WKRC-TV Wins May Sweeps News Ratings Again, But...

May 24, 2018

Did that Sinclair news commentary in March about media companies pushing "their own personal bias and agenda" read by anchors Rob Braun and Cammy Dierking hurt WKRC-TV's May sweeps news ratings?

Maybe. 

Sinclair's WKRC-TV won all weekday newscasts in May sweeps, which ended Wednesday, as the station has done in the household ratings for more 15 years. 

But ratings dropped for the 11 p.m. and the 6 a.m. newscasts, making those time periods the most competitive in recent years. At the same time, Channel 12's ratings increased for the 5-6 p.m. news and were flat for the 6 p.m. news, after the departure of anchor Brad Johansen – while WLWT-TV and WCPO-TV lost viewers 5-6 p.m. compared to last May.

The Braun-Dierking 11 p.m. newscast ratings (5.9) fell by 15 percent from last May (7.0), and 22 percent from May two years ago (7.6). Channel 12's rating at 11 p.m. was slightly more than one point ahead of WCPO-TV (4.8) and WLWT-TV (4.7). One ratings point here equals 8,720 TV homes.

At 6-7 a.m., Channel 12's "Good Morning Cincinnati" (4.1) fell 11 percent from last May (4.6) – while WLWT-TV closed the gap with a 3.5 rating. WXIX-TV was third (3.0), and WCPO-TV, which didn't renew morning co-anchor Chris Riva in March, was fourth (2.8). A year ago, Channel 12 had a much bigger lead over second-place Channel 5 (3.0).

With all the fluctuating numbers, I can't and won't say that the drop in Channel 12's news viewership in the morning and late night was attributed to the news commentary that dozens of Sinclair anchors were forced to read word-for-word in March, which resulted in Braun receiving death threats. There could be a variety of factors: Are there fewer news viewers at 11 p.m.? Are some Channel 12 viewers watching the shorter 10 p.m. Local 12 newscast on Channel 64? Are viewers tuning out Sinclair's mandated features and stories?

But the trends for those two newscasts are troubling for Channel 12 bosses. 

One more point: These are household ratings, not the demographic break-outs for age groups and gender which stations use to sell advertising. The demos (which I don't regularly see) will tell another story. Most local TV station executives say the household ratings are meaningless – but Channel 12 has used them in promotions for years boasting it has the most-watched newscasts.