KABC, KTLA sweep ahead

KNBC drops 14% as Alphabet news grabs 4 p.m. crown

After losing ground in the past few sweeps, KABC reclaimed the 4 p.m. news crown from KNBC in the May book and closed the gap in other key news battles.

Tribune’s KTLA also notched a strong sweeps perf, fueled by gains in its newscasts, daytime lineup and the power of “Friends” reruns in access and latenight. Univision’s Spanish-lingo KMEX was buoyant once again, posting double-digit growth in its newscasts, daytime and prime access lineups.

As always, the household ratings tally for the sweeps period (April 29-May 26) are mostly good for bragging rights; the demographic numbers that drive advertising sales won’t be available from Nielsen until late next month.

KABC won the 4 p.m. news contest by a nose — after losing by the same slim margin in the May ’98 sweep — despite an 8% decline from last May to an average 5.1 household rating and 14 share. KNBC dropped 14% from year-to-year to a 4.8/13.

It went down to the wire at 5 p.m., with KABC posting a 10% gain to a 5.5/13, but KNBC pulled ahead (5.6/13) in spite of a 3% dip. Both O&Os were down slightly at 6 p.m., but KNBC still had a comfortable lead with a 6.1/13 compared to KABC’s 5.6/12.

KNBC’s 6:30 p.m. network newscast (6.4/12) pulled ahead of KABC’s (5.9/11) by a wider margin than it finished with in May ’98. KCBS remained a distant third in the afternoon/evening news race, while KMEX’s 5 p.m. (3.4/8) and 6 p.m. (3.7/8) numbers were up by more than 25% over year-ago levels.

In the ayem news arena, KTLA’s 7-9 a.m. news ended its downward spiral of the past few books, climbing 7% to a 3.0/11. At the same time, Fox O&O KTTV’s “Good Day L.A.” continued its upward trajectory, hiking 21% to a 2.9/11. But as usual, KNBC’s “Today” led the field with an 9% gain to a 3.5/13, while KABC’s “Good Morning America” upticked 3% to place a close second with a 3.3/12.

KCBS’ brightest spot in news came in the 6-7 a.m. slot, where the numbers climbed 25% to a 1.5/7. Starting Monday, the Eye O&O will expand its early ayem news by a half-hour beginning at 5 a.m.

KABC and indie KCAL remained the leaders in the 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daytime rotation. KABC was powered by a 14% spike for its 10 a.m. talker “The View” (3.3/13) and its strong afternoon soap slate of “All My Children,” “One Life to Live” and “General Hospital.”

KCAL held firm with help from “Judge Judy,” “The People’s Court” and a 9% uptick for its 2 p.m. newscast. KTLA climbed out of the fractional ratings cellar with an assist from “Judge Mills Lane” from 11 a.m.-noon, while UPN’s KCOP was generally flat with its lineup of talkers and sitcom reruns.

KTLA also improved its fortunes in the lucrative 7-8 p.m. access hour with the one-two punch of “Friends” (6.6/12) and “Seinfeld” (7.8/13). But KABC still ruled with “Jeopardy!” (8.9/16) and “Wheel of Fortune” (8.8/15). KCBS earned a 21% hike at 7:30 p.m. with “Hollywood Squares” (4.0/7), which replaced last year’s “Hard Copy.”

The local primetime breakdown was status quo, with all but KABC and KMEX posting year-to-year declines. KNBC was on top, in spite of a 15% post-“Seinfeld” drop to a 10.3/16. KTTV was off 9% to an 8.9/14, followed by KABC (8.8/14), KCBS (7.5/12), KMEX (6.4, up 52%), KTLA (5.1/8), KCAL (3.5/5) and KCOP (3.1/5).

The 10 p.m. news skirmish was a squeaker between KTTV and KTLA, with the Fox O&O dipping 5% to a 5.2/9, while KTLA climbed 8% to a 5.0/8. KCOP (1.7/3) was again battered by UPN’s primetime woes.

KNBC once again towered over the 11 p.m. news competish with an 8.4/18, down 16% from a year ago, when the Peacock O&O enjoyed the lead-in surge from the “Seinfeld” finale. KABC eased 7% to a 6.6/14 and KCBS trailed with a 4.4/10, down 25%.

KMEX’s late news soared an eye-popping 75% to a 3.5/8, but KCAL’s “Jerry Springer” headed the other direction with a 36% slide to a 5.3/14.

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