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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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Friday, February 29, 2008

Writers Strike Smacks February Sweeps

Our decline in prime-time network watching during the TV writers' strike contributed to a 17 percent loss (51,545 homes) in the 11 p.m. local news viewing audience – hurting Channel 12 the most.

Although WKRC-TV won the late news ratings as usual, Channel 12 lost more than 27 percent of its late news audience from February sweeps a year ago, according to Nielsen Media Research. It was the steepest decline of the three 11 p.m. newscasts.

The three major network affiliates – Channels 5, 9 and 12 – lost a combined 20 percent in prime-time. CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, Moonlight, Ghost Whisperer and other CBS dramas in reruns last month due to the strike were down 40-50 percent from a year ago. Yikes!

"All across the country, the strike has killed everyone with the lack of a strong lead-in programs" to late local news, says Steve Minium, acting Channel 12 general manager.

Even Channel 19's 10 p.m. news was down from a year ago, despite huge ratings for "American Idol" again this season.

It has been a very rough year for TV stations. May prime-time and late news viewing dropped preciptiously, due to nice weather, an early change to Daylight Savings time and increased use of digital video recorders. Premiere week ratings in September also were down from a year ago. And then came the strike, which wiped out new episodes for most popular dramas and sitcoms in February. "The writers' strike went on so long that people developed different habits," Minium says. "There are so many choices out there, and we won't know if they'll come back for a long time."

While Channel 12 took a big hit in the late news, ratings went up in the morning. So did ratings for Channel 19. These can be traced to a couple of factors – anchor changes at Channel 9 (Bernard Watson) and Channel 5 (weekend anchor Jonathan Hawgood replacing Todd Dykes), and Channel 12 being forced to take the CBS Early Show at 7 a.m. And more changes are coming, with Lisa Cornwell leaving 9, and Pete Scalia leaving 5.

Channel 19's ratings were up throughout the morning. And Channel 19 jumped to first place 7-9 a.m. here, ahead of the Today show or Good Morning America. Fox 19 has benefited from CBS' demand that Channel 12 drop its mostly local 7-8 a.m. show. Channel 12 has kept doing a local show 7-8 a.m. on its CinCW digital channel, though few are watching. It drew a 0.7 rating.

A few other notes:

--As usual, Channel 9 was a solid No. 1 in the 5-6:30 p.m. evening news, followed by Channels 12 and 5. (Despite the "Clash of Choirs" competition and heavy promotion at 5 p.m., Channel 5 still finished a distant third in household ratings. Station managers are hoping Channel 5 does better in demographics due out in a few weeks.)

--Channel 12 edged out Channel 9 at noon for the first time in years. Not sure why? Maybe Drew Carey’s presence on "The Price Is Right" 11 a.m.-noon?

--Channel 5's 11 p.m. news was third, beating "The Simpsons" on Channel 19. A year ago, it was the other way around.

So have you tuned out the 11 p.m. news? Switched to the morning news? Going to sleep earlier? Switched to Jon Stewart and Colbert? When new episodes of your favorite shows return, will you watch them and stick around for the late local news?


at 2/29/2008 2:28 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only watch channel 9 news because it is in HD. If I am watching the news, I want it in HD. They all cover the same stories.

at 2/29/2008 3:16 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have not watched an 11pm news cast in years...i tune in to 19 at about 10:50pm for their quick sports report...since the late 90's at 11pm i have always watched jon stewart and now also colbert at i'm 49...

at 2/29/2008 3:51 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John -- Can you explain why this artificial system of "ratings sweeps" even exists? Why would anyone, especially advertisers, care at all about viewership numbers during a month when special programming and special news reports skew the ratings? For example, after a normal February sweeps period is over, and March returns to the usual programming and news reports, what's the theory behind saying the Feb. viewership numbers have ANY effect on March, or any other month?

at 2/29/2008 5:21 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know exactly why, but I am finding myself settling on the Channel 5 News. Love Sheree Paolello and Amy Wagner!

at 2/29/2008 5:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

kiese would you mind putting the sweeps result in a grid format.

at 2/29/2008 8:29 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe 12 has been number one at noon for the most part over the past 10 years. Maybe they've lost a couple of times there.

at 3/01/2008 6:05 AM Blogger ThisIsNOTaMajorMarket said...

