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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sweeps Are Here

Sweeps months starts today, as if you couldn't tell from the return of "Lost" and all the local TV news special reports and stunt....

Channel 12 has another cold murder case at 11 p.m. today after "Without A Trace," and a "Survivor" contest starting next week with the new "Survivor"...

Channel 9 has an I-Team report at 6 p.m. today by Brendan Keefe about unsanitary glassware in hotel rooms...

Channel 19 on Monday will show the cameos by Sheila Gray and Rob Williams in the new ""The Great Buck Howard" movie, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival last week. They shot the scenes in October 2006. John Malkovich stars as a washed magician who hires an apprentice (Colin Hanks, Tom's kid). Tom Hanks also appears in the film.....

Channel 5 at 5 p.m. today starts a local "Clash of the Choirs" competition with singers from Winton Woods High School, School for Creative & Performing Arts, Elder Glee Club, First Unitarian Church Choir, Cincinnati Super Choir, Cincinnati Sound, Allen Temple AME Church Choir and the Cincinnati Boychor. Many of the groups have ties to the Team Lachey from NBC's "Clash of the Choirs" in December. Courtis Fuller's segment will air at 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, then viewers can vote on their favorite choirs. And the winner... gets to sing "Derek Said it Would" for a Channel 5 promo.

Since you want to talk about local TV sweeps stuff – three posts were put"The First 48" Avondale murder blog very quickly today – here's a forum to talk about sweeps.

Derek said it would be like this?


at 1/31/2008 2:20 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey kiese just saw an promo for eli stone the series that debuts after lost tonight. Have you watched the pilot did you think it was good?
It certainly will benefit with the timeslot after Lost

at 1/31/2008 2:38 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do the sweeps stunts work? Do they attract more viewers?
Have TV reviewers or TV newsrooms seen research or other proof that special promos and reports accomplish their goals during ratings months?

at 1/31/2008 3:22 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...


What other series are resuming? Any news series beginning now?


at 1/31/2008 3:35 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The story about unsanitary glassware is not new. An Atlanta TV station recently did a similar story. Apparently 9 has trouble coming up with their own ideas and has to copy others.

at 1/31/2008 4:01 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

since I am out of the industry, my predictions:
WLWT- bed bugs and cosmetology horrors
WCPO - cleanliness (you beat me to the punch)
WKRC - Cold Cases (for the umpteeth sweep period)
WXIX - Jack loses weight and exercises

at 1/31/2008 4:39 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point that always gets missed in these conversations is that stations are largely a victim of the ratings system and advertiser demands.

If you want to make more money for your station, you produce higher ratings during the four months Nielsen defines for sweeps measurement. Buyers and stations will debate the ratings data and settle on a price for commercial time.

Sure, a station could buck the trend and say "we're not doing the sweeps stories any more." But, frankly, why take the risk of killing your career and sinking your station into debt.

It's really very easy to rip stations around the country every times a ratings period rolls around. Why not take a look at why the system can't or doesn't change? People meters seem to be doing the trick to a degree in larger markets.

at 1/31/2008 5:18 PM Blogger John Kiesewetter said...

To Anon 3:22 p.m.:
Stike/sweeps notes:
"House" runs out of episodes after new shows Sunday after Super Bowl and next Tuesday.
Jericho comes back Tuesday Feb. 12.
New Adventures of Old Christine back at 8:30 p.m. Monday on CBS.
Survivor back 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7.
Big Brother gets its first non-summer run starting Tuesday, Feb. 12, CBS.
Showtime's Dexter plays on CBS starting Sunday, Feb. 17.
Kelsey Grammer's TV newsroom comedy, "Back to You," returns Tuesday, Feb. 26, on Fox.

at 1/31/2008 5:54 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

The news directors must be messing themselves:


I couldn't take the wall to wall weather and graphics and school delay banner, so off when the 5:30 news and on came the blog page.

at 1/31/2008 6:06 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 4:39 said the goal is to produce higher ratings in sweeps times.
But the question remains... where is the proof that these stunts and promos and specials lead to higher ratings?
Who has this research? Or is it something simply assumed or encouraged by consultants?
If there is no proof, can't you make the counter argument that you might be "sinking" the station by looking foolish?
Notice that 12 does not promote much silliness. They do have sweeps specials, but they are usually consistent with their normal content, such as Crimestoppers. So they are smart enough to try and build audience while keeping their identity.

at 1/31/2008 8:08 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 4:39 makes a good point. Have you ever looked at the Nielsen system John? Stations don't like it - but they have to live with it. And, they pay through the nose for it.

