KNBC biggest gainer in battle of O&Os

KABC-TV Wednesday wrapped up the Nielsen November sweeps with solid news victories in the early evening hours but — despite a sizable primetime lead-in advantage — finished in a dead heat with KNBC-TV in the highly profitable 11 p.m. race.

Still, KNBC posted the biggest year-to-year news gains of any of the O&Os. The Peacock station generally benefits the most when KCBS-TV has a bad book, and this sweeps was no exception.

KCBS, unable to cash in on heightened news viewing in the aftermath of the Southern California wildfires, suffered through its worst November book in at least eight years. Its poor showing in late news harmed the network’s new “Late Show With David Letterman” franchise in the nation’s second-largest TV market.

The station, under new management, could be forced to make some moves in January if it wants to see any benefit from February’s Winter Olympic Games on CBS.

With early fringe lead-ins vital to the news, KABC’s dominant 3 p.m.-4 p.m. talkshow “Oprah” was off about half a rating point from last November, while KNBC’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” rose to a 3.8 rating/11 share from “Donahue’s” 3.1/ 9 a year earlier.

At 4 p.m., KNBC’s news was up 2 shares while KABC’s climbed 1 share from the previous year. KCBS’ entry in the hour, “Geraldo,” dove 1.4/3 and lost to “The Montel Williams Show” on indie KCOP.

KNBC gained 3 shares at 5 p.m., while KABC rose 2 and KCBS sank 3 — a feat the three stations repeated at 6 p.m.

At 11 p.m., KNBC overcame its quarter-hour lead-in disadvantage to soar 4 share points over the previous year. KABC, with the higher lead-in, dipped 1 share, while KCBS plunged 5 shares off its lead-in.

Overall, KNBC was the only station to grow by at least a rating point between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Conversely, indie KCAL-TV showed the only decline of more than a point.

Individually, here’s how the best entertainment and newsmag shows performed vs. November 1992:

  • KTTV’s “Cops” at 6:30 p.m. gained 2.8 rating points over “The Wonder Years” (which in turn is outperforming “I Love Lucy” reruns now that it is at 5:30 p.m.).

  • KTLA’s 7 p.m. edition of “Family Matters” leaped 1.3 points over “Murphy Brown.”

  • KNBC’s “Hard Copy” jumped 1.2 points over a year ago but is moving to KCBS next fall.

  • KTTV’s 6 p.m. edition of “Married … With Children” swelled 1 point.

  • And KCOP’s rerun strip “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” rose about 1 point over last November.

‘ET,’ ‘Jeopardy!’ up

Other shows posting increases were KABC’s “Jeopardy!” and KNBC’s “Entertainment Tonight,” each of which grew about half a rating point over their year-ago marks. Unfortunately for KNBC, “ET” is skipping to KCBS next September along with “Hard Copy.”

KABC’s “Wheel of Fortune,” while still the top-ranked 7 p.m.-8 p.m. access show in Los Angeles, slipped nearly a full rating point over last November.

KTLA’s 6:30 p.m. run of “Family Matters” was off a full rating point from “Full House” a year ago, but still turned out to be the top-ranked entertainment show in the slot.

‘Cheers’ bottoms up

Of the independent stations, KTLA’s biggest trouble spots (vs. year-ago performance) are with “Full House” at 6 p.m. (down 0.8 points but still posting a respectable 7.1/13) and “Cheers” (dropping 1.1 points at 7:30 p.m. and 1.7 points at 11 p.m.).

KTTV, meanwhile, is having trouble in access. “Married” in the first half-hour is off nearly 2 full rating points from last November, while “A Current Affair” at 7:30 p.m. fell 1.4 points.

‘Cos’ affected

Over at KCOP, “Roseanne” at 6 p.m. has lost a little strength from last year, while “Cosby” is off 2 rating points from the second run of “Roseanne” that aired at 6:30 p.m. last year.

At 11 p.m., however, “Roseanne” has a big lead over “Arsenio,” which aired in the slot a year ago. The off-net sitcom is up a full rating point, while the talkshow has fallen 2 share points from its year-ago performance.

“Arsenio” now airs a half-hour later at 11:30 p.m. against KNBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” which is beating KCBS’ “Letterman” in the hour by half a point.

And KCOP, which is making a major move to more firstrun primetime programming this year, recorded the only prime share increases over November 1992 — thanks largely to firstrun episodes of “Star Trek: TNG,” which had its strongest November book ever (KCAL and KTLA were each down 1 share while KTTV was even).

KCAL has some major headaches, with its entire 6-8 p.m. sked of “Empty Nest,” local news, “Inside Edition” and “American Journal” suffering losses from November 1992.

The problems don’t stop there, however. KTTV’s Fox Children’s Network — led by the incredible 7.3/21 performance of the new “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” at 3 p.m. (up a hefty 3/9 over November ’92) — is crushing the residents of the 3 p.m.-5 p.m. “Disney Afternoon” on KCAL. Overall, Fox is up 1.0/3 from last year in the daypart.

Even in the 11 p.m.-midnight fringe daypart, where KCAL has shown growth over the previous year with “The Jane Whitney Show” (up 1.2/2), the station can’t win. Warner Bros. has pulled the plug on the talker.

KTLA, KTTV rise

In primetime news, 10 p.m. leader KTLA and runnerup KTTV rose about half a point; third-place KCAL-TV and KCOP were up a tick or two.

Turning to other key battles, KABC (3.8/21) once again edged out once-dominant KNBC (3.5/21) in the 6 a.m. news race. KTLA, new to the daypart, finished third with a 2.3/13 while KCBS earned a 1.1/6 and KTTV pulled a 0.8/4.

The “KTLA Morning News” continued to lead the competition, growing 2 share points to a 4.7/18. It crushed KTTV’s “Good Day L.A,” which earned a 1.3/5 — down 3 shares from cartoons a year ago.

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