Analysis: ABC 7 dominates February sweeps… well, almost

ABC 7 ChicagoSay with me everybody… ABC-owned WLS-TV (ABC 7) dominated the local news competition during the sweeps – this time is the February “book”, as it has done since 1987 (excluding Olympic years.)

According to information obtained by Chicagoland Radio and Media, WLS won almost all local news time slots in households and the key adult 25-54 demo, with one major exception – the morning news race, with found WLS in third place in some time slots, behind WGN-TV (which won in households from 6-9 a.m) and NBC’s WMAQ-TV, which surged in the dawn patrol – particularly in the 25-54 demo.

But it was smooth sailing for WLS from there, as newscasts won in major daytime, early fringe, access, and 10 p.m. time periods in households and key demos – and the station saw ratings gains at 6 and at 10. The station’s late newscast earned a 9 household rating, compared to WMAQ’s 6.1 and CBS-owned WBBM’s 5.8.

WLS also has the top-raked talk show in the market thanks to Windy City Live, which finished first at 9 a.m. in households. But in adults and women 25-54, it was WGN’s Live With Kelly & Michael that topped the chart.

To see the rest of the numbers and results at CRM, click here. Here’s some quick observations from yours truly (a few of these I posted Thursday on Twitter:)

WLS – and other ABC O&Os in several large markets, weathered the loss of The Oprah Winfrey Show and two long-running soaps very well. Yes, ABC 7’s daytime lineup ratings are down (thank you, Katie), but definitely not out – and by the way, WLS is still dominant.

I wouldn’t be surprised if WGN-TV’s 9 p.m. newscast – with a 5 household rating – outright won its time period on some nights, as many network primetime dramas in the same time period – losers such as Do No Harm (canceled), Deception, Vegas, and Body Of Proof struggled this month, as even cable shows (popular with younger demos) are now beating them regularly. These lackluster shows – Hawaii Five-O and Elementary included – aren’t cutting it and the broadcast networks know it.

Oh yeah, I forgot about WFLD’s 9 p.m. newscast, like everyone else. Is that still on? With American Idol declining in the ratings, the station’s best chance to grab viewers (which they failed to do – even when the show was drawing a gazillion viewers) may now be gone.

– While WMAQ continued to surge in the AM news race, it was a different story at 10 p.m. as NBC’s weak-rated primetime lineup likely hurt the station’s numbers, though look for WMAQ to have an edge over WBBM in the adult 25-54 demo. Meanwhile, for the first time since the late 1990’s, WMAQ finally has a solid afternoon talk show block with newcomer Steve Harvey and veteran Ellen – a winning combination.

– Turns out Chicago’s violence epidemic – which has often dominated local news for the last few weeks, did not drive viewers (especially in suburban areas) away from local news. The unfortunate shooting death of fifteen year-old of Hadiya Pendelton – which grabbed worldwide headlines – happened two days before the sweeps period began, and her funeral – which saw First Lady Michelle Obama fly in to attend – took place days later. In fact, her death – and discussion of Chicago’s violence on news shows actually drove local viewership in February. At 10 p.m. for example, Chicago’s three network-owned stations drew a cume of 731,500 households on average. While local news coverage on the subject was sometimes overbearing (local news shows once again dragged out leaders who offered the same solutions that didn’t work before), it was for the most part respectful.

With entertainment programming in shambles all over the place – in network primetime and in syndication, local news remains reliably strong in Chicago.

– The end of the February sweeps also (thankfully) ends awards season. If I have to see another presenter run their mouth or Channing Tatum dance again… now on to something much more entertaining… March Madness!