Sweeping up in Tampa

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It used to be a two horse race in the Tampa ratings. But that's starting to change.

For a longtimeNBC station WFLA-Ch. 8 and Fox affiliate WTVT-Ch. 13 duked it out for supremacy in local TV ratings, with the Fox-owned station slowly growing more dominant as NBC's ratings woes multiplied.

The Tampa Bay Times writes that in February's "sweeps" ratings period confirmed a transition which hit home in November, as ABC affiliate WFTS-Ch. 28 has risen to compete with WTVT among key viewers aged 25 to 54, winning early evening and late night news time periods.

In Febraury, Fox 13 rules the mornings, with the advantage tipping to ABC Action News in early evening and at 11 p.m. Fox also wins at 4 p.m. and in prime time, due to the strength of Judge judy and American Idol.

style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px 0px 0.5em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; line-height: 1.4; color: rgb(24, 24, 24); font-family: Georgia, serif; letter-spacing: normal; ">The switch in fortunes for NBC's Today show and ABC's Good Morning America also played out locally, as GMA narrowly won among key viewers in the Tampa Bay area market. But Fox 13 dominates the time slot, earning 25 to 54 ratings double those of Today.

It's tough to understand why local TV stations still focus on "sweeps" periods; the Tampa Bay area market is among those where local stations can get demographic ratings -- age and sex of those watching shows -- each day, electronically. But the Tv industry is slow to give up on its habits, so advertisers and marketing departments still pay attention to the ratings during old school "sweeps" months -- one reason why you see so many high-profile investigative reporters in Feebruary, May and November.

Industry experts focus on ratings for key viewers, because they determine what a TV station can charge for advertising, and local TV stations with news departments focus on viewers aged 25 to 54. Ratings are the percentage of total viewers among that age range in the Tampa Bay market watching a particular show. And in the mornings and early evening, the total percentage of rarely rises above 6 percent among all local TV news outlets.

Primetime ratings locally bucked the national trend (which focuses on 18 to 49 viewers), with Fox on top, followed by CBS, ABC and NBC among viewers aged 25 to 54.

The breakdown of the Numbers at the Tampa Bay Times