What a difference a year makes. In the May, 2012, Nielsens, WTOL-TV, Channel 11, enjoyed the largest share of area viewership, winning all four of the afternoon and evening newscasts in total viewers.
For the just-released May, 2013, sweeps, however, WTOL finished first only twice among viewers 2 and older and with one tie. The year-to-year ratings trend has the CBS affiliate down in total viewership in all but one of the station's newscasts.
WTVG-TV, Channel 13, meanwhile, seemed to absorb some of those channel-changing viewers, with year-to-year improvements in total viewership in all of its newscasts.
In the 2-plus category, WTVG won mornings handily. The ABC affiliate was watched by 19,000 total viewers between 5 and 6 and 52,000 between 6 and 7. WTOL was watched by 8,000 and 23,000 total viewers in the same time slots. The stations tied at noon in total viewership, with 35,000 apiece, while Channel 11 was the preferred choice for evening newscasts, winning the 5 to 6 and 11 to 11:30 time slots with 43,000 and 55,000 viewers, respectively. WTVG was watched by 35,000 and 40,000 total viewers in the same periods; however, the station won the 6 to 6:30 p.m. newscast — the area's most watched — in a narrow race with WTOL, 64,000 to 61,000.
In May, 2012, WTOL was watched by 13,500 total viewers at 5 a.m., 40,000 at 6 a.m., 45,000 at noon, 41,000 at 5 p.m., 70,000 at 6 p.m., and 61,000 at 11 p.m. In the same 2-plus category, WTVG was watched by 17,000 viewers at 5 a.m., 40,000 at 6 a.m., 30,000 at noon, 29,000 at 5 p.m., 56,000 at 6 p.m., and 37,000 at 11 p.m.
"[WTVG] is number one at 6 p.m. and dominates the morning news because of a simple philosophy," said the station's executive news director, Brian Trauring. "Our news is all about the viewer. Our team works to include that value in every story. We work to listen carefully to viewers and incorporate their feedback into daily decision making.
"We recognize that people are especially skeptical right now. They don't necessarily trust what they see or hear. Our obligation as journalists is to make sure we deliver facts without the baloney."
WTOL news director C.J. Hoyt was not available for comment.
In the key advertising demographic of ages 25 to 54, WTVG fared even better. The station took both a.m. and two of the four p.m. newscasts over its ratings rival. Channel 13 drew an average of 8,500 viewers in the 25-to-54 demo. for the 5 a.m. newscast, and 24,000 for the 6 a.m., compared to 4,000 and 8,000, respectively, for Channel 11. WTVG also won the same age demographic at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. with an average of 12,500 and 23,000 viewers. WTOL was watched by 12,000 and 16,000 viewers ages 25 to 54 in the same time periods. Channel 11, though, did break the noon tie among total viewers by a win in the 25-to-54 group, 11,000 compared to Channel 13's 9,000. WTOL also was the preference to WTVG among the same age demographic for the 11 p.m. news: 16,000 to 13,000.
For its 9 to 10 a.m. newscast, which does not compete head to head with any local news, WTOL was watched by an average of 3,000 viewers ages 25 to 54 and 11,000 viewers overall, which is down 7,000 viewers from May of last year.
The ratings were mixed for the WUPW-TV, Channel 36, and WTOL newsroom partnership, which produced a two-hour block of local morning news on the Fox affiliate to go with its pre-existing p.m. newscasts at 6:30 to 7 and 10 to 11.
Channel 36's morning newscasts from 7 to 8, and 8 to 9 were watched by a total audience of 1,000 and 2,000, respectively. The 7 a.m. newscast didn't generate enough viewers in the 25-to-54 demographic for Nielsen to measure, while the 8 a.m. broadcast drew 1,000 viewers in the same category. WUPW was watched by 5,000 total viewers at 6:30 p.m. and 22,000 at 10 p.m. The former ratings number represents a decline of 1,000 viewers from May, 2012, while the latter is an increase of 2,000. None of WUPW's newscasts compete with local news programming.
As for WNWO-TV, Channel 24, the station showed an upswing in total viewership with its morning news from May, 2012, while its evening broadcasts lost viewers.
The 5 to 6 and 6 to 7 a.m. newscasts were watched by 3,000 total viewers during each hour, an increase of 1,000 viewers each from last year, while the 6 to 6:30 and 11 to 11:30 p.m. newscasts were watched by 5,000 total viewers in each time slot, a decrease of 1,000 apiece. In the key age demographic, WNWO was watched by 2,000 viewers at 5 a.m. and again at 6 a.m., 1,000 at 6 p.m., and 3,000 at 11 p.m.
The success of the NBC affiliate's morning show compared to last year is difficult to explain because a.m. anchor Abby Powell left the station in May, and was only on the air for a few days of the ratings period. With her departure, WNWO filled the on-air void with the weekday alternating anchor team of Brittany Patterson and Nick McGill, along with the morning newscast's meteorologist Jon James. The Patterson-McGill rotation will continue until late July, when Annette Falconer from KLTV-TV, an ABC affiliate in Tyler, Texas, takes over the morning anchor duties.
Given the trials and tribulations of his perennial last-place station, Chris Topf, WNWO president and general manager, remains optimistic of a ratings surge amid the rather dour May numbers.
"This [ratings] book, there aren't many things that are a surprise to me," he said. "I think that we will see, based on what I'm looking at now, a better November book than where we're at now. I'm seeing an improvement ... Annette will have been here a few months, so hopefully she'll be steadying the morning show."
Contact Kirk Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.