KTLA news timing crucial

Advertisers generally tend to ignore the time periods impacted by bloated Winter Olympics sweeps numbers, but KTLA is taking no chances.

Even though this past Friday won’t count in the Nielsen February book that purges Olympic time periods from the final tally, the indie station still managed to eliminate its 10 p.m. news numbers for the night.

With the Nancy Kerrigan silver medal ice skating performance on KCBS-TV attracting an incredible 70 share at 10, other indies with primetime newscasts in the hour saw their monthlong sweeps average trimmed by 0.2 of a rating point.

By starting the 10 p.m. newscast at 9:45 p.m., however, KTLA didn’t have to count its unusually low 1.3 rating/2 share. Consequently, it managed to retain the same sweeps-to-date average of a 5.2 rating/9 share that it had going into the night.

KTLA blames the early start on a hockey game that ended early, but during sweeps every decision that involves reporting ratings to Nielsen is a calculated one.

The station, which has long had the dominant newscast in the market, recently came up with a fistful of dollars to keep Hal Fishman in the anchor chair.

But it has seen its news ratings drop from about a 6 rating a year ago to a 5 average so far during this month’s sweeps, which conclude Wednesday. KTTV’s second-place 10 p.m. news, meanwhile, has jumped from a 3 to a 4 rating.

For KCBS, the February sweeps could prove to be a mixed blessing. Although the station’s 11 p.m. news averaged a 13.2/30 during this year’s high-interest Olympics — holding more of the lead-in audience than it did two years ago during the last Winter Games — it will drop from first to its customary third-place standing once the two weeks are removed from the final book.

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