On Wednesday night, Louisville TV viewers weren’t watching ABC’s Happy Endings on WHAS-TV, a new comedy you’ve probably not heard of, at 10.
The ratings leader at that hour was a CBS show on WLKY, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. It was pulling a 9.6 local rating, compared with a dismal 2.1 for Happy Endings.
In a nutshell, that explains the current dominance of WLKY in local TV news. Across the board, and in higher numbers than in many other markets, viewers are turning in to CBS.
So halfway through the important May TV ratings sweeps, WLKY has a lead in every time period in which it competes for local news. Now, that isn’t to say that WLKY is necessarily producing the best product, though the station has produced some high-quality investigative pieces, especially since hiring Duane Pohlman.
Mark Neerman, news director at WHAS-TV, said that all four local stations are producing high-quality news. As long as CBS programming is dominating ABC, NBC and Fox, though, it’s likely that WLKY will win the local ratings battle, he said. Prime-time victories by Criminal Minds keep viewers on WLKY for local news, and they stay there when they wake up in the morning.
It’s instructive to see how local stations do as compared to their lead-ins, and there’s some good news for all stations, which gain viewers off their prime-time lead-ins.
This fall, when the landscape changes for local programming, it will be interesting to see if the changes in afternoon lineups will affect local station ratings. Fox41 is acquiring some popular syndicated show in the afternoon, while WHAS is adjusting to the loss of Oprah by bulking up its local afternoon news programming.
For now, though, enjoy the competition in local news. There are plenty of good stories. And just for fun, count the number of times you hear the word “exclusive” on local newscasts. I think WAVE is the current leader.