While RogerSimmons.com was offline with technical difficulties last week, WKMG-Local 6 announced its new 7 p.m. newscast. And I have a couple of observations about that.
First, the news: Channel 6 will ditch it’s hourlong news from 6-7 p.m. starting Jan. 3. Instead, it will offer a half hour at 6 p.m., followed by the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric at 6:30, then another half hour of news at 7 p.m. “A newscast can be successful at 7 p.m.,” Local 6 GM Skip Valet told Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in the 6 p.m. newscast in the last two months.”
Well, not so fast. Local 6 has been dwelling in the ratings cellar for awhile. Its idea of doing local news at 6:30 p.m. while the others did national news (or aired TMZ), was a novel idea — until WFTV started up its own 6:30 p.m. local newscast on sister station WRDQ-Channel 27 and started beating WKMG. So, to me, Local 6 is looking to move to another time period where it can try to have the local news audience to itself.
But if Orlando TV history is any guide, this move is doomed. Back in 1981, WESH was the only station in town doing 60 minutes of news in the evening — airing NewsCenter 2 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. It had been doing so for years. But in a move that still seems baffling, it decided to change and do a half hour at 6 p.m. and another half at 7 p.m., sandwiching NBC Nightly News. (Sound familiar?) “The Right News at the Right Time,” was how Channel 2 marketed the move. Wrong! WFTV was all too eager to expand into the 5:30 timeslot left vacant by WESH. WFTV’s 5:30 news has continued ever since, while Channel 2’s little-watched “NewsCenter at 7” was quickly forgotten.
The second 7 p.m. newscast in Orlando was even more short-lived than WESH’s. It was a WFTV-produced newscast on WRDQ-Channel 27 during the early days of the Iraq War in 2003. The war went on for years but the newscast lasted for just days.
Have times changed enough that Orlando viewers want local news at 7 p.m.? Personally, I doubt it.
When Oprah takes her final bow, we know that in Orlando we’ll see Dr. Oz appearing in her place on WFTV. That won’t be the case at Channel 9’s Atlanta sister station, Cox flagship WSB-ABC 2.
The Atlanta station announced Tuesday that it will add an hour of news starting at 4 p.m. the day after it airs Oprah’s final show, TVNewscheck.com reports. And the station plans on hiring 20 more employees as part of the news expansion, AJC.com reports.
“This is a big move for the station,” said Bill Hoffman, WSB VP-GM and formerly in the same positions with WFTV. “It will add more assets to our capabilities to cover the market’s important local news and give Channel 2 Action News another hour of opportunity to serve viewers with local news when they want it.”
If Dr. Oz can’t hold or improve on Oprah’s numbers locally next fall, I would expect to see Channel 9 follow the example of its big sister.
WFTV is reaching into its past to try to secure a ratings win in the November sweep.
Today and tomorrow — the last days of the sweep — Channel 9 is offering $5,000 to lucky morning news viewers. The reason?
“WFTV is the longtime leader in the 6 a.m. time slot and will win most news time slots in the November ratings period,” Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker reports. “But WESH has been growing in the morning and enjoys a slight lead at 6 a.m. in the 25-to-54 age group measured through Friday. WESH has a 2.14 rating to WFTV’s 2.03. The 25-to-54 category is most important to news advertisers.”
WFTV wants to keep the morning news crown, so it’s putting up the cash to try to turn the ratings race in its favor. To longtime Orlando TV viewers, this should sound familiar.
It’s the same stunt WFTV has used before — to hold off WESH.
In February 2000, WFTV’s Eyewitness News trailed WESH’s “NewsChannel 2” newscast at 11 p.m. — until putting up a $5,000 “Watch and Win” promotion. Money talks.
“We were in first place at 11 until the last week, when Channel 9 did an instant cash giveaway and beat us,” then-WESH GM Bill Bauman said. “I would say that I am disappointed. I think we have a good news product and I’m proud of it.”
And if you have to pay people to watch your news, just how good is it?
WFTV-Channel 9’s Eyewitness News has been so dominate for so long, it’s news whenever it doesn’t finish No. 1 in a time period.
And that happened, sorta. During October, WESH 2’s Sunrise morning news — which is simulcast on sister station WKCF-CW18 — had more combined viewers in the 25-54 demo than WFTV’s Eyewitness News Daybreak. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the WESH-WKCF combo had 32,100 households from 6 to 7 a.m. while WFTV had 31,800.
If you break it down, WESH had 26,700 homes and WKCF had 5,400 — so head-to-head, WFTV still comes out on top. But that may be it when it comes to good news for WFTV.
Almost all of the area newscasts lost viewers in the demo year-over-year, but Channel 9 saw the most significant drop.
At 6 p.m., WFTV lost 13,400 viewers from 2009. At 5 p.m., it lost 14,900 from last year — while WESH actually grew by 5,000.
WFTV still dominates in all news periods when counting total viewers. Still, the question has to be asked: Could the October numbers protend a change in the longtime viewing patterns of Central Florida news watchers? Perhaps we’ll see when all the numbers are counted after the November sweep, which began last week.
Five Orlando news outlets grabbed 30 nominations in the 34th annual Suncoast Emmy Awards competition.
Market ratings leader WFTV-Channel 9 pulled in the most nominations among the Orlando stations with 11. It was followed by Fox Sports Florida/Sun Sports followed with 10, WKMG-Local 6 with five, Central Florida News 14 with three and WOFL-Fox 35 with one.
Winners will be announced on Dec. 4 at the Westin Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale. The Suncoast Chapter competition includes all the TV markets in Florida; the Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles and New Orleans markets in Louisiana; the Mobile, Ala., market; the Thomasville, Ga., market; and Puerto Rico.
If you’re an early, early bird, don’t expect anytime soon to turn on your TV at 4:30 a.m. and find news on market leader WFTV-Channel 9. “It’s not something I’m doing this fall,” WFTV General Manager Shawn Bartelttold Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker. “Traffic is worse in other places. People have to get up earlier. If I see a demand, we’ll meet that demand. I’m not seeing it.” …
Elsewhere, former Fox 35 morning meteorologist Doug Kammerer continues his industry climb. The newly installed chief meteorologist at NBC O&O WRC-Channel 4 in Washington, D.C., sat down for a Q&A piece with The Washington Post. I think we now know why Doug isn’t in the Sunshine State anymore. When asked, “What do you most look forward to covering weather in D.C., ” Kammerer said, “I look forward to covering the winters here. I love the winters in this area. Last winter was simply amazing as we saw storm after storm. I doubt we will ever see another winter like that one, but just give me one big storm a year and I will be happy. I love to forecast snow totals and I pride myself on getting them right.”