Anybody in TV will tell you that they'd be very happy to give up sweeps months. Heck, nobody's allowed to take vacation during them!

at 1/31/2008 10:50 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 6:06 - I don't think you'll find any system that provides absolute proof. But stations will spend money to find out which types of stories will appeal to the core news viewer and go after them. However, none of this works really if you don't have a team or regularly scheduled programs worth watching.

I agree that that advertisers and Nielsen do as much to shape sweeps hype as much as anything. They are building the system.

at 2/01/2008 1:12 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody see lance barry reporting live from the road tonight?

at 2/01/2008 10:09 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey kiese - I noticed that Andrew Setter from 700 is still doing stuff for 5. I thought he was only going to be around for a little while? Is this a sign of some big ch 5 team up with 700?

at 2/01/2008 10:34 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why can't everyday be considered a sweeps day. Why limit it to just the 4 months. Cincinnati gets daily results on ratings and then all of the TV stations would be held accountable for producing the best newscast everyday and advertisers would be getting a more accurate assesment of the stations they advertise with.

at 2/01/2008 11:14 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw 9 live on the road too it was neat.

Kiese--How is 9 able to show live video from a moving car? It is the coolest technolgy I have seen in tv in some time.

at 2/01/2008 12:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

has anybody else noticied that 9 has switched a guy for voice overs for promos. I just noticied that today.

at 2/01/2008 1:02 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

A live report inside a moving car seems a little dangerous to me - especially for the drivers around them. Plus, the driver of the news vehicle can't be distracted by a reporter doing who-knows what in the passenger seat. It will all be "cool" until the news car plows into some unsuspecting driver just trying to get home.

at 2/01/2008 1:44 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is my best explanation of sweeps. As viewers - its hard to equate that you are really consumers of a product. It might help to look at TV news in that light to understand this whole sweeps thing.

Imagine instead of looking at the stations as news programs, consider that 12 is Coca-Cola, 9 is Pepsi, and 5 is RC.

All three companies essentially deal with the same raw materials and put out the same product, a cola and sugar flavored carbonated beverage. They've all been doing it for decades, and have entrenched, loyal customers. The customers like their favorite product because of the way they craft the raw materials into a unique flavor and feel.

Coke, Pepsi, and RC love their loyal customers, but after decades in business, still recognize two basic needs: they have to keep people buying their product, and find ways to attract new customers. So they advertise, and pull stunts like contests, Super Bowl promotions, etc.

Does it work? The folks on Madison Avenue seem to think so. It's purely a business model, and the trade off we get for free-market news. At least its better than state-run television!

at 2/02/2008 8:57 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

What station will be the biggest loser this sweeps period in your opinion?

If you had to rank the stations, what would it look like?

Morning Shows
5 news
6 news
10 news
11 news
Public Affairs Shows
Sunday Sports Shows
News Team
Investigative Team
Weather Team
Sports Team

You are the expert, I want ot know what you think.


at 2/03/2008 1:59 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 1:02 You mentioned how dangerous it could be doing a live report inside a moving car...I remember watching channel 9 during that supposed six to twelve inches of snow late last year and when they went to the live report in the car you saw the car run a stop sign live on the air.

at 2/05/2008 11:31 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hilarious that WLWT stole "...said it would be like this" presumably from a Chicago CBS affiliate. I was there last fall and there was a sign, on Navy Pier mind you, that said "Steve said it would be like this" with a picture of the station's meteorologist holding out his hands, as if to say, "Rain - see I told you!"

at 2/06/2008 12:15 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:31

WLWT didn't steal anything. There are several stations across the country that use the .... said it would be like this" promo...including KOCO in Oklahoma City and WTAE in Pittsburgh, both Hearst-Argyle stations.

Looks like they all stole it from each other.

at 2/08/2008 2:48 PM Anonymous Local TV Guy said...

The moving car shot is nothing new. They've been doing in San Francisco for the last couple years. It involves using wireless internet and a simple thing called a Slingbox.

WCPO wasn't the first station here to use the technology. WBQC Channel 38 used the technology first. WBQC owner Elliott Block told WCPO about the technology and now WCPO is using it.

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