Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Homestretch TV News Ratings

There is a little more than a week for the Portland TV stations to gather viewers to make money for the summer and early fall.

The news is not surprising, but we think it says something about how the stations are not recruiting viewers and don't have a product that people have to see. Are local newscasts becoming irrelevant? Lots of us don't think we're creating a product people need - just doing what's easy and rarely making a difference.

So here goes. A couple of notes - the first number is the program rating - the percent of TV homes in the market (about a million). The second number is the share - percent of viewers watching that newscast at that time.

5am - 6am - M-F
KATU .7/7 KGW 1.6/12 KOIN .9/7 KPTV 2.3/17

6am - 7am - M-F
KATU 2.3/11 KGW 3.9/18 KOIN 1.5/7 KPTV 4.0/19

7am - 9am
KATU (GMA) 3/11 KOIN (CES) 1.2/4 KGW (Today) 5/17 KPTV (GDO) 5.2/18

**The news in the morning is that KPTV's Good Day Oregon is the gold standard for taking a format, tweaking it just right, combining the right people, and staying away from their nightly bloodbath. KGW's only threat is here in the morning, otherwise, the market is KGW's.

11am/Noon - M-F
KATU (11am) 2.6/9 KOIN (noon) 2.7/11 KGW (noon) 5.0/17

KOIN gave the noon away when it showed ShirleyHancock the door in 2001, had some growth when Reed Coleman and Mark Hendricks still worked there, but Anna Katayama can't help them. The telling thing here is how KATU pretty much keeps its audience from AM Northwest and the View, how KGW pretty much doubles it's leadin (Regis & Kelly) and how KOIN fumbles its good lead from a soap opera.

5pm -M-F
This used to be a horse race until early 2001. KGW is like Seabiscuit, although its starting to show signs of wanting to wallow in the mud - not building on its dominance that came with covering real stories.
KATU(1 hr) 4.4/10 KOIN (1/2 hour) 4.1/9 KGW 9.0/20 (more than double the competition)

KATU is starting to edge out KOIN in every early newscast - that trend started last summer.

6pm - M-F
KATU (6:30) 5.2/10 KOIN 3.8/8 (6-6:30) 3.9/8 (6:30-7) KGW 8/16 (6-6:30) 6.5/13 (6:30-7)

So think about this - in 5 years, the stations have lost 20-50% of their audience. That says volumes about deciding what to cover. On average between 5-7, just under half of the TV's in Portland are on, and, again on average, about 17% of all homes are watching local news.

The late news numbers say more about KOIN and its inability to ride the wave of some strong CBS numbers, and KPTV starting to see a slide in its numbers - which we think is format.

KPXG (KGW produced) 1.4/2 KPTV 6.3/11 - no contest here, but KPTV's numbers are starting to fall. It used to be the highest 10pm newscast, but that's changing (they still promote old numbers at the end of the broadcast)

KATU 3.8/9 KOIN 6.2/14 KGW 8.2/19
KOIN wins prime time (CBS) but those staying up flip over to KGW. ABC is starting to look respectable, but KATU can't hold the audience.

Lessons here: KOIN's gotta make changes fast - they've already lost a GM, could their News Director be close behind. The numbers have dropped since he came on board and a union vote is on the way. Ouch.
KGW seems to be cruising, but again, it's doing more crime than it needs. They have good managers there - why not stay ahead of the fray and distance the newscast even more.
KATU is glowing from the early news numbers, which will probably save the job of its News Director, something the staff isn't too happy about.
KPTV should be pouring champagne every morning, but will start to worry when it's 10pm numbers start to be on par with KATU's 11pm.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clarification: KPAX is a movie starring Kevin Spacey. KPXG is the local Pax station.

Oh, and if you're going to report on a horse race, it's Seabiscuit.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might be right about story selection causing viewers to skip the evening news. There's an echo-chamber sameness to the crime stories, the repititious phrases ("deadly shooting" is practically a mantra); the same police flacks, the same surprised neighbors. I hate to say it, but crime news just isn't that interesting, when it's played out the exact same way over and over again.

So after getting the gist of 8's A segment, where I go is cable. I can't stand O'Reilly so of course I tune in, to have that reinforced. I'll cast around for juicy or outrageous stuff from Olberman and others, maybe come back to 8 for the weather.

