Thursday, November 22, 2012
L.A.'s Late News Suffers Big Drops This November, While the Lakers Impact The 10 p.m. News Race
L.A.'s local TV stations are bleeding news viewers at 11 p.m., even as they're expanding their audience at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. That's the quick takeaway from the November 2012 local sweeps ratings, officially out today.
The real shift took place at 11 p.m., all the more fascinating because this November was a newsy month, between the election and Hurricane Sandy. KABC was still tops in the slot, with 274,000 viewers, but that was down from 404,000 in November 2011. KABC's drop brought KCBS within spitting distance, with 254,000 viewers (down from 274,000 last year). That's the closest KCBS has been to No. 1 in a while. KNBC was in third, with 205,000 viewers-- down from 209,000 last year.
So what happened? Let's look at several factors. For one, most of the networks are having a rough fall in primetime, and those viewership declines translate to fewer eyeballs heading into 11 p.m.
KABC's primetime averaged 495,000 viewers in November 2011 and 397,000 this year, for example. NBC has the exception this fall (thanks to "The Voice"), and KNBC enjoyed the only primetime lift among local stations this November, averaging 316,000 viewers. That still putting it in third place here in L.A., but it was a major boost from 195,000 viewers last year. Despite that big boost, KNBC still experienced a small dip at 11 p.m. this year.
That leads me to my other theory: The DVR is starting to have a lasting impact on local TV's late newscasts. I don't know the local L.A. DVR penetration, but nationwide, that number is approaching 50%. It's having a major impact on the networks, particularly at 10 p.m., and that means it's likely having a major impact on local news at 11 p.m. Viewers are using that time to catch up on what they missed earlier in the evening, and that means fewer available news viewers at that time.
Adding fuel to that theory: The story is completely different in the other major news timeslots, as local stations saw healthy boosts at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and in the morning. Now, *that* can likely be attributed to a newsy month.
Before we hit those timeslots, let's look at what has happened at 10 p.m., where the Lakers' move to Time Warner Sportsnet and off KCAL has indeed changed the game. Even though KTTV saw its Fox primetime ratings plummet (261,000, from 432,000 last year), the station managed to raise its 10 p.m. news viewership slightly, to 146,000 (from 144,000 last November). KTLA was in second, with 142,000 (from 124,000). And then there was KCAL, which won the 10 p.m. November sweeps last year, but this year dropped to third (113,000, from 154,000). The culprit, of course, was the loss of the Lakers games.
At 6 p.m., KABC dominated the timeslot with 305,000 viewers, up from 283,000 in November 2011. KNBC (145,000, up from 118,000), KCBS (128,000, up from 81,000) and KTLA (77,000, up from 59,000) followed.
KABC also led 5 p.m. (283,000 viewers, up from 270,000), followed by KNBC (146,000, up from 130,000), KCBS (129,000, up from 99,000) and KTTV's "Studio 11" (42,000, up from 24,000).
In the 7 a.m. morning news show race, KABC's "Good Morning America" won (215,000), followed by "KTLA Morning News" (193,000), KNBC's "Today" (104,000) and KTTV's "Good Day L.A." (95,000). The changes on "Good Day L.A.," including the exits of longtime co-anchors Jillian Reynolds and Dorothy Lucey, had an impact, as the KTTV show was down from 115,000 viewers, while KTLA got a healthy boost.
Market leader KABC also won the 6 a.m., 5 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. races. The station's weak link? "Katie," the new Katie Couric talk show, which averaged just 89,000 viewers here locally -- behind "The View," "Dr. Oz" and even "The Chew" on the station. (It trails "Dr. Phil" in the 3 p.m. hour.) Meanwhile, the first November of "Live with Kelly and Michael," now featuring Michael Strahan, averaged 135,000 viewers here, down from "Live with Regis and Kelly" last November (184,000).
According to KCBS, its strong second place finish at 11 p.m. is the closest the station has been to first place in late news during a major sweep since February 2007, and the closest it has been to first place in late news during a November sweep since at least 1990.