hal Bodeker
Orlando Sentinel Television Critic
Despite the turmoil of replacing anchor John O'Connor and losing Wendy Chioji some days as she battled breast cancer, WESH placed first among 11 p.m. newscasts in the May sweeps that ended Wednesday.
WFTV, long the leading station in Central Florida placed third, after WKMG. In just five years, WFTV has lost more than 40 percent of its audience for late news.
"I've seen no markets anywhere where the 11 o'clock news ratings haven't dropped marginally to precipitously over the last five years," said WFTV General Manager David Lippoff. "There isn't a special phenomenon in this marketplace when we look at 11 p.m."
WESH attracted 93,300 households for the late newscasts Monday through Friday. WKMG drew 81,800 households. WFTV had 77,300 households, down from 134,000 homes five years ago.
The latest ratings underscore the turmoil in the market in general and at WFTV in particular.
WESH dropped O'Connor and replaced him with Jim Payne.
WKMG has indicated to anchor David Wittman that his contract will not be renewed. His co-anchor, Lisa Colagrossi, plans to leave the station to join her husband in New York.
And WFTV's longtime team of Bob Opsahl and Marla Weech evidently no longer has a ratings edge. Opsahl and Weech also ranked third at 11 in the last sweeps in February.
The once-invincible WFTV had more problems in the May sweeps, placing third in the Monday-Sunday race at 11. WESH was first with 86,600 households. WKMG had 80,600 homes, edging WFTV with 80,300.
"It's a win, but there's no denying the three stations are competitive at 11 o'clock," said WESH General Manager Bill Bauman. "The three networks are in such close competition that it's just spilled over to late news. But we're seeing tune-in on soft nights. I think we've become the destination newscast at 11 o'clock."
Nationally, CBS had the most prime-time viewers in the May sweeps, followed by NBC, ABC and Fox. But in the 18-to-49 demographic so dear to advertisers, NBC was first, followed by Fox, CBS and ABC.
For the TV season, which also ended Wednesday, CBS edged Disney-owned ABC as the most-watched network by just 20,000 viewers. NBC placed third, followed by Fox.
The sweeps are important periods when stations use ratings to set their advertising rates. The 11 p.m. half-hour is usually the most profitable because it carries higher rates than earlier newscasts.
The stations have faced increased competition from many sources, including the Web, cable news channels and new broadcast operations. Drooping ratings, though, have not hurt the bottom line.
"The stations' revenues have not declined because of news ratings," Bauman said. "The revenues are increasing because of the growth of the market and so many advertisers want to buy news. It's still a hell of an audience for local news."
Still, the ratings erosion is cause for concern.
"A lot of people are turned off by the news," said Pete Barr Sr., chairman of Fry Hammond Barr advertising agency, a top buyer in the market. "Some of these news formats have gotten tired, and that is not just Orlando. That's across the country."
Barr said loss of viewers will affect a station's ranking. "If the rankings go down, the rates should follow," he said.
The stations' fortunes can depend on how their networks perform. WESH benefited from high-rated NBC series (ER, Law & Order) that delivered viewers to the station's late newscast.
WKMG General Manager Jeff Sales said he was pleased with the CBS performance in prime time.
"We did well in the late news," he said, adding that the station's Problem Solvers marketing was resonating with viewers.
Lippoff said ABC hadn't provided as much help as in the past and that situation complicated efforts to attract viewers. "We're doing a pretty good job, it's just not good enough coming from the disadvantage," he said.
WESH did so well in the May ratings period that the station started running commercials Thursday morning proclaiming itself the No. 1 station in Central Florida. WESH also placed first at 11 p.m. in the February sweeps.
"We think it's a big deal," Bauman said. "It's something we've worked very, very hard at, and we think we're being rewarded for it."
WFTV retained leadership in the early evening newscasts despite ominous trends. WFTV had 78,700 households at 5 p.m., down 16 percent from a year ago. WESH posted 58,800 households, a 16 percent increase. WKMG was seen in 49,300 homes, a 24 percent drop.
At 6 p.m., all the stations suffered losses. WFTV drew 99,000 households, down 12 percent from a year ago. WESH attracted 59,000 homes and was off 15 percent. WKMG had 56,800 homes, a 24 percent falloff.
"We're trying to figure out why people seem to be viewing fewer amounts of local news," Lippoff said. He suggested that there had been few big stories to hook viewers during the May sweeps.
"I'm concerned about the tune-out of news at 6 p.m.," WESH's Bauman said. "It's industrywide. No one seems to have an answer."
Among the 10 p.m. newscasts, WOFL placed ahead of the WESH- produced news on WKCF and the WFTV-produced news on WRBW.
WOFL General Manager Mark Higgins preferred to put the emphasis on demographics, which will be released next month.
"We define success not by households but by demographics," he said. "I strongly believe all stations would concur with that statement."
WFTV was first in early morning news, followed by WESH and WKMG. For the noon news, WKMG was tops, followed by WESH and WFTV.
BALTIMORE WINNERS AND LOSERS
By: David Folkenflik
The Baltimore Sun
Mark Twain once wrote that there were "lies, damn lies, and statistics." Hard to believe that the man died 19 years before the advent of television.
