KNBC engineered an early morning comeback this May sweeps, while KABC remained No. 1 in the market from sign-on to sign-off — despite a lackluster primetime perf.

KNBC pulled off what was unthinkable a year ago — No. 1 standing (tied with KABC) at 5:30 and 6 a.m., as well as a complete victory (narrowly over KABC) at 5 a.m.

The NBC-owned outlet’s “Today Show” also pulled off a rare victory among the 7 a.m. breakfastcasts, posting a 3.2 rating/11 share among Los Angeles households — squeaking by last February’s victor, KABC’s “Good Morning America” (3.1/11).

The locally produced morning shows continued their somewhat surprising decline, as KTTV’s “Good Day L.A.” was third, with a 2.8/10 (down 32% from last May), while KTLA’s “Morning News” was fourth (2.7/9, down 27%).

KNBC also had reason to cheer at 3 p.m., where “Ellen” served up a stunning 170% improvement for the station over last year’s dismal time period entry, “The Other Half” (2.7/7 vs. 1.0/3). Of course, KABC’s “Oprah Winfrey” continues to rule that slot (4.8/12).

Then at 4 p.m., “Dr. Phil” administered more strong ratings for KNBC (5.1/11), squeaking ahead of KABC’s “Eyewitness News” (4.6/10) among English-lingo listeners.

KNBC also kept its 11 p.m. news crown (7.2/15), ahead of KABC (5.6/11), KMEX (4.3/9), KCBS (3.7/7) and KCOP/KVEA (tied at 1.2/2).

But it was the early morning news numbers that headlined KNBC’s May, given the station’s collapse in the daypart last year. KNBC dropped to fourth place in the slot last winter.

“We’re most excited about our ability to recapture the lead in the morning and bring the viewers back to KNBC,” said station prexy-general manager Paula Madison. “I’m very proud of what our news department has accomplished.”

KABC also strong

KNBC’s solid showing didn’t damper spirits at KABC, where the station still led all comers at 5 (4.7/10) and 6 p.m. (4.6/9).

“Believe it or not, we’re OK with this book,” said KABC president-G.M. Arnie Kleiner. “When you look at where we are in primetime, we were fifth in this book. But we’re No. 1 from sign-on to sign-off. That says a lot for our news daytime and syndie fare.”

Kleiner blamed the tight morning race on less breaking news this May, “and we’re a breaking news station,” he said.

Meanwhile, perennially low-rated KCBS had some reason to cheer, posting healthy gains for its 4, 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts — up 38% vs. last year for the full 2½-hour block. Station still has a way to go before it catches up to the competish.

At 10 p.m., KTTV (3.8/6) led KTLA (3.0/5) and KCAL (2.0/3), although all three stations were down.

Meanwhile, Spanish-lingo KMEX pulled off more milestones, as the station’s 7-10 p.m. diet of telenovelas soared 22% vs. last year, beating all other stations in the block. And the Univision-owned outlet’s 6 p.m. newscast jumped to second place, right behind KABC — marking the first time KMEX has beaten KNBC during a sweeps period.