Spinning the Numbers in Tampa


Looks like St. Petersburg CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10 won May’s competitive “sweeps” ratings period, according to a press release pronouncing it “Tampa Bay’s most-watched television station.”

But hold on. Across the pond, Tampa Fox station WTVT-Ch. 13 claims to be “the dominant source overall in key adults” during early newscasts.

And Tampa ABC station affiliate WFTS-Ch. 28 trumpets a “historic change in Tampa Bay area TV news,” noting it has beaten all other late night newscasts among the most sought after viewers for the third year in a row.

Welcome to the most popular sport after a “sweeps” ratings period; citing ratings data which makes your channel look good as possible.

In truth, the measure which counts most is ratings among adults 25 to 54; the group advertisers want to reach most through news programming. On that score, WTVT and cable channel Bay News 9 dominate the morning ratings, WFTS and WTVT score in early evening and WFTS takes the top spot at 11 p.m.

(WTVT’s 10 p.m. newscast is tough to compare, because more people are watching TV at 10 p.m., presenting a larger potential audience, and its only news competition is usually national newschannels and Bay News 9.)

WTSP’s claim of supremacy at 11 p.m., for example, is based on household ratings. By this measure, a household with 2 people counts the same as a household with six people; older households tend to be smaller, and WTSP’s CBS programming is most popular with older audiences. So it makes sense that the channel, which saw CBS win in prime time ratings, would also get good household ratings at 11 p.m.

Only problem: advertisers don’t buy commercial spots on household ratings. So that victory is mostly about bragging rights.

WTSP’s release also trumpets that its 10 News Morning Show has the most year-to-year growth of any morning newscast in the market. ButGinger Gadsden, the most consistent element of a morning show which has seen a procession of co-anchors, traffic anchors and format changes in recent years, just announced she is leaving the station June 30.

NBC affiliate WFLA-Ch. 8, once the top station in town, seems to be struggling the most with 25 to 54 viewers, placing third, fourth and fifth in morning ratings, third in early evening and third at 11 p.m.

Worst of all, figures indicate the five local TV newscasts are drawing about 40 percent of viewers age 25 to 54 watching TV at 6 a.m., but just 20 percent of those people watching TV from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and 16 percent of those people watching TV at 11 p.m. Which means the key audience tunes in for early morning headlines, then increasingly tunes out as the day progresses.

Here’s the individual ratings for viewers 25 to 54 in key time periods, as provided by WFTS-Ch. 28:

5 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.:
WTVT-Ch. 13 (Fox 13)                                 0.8   
Bay News 9  (BN9)                           0.5
WFTS-Ch. 28 (ABC Action News)        0.4
WTSP-Ch. 10 (!0 News)                    0.4

WFLA-Ch. 8 (Newschannel 8)             0.2

5:30 a.m. to 6 a.m.:
WTVT                                                        1.0   
Bay News 9                                     0.7
WTSP                                             0.7

WFTS                                             0.6

WFLA                                             0.6

6 a.m. to 7 a.m.:
BN9                                                            1.4   
WTVT                                             1.3
WFTS                                             1.0

WFLA                                              1.0
WTSP                                              0.7

5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. newscasts:
WTVT                      1.4 
WFTS                 1.3
WFLA                  0.8

BN9                    0.6
WTSP                 0.5

5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. newscasts:
WFTS                   1.4 
WTVT              1.1
WFLA               0.9

BN9                 0.7

WTSP              0.5

6 p.m. newscasts:
WFTS           1.5

WTVT        1.3

WFLA         0.9
BN9           0.8

WTSP        0.6

Prime Time, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Saturday, 7-11 p.m. Sunday:
WTSP    (CBS)     3.9   
WFTS  (ABC)    3.0 
WTVT  (FOX)    2.9

WFLA  (NBC)    2.9

11 p.m. newscasts:

WFTS             1.9
WTSP            1.6 

WFLA          1.2

WTVT          0.9

BN9             0.5

Tampa Times