Nielsen's February sweeps brought yet another dramatic change atop the ratings.
This time it was WTVG-TV, Channel 13, on top, besting WTOL-TV, Channel 11, which ruled the local news only months ago in November.
Channel 13 carried five of the six head-to-head newscasts with Channel 11 — 5 to 6 a.m., 6 to 7 a.m., noon to 12:30 p.m., 5 to 6 p.m., and 6 to 6:30 p.m. — in the key age demographic 25 to 54. The ABC affiliate also won four of the six newscasts and tied for another — 5 to 6 p.m. — in total viewers ages 2 and older.
"If you go back and look ... in five of the last six major ratings periods we've done exceptionally well," said Brian Trauring, WTVG's news director. "It's all about the trends, it's not about the adjustable ratings period. ... In this case, that's five out of the last six that we've won and we're very grateful for that."
CBS affiliate Channel 11, meanwhile, won the 11 to 11:30 p.m. newscast in the 25 to 54 age group as well as in the total number of viewers categories.
"Ratings are volatile. It's true in a lot of the markets around the country," said Andi Roman, WTOL news director. "We win one, they win one. It continues to be a tight battle."
WTVG's newscasts were watched by an average of 22,500 viewers ages 25 to 54 in the 5 to 6 p.m. time slot, 34,000 in the 6 to 6:30 p.m., and 21,000 between 11 and 11:30 p.m. In total viewers, Channel 13's 5 to 6 p.m. newscast was watched by an average of 54,000, 6 to 6:30 p.m. 89,000, and 11 to 11:30 p.m. 54,000.
In the same time slots, WTOL's newscasts were watched by 19,000, 28,000, and 23,000 viewers ages 25 to 54. WTOL had 54,000, 75,000, and 59,000 total viewers in the same 5 to 6 p.m., 6 to 6:30 p.m., and 11 to 11:30 p.m. newscasts.
WNWO-TV, Channel 24, which competes with WTOL and WTVG at 6 to 6:30 p.m. and 11 to 11:30 p.m., was watched by an average of 3,000 viewers ages 25 to 54 in the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts, and 6,000 total viewers for the 6 p.m. and 7,000 for the 11 p.m. The 6 to 6:30 p.m. newscast experienced a drop in 4,000 total viewership from November; the 11 p.m. show saw an increase of about 1,000.
For the 5 to 6 a.m. newscast, WTVG was watched by an average of 15,500 viewers in the 25 to 54 demo and 26,500 viewers overall, an increase in both from November. The numbers grew even more for the 6 to 7 a.m. newscast to 33,000 viewers ages 25 to 54, and 60,000 viewers overall. That's a significant increase of 10,000 viewers in the first category and a staggering growth of 20,000 in the second from November.
Not surprisingly, WTVG's morning dominance in February ate into the competition's viewership.
WTOL was watched by 11,500 viewers ages 25 to 54 and 20,500 viewers in the 5 to 6 a.m. slot, which also represented an increase over November's numbers. The station's 6 to 7 a.m. numbers were down, however, 20,000 in the same demo and 32,000 overall compared to 22,000 and 38,000, respectively, from November sweeps. NBC affiliate WNWO was watched by an average of 2,000 viewers ages 25 to 54 and 2,000 overall between 5 and 6 a.m., and 2,000 in the same demo and 3,000 total viewers between 6 and 7 a.m. The total number of viewers between 6 to 7 a.m. was a drop of 4,000 from November.
Trauring credits consistency with its anchors and other on-air staff, as well its coverage of February winter events for WTVG's ratings success.
"We have the same folks, the same journalists, the same anchor team, and have had that going for a long time," he said, "[and] there's that familiarity with Toledo that these people have developed through the years and the roots they have put down. I think folks are really comfortable with Lee [Conklin], Diane [Larson], and the rest of the anchors.
"I think there's no question that the Storm Team has played a role in this [too]. We have very strong meteorologists who do a great job when there's a severe storm."
Nielsen does not provide ratings for the 4:30 to 5 a.m. newscasts, during which WTOL and WTVG also compete. WTOL's Your Morning news program, which airs from 9 to 10 a.m. weekdays, continued to improve upon its numbers as well, up from 15,000 total viewers in November to 19,000 in February. That's nearly double the amount of 2-plus viewers the show had last May.
Meanwhile, Fox affiliate WUPW-TV, Channel 36, maintained its total viewership in November for its 6:30 to 7 p.m. newscast, 6,000, and improved its 10 to 11 p.m. numbers from 14,000 2-plus viewers to 17,000.
Changes are coming to three of the affiliates just in time for the May sweeps. The ABC-Disney-owned WTVG was just purchased by SJL Broadcasting Inc. and has a new general manager, John Christianson. WNWO has a new president and general manager as well, Ben Tucker, along with a news director, Amulya Raghuveer, both of whom are promising changes to the ratings-beleaguered station. And WTOL goes high-definition on April 25, joining WTVG as the only market affiliates broadcasting high-def newscasts.
Contact Kirk Baird at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.