WNBC news cruises at 11

Viewership down, WNYW wins 10 p.m. news crown

Peacock flagship WNBC remained Gotham’s latenight news leader in May, while Fox’s WNYW held onto the 10 p.m. news crown in a sweeps book marked by aud erosion for almost every station.

Final Nielsen data for the sweeps period (April 29-May 26) showed WNBC easily winning the 11 p.m. news with a 10.6 rating/18 share, well ahead of news competish WABC (8.7/15) and WCBS (5.5/9).

WNBC’s late news number was off 11% vs. May 1998, thanks to a weaker primetime lead-in from NBC programming and the lack of a big boost from a “Seinfeld” finale. WABC also dipped 11% over year-ago frames, while WCBS actually gained 8%. WPIX’s 11 p.m. “Seinfeld” repeats averaged a 9.2/16, good enough for second in the slot.

Peacock up in ayem

WNBC had much better results in the increasingly important ayem news race, where “Today in New York” (4.7/20) won the 6-7 a.m. slot with its best ratings ever. WABC’s second-place ayemcast (3.1/13) dipped 15%, while WNYW (2.0/8) collapsed 33% to finish in third. WCBS (1.6/7) remained flat.

In the primetime news race, WNYW (4.8/7) managed to notch its 95th consecutive sweeps victory at 10 p.m., slipping past WPIX (4.6/7) in a race that went down to the final night of the book (Daily Variety, May 25).

The playing field between the two newscasts wasn’t completely level, however, since WNYW aired 30-minute newscasts every Friday night during the May book, in order to lessen the impact of weak lead-in programming from the Fox network on Fridays.

WWOR’s 10 p.m. news (3.6/5) remained in third place yet managed to grow a healthy 16% vs. May 1998.

WCBS comeback

WCBS continued its ratings comeback in May, winning the noon news competish and finishing in sec-ond place at 5 p.m. for the second consecutive sweeps. The last time the Eye flagship won two straight books was in 1991.

The station also managed to stay flat or grow in many key areas (5, 6 and 11 p.m. news; 7-8 p.m.; sign-on to sign-off) where its main network-owned competish declined.

Here’s how Gotham stations performed in several key races:

  • Noon news: WCBS (4.7/16) defeated WABC (4.5/15).

  • 4 p.m. talk/reality: WABC’s “Oprah” (6.2/19) dropped a tad but had no problem overruling WCBS’ “Judge Judy” (5.6/15), which fell a worrisome 18%. WWOR’s “Forgive or Forget” (3.6/10) took the third-place slot and improved the station performance by a whammo 71% over May 1998. WNBC’s “People’s Court” (3.0/8) dove 35%.

  • 5 p.m. news: WABC (6.2/14) maintained its dominance but dipped 6%, while WCBS (5.1/12) stayed flat. Hurt by the plummeting “People’s Court,” WNBC’s “Live at Five” (4.7/11) lost 20% of its aud and sank to what is apparently its lowest ratings ever.

  • 6 p.m. news: WABC (7.1/15) was unchallenged for the lead, while NBC (5.9/12) was in second and WCBS (4.0/9) moved up 3% and stayed in third.

  • 7 p.m.: WABC’s “Jeopardy” (13.9/25) stayed on top, followed by WPIX’s off-net run of “Friends” (5.3/10) and WNYW’s “The Simpsons” (5.3/10), which tied for second. WNBC’s “Extra” (4.6/8) plunged 29% to fourth, while “Entertainment Tonight” (4.0/7) boosted WCBS 26% in the slot.

  • 7:30 p.m.: WABC’s “Wheel of Fortune” (12.4/21) spun another first- place finish, while WNYW’s second run of “The Simpsons” (5.8/10) grew the timeslot by 25% and took the station from fifth to second place. WCBS’ “Hollywood Squares” (5.5/9) was the only other show to grow in the slot, improving 14%.

  • Network prime: WNBC’s Peacock sked (10.5/16), this year without “Seinfeld,” led but dropped a stunning 22%. Eye’s WCBS (9.0/14) came in second, followed by Alphabet flagship WABC (8.4/13) and Fox’s WNYW (6.9/11). WB head frog WPIX (6.1/9) was a close fifth, while UPN’s Gotham cheerleader WWOR (4.0/6) was sixth, barely ahead of what Univision’s WXTV averages weeknights from 8-10 p.m. (3.6/5).

  • Sign-on to sign-off: WNBC (5.3/13) dropped 18% but stayed in first, just edging out WABC (5.2/13), which also dipped 5%. WPIX (4.2/10) came in third, followed by WCBS (3.8/9), WNYW (2.7/7) and WWOR (2.5/6). Spanish-lingo WXTV (1.4/4) came in seventh, followed by pubcaster WNET (1.0/3), PaxNet flagship WPXN (0.5/1) and Spanish-lingo WNJU (0.3/1).

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