Summer Ratings Sunny for WLKY, WHAS

Today staffers at WLKY got a congratulatory memo from GM Glenn Haygood.

The big news — WLKY is declaring a victory in the July ratings sweeps. Haygood’s memo notes that in all competitive time periods for local programming, WLKY and WHAS won every one. So WAVE doesn’t win a single time period, nor does WDRB.

So let’s try to figure out why this keeps happening, outside of the possibility that more people enjoy the WLKY and WHAS local news product.

WLKY’s dominance in late night is easy to explain. The CBS primetime lineup has delivered dominating numbers both during the week and on weekends. But WLKY has won late-nights for the last six years, according to Haygood, and it’s hard to give all that credit to the CBS lead-in.  WHAS loses some of its 11 p.m. audience to its 10 p.m. broadcast on WBKI, and when you combine those two ratings numbers, more people watch WHAS late nights.

But this is an argument waged between WHAS and WLKY every sweeps period.

And the numbers also point to another TV watching fact — where the competition is between local news programming and almost anything else, viewers go for anything else.  How else to explain how WLKY’s afternoon soap, The Young and Restless, delivers an audiene nearly a third larger than Fox’s 4 p.m. news or even Oprah. That helps explain the WLKY 5 p.m. news victory, which wins the time period before falling behind WHAS at 5:30.

Then there’s the 7-8 p.m. hour, where viewers in droves turn to Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy over WAVE’s news and the syndicated Extra. WHAS airs ET and Inside Edition, both of which finish second. Sitcom reruns on WDRB finish fourth.

One of the most competitive time periods, and one that has little to do with lead-ins, is the 6-7 a.m. weekday hour. WHAS wins that one, followed by WAVE, WLKY and WDRB. At 7, when the top three networks go to national broadcasts, NBC’s Today show takes over the top spot, and Fox41, with the only local program at that hour, slides ahead of WHAS and WLKY.

Haygood’s WLKY memo points out that the station’s programming in prime time, fringe and prime access time periods were dominant. So other than improving newscasts, other stations might want to find something to beat The Young and the Restless, Jeopardy and shows like CSI and Big Brother.