KCET’s prime-time ratings slip 38% in first three weeks without PBS


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Finding viewers after PBS continues to be a challenge for KCET-TV Channel 28.

Through the first three weeks of the year, the Silver Lake-based broadcaster has been averaging 19,000 households, a 38% plunge compared with the same period last year, according to the Nielsen Co.

KCET, once the West Coast flagship of PBS, exited the network at the end of last year after months of disputes over fees and other issues. The schedule now consists of reruns of British dramas such as the spy caper ‘Mi-5’ and the whodunit ‘Prime Suspect’ with Helen Mirren as well as imported news programs and documentaries. Most of KCET’s former PBS lineup was picked up by Orange County’s KOCE-TV, now called PBS SoCal.


As bad as the prime-time ratings are, the total-day numbers are even worse. Over the course of its entire broadcast day, KCET has lost fully half its viewers compared with last year. The station now averages just 10,000 households, a figure that suggests the station’s potential donor pool will be considerably reduced. That’s important because member gifts make up a large portion of the budget at public stations.

Perhaps not surprisingly, KCET has seen its greatest declines with shows that represented the biggest changes to its old PBS lineup. So the daytime block of cooking shows, which replaced the popular PBS kids shows such as ‘Sesame Street,’ has been hit particularly hard.

But there’s at least one ray of hope. The Saturday night block of British repeats — including ‘Mi-5’ and the sitcom ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ — is actually up 33% compared with last year, to 33,000 households.

— Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)