Baltimore viewers are crazy about WJZ-TV (Channel 13) newscasts and Oprah Winfrey. But they aren't much interested these days in Johnny Carson, and they are not watching the Orioles as much as they were last year.
Those are some of the messages from advance ratings for the May "sweeps" audience measurement surveys, which are taken by Nielsen and Arbitron and used to set advertising rates through next summer.
With a newscast debuting tonight on WBFF-TV (Channel 45), most eyes in the local TV industry are on the news ratings at the network affiliates -- WMAR-TV (Channel 2), WBAL-TV (Channel 11) and Channel 13. The most striking thing about May's ratings is the dominance of Channel 13.
At 6 o'clock, Channel 13, is watched in 167,000 homes, according to Arbitron. That's about 50,000 more homes than are watching WMAR-TV and WBAL-TV combined. Furthermore, Channel 13 has triple the number of women 18 to 49 years of age (a key demographic group with advertisers) of the nearest competitor, Channel 2.
At 11 p.m., Channel 13 is watched in about 140,00 homes, which is as many as Channels 2 and 11 combined. Again, Channel 13 has more women 18 to 49 than the two other stations combined.
There was also some good ratings news for Channel 2, which overall continued its momentum from the last two ratings books to remain the second-place news station.
Other noteworthy performances:
* Channel 2's "Oprah Winfrey" is watched in as many homes as are tuned to Channels 11, 13, 45 and 54 combined from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily -- about 112,000.
* As for Carson, who announced he will retire next year, it does not look like he'll be missed that much here. "The Tonight Show" on Channel 2 has only half the audience of "Nightline" on Channel 13 and less than half the audience of "Who's the Boss?" reruns on Channel 11. Arsenio Hall, on Channel 45, ties Carson in overall viewership.
* The Orioles on Channel 2 were watched in about 9,000 fewer homes this May as compared to last May. Its audience was about 93,000 television households.