Nielsen learns new lingo with Spanish-speaking auds

Nielsen’s decision to revamp the way it measures Spanish-speaking auds may have changed the face of this February’s local market ratings, some Los Angeles English-lingo stations said.

And that’s not the only thing making year-to-year comparisons difficult in the local February demo race. Last year, KNBC aired the top-rated Winter Olympics, while viewer levels fluctuated this year as Southlanders flocked to news time periods to seek info about the pending Iraq conflict.

But it’s the change in Spanish-language methodology that has some local stations questioning last month’s demo returns. Some English-lingo stations cautioned Nielsen’s new language acknowledgment means the performance of some Spanish-lingo stations this February may appear inflated compared to last year.

Since February 2002, Nielsen has begun defining its Los Angeles aud by acknowledging subsets of people of Spanish-speaking origin who mostly or only speak Spanish; are bilingual; or speak mostly or only English.

Trying to represent

Weighting is a statistical way of making sure a sample on any given day is representative of the population being measured, says Nielsen Media Research spokesman Jack Loftus.

If, for example, Nielsen traditionally gets info from 10 people repping a certain portion of the population, and one day only eight of those people report in, results for those who did report will be weighted on behalf of the absentees. In other words, they speak for the missing reports.

Spanish-lingo stations in Los Angeles traditionally score better vis-a-vis their English competition when demographic info is released.

That’s because much of their news fare draws auds in younger age groups, especially adults 18-34 and adults 18-49. (General-market, English-lingo stations, such as the network O&Os, target adults 25-54 and adults 18-49.)

Loftus told Daily Variety he didn’t necessarily know to what degree the new reporting has impacted this sweep’s results.

“I would always be skeptical of pinning it on any single factor,” Loftus said. “Right now, more people also are watching TV than normally would.”

KMEX climbs

Univision-owned KMEX, which traditionally scores high in the Los Angeles demo race, didn’t disappoint this February. In the important 11 p.m. news race, the station jumped from third place last year to first among adults 18-49 by improving 68% to a 3.7 Monday-Friday, according to Nielsen.

KNBC was down 9% to second with a 3.1, while KABC was bumped from second to third, although the station was up 7% to a 2.9.

Also at 11, KMEX was up 55% among adults 25-54, while fellow Spanish-lingo broadcaster KVEA (owned by NBC/Telemundo) was up 10% in that demo.

NBC O&O KNBC certainly considers the extensive, high-rated Olympics coverage it aired last February a factor in year-to-year results.

“Obviously, last year KNBC benefited from the Games and its halo effect on our programming,” KNBC topper Paula Madison said. “Our team is strategically focused on our challenges. We’re looking forward to increasing our reach during the May ratings period.”

Indeed, KNBC experienced some erosion during some key news races, including the 11 p.m. race, as well as the breakfast race, where its “Today Show” perf was down 35% in adults 18-49 and down 29% in adults 25-54.

On the other hand, some other general-market stations, including rival ABC O&O KABC and Fox’s KTTV, enjoyed double-digit increases.

KABC got a 12% bump up among adults 25-54 at 11 (Monday-Friday), and even bigger double-digit increases in adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 at 6 p.m. KABC was second to KMEX in both categories at 6.

Effort paid off

KABC prexy-G.M. Arnie Kleiner attributed his station’s big sweep to a number of factors, not the least of which is hard work.

“We’ve been working very hard at ‘Eyewitness News,’ building a brand and putting it on one road, staying that path and moving forward, and we haven’t wavered from what ‘Eyewitness’ is,” he said. “We didn’t do any stunting. We were big in breaking news and traveling where the stories were.”

Among KTTV’s wins was the breakfastcast: Local show “Good Day L.A.” won the 18-49 and 25-54 races from 7-9 a.m. Tribune Broadcasting’s WB affil KTLA was second in both categories, also up by double-digits.

KTTV also converted a strong Fox primetime perf to win the 10 p.m. news race in both demos, with KTLA again in second.

Adding newscast

Meanwhile, CBS O&O KCBS announced late Thursday that it will mount a 4:30 p.m. newscast starting Monday. Anchored by Harold Greene and Ann Martin, “CBS 2 News at 4″ p.m. will lead off an expanded 2½-hour block of local newscasts each weekday from 4-6:30 p.m. Gretchen Carr and Drew Griffin will continue to anchor the station’s 4:30-5 p.m. and 6-6:30 p.m. newscasts, while Laura Diaz and Greene will anchor the 5-6 p.m. news as well as the station’s 11-11:35 p.m. newscast.

CBS 2 News at 4 p.m. will take the place of the 4-4:30 p.m. newscast that currently airs on Viacom sister station KCAL. KCAL will run syndie programming in the time period.

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