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WNBC tops N.Y. sweeps

'Oprah's' first loss, beaten by 'Judy'

Boosted by the addition of the still-blazing “Judge Judy” to its lineup, WNBC today will claim a commanding November sweeps win in Gotham — one highlighted by victories in virtually every key time period and the first-ever New York sweeps loss by WABC’s “Oprah Winfrey.”

The Peacock-owned flagship’s win includes several major upsets:

  • With “Judy” improving WNBC’s 4 p.m. average by more than 60%, the station’s “Live at Five” defeated WABC’s long-dominant “Eyewitness News at 5” for the first time since May, 1985;

  • At 6 p.m., WNBC upset WABC’s newscast for the first time since February 1989;

  • WNBC also scored an easy triumph over WABC in the 11 o’clock race, giving the Peacock outlet its first 5, 6 and 11 p.m. triple crown since 1983. As an added bonus, WNBC also swept the ayem competish in a walk;

  • “Judy’s” win at 4 p.m. over “Oprah” gave WNBC its first victory in the timeslot since the Reagan administration. While good news for WNBC, it also marked an end of an era: The WABC powerhouse had won its time period in Gotham during every major sweeps since its 1987 bow, according to WNBC reps.

Exec elation

Not surprisingly, WNBC execs are elated over the breadth of their win.

“This is a big one,” station topper Dennis Swanson told Daily Variety. “We won every newscast, we’re up in access and we’re going to win primetime.”

Swanson acknowledges “Judy’s” role in his station’s triumph but also credits steady improvements to WNBC’s newscasts and a concerted effort to increase the amount of local programming and outreach at the station. “We’re no longer just an outlet for network programming,” he said.

Other major trends in the sweep include WNYW’s continued dominance in the 10 p.m. primetime news race; the seemingly unstoppable downward drift in daytime ratings for almost all stations; and the phenomenal success of WPIX’s “Pokemon,” which scores huge Nielsen numbers at 4 p.m. and even outrates WNBC’s “Today” from 7-7:30 a.m.

Here are results from several key timeparts:

  • Prime access: WABC is solidly in first with “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!”, while WPIX rockets from fourth to second place with the new combo of “Friends” and “Seinfeld.” WNBC’s “Access Hollywood” had a great month, surging 19% over year-ago numbers;

  • Network news: The success of “NewsChannel 4 at 6” has helped “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw” virtually eliminate the once-huge gap between it and first-place “World News Tonight.” The Brokawcast is now within a hair of dethroning Peter Jennings;

  • Daytime: WABC stumbles big time, with all of its programs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. suffering double digit declines. The biggest loser: “One Life to Live,” which dropped a stunning 31%;

  • Latenight: WNBC’s “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night” combo continue to crush the competish. While WCBS’s 11 p.m. newscast is up vs. year-ago numbers, “Late Night with David Letterman” continues to lose viewers, while “Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn” attracted fewer eyeballs than Tom Snyder did in the same slot a year ago.

  • Total day: WNBC wins in a walk, followed by WABC, WPIX, WCBS, WNYW, WWOR, Spanish-lingo broadcaster WXTV, pubcaster WNET, Pax flagship WPXN and Spanish-ling outlet WNJU.

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