What I miss is local reporting that gives me something to get pissed off about. Catch somebody in the act. Call somebody out. Make some politicans visibly uncomfortable. I'm not saying we need Marvin Zindler, but our local TV seems too wholesomely compliant with the status quo. To me, that's what's "deadly."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 1:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great site. I'm really enjoying it and hope you--anonymous media blogger--keep posting, and post more frequently.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 2:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to tell you guys and gals, but I don't even WATCH local TV news (or national, for that matter). I am a news junkie and I get all my news off the internet sites these days. I can get what I want when I want, without having to listen to a lot of stupid chatter, stupid hype, and commercials (which, of course, I loathe). Local TV news has zero value for me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 2:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, TV news pretty much feels like a short boring version of Oregonian headlines.

And the O, as it is, needs to improve.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 3:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why was a bear running amok (what bears do, less any maulings or dumpster diving) such important news today? Even the KGW helo was out in Scappoose. I didn't watch the other 2 nightly news, but KGW led off with the story. Much ado about nothing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 6:40:00 PM  
Blogger PDXMediaWatcher said...

Because it's sweeps - exclusive pictures - fear - animals - kids - anxious neighbors. It had it all. I was at a party about ten days ago and someone asked me why the Runaway Bride story got so much airplay. Sweeps.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 6:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slow news day, region, etc.

Besides, that's what local news stations do. /flip to ch. 12 -- *BREAKING NEWS* -- "Breaking news for you tonight out of downtown Portland. The light at 3rd and Alder has just turned green. We'll keep you posted on this breaking story."

And I gotta say, being the pilot or camera guy on a helicopter for a local news station would have to be one of the best jobs ever.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 6:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, Cathy Katayama Mr. Insider. I think her name is Anna Katayama

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 6:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks - I grew up in Alaska, and bears are as common there as... bears.
I worked at 9-1-1 in Bend, and got a call one night from a guy in a campground in the middle of the Cascades, reporting a bear. I wanted to tell him that he had achieved his wilderness experience.
It just seems like overkill. Oh well.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 7:13:00 PM  
Blogger PDXMediaWatcher said...

Apologize for errors. Got an F today. Corrections made.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 9:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For cryin out loud quit blasting the TV stations for covering a rambling bear just because you're from Alaska and bears are common. This bear was in the city limits. It had the Scappoose police department prowling the streets ordering people to stay in their homes. Call up the police and tell them you're from Alaska and point out how common bears are; that will impress them greatly and cause them to ignore the next bear.

Besides, it was absolutely darling footage, poor little critter, especially on 8. Glad it got away and went back to the woods.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 10:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Fishy Wx said...

You know it's sweeps when 2 stations lead with a "storm coming" IN MAY! KOIN even had a live reporter at Depoe Bay at 11 sitting in calm winds. They desperately need weather help, specifically weather people to guide their decisions. Kind of hard to do when you dump all 3 of your weather people in one year and then have no one experienced there.

It was fairly obvious there was going to be no "storm" Tuesday night if weather folks were paying attention, and KATU/KPTV did not hype it for that reason I assume.

By the way...rumor says someone is coming from Seattle to get the main weather job at KOIN...anyone know?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 11:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve NW said...

I'm not personally that bothered by it, given my own views, but I have to imagine some people just aren't watching KATU because folks like Tilken and Capell keep putting conservative editorial digs in their stories. I watched a couple nights ago, and there was an exasperated "true to form" from Tilken about environmentalists opposing nuclear energy, and the next night Capell decided to cover a logging story by going to a logging town and interviewing only pro-logging people, ending with a lumberjack sympathetically asking whether his livelihood wasn't important, too. I have more examples, but I just have to laugh. I can't imagine it goes over well with viewers in this market.

Also, watcher, don't worry about it. I don't know why anonymous is so upset. I certainly appreciate the ratings.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 3:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The slide of television news started when the big three networks had their entertainment divisions take over the news divisions. The news became entertainment where a newscasts goal is to try and reach a target audience instead of report news. How else do you explain the Michael Jackson trial leading a national newscast, instead of the war in Iraq?

T.V. news is no longer news, it's a daily freak show.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 7:13:00 AM  
Blogger activist kaza said...

Portland's news is bad all right...especially for those of us who remember it when there WERE some journalistic standards. I had the privilege of working at Ch. 12 in the mid-'80s when the 10 O'Clock News first achieved its late news dominance. Now, it's an absolute hyped-up joke in the Fox tradition...I can't stand it. For those who care (and might have missed it), here's my recent take on the locals' ranking in political news coverage: http://www.kazablog.com/2005/04/ranking-portlands-dismal-local.html

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 7:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Alan DeWitt said...

The post by one of the anonymous folks could well have come from my keyboard:

"I hate to tell you guys and gals, but I don't even WATCH local TV news (or national, for that matter). I am a news junkie and I get all my news off the internet sites these days. I can get what I want when I want, without having to listen to a lot of stupid chatter, stupid hype, and commercials (which, of course, I loathe). Local TV news has zero value for me."

