WITI wins 10 p.m. sweeps, WTMJ falls to fourth


The .2 rating that separated the 10 p.m. newscast at three local stations in November suggested churn was occurring in the marketplace as viewers sampled alternatives.

During the February sweeps – whose results were released Thursday – that slim lead, by WITI-TV (Channel 6), was widened to give the station’s 10 p.m. newscast a clear win.

When the ratings period ended at 2 a.m. Thursday morning, WITI earned a 6.7 rating. WISN-TV (Channel 12) was  1.1 points behind in second with a 5.6 and WDJT was in third with a 5.1.

WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) found itself in fourth place  with a 4.7. That is down 1.5 points since February, and half the rating it earned last February during the Winter Olympics.

WTMJ was in third place for three of the three previous five sweeps. This is the first time in memory, at least going back five, years, that WTMJ was in fourth place at 10 p.m. Since Feb. 2010, WDJT has been fourth 22 times, WITI seven and WISN was fourth last October.

WTMJ did not win one time period when in direct competition with other local newscasts.

A rating point is the equivalent of 8,932 television homes, meaning WTMJ lost about 13,300 viewers.

WISN won the other two most watched local newscasts, at 5 and 6 p.m., with WTMJ in second. At 6 p.m WISN’s 7.5 rating was just .2 of a point behind veteran time slot dominant “Jeopardy” on WDJT. The WISN 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts are the highest rated of the day.

WITI’s 9 p.m. newscast additionally handily beat network programing on the three network affiliates.

Between 9 and 10 p.m. WITI earned a 6.8, CBS affiliate WDJT earned a 5.5, ABC affiliate WISN had a 5.2 and NBC affiliate WTMJ earned a 3.5.

The 10 p.m. newscast, wrapping up the days events, is considered a station’s broadcast of record. Many consider network lead-in to be an important factor in 10 p.m.  newscast performance, which is why stations promote so heavily during the 9 p.m. hour.

WTMJ’s low rated NBC lead-in may have played a role in its fourth place finish. But to say that WITI’s 9 p.m. newscast lead in is responsible for its 10 p.m. win suggests viewers are watching both newscasts.

Some may be, but a number of new viewers are likely switching to the station after network prime.

Clearly WITI is doing something right, with its “we are family” approach.  Its evocative but overly performed, “This Is the Place” theme song, must be hitting viewers were they live, literally.

WTMJ’s ranking  is a humbling development for a station that was once the market leader, on the eve of its merger with the Cincinnati-based E. W. Scripps broadcast chain later this spring. The merger will make Scripps the fifth largest independent TV station group, with 34 stations in 24 markets.

WITI was up .3 of a point since November, WISN was down .6 of a point. WDJT was the only station to remain stable from November, with a 5.1. However the station chose to move 10 p.m. anchor Paul Piaskoski to weekends during the sweeps period and replace him with Bill Walsh.

Ratings for other time periods include:

6 to 7 a.m. – WITI, 5.7; WISN, 5.0; WTMJ, 2.9; WDJT, 1.1;

5 to 5:30 p.m. – WISN, 7.1; WTMJ, 5.7; WITI, 4.3; WDJT, 3.4

6 to 6:30 p.m. – WISN, 7.5; WTMJ 5.5; WITI, 5.3;

And despite the controversy over statements by suspended anchor Brian Williams, the “NBC Nightly News” on WTMJ remains the most watched network newscast at 5:30 p.m, with an 8.1 rating. ABC’s “World News Tonight” was second with a 7.6 and the “CBS Evening News” with a 4.0 rating.



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  • KJA

    It appears that WTMJ is in ratings freefall. It would be interesting to compare side by side the broadcasts from any given night to see what news content (or news judgement) they are producing and see how the choice is influenced. I would suspect this is a vote on content.

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