With the final May sweeps numbers tallied, KNBC made a clean sweep of the afternoon/evening news derby over second-ranked KABC.
After running a close second in May ’97, KNBC dethroned KABC in the local and network news contest from 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m. during the April 23-May 20 sweep period. The NBC O&O also solidified its lead over the 11 p.m. news competition and notched gains in its morning and midday newscasts.
KNBC led the field in the total day (Monday-Sunday 7 a.m.-1 a.m.) measure, although indie KCAL was the only station to post a significant increase from year to year, thanks to improved news ratings and twice-daily doses of syndie sensations “Judge Judy” and “Jerry Springer.”
The general downtrend in the market, however, was mirrored by a 2% drop in HUT (homes-using-television) levels to a 37.1 average, from a 38.0 in May ’97.
KNBC’s overall Monday-Sunday average inched up 2% to a 6.0 household rating and 15 share, from last May’s 5.9/15. Young Broadcasting’s KCAL enjoyed what station officials said was its best May sweep performance ever, moving from fifth to sixth place in the total day measure with a 15% gain to a 3.1/8.
KABC took second place, but was down 11% sweep-to-sweep to a 4.9/12. Fox O&O KTTV dropped 14% from last May to a 3.7/9, followed by KCBS, which fell 8% from last May to a 3.3/8.
Behind KCAL at No. 6 was Tribune Broadcasting’s KTLA, with a 12% decline to a 2.9/8. Univision’s Spanish-lingo KMEX edged out Chris Craft/United TV’s KCOP in the total day measure, despite a 4% sweep-to-sweep decline to a 2.3/6. UPN’s KCOP was off 12% from last year at a 2.2/6.
In primetime, KNBC sailed the Peacock web’s stellar “Seinfeld” finale to a 10% spike from last May to a 12.1/19. KTTV was a strong second at 9.8/15, despite a 10% slide from sweep-to-sweep. KABC dropped 13% from year to year in primetime, slipping from second place to third with an 8.6/14. KCBS was off 9% from last May at an 8.0/13.
The WB Network’s blossoming primetime lineup (Sunday-Wednesday) gave KTLA a 2% boost over May ’97. The May 11 season ender of WB’s “Seventh Heaven” was a monster for KTLA. UPN’s struggles with its primetime lineup (Monday-Wednesday) were reflected on KCOP, which slipped 7% to a 4.1/6.
KCAL scored sweep-to-sweep gains in each of its weekday primetime newscasts, although the 60% increase for its 10 p.m. news raised eyebrows at rival stations because the newscast has been running into “Jerry Springer’s” territory in the 11-11:15 p.m. quarter hour.
Don Corsini, general manager of KCAL, said the decision to start “Springer” at 11:07 or later was prompted by the success of the station’s “Final Quarter” sports news segment, which is a natural fit with the “Springer” audience. Execs at rival stations groused that the spike from 11-11:15 p.m. was actually due to the tune-in for “Springer,” but KCAL’s skedding shift is nonethe-less in line with Nielsen rules.
KNBC’s 11 p.m. newscast managed to fend off the red-hot “Springer” with a 10.0/21 to “Springer’s” 8.3/21. ABC’s prime-time woes were reflected in a 12% year-to-year slide to a 7.1/15 for KABC’s late news. Ditto KCBS, which fell 13% to a 5.9/13.
KTTV reigned for its seventh consecutive sweeps period among the contenders in the 10 p.m. news battle. KTTV (5.5/9) and KTLA (4.7/8) were essentially unchanged from last May, but fourth-ranked KCOP (behind KCAL) mustered a 13% year-to-year gain to a 1.7/3.
For KABC, the bright spot in news was in the ayem, with “Good Morning America” tying KNBC’s “Today” at a 3.2/12. KABC’s numbers grew 10% from last May in the 7-9 a.m. slot, while KNBC was up 7%. KTLA’s “Morning News” continued to decline, falling 22% year to year to a 2.8/11. KCBS inched up 7% to a 1.6/6. Mornings were also a bright spot for Univision’s KMEX, which saw its evening news numbers decline from year to year. But KMEX’s “Despierta America,” from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., climbed 21% to a 1.7/7.
KABC was also up a whopping 60% year to year with its early morning news from 6-7 a.m. (3.2/16), climbing from fourth to second place behind KNBC, which was up 3% to a 4.1/21.
In L.A.’s Oprah-vs.-Rosie battle, KABC’s “Oprah Winfrey” won the 3 p.m. timeslot handily, but both yakkers posted year-to-year declines. “Oprah” was down 14% from last year to a 6.1/18, while KNBC’s “Rosie” fell 23% to a 4.3/23. Indeed, KNBC’s 4 p.m. news victory over KABC was notable for overcoming KABC’s lead-in advantage.