NewsChannel 9 Wins Big at Ratings

WDEF-Channel 12 Makes Big Gains
Sunday, July 01, 2001 - by Rich Bailey
When Nielsen ratings for the May 2001 ratings period were released a couple of weeks ago, NewsChannel 9 won big among local television news operations, topping number two WRCB by nearly three ratings points in the crucial 6:00 p.m. time slot.

News Directors at 3 and 9 freely admit that it’s usually a horse race between the two stations’ news broadcasts, and bragging rights often see-saw back and forth. And a look at all news shows in the various time slots shows a mixed bag. Comparing May 2001 ratings to May 2000 ratings: WRCB’s morning show retains a strong -- but narrowing -- lead; WDEF kept a commanding lead at noon; and in the late night time slot 9 and 3 flip-flopped, from 9 beating 3 by almost a point last year to the reverse this year.

But in the all-important 6:00 p.m. broadcast, WTVC wins in the evenings by a wide -- and growing -- margin: 12.1 to 9.4, compared to 12.9 to 11.4 a year ago. “This is the biggest gap anyone here can remember between us and Channel 3,” said WTVC News Director Steve Hunsicker.

Channel 9’s 6:00 broadcast also made it into the region’s five highest rated shows overall. The final Survivor special and the regular Survivor show bagged the top two slots with ratings of 17 and 15, followed by the Sunday and Thursday versions of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire tied for third and fourth place with ratings of 14. NewsChannel 9 at 6 made it into the top five with a 12 rating.

Fox 61 may have lost the “fastest growing news leader” title to WDEF News 12. In recent months, Fox has claimed that title on the strength of their 10:00 p.m. broadcast compared to other stations’ 11:00 news programs. But in the most recent ratings period, a year-to-year comparison shows Fox’s 10:00 p.m. broadcast dropping slightly in the ratings.

Meanwhile, ratings for WDEF’s 5:30 and 6:00 news broadcasts increased by 62 percent and 59 percent, respectively, over their performance during the same period last year.

Channel 12 has been modifying their news format, and the changes appear to be paying off. According to News Director Kyle Brinkman, some of the changes had begun before he came on board in April and continued to develop under his tenure. “The general idea is that you tune in to a newscast to get the news of the day, not to hear anchors talk to each other about their day,” he said.

The new approach is based on airing more stories in a shorter, faster paced format. “It’s a no nonsense style,” said Brinkman. “We’re going to cover as much and as fast as we can. Where the other stations are going to be on their first story, we’ll be on our third or fourth story.”

Even with that rapid growth, WDEF still came in third behind WRCB and WTVC. But next time, who knows?

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