WABC No. 1 in Gotham November Sweeps

NEW YORK — WABC won bragging rights among the Big Three O&Os during the New York November sweeps by finishing first in most of the key locally programmed time periods.

The five key areas in which WABC is No. 1: local news from 5 to 6:30 p.m.; primetime access with “Jeopardy!” at 7 and “Wheel of Fortune” at 7:30; at 4 p.m. with the “Oprah” hour; at 9 a.m. with “Regis & Kathie Lee”; and at 10 a.m. with the “Rosie O’Donnell Show.” The station also finished ahead of WCBS’ noon news for the first time ever, at least in part because “we’re using the same news team that has become No. 1 during the 6 a.m. news hour,” says Tom Kane, G.M. of WABC.

But WNBC edged out WABC in the most lucrative local slot on the schedule, the nightly half-hour newscast at 11. Even more important to WNBC, says Dennis Swanson, G.M. of the station, is that “we’re No. 1 in advertising revenue sign-on-to-sign-off.”

$170 mil cash flow

Swanson declined to discuss dollar figures, but sources say the station’s cash flow will hit about $170 million for 1997.

One of the reasons WNBC is ahead of WABC in ad revenues and cash flow despite getting lower ratings over the 24-hour period, according to sources, is that WNBC gets more local-advertising time to sell within the No. 1-rated primetime schedule than the ABC network gives to its local stations. These local primetime spots represent about one-third of all of the advertising revenue that comes in to a major-market station owned by one of the Big Three.

WCBS finishes a weak third in the key news time periods of 11 p.m. and the slots between 5 and 7 p.m. Steve Friedman, VP and station manager, says WCBS is planning a major revamp of the 11 p.m. half-hour by February to take advantage of the lead-in supplied by the 1998 Winter Olympics from Nagano, Japan (Feb. 6-22, 1998), which the CBS network will cover and which — like previous Olympics — is expected to harvest big Nielsens.

WCBS surprised its competitors with a strong 6 rating and 15 share for Worldvision’s “Judge Judy” at 4 p.m. in November, causing WNBC to flip-flop the time periods of Warner Bros. Domestic’s “People’s Court,” now at 3, and Universal’s “Sally Jessy Raphael,” now at 4, so that “Court,” hosted by Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City, will go directly against “Judge Judy.”

The Big Three O&Os are already beginning to plan programming strategies for the 1998-99 season. WCBS has bought King World’s new version of “Hollywood Squares,” with Chris Rock’s name being floated by KW as the proposed center square, to beef up the station’s access hour as a companion piece to the longrunning “Entertainment Tonight.” WCBS also picked up Paramount’s “Howie Mandel Show” talk hour, which will most likely replace Geraldo Rivera’s talkshow in mid-afternoon. Rivera has announced that he will step down from the show after the 1997-98 season to concentrate on his primetime show on CNBC and other programs on both the NBC broadcast network and NBC’s two cable networks: CNBC and MSNBC.

WNBC buys ‘Roseanne’

WNBC has bought King World’s new “Roseanne” hourlong five-a-week talkshow for 1998-99, for scheduling sometime between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m..

Kane says WABC will stand pat with its current syndication hand because the existing shows are all chalking up high-octane Nielsens.

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