Ratings war is news to 3 local stations

With the May sweeps set to wrap Wednesday night, WNYW and WPIX are locked in a down-to-the-wire battle for first place in the 10 p.m. news race, while WNBC — despite showing year-to-year declines in most time periods — has wrapped up solid ayem and late news victories.

Fox-owned WNYW, which started Gotham’s first primetime newscast 30 years ago, has yet to lose a primetime news battle during a major ratings book. Yet as of Friday, WPIX’s newscast held a narrow lead at 10 p.m., averaging a 4.65 rating/7 share vs. WNYW’s 4.56/7.

WNYW is expected to regain the lead once Monday night’s Nielsen numbers, sure to be boosted by a hefty lead-in from the season finale of “Ally McBeal,” are figured into the average. Tribune-owned WPIX, flagship station of the WB net, will then hope for solid lead-ins today and Wednesday from Frog programming to put it over the top for the entire book.

Market-leader WNBC will end the May book with mixed results, finishing first in the ayem and 11 p.m. news time periods while suffering serious aud erosion in almost every daypart vs. last May, when the countdown to the “Seinfeld” signoff and the presence of Michael Jordan in the NBA playoffs helped the station score a dominating win in total-day numbers.

WNBC to keep lead

Peacock flagship likely will remain Gotham’s top-rated station overall, edging out second place WABC. WPIX will rank third for the book, followed by WCBS, WNYW and WWOR. Univision flagship WXTV once will again demolish Telemundo outlet WNJU.

Here’s where Gotham’s major stations stand in several key timeslots, with three days of Nielsen data yet to be counted:

In Pre-dawn news (5:30 a.m.): WNBC leads, with WPIX’s repeat of the previous day’s 10 p.m. news a surprising second. WABC is third, while WCBS and WNYW are fighting for fourth.

In Early ayem: The Peacock rules here, too, followed in order by WABC, WNYW and WCBS.

In Network ayem news: NBC’s “Today” continues to crush the competish, remaining flat vs. last May. ABC’s revamped “Good Morning America” is second, with ratings down just a tad, while WNYW’s “Good Day” slides even deeper into third place, taking a 30% ratings hit over last May. CBS’ fourth-place “This Morning,” soon-to-be scuttled for a new ayemcast, is up just over 20% in Gotham.

WPIX’s 7-9 a.m. kidvid block, powered by the ultrapopular “Pokemon,” is actually beating the two-hour newsblocks on WNYW and WCBS.

In Noon news: WCBS is holding onto a slim lead over WABC.

In 5 p.m. news: WABC maintains its lock on first, while WCBS continues as runner-up in the slot for the second consecutive book. WNBC, hurt by a plummeting “People’s Court” lead-in, stays in third with a 20% ratings drop vs. May 1998.

In 6 p.m. news: WABC has dropped 12% but stays in first. WNBC, down 22%, is second, while WCBS stays in third.

In 11 p.m. news: WNBC wins, while WABC follows, but both are set to end the book with double digit percent declines. WCBS is third, inching up about 5%. WPIX’s syndie “Seinfeld” ranks second in the timeslot but drops 15% from its lofty year-ago levels.

One Gotham ratings point equals 67,500 homes. A share is the percentage of sets in use.

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