Given that about 20 minutes out of each hour are consumed by commercials (I timed it), and another five to seven minutes by "teases" and repetitious reminders of what's "Coming Up," actual local news information resembles veins of ore in a mass of sludge. The remote allows finding the nuggets on the various channels, switching away from the dross.

at 3/01/2008 10:06 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

After watching 12 the entire time I was growing up (I'm almost 30) I switched to 9 about four years ago. I got to the point where I couldn't stand how "old" 12 had become. The breaking point for me was when Howard Ain got his radar gun and started playing cop on local streets.

All that being said, I think Steve Raleigh goes into waaaayyy too much detail in his forecasts. I usually stop paying attention about a minute into his spiel. Overall 9 is the best fit for me, and I can get the weather information I need in 10 seconds from the internet. Keep up the good work WCPO.

at 3/01/2008 4:15 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Channel 19 may be up in the morning, and even winning 7-9am, but Channel 12's 6-7am is up significantly too. Didn't it beat its closest competitor in that time frame by more than two ratings points?

at 3/02/2008 3:51 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kiese my friend, didnt 12 have a streak of winning noon and 9 beat that streak in november. I swore thats what your post said.

at 3/02/2008 3:53 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

kiese here is what you wrote in november about the noon period "For the first time in years, Tanya O'Rourke's Channel 9 beat Channel 12 for the noon news. It was the first "sweeps" period after Dayna Eubanks left Channel 12 in September, when her contract expired. Channel 12's lead-in ratings for "The Price Is Right" also have eroded since Drew Carey replaced Bob Barker in October."

at 3/02/2008 5:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has been a very rough year for TV stations!?
That's like saying it's been a rough year for oil companies.
That's like saying it's been a rough year for Chad Johnson getting attention.
That's like saying it's been a rough year for Michael Moore finding food.
That's like saying it's been a rough year for Paris Hilton attracting boyfriends.
That's like saying it's been a rough year for breathing air.

at 3/03/2008 9:41 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are watching more cable at night. ie: nic @ night, and tvland. As for the news, Channel 12 in the morning by far beats the others. With the anchor changes at 9 & 5, they seem cold. The folks at 12 gel together, and Dance Party Friday is a Hit! (weather permitting) Knero @ 9 has gotten cold since all the anchor-men changes, and I can't watch Hawgood on 5.
19 has a morning show?

at 3/03/2008 11:53 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

That traffic guy on 12 is truly a clown. And he anchors on the weekend? What are they thinking.

at 3/03/2008 12:00 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what the nation's baby population will be like in the November time frame because of less TV watching...hmmmm??? A spike from normal trends I wonder????

at 3/03/2008 12:19 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ratings going up or down usually means panic and anchor changes... so who's out?

at 3/03/2008 1:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

John - you left out an important piece of information about 12's late news. While ratings were down year to year - 12 saw huge growth in its rating at 11pm compared to the 10pm CBS shows, while 5 and 9 were flat.

at 3/03/2008 2:20 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Channel 9's Bernard Watson in the morning is terrible. He slips up every other word and Nero has to pick up his slack. it's obvious.

at 3/03/2008 4:45 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont think K Nero is cold, I think its the guy she's with. But something has got to change there. It is getting bad. Too much change! But I guess that goes for all the shows but the aging 12.

at 3/03/2008 5:01 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't care to watch channel 9's morning show anymore. Right before they either come back from a commercial or the traffic person gets finished they either just "Wake up" or you can here the anchors talking on camera about their personal conversations. That Bernard Watkins person needs to learn how to either read or pronounce the Cincinnati lingo right. I miss the guests that they use to have on there when David Rose was anchoring. Now it is boring. Channel 19 is the station that I now watch because it is the most upbeat. It's no wonder that Channel 9 dropped in the ratings.

at 3/03/2008 5:42 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

12's probably not going to like the demos, though.

at 3/03/2008 6:50 PM Blogger Kevin LeMaster said...

"So have you tuned out the 11 p.m. news? Switched to the morning news?"

I quit watching local news years ago.

at 3/31/2008 9:26 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are any of you out there qualified to make the rude and cruel comments about any of the anchor or traffic people.

Why don't any of you apply for the positions and see how you do.

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