When your humble FTVLive Editor worked for 4 years at WPXI in thePittsburgh market, we can say first hand it was one of the most competitive markets we have ever worked in.
The News ratings race was always tight and it still is Today. A station might win the evening news in one ratings book and be number 3 in the same time period in the next book.
“It’s a jump ball with every newscast and with every ratings book,” says Michael Hayes, president-GM of WTAE, the Hearst-owned ABC affiliate to TVNewsCheck. “In most ratings books last year, every station was No. 1 in the demo and every station was No. 3 in the demo.”
“The Pittsburgh viewer is a very discerning viewer, and if you don’t do your best every day they’ll change stations on you,” he says.
Ray Carter, VP-GM of the Cox-owned NBC affiliate WPXI, says he’s in the thick of it, too.
“It’s a roller coaster ride here,” he says. “You can be No. 1 at 5 p.m. in November and No. 3 by February. Every daypart is close, and it’s never dull.”
In fact, both men, who have worked in many markets (Hayes alone has been in eight), say they’ve never seen anything like it.
“There are a lot of competitive TV markets in the country. But I can’t imagine one more competitive than Pittsburgh,” Hayes says.
Here’s a sample of what they are talking about, all based on last November’s ratings sweeps for viewers 25-54:
CBS-owned KDKA, which for decades had been the city’s dominant station, had several victories. The station’s noon news, which earned a 2.0 rating/13 share, rated No. 1, topping WPXI’s 1.7/11 and WTAE’s 1.3/8.
The CBS O&O also rated No. 1 at 4 p.m., when its newscast, which earned a 2.5/13, beat syndicated programming on the other two affiliates — Judge Judy on WPXI earned a 2.0/12 and Dr. Oz on WTAE with a 1.1/6.
KDKA’s 5 p.m. news also rated No. 1, earning a 3.0/12. WPXI rated No. 2 with a 2.8/12 and WTAE ranked third with a 2.2/9.
KDKA runs twice as much local news as its competitors from 4 to 7 p.m. It has the only 4 p.m. newscast in the market and continues local news at 6:30 p.m., when the other two affiliates turn their time over to network news. It airs the CBS news at 7.
KDKA started that 4 p.m. newscast more than 10 years ago, long before doing so became fashionable. It has a long history of winning its time slot, even during all those years it was up againstOprah, GM Christopher Pike says.
At 6 p.m., however, the top spot went to WPXI, which earned a 3.3/12 while the other two affiliates tied for second with 2.8/10s.