Chicago’s late newscasts continues to lose steam









Maybe Chicago viewers are tired of hearing about all the shootings and murders. Maybe viewers are tired of the constant weather hype, even when its nice and only 75 degrees. Maybe viewers are tired of the Breaking News and Developing Story monikers every four goddamn minutes.

Or maybe viewers are just tired (and going to bed earlier.)

Either way you paint it, Chicago’s late and primetime newscasts continue their slide in the July sweeps, mirroring a similar decline in May, with four of the five local late newscasts continuing to lose stream.

According to Lewis Lazare at Chicago Business Journal, ABC-owned WLS-TV was the only station to show an increase at 10 p.m. to destroy the competition (once again) with an 8.7 household rating, up 12  percent from July 2013. The others were down: NBC’s WMAQ were in second place (5.4, -4%), followed by WGN-TV’s 9 p.m. newscast (4.1, -11%); CBS-owned WBBM-TV (3.9, -3%) and Fox’s WFLD at 9 p.m. (1.8, -31%), whose decline can also be blamed on Fox’s weak prime-time lineup and the departure of Robin Robinson, whose contract with the station expired this week.

Granted, these are only household numbers, as the 25-54 demos for July have yet to be released. But when the numbers are translated, the results are unlikely to be encouraging.

The declining numbers continue a troubling trend as Chicago’s late newscasts continue to bleed viewers. During the May 2014 sweeps, the seven major Chicago news stations (including Spanish-language WGBO and WSNS) lost 21 percent of their adult 25-54 audience year-to-year, in various early fringe, access, primetime, and 10 p.m., according to a recent TVNewsCheck analysis of May sweeps numbers in the ten largest markets (only Boston lost more audience, at 23 percent.)

This month’s T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame moment – which ALL the local stations are guilty of – was the ridiculous and unnecessary hype regarding the nice but unseasonably cool weather Chicago experienced during a few days last month, even making it the lead story at 10 p.m. one night. One local station even interviewed slacked-jawed yokels whose complaints about the weather was more suited for winter (one person said she would even move!) The piece made Chicagoans look like wimps and pansties. Little wonder why foreigners look at Chicago with such disdain.

It’s too bad some of the local stations didn’t show that same kind of commitment when the weather was really nasty the night of June 30, preferring to integrate the weather coverage with commercials instead. It’s hard enough worrying if your house might get blown down without Jan trying to sell you a Toyota or Flo selling you insurance you need for that Toyota or hearing that stupid “I’m feeling Subway” jingle.

When it comes to local news, Chicagoans en masse are feeling the urge to reach for the remote.