WLS-TV, WGN-TV dominate ratings on election night

Rauner wins. (Charles Rex Abrogast/AP Photo)
Rauner wins. (Charles Rex Abrogast/AP Photo)

Election results means a tougher road ahead for FCC

Just like what the Republicans did to the Democrats Tuesday night, both ABC-owned WLS-TV and Tribune Broadcasting’s WGN-TV steamrolled the competition.

The mid-term elections saw Illinois elect a Republican governor for the first time since 1998 – venture capitalist Bruce Rauner (the man whose GTCR investment firm financed Randy Michaels’ Merlin Media) replaced incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn. Meanwhile, the Republicans took control of the Senate with little difficulty.

Indeed, the Democrats were like the Chicago Bears – getting completely whacked by a better-prepared opponent and both certainly need a new game plan. You knew something was wrong with voters started confusing Quinn with Bears QB Jay Cutler.

The ratings Tuesday night did indicate there was some interest in these midterm elections, whether the audience voted or not.

According to Nielsen ratings, WLS-TV won the 10 p.m.-11 p.m. portion of election night coverage in households, with a 7.4 rating, followed by WMAQ’s 6.6 and WGN’s 5.4. But among the key news demo of adults 25-54, it was NBC-owned WMAQ-TV, who came out on top with a 3.4 rating, ahead of WLS’ 3.1.

But the big winner of the night was WGN. The CW affiliate pre-empted its primetime lineup (which was in reruns anyway) and started coverage before anyone else – and it paid off: from 7 to 9 p.m., WGN ranked third in the adult 25-54 demo, only behind programming on NBC and a Chicago Blackhawks game on Comcast Sportsnet. And at 9 p.m., WGN dominated with an 8.8 rating, far ahead of WLS (which carried national ABC News coverage) and Fox-owned WFLD.

Viewers made it loud and clear they wanted live and local election coverage, preferring it over the east coast-biased major broadcast networks and big three cable news channels.

It was clearly a night to forget ratingswise for perennial news also-rans WFLD and CBS-owned WBBM-TV – each struggled to get a foothold and trailed its three main competitors all night. WFLD could only must up a 1.9 rating at 9 p.m., while WBBM placed fourth in households and among adults 25-54.

With both houses of Congress now in control of the Republicans, it is going to be much tougher for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to push his agendas through, particularly with the spectrum auction coming up and proposed net neutrality rules. Republican House members, such as Greg Walden (R-Ore.) have made no secret over their disdain of how the commission is being run by Democrats and now have more clout to keep the FCC in line.