Because it has fully recovered from its 2002 ratings recession, WTOL-TV, Channel 11, need not fear the Ghost of May Sweeps Past.
If anything, the spirit has been a source of motivation in the CBS affiliate's newsroom. No one wants a repeat of last May, when its newscasts dropped to No. 2 among viewers age 25 to 54 (the demographic that generates the most advertising revenue).
WTOL returned to No. 1 in November and then tightened its grip on the top spot in February. The situation is similar to last year, when WTOL looked invincible heading into May sweeps -- only to see WTVG-TV, Channel 13, ascend to No. 1 in the key demo.
WTOL news director C.J. Beutien admits last May's plunge weighs on his mind. “This is an extremely important ratings period,” he said. “Your May audience numbers last the rest of the year [as an advertising sales tool]. We have been planning since January and we are ready.”
So is WTVG, which is scheduled to unveil its state-of-the-art set Wednesday (5 p.m. newscast). With the market's first new set since 2000, the ABC-owned station's newscasts will have a distinctly different look than its three competitors. Meanwhile, NBC affiliate WNWO-TV, Channel 24, and Fox affiliate WUPW-TV, Channel 36, are hoping to build upon some positive numbers from February.
Below are some expected highlights for the four-week ratings period that begins on Thursday:
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