Kids warm to sitcoms, but Channel 2 is not out in November cold

December 10, 1991|By Michael Hill

Although Bob Turk may decry the cold weather when it shows up in his forecasts, it means good ratings news for his station, WJZ-TV (Channel 13).

With the onset of wintry temperatures in the crucial sweeps month of November and the loss of daylight saving time, younger viewers came inside and turned on their sets earlier. And those younger viewers tended to watch late-afternoon situation comedies on Channel 13 and WBAL-TV (Channel 11), rather than the news on WMAR-TV (Channel 2).

Channel 2's 5 p.m. news still gets a good rating in November: It stays about the same as it was in October, comfortably ahead but not dominating the competition. It had a 14 rating, 39 share in October, and a 13 rating and 31 share in November. But in October, it had beat the ratings of "The Cosby Show" on Channel 13 and "The Golden Girls" on Channel 11 combined.

As those younger viewers flocked to the sitcoms, "Cosby" went from a 7 rating, 14 share in October to a 10/24 in November. "Golden Girls" rose from a 5/14 to a 7/16.

These numbers are from the Nielsen service. The rating is the percentage of Baltimore-area households tuned to a particular program; the share is the percentage of those households with their sets on at the time.

Stripped of competition at 5 p.m. by Channel 11's decision to get out of the news game at that hour, Channel 2 continues to rack up an impressive number, helped immensely by its lead-in from "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which had a 14 rating, 40 share at 4p.m. in November.

At 6 p.m., Channel 13 weighs in and, as usual, dominates. This time, the station got a 16 rating, 31 share. Channel 2 dropped to a 9/18. Channel 11's new 6 o'clock hour received only a 6 rating, 12 share, but that was significantly better than the dismal 4/8 it recorded in October.

Another disappointing number that's at least going in the right direction is that of WBFF-TV (Channel 45) at 10 p.m. When the station began its news in summer, its executives were talking about a 5 or 6 rating. In October, it had a 2 rating and 4 share. In November, that rose to a 3 rating, 5 share.

The ratings news is also mixed for Channel 45 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Its back-to-back hours of pairs of "Married . . . with Children" and "Cheers" had higher numbers than they did in October, but they ran slightly behind WNUV's (Channel 54) lineup of "A Diff'rent World," "Sanford and Son," "Mama's Family" and "Amen."

At 11 p.m., Channel 13's news doubles the numbers of its nearest competitor with a 14 rating, 36 share. WBAL had a 7/18 and WMAR a 7/17. "Arsenio" on Channel 45 got a 4 rating, 14 share.

The 11 p.m. numbers were quite different in the Arbitron ratings, giving a significant boost to WBAL, and for the first time in recent memory, dropping WJZ below a 30 share. Channel 13 had an 11/29 share, Channel 11 a 9/22, while Channel 2 had an 8/20. Most of the other Arbitron numbers were fairly close to those recorded by Nielsen.

One interesting figure in the Nielsen report is the sign-on to sign-off numbers, which, despite wide variations during the day, are virtually identical among the three network affiliates in rating (7), share (21 or 20) and numbers of women 18 to 49 years old, the demographic category most attractive to advertisers.

Channel 2 gets its numbers with syndicated talk shows "Donahue," "Sally Jessy Raphael" and "Oprah," (which also provide many of the women viewers) as well as NBC's prime time. Channel 11 gets its ratings and women viewers with CBS' dominant afternoon soap opera schedule. Channel 13 leans on its local news and ABC's prime time for its numbers and demographic strength. In the end, it comes out about even.

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