I haven't watched local TV news on purpose for over ten years, nor national TV news for about eight. I have occasionally seen it on somewhere, and as I watched in sick fascination uniformly the result was to reinforce my urge to continue avoiding it.

It's not just Portland, either... I had the same experience when I watched in Seattle. (Maybe someone out there is doing something great and new, but at this rate I'll never know.)

I imagine this will be unpopular with the insiders here, but I think the local TV stations have no way to halt the audience decline for local news as it currently exists. So long as the focus is on ratings instead of local public service, the medium will continue to decline.

I don't know what the solution is. I'm not familiar with the stations' business models and this is ultimately a business model problem. But I suggest that if anyone succeeds it will be becuase they found a way to make the newsroom fully independent of and insulated from ratings and they reinvented TV news from that basis... or they got out of the news business. The stations can continue to climb over each other to get to the high point, but ultimately the ship is sinking under them.

Good luck, guys. I know there are a lot of good people on that sinking ship, and I hope they all find well-stocked lifeboats in time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 8:51:00 AM  
Anonymous former viewer said...

As a former print guy and now a pr flak and a regular viewer, it's easy for me to explain why I stopped watching local news. Hype is a major factor. Is there some kind of marching orders that every lead in from the anchor has to reference "tonight"?

Plus, reporters today don't know crap about what they cover. Their ignorance is made clear on those days they cover something other than crime. Even on non-crime stories, today's crop of reporters cover each story as if it's a conflict -- just like they do on crime stories.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 9:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Former viewer, if you think they look ingnorant on camera with a prepared script, for laughs go to an actual press conference. On the news you may see only :20 or :30 of hypothetically decent video, but what you don't see is the half hour or more of ill-informed sometimes embarassing questions asked during these sessions.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Media Blogger--

I am interested in what you have to say, but please remove posts regarding guys jerking off to on air personalities.

Can we keep the discussion civil in that arena, please?


Wednesday, May 18, 2005 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger pdx_photoman said...

I began work as a reporter in Jacksonville, Florida 35 years ago. The television station for which I worked, WJXT, began peeling back the layers of corruption in that city’s government. Through self-dealing of contracts, cronyism, and outright theft, city councilors and commissioners were robbing the people of Jacksonville.

After a series of televised reports, Circuit Judge Marion Gooding impaneled a grand jury to look into the allegations. Under State’s Attorney Bill Hallowes, the panel indicted ten city and county officials and employees and issued several presentments.

Many of the officials won acquittal, and some were convicted. But the television reports and the grand jury aroused the sleeping giant of public opinion, which swept away both the city and county government and replaced it with a consolidated municipal entity county wide.

In Portland today, the odor of corruption is in the air. The Portland Development Commission awards a contract in what appears to be a backroom deal. An official of the fire department awards multiple contracts to a company owned by his son. The city purchases a building from a relative of both a current chief and a retired former chief at double its purchase price.

Are these innocent coincidences, or has cronyism and insider dealing invaded city hall? I am not in a position to decide, but I know that there is a role here for any television station that chooses to serve as a real news medium.

Most of what I see on television is not news, but is ABOUT news. There's a difference.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 3:34:00 PM  
Blogger PDXMediaWatcher said...

To the anonymous poster from 12:13pm. I scoured the site and didn't see anything along the lines you discussed. Where did I miss it? And please folks, let's not wallow.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 3:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here it is--YECH!

"Anonymous said...
I used to get up on Saturday morning, watch Julia Radlick do the weather, and spank my monkey. Guess I'll save money on tissues and lotion.

3:44 PM"

(and it isn't the same anyonymous as ME anonymous). I think I'll change my name to ME ANONYMOUS. If I can figure out how :)

Anyway fella, um, YUCK!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 4:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Former Viewer said...

Anonymous -- I used to go to press conferences with TV personalities. I'd have to wait until their stupid questions were done and interview the sources once the lights were off. Only way that good questions could get asked.

Friday, May 20, 2005 3:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite news conference trick, when they used to let me out, was to wait till the TV guys break down and start doing their cutaway shots, and then ask a question I've researched that nails the mayor, or whoever, between the eyes. Fun seeing them scramble.

It's also interesting to see how many times the answers to those "stupid questions" from "TV personalities" are the ones that turn up in quotations in the print stories. Happens more than people realize. Sometimes a question is framed in a way that's intended to evoke an airworthy response--rather than impress the other newspeople in attendance.

Friday, May 20, 2005 8:02:00 PM  
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