KNBC, KTTV news on top

KNBC and Fox O&O KTTV reigned as the demographic rating leaders in the local news derby, according to Nielsen’s just-released Los Angeles demo ratings breakdown for the May sweeps.

KMEX, the flagship of the Spanish-lingo Univision web, notched another strong sweeps, posting double-digit gains in key demos for its evening newscasts and in other dayparts.

But that growth is becoming a bone of contention for KMEX’s English-lingo counterparts, some of whom are privately grumbling that Hispanics are overrepresented in Nielsen’s sample for the diverse L.A. market.

Some contend that the sample is too heavily weighted toward those Hispanic households where Spanish is the primary language spoken. Execs at KMEX, on the other hand, have in the past asserted that the sample does not include the proper percentage of Spanish-dominant households.

The same issue came to a head last week in Florida, where Fox affiliate WSVN refused to renew its contract with Nielsen Media Research because station managers say the viewership of Spanish outlets is overstated at the expense of English competitors. Even small changes in ratings reports can mean thousands of dollars in advertising revenue shifting from one station to another.

In L.A., the nation’s second-largest TV market with $1.5 billion in TV ad dollars at stake, there’s talk that the growing concerns about the reliability of the sample could lead to more canceled Nielsen contracts or even lawsuits against the rating service. For now, however, no one is making such a threat on the record.

Meanwhile, the demo report for May pretty much reinforced the status quo of the last few years. KNBC was the dominant station in the afternoon/evening newscasts among men and women in the 18-49 and 25-54 age brackets.

KABC ran a close second in most races, pulling into the lead with women 25-54 in the 4-5 p.m. contest. KCBS remained a distant third, earning fractional demo ratings in most categories.

The local primetime lineup proved to be the same as it has been in recent years, with KTTV the reigning adult 18-49 champ with a 7.2, followed in order by KMEX (6.7), KNBC (6.2), KABC (4.9), KTLA (3.4), KCBS (2.8), KCOP (2.1) and KCAL (1.8).

In the ayem news race, KTTV continued to post strong growth across the board with its 7-9 a.m. “Good Day L.A.,” which even topped KNBC’s “Today” to rank No. 1 in men 18-49 and 25-54.

After slipping steadily in the past few sweeps, KTLA’s “Morning News” rebounded to tie “Good Day” among adults 18-49 and win the timeslot in women 18-49 and 25-54. KMEX’s “Despierta America” (Wake Up America) was also on the upswing, proving competitive with KTTV and KTLA.

In the KTTV-KTLA rivalry at the other end of the day, KTTV was the clear victor in the 10 p.m. news skirmish with a comfortable lead across the board.

Among other notable numbers in the demo report:

n At 3 p.m., KCOP’s “Forgive or Forget” edged out KABC’s “Oprah Winfrey” and KNBC’s “Rosie O’Donnell” to rank No. 1 in the timeslot with women 18-34. “Rosie” ruled in adults 18-49 while “Oprah” took adults 25-54 and femmes 18-49 and 25-54.

  • KNBC’s 7-8 p.m. combo of “Extra” and “Access Hollywood” notched across-the-board gains over the May 1998 sweeps. KTLA ruled the English-lingo pack with its one-two punch of “Friends” and “Seinfeld” reruns, but KMEX’s family friendly telenovela “Gotita de Amor” (Droplet of Love) towered over the 7-7:30 p.m. competish.

  • KCAL was strong from 12:15-1:15 a.m. with the success of dating shows “Change of Heart” and “Love Connection.”

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