Friday, December 27, 2013

L.A. TV Ratings: KTLA Wins This Year's Yule Log Smackdown

Yule Log

(I have rewritten this post throughout due to an initial goof -- I was looking at Household ratings, not total viewers, originally. Look at total viewers, and there isn't as much of a ratings dip for local Yule log ratings. Whew. The Yule Log lives!)

KTLA/Channel 5 won this year's annual Christmas morning Yule Log Smackdown, averaging 103,000 viewers between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. -- the five hours that both stations are simultaneously airing the log. KCAL averaged 63,000 viewers during that same time frame. (For comparison, I don't have 2012's ratings handy, but in 2011, KCAL averaged 81,000 viewers from 4:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. while averaged 79,000 viewers during the same time frame.)

KTLA viewership peaked with 237,000 from 9:00-9:15 a.m. KCAL viewership peaked with 179,000 from 8:00-8:15 a.m.

KCAL (which first brought the tradition to Los Angeles in 2004) aired its Yule Log starting at midnight as Christmas Eve turned into Christmas Day, and continued the tradition until 9 a.m. KTLA ran its log from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m.

KTLA and KCAL face more competition these days for Yule Log supremacy, as the televised image of a crackling fire is now available all over the place: On Netflix, On demand, online.

Also, the most unusual Yule Log this year came courtesy The Hub, which aired a My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic-themed animated log on Christmas morning. In cable, "uplifting entertainment" channel UP and the Hallmark Movie Channel also pre-empted programming to run a Yule Log.

The TV Yule Log was first created by New York's WPIX-TV. The TV station made the yule log an annual tradition from 1966 to 1989, originally using a shot of the fireplace at New York's Gracie Mansion. Late WPIX general manager Fred Thrower came up with the idea when he realized that most of New York's apartment dwellers didn't have fireplaces.

WPIX brought the tradition back to New York in 2001, and it eventually made its way to Los Angeles, where KCAL and KTLA now battle every year for yule log ratings supremacy.

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