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Even After Tuck, KGTV Wins News Ratings Race

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Proving there is life after Michael Tuck, KGTV (Channel 10) again won the local news sweepstakes in the key November period, according to two ratings reports.

Channel 10’s news operation has now been No. 1 for six consecutive quarters.

The November ratings were also the first for KUSI-TV’s (Channel 51) fledgling 10 p.m. newscast, which posted marginal numbers.

Overall, the ratings reflect that audiences for network and local news programs continue to diminish.

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Although the Nielsen numbers were similar to a year before, Arbitron showed that almost all the main local newscasts and the network prime-time schedule lost viewers in the past year.

“I think there are so many alternatives to watch, and people keep getting so many choices that the slice of the pie keeps getting narrower,” Channel 10 News Director Paul Sands said.

Sands’ station won every major news competition in November, the first ratings period since Tuck, the station’s lead anchor for six years, left in September to take a job with KCBS-TV (Channel 2) in Los Angeles. Although Tuck continues to do his “Perspective” commentaries twice a week during Channel 10’s 11 p.m. newscasts, he was replaced on the more heavily watched 5 p.m. newscast by former weekend anchor Stephen Clark.

“I think if it (Tuck’s departure) was going to show up, it was going to show up in this book,” Sands said. “The key was . . . it appeared to be a smooth, well-planned transition, instead of a holy-God, there-goes-the-farm transition.”

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In the key 5 p.m. news slot, Channel 10 posted a 14 rating and 31 share in the Nielsens and a 13 rating and 30 share in the Arbitron. Both Arbitron and Nielsen showed Channel 8 in second place with a 10 rating and a 24 share and a 12 rating and 26 share, respectively. Channel 39 posted a 5 rating and 13 share in Arbitron and a 5 rating and an 11 share in Nielsen.

Interestingly, Channel 39’s viewership went up to a 7 rating in both books at 5:30, when the station switches to network news, but returned to a 5 when the station switched back to local news at 6 o’clock.

A rating represents the percentage of total households with televisions tuned to the program, while a share reflects the percentage of television sets turned on during that period and tuned to the show. In San Diego, a ratings point represents about 9,000 households.

The numbers from both services, which differ little in methodology and impact, are issued quarterly and used to determine advertising rates for the shows. The November books, coming before the holidays and the start of the new year, are considered especially important for selling advertising.

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Industry observers were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the November ratings to judge the impact of Channel 51’s new 10 p.m. newscast. As of press time, Channel 51 had not received its specific numbers from the ratings services, but industry sources confirm that the hourlong program received a 2 rating and a 4 share from Arbitron and a 1 rating and 3 share from Nielsen.

It was hardly an auspicious debut for Channel 51, but most industry observers expected little more from a start-up newscast. The station did not begin promoting the program until late in the month.

“This program was on the air 30 days before the book started,” said Channel 51 News Director Pete Jacobus. “But I think this is an initial indication of the audience preference. I’m delighted.”

In contrast, Channel 10’s 11 p.m. newscast received a 7 rating and 30 share in the Arbitron report. Arbitron shows Channels 8 and 39 practically deadlocked at 11 p.m., both with a 4 rating, although Channel 8 had a 19 share and Channel 39 an 18. Nielsen, however, has Channel 39, the perennial third-place news operation, in second place with a 6 rating and 21 share, compared to Channel 8’s 5 rating and 18 share.

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It would be easy to say that Channel 39’s late-night newscast was buoyed by NBC’s strong prime-time lineup, but the Nielsen book shows CBS and ABC winning the prime-time race in San Diego, slightly ahead of NBC, although Arbitron shows NBC with a slight advantage.

Stations received the Arbitron numbers Friday and the Nielsen results Monday.


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