WFTV returns to cash giveaway to win ratings

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WFTV's Watch and Win giveaway in 2000
WFTV's Watch and Win giveaway in 2000

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.

WESH and WFTV in 2000“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?

About Roger Simmons 549 Articles
Roger Simmons has been blogging about Orlando television since 2001. You can email him at