,NBC local stations on Leno: Flat is the new up

It appears Jay Leno’s new 9 p.m. (Central) show isn’t having the drag many affiliates feared it would have on their late local newscasts.

While ratings in the key 25-54 audience were down 12 percent from NBC affiliates and O&Os, ratings declines were also clocked in at ABC and CBS stations as well. To sum it up – ratings for late newscasts are down across the board.

According to 25-54 demo information obtained by TVNewsCheck, ratings for NBC owned-and-operated WMAQ-TV in Chicago were actually decent – so decent, that the key demo ratings outperformed its sister stations in New York and Los Angeles.

WMAQ’s late news averaged a 3.6 rating in the 25-54 key demo in the first three weeks with Jay Leno as a lead-in. Those numbers dropped to a 3.1 rating the week of October 4. Last year, the 10 p.m. news number averaged a 3.2 – down only 3%.

By comparison, WNBC in New York City had a 1.5 rating in the first three weeks and a1.4 the week of October 4. KNBC in Los Angeles had a 1.9 demo rating for the first three weeks and a 1.6 demo rating the week of October 4.

WMAQ officials appear to be pretty happy with the numbers so far – and this despite the bad publicity the station has suffered over the past year, including the departures of Bob Sirott and Anna Devlantes and Warner Saunders (whose now retired) off-camera antics at an AFTRA meeting earlier this year.While WMAQ ahead of CBS-owned WBBM-TV at 10 p.m., it still trails ABC-owned WLS-TV at 10 p.m. in the 25-54 demo and in households.

NBC-owned WRC-TV in Washington D.C. continues its domination of late news in the nation’s capital, despite the Leno lead-in, which came in fourth at 10 p.m. local time. 25-54 demo ratings show the station making a 4% gain from last year.

Other markets whose late news ratings increased from last year include San Francisco (KNTV) and Atlanta (WXIA).

But not all stations are benefiting – in Baltimore, Hearst-Argyle-owned NBC affiliate WBAL-TV lost its late news ratings crown in households to CBS-owned WJZ-TV (demo information was not available.)

Overall, affiliates continue to support NBC over Leno, and appear to be satisfied so far with the results with their late news – despite minor ratings declines in several markets.

So while the Leno prime-time experiment looks quite bad on paper – it has ranked a distant third behind ABC and CBS so far this season – as far as NBC affiliates are concerned,  he’s doing the job he was set out to do.