First, let's deal with ratings. The May "sweeps" period, of smothering importance to local stations and networks, is pulling to a close after tonight. The ratings estimates from Nielsen Media are unlikely to be affected much by the final nights. So, according to station officials - and those statistics - we can say:
WBAL is happy. WBAL's late newscast at 11 p.m. has asserted its dominance over that time slot, considered the main event for local markets. The size of its audience for the late news has grown, while competitors have all lost viewers from the same time period last May. (Of course, which All-Pro linebacker was on trial in Atlanta a year ago, making news junkies of all of Baltimore?) The station keeps its hold on the 5 p.m. news. And key national offerings such as "Today," "Oprah" and "Jeopardy!" remain top programs.
WJZ is happy. WJZ has narrowly wrested back control of the 6 p.m. news slot from WBAL. In addition, compared with last May, WJZ's top-rated morning news shows have added viewers from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. (Audience sizes are generally compared year to year because of seasonal differences.) Its noon news, astoundingly, draws more viewers than anyone's evening newscasts.
WMAR is happy. WMAR's morning show, long a weak spot, appears to be battling back, winning a markedly greater number of viewers from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.
WBFF is happy. WBFF's bright and shiny new morning show, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., registers well above the ratings generated by the recycled sitcoms that used to air in that period. Meanwhile, sister station WNUV (Ch. 54) has found ratings luck with "Judge Mathis," which has climbed in the ratings almost high enough to dethrone "Regis & Kelly" on WBAL.
Now, a taste of reality:
WMAR, WBFF and WNUV often are fighting to win a relatively small portion of the audience. With only a few exceptions, the gulf appears to be widening between the haves and have- nots. WMAR's network, ABC, has failed to provide the kind of shows that keep viewers tuned in most days of the week, and its prime-time viewing levels are down significantly from a year ago. WBFF has seen real growth in its morning news ratings - but they still are quite small. Success will take a lot longer to gauge.
Viewing levels continue to ebb on all network affiliates. Except for WBAL, all the channels saw their ratings dip for the late news. Except for WJZ, all the stations experienced a drop in ratings during prime time. Some local TV executives have noted a relatively dry month. Blame cable, blame the Web, blame book groups - whatever the cause, people are turning to broadcast TV less than they did years ago.
Advertisers don't care solely about these ratings. They typically care more about key demographic groups, such as the people between 18 and 49. Those statistics don't arrive for another few weeks.
In major upset, WGRZ Posts Win for 11 p.m. News in Buffalo By ALAN PERGAMENT
News TV Critic
On Wednesday afternoon, WGRZ-TV General Manager Darryll J. Green brought his staff together to watch the final 15 minutes of the film, "Rocky." He was trying to inspire the staff on the final night of the May sweeps to complete an upset weekday news victory at 11 p.m.
"We're a lot like Rocky going up against Apollo Creed," said News Director Randal Stanley. "We're the No. 3 station with a shot at the title." The themes from the lottery drawing and "Law & Order" might have been more appropriate than "Rocky." In the end, the lottery and the NBC program boosted WGRZ-TV's household ratings on the final night enough to narrowly out-point WKBW and WIVB at 11 p.m. for the first time in what the station believes is at least 30 years.
"We're not sure how long it has been since we won at 11," said Stanley. "We asked the person who has been here the longest. It was 30 years and no one remembered it."
In a three-way metered race from Monday through Friday from April 26 to Wednesday, WGRZ averaged a 9.86 rating to WKBW's 9.83 and WIVB's 9.57. WIVB won the 11 p.m. in February, WKBW won it a year ago when the meters first came into this market.
All three stations can round off the 11 p.m. figures to a 10 rating and a dead heat. Of course, the real winner in the view of advertisers is determined once demographics arrive.
A WIVB researcher confirms WGRZ's 11 p.m. weekday victory, but adds that WKBW is No. 1 from Monday through Sunday with a 9.9, WIVB No. 2 with a 9.7 and WGRZ No. 3 at 8.9.
This is the first ratings book since WGRZ took over the Lottery numbers from WKBW. A bigger impact at 11 p.m. may have been the news lead-in WGRZ gets from "ER" on Thursdays" and "Law & Order" on Wednesdays. Stanley concedes the lottery drawings help, but adds they can't be totally responsible for WGRZ's impressive 11 p.m. gains.
"The lottery helped us get new viewers to sample our newscast," said Stanley. "We had some very good newscasts and stories that you couldn't get anywhere else. Hopefully, now that people have tried us for the first time, they will become loyal viewers."
Of course, even WGRZ's competitors concede that it has improved its news content on the 11 p.m. newscast, which is anchored by Scott Levin and Maryalice Demler.
In other key news categories on weekdays, WIVB has a healthy noon lead over WKBW, 8.86 to 5.59. At 5 p.m., WIVB beats WKBW and its new anchor team of Luke Moretti and Maria Genero by 8.32 to 8.25. WGRZ averaged a 6.47 for the first half-hour. At 6 p.m., WKBW reclaimed the top spot with a 10.66 to a 9.49 for WIVB and a 4.52 for WGRZ.
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