Local Feburary "sweeps" good as Gold for WMAQ and WCIU

NBC-owned WMAQ-TV won the Gold when it came to Olympic ratings, but it was WLS-TV that grabbed the medal where it really counts: late news.

And WCIU-TV came home with some Gold itself.

The February “sweeps” period ended on Wednesday, but this ratings period won’t be as important because of the heavy skew of the Winter Olympics. Some stations (notably non-NBC affiliates) will be skipping this book and continue to use the November ratings period to sell numbers until the May’s numbers come out.

With that said, WMAQ could only muster a second-place finish in late news during the month, despite the fact the Winter Olympics lead-in pushed its news to 11 p.m. (The Sun-Times article this is based on counts in WMAQ’s numbers at 11 p.m., along with WLS’ and WBBM-TV’s 10 p.m. numbers – which itself is questionable since it isn’t really a fair comparison.)

WLS finished first in late news. last month in households, and scored a ratings increase from last year. On the other hand, CBS’ WBBM-TV’s as expected, fell to third in late news. The real challenge for WBBM now is to return to second place – and it won’t be easy since NBC has since replaced The Jay Leno Show at 9 p.m. with more general entertainment fare – with new series Parenthood and The Marriage Ref getting off to strong ratings starts this week.

Speaking of 9 p.m., WGN continued to dominate over Fox-owned WFLD-TV with a 41% household ratings advantage, despite Fox obviously having a stronger network lead-in, while CW threw in the towel in February by running mostly repeats (they should have thrown in the towel a long time ago.)

WGN’s audience – particularly in the core news 25-54 demo – have been quite loyal to the newscast, tuning in while the CW audience (what little of it) – mostly the younger female 18-34 crowd – are exiting the station at the same time and head to cable for fare like Project Runway, The Real Housewives, and Jersey Shore. Call it the “ships passing in the night” theory.

Over at Weigel Broadcasting, the mood at WCIU-TV was quite giddy as the independent station saw its ratings increase in key female and adult 18-49 and 25-54 demos. Among the big winners were The Steve Wilkos Show, People’s Court, Judge Mathis, The Insider, and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.

The biggest winner though was Steve Wilkos. His NBC Universal-distributed program – which moved to WCIU this season after two unproductive years at WGN – scored triple-digit increases at 11 a.m. from year-ago time period rating among key female demos (W18-49 and W25-54), among adults 18-49 (up 100%), and a double-digit increase (75%) among adults 25-54.

WCIU recently added another hour of Wilkos at 10 a.m., replacing Litton’s Street Court, which was downgraded to 4 a.m. (and likely not returning to syndication next fall as Litton is now focusing on Judge Karen’s return.)

The show where Wilkos got his television career started – as a bodyguard on Jerry Springer – is coming to WCIU this fall.