KABC-TV Channel 7 has long generated the highest ratings for evening newscasts in Los Angeles, but KCBS-TV Channel 2 is gaining ground.
In the TV station business, it can take years for a station to surpass a competitor — unless there is a major shake-up on the anchor desk. And the L.A. television market has been a picture of stability, particularly among older viewers who have the greatest appetite for local TV news.
"Everybody likes a particular newscast and they stick with it," Mary Hoover, a vice president at the Santa Monica advertising agency RPA, said Monday. "People don't change their viewership habits that often."
KABC, owned by Walt Disney Co., retained its local news dominance at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. during the February ratings period, according to recently released Nielsen ratings. The local ABC station attracted nearly 328,000 viewers for its weeknight 6 p.m. newscast and nearly 250,000 viewers at 11 p.m.
Univision Communications Inc.'s KMEX-TV Channel 34, the Spanish-language station leader, remained the No. 2 outlet in Los Angeles for the two evening newscasts. KMEX's 6 p.m. news program attracted 242,150 viewers, while its 11 p.m. program drew an average audience of nearly 223,000 viewers in February.
KCBS, meanwhile, increased its viewership 12% on weeknights to solidify its position as the third-ranked station in the market for its late local news. The station, which benefits from CBS' strong prime-time lineup, attracted 211,000 viewers weeknights at 11 p.m., ahead of KNBC-TV Channel 4, which attracted 177,463 viewers.
The 11 p.m. ratings race tightened last month between KABC, KNBC and KCBS among viewers age 25 to 54, the demographic that advertisers prefer for news programs.
February marked the first time in more than 20 years that KCBS has turned in such a competitive performance at 11 p.m., station executives said. The last time KCBS generated such competitive ratings among the 25 to 54 group was in 1994, when CBS aired the Lillehammer Winter Olympics in prime time.
"We are extremely proud of these February results and the longer-term trends that show we are continuing to grow the audience for our newscasts," Steve Mauldin, general manager of CBS Channel 2 and KCAL-TV Channel 9.
KCAL, also owned by CBS Corp., attracted the largest audience for a 10 p.m. newscast with 167,000 viewers on weeknights. It outranked news programs on Tribune Media Co.'s KTLA Channel 5 and Fox's KTTV Channel 11.
At 6 p.m., Spanish-language Telemundo KVEA-TV Channel 52 ranked as the third-most popular station in Los Angeles with 177,382 viewers. KVEA drew more viewers at that hour than KNBC, which attracted 144,600 viewers. Both stations are owned by NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corp.
Here is how the Los Angeles stations stacked up in February in prime time: KABC, 367,027 viewers; KCBS, 365,912 viewers; KMEX, 305,538; KNBC, 292,964; Fox's KTTV, 199,876; KCAL, 135,572; KVEA, 126,557; Spanish-language Estrella TV KRCA Channel 62, 99,582; KTLA (CW affiliate), 88,210 viewers and Spanish-language KWHY-TV Channel 22, the MundoFox affiliate owned by Meruelo Media, 87,092.