WABC, WNBC lead Gotham news race

WNBC ahead of WABC, WCBS in the three key demos

WABC-TV’s 90 minutes of local news at 5 p.m. won by a big margin in households over WNBC-TV’s in the New York February sweep report. But the tables turned at 11 p.m., when WNBC’s 35-minute newscast edged WABC’s by a tenth of a rating point. WCBS finished third in both timeslots, and wasn’t even competitive at 5.

At 11, WNBC is solidly ahead of WABC and WCBS in the three key demo categories (18-34, 18-49 and 25-54). But at 5, WABC tops WNBC in the trifecta. At noon, WABC’s half-hour newscast edges WCBS. (WNBC runs the syndicated “Starting Over” hour at noon, which targets adult femmes.)

Fox’s WNYW continues to produce a 90-minute newscast every evening at 5, but it hasn’t managed to put a dent in its big three O&O competitors. Fox’s news is competitive in households with two of WPIX’s sitcoms reruns, “Fresh Prince” at 5 and “Sabrina” at 5:30, but the news drops off against “Will & Grace” reruns on WPIX at 6.

At 10 p.m., another hour of WNYW News easily beats the newscasts of WPIX and the WNYW sibling WWOR in households, total viewers and the three adult demos.

In non-news locally programmed time periods in New York, WABC’s “Oprah” averaged an eye-opening 8.9 household rating at 4 p.m. Second-place “Judge Judy” on WNBC averaged a 4.7 rating; nothing else in the time period finished above a 2.8.

WABC enjoyed a similar February dominance at 7 and 7:30 p.m. with “Jeopardy!” (11.2 rating) and “Wheel of Fortune” (10.1 rating). Only three other shows manage more than a 4 household rating during the 7 p.m. hour: WCBS’ “Entertainment Tonight” (a 4.2 at 7:30), reruns of WPIX’s “Everybody Loves Raymond” (a 4.1 at 7:30) and WNYW’s “Seinfeld” (a 4.1 at 7:30). But both “Raymond” and “Seinfeld” beat “Wheel” in adults 18 to 34, and WPIX’s “Friends” at 7 finishes in a tie with “Jeopardy!” in 18-34.

WPIX also wins out over every station between 11:30 p.m. and 2 a.m. with another run of “Raymond,” followed by another “Will & Grace” rerun, back-to-back “Frasier” episodes and a “Dharma & Greg.”

Univision’s Spanish-language WXTV attracts lots of news viewers, edging WCBS’ 6 p.m. newscast in total viewers and the three key adult demos. WXTV ties for second with WNBC among 18-49 and it has sole possession of second, behind WABC, among A25-54.

On the cable side, the YES network boasted that, for the first time, its ratings for New Jersey Nets games tied those of the New York Knicks on MSG.

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