Nine O’Clock news numbers not so nice

Jeff Goldbatt out at WFLD; WISN, WTMJ tie in 10 p.m. news race in Milwaukee

The recent trends in local news is somewhat puzzling to figure out sometimes – while two stations scored rating increases at 10 p.m. with their local newscasts, the two local 9 p.m. newscasts were down from year-ago averages.

Both CW affiliate WGN-TV and Fox-owned WFLD-TV were down 21 percent and 9 percent in households, respectively in the just-concluded May sweeps.

In fact, the soft numbers have cost someone their job. Jeff Goldblatt was dropped as primary 9 p.m. co-anchor at WFLD after just two years, with officials at the station declining to renew his contract. Goldblatt was brought over from Fox News Channel to reverse the ratings slide at WFLD, which has been unable to take advantage of strong Fox prime-time lead-ins (Phil Rosenthal had a deadline on his Tower Ticker blog which read “Goldblatt’s closing at WFLD”, the name referring to the now-defunct department store,) WFLD’s post prime-time newscast usually draws the lowest numbers of any Fox O&O in the country (WNYW in New York and KTTV in Los Angeles fare much better with their 10 p.m. newscasts.)

There is no word on a replacement at this time, but there is speculation that former Fox Thing In The Morning anchor Bob Sirott is being considered for the now-open position.

Meanwhile, WGN officials blame the popular prime-time programming on the major networks this past season (of course, if WGN officials bothered to do any research, other reasons would also include the popularity of cable shows in this time period and the use of DVRs.)

It was a different story at 10 p.m., where ABC-owned WLS-TV continued its dominance of Chicago local news, with a 7 percent ratings increase in households, while third-place WBBM-TV also grew 11 percent in households.

The ratings surges however, may have likely come from a month dominated with high-profile crime blotter stories as gang violence has wrecked havoc on Chicago, from the death of a highly regarded police officer in Chatham (a mile west from where yours truly lives) to the shooting death of a student this week in Dolton to violence on Oak Street and North Avenue beaches.

While a lot of viewers decry the police blotter stuff (including yours truly), it does draw humanoids, like it or not. “If it bleeds, it leads” is alive and well in the lexicon of local news.

Oddly enough, the only owned-and-operated station to lose viewers at 10 p.m. was NBC’s WMAQ-TV, which was down 6 percent from a year ago, but is good enough for second place.

In Milwaukee, the 10 p.m. news race was a horserace as ABC affiliate WISN-TV and NBC affiliate  WTMJ-TV both tied each other with a 14 share with both stations in a dead heat all month long. Meanwhile, Fox affiliate WITI and CBS affilaite WDJT-TV weren’t really even in the race, with both earning a 9 share and 8 share, respectively.

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