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KSDK (Channel 5) regains bragging rights for 10 p.m. news

May 28, 2003

The May ratings are in, and everybody's a winner.

Well, not technically. The four-week May sweeps period saw KSDK (Channel 5) regain its long-held 10 p.m. crown, which was bumped off in February by rival KMOV (Channel 4).

News director Mike Shipley, who had insisted before the month started that his station felt no pressure to win in May, declared the results "a great victory." He added, "It's a compliment when you see the numbers reflect the good work that goes on here."

Monday through Friday at 10 p.m., Channel 5 finished the sweeps period with an 18.6 rating (217,862 households) and 28 percent audience share. Channel 4 had a 15.5 rating (181,552 households) and 24 share.

In February, Channel 4 grabbed the 10 p.m. lead for the first time since at least 1989, topping Channel 5 by just .1 ratings point, slightly more than a thousand households.

Victory was sweet, but Channel 4 kept its chin up after the May numbers came in, citing dramatic growth over last May. Ratings at 10 p.m. are up 3.3 points (26 percent, or more than 38,000 households).

Channel 5's 10 p.m. ratings edged down a fraction of a point, and 2 full share points, from last May. (As measured by Nielsen Media Research, each ratings point represents 11,713 St. Louis households. A share point refers to the percentage of TV sets in use at the time that are tuned to a particular station.)

"The May book capped an incredible turnaround season for KMOV," general manager Allan Cohen said. "Every key newscast in every book this season has shown consistent year-to-year growth."

But why continue to talk about 10 p.m., asks KTVI (Channel 2), which sees shifting news-viewership patterns helping its 9 p.m. news hour. "Our three-year positive growth trend continues in the day parts we target: morning news, prime time and our 9 p.m. news," general manager Spencer Koch said in his end-of-sweeps statement.

Channel 2's late news finished May with a 9.3 rating (108,931 households) and 13 percent audience share, up 2 ratings points and 2 share points from May 2002. The 9 p.m. news on KPLR (Channel 11) held steady from last May with a 3.6 rating (42,167 households) and 5 percent of the audience.

For numbers crunchers, here are ratings from other time periods in May. The math-phobic need not stay tuned.

At 5 p.m., KMOV was up 10 percent, finishing the month with a 10 rating and 19 audience share. KSDK was essentially flat from last May with a 12/24. KTVI was down 14 percent with a 6/11.

KTVI's 5:30 p.m. newscast held its own against the networks in May, finishing the month with a 5 rating and 9 share, down 1 share point from last year. For the broadcast networks, viewership shifted somewhat to CBS' Dan Rather (up 11 percent to a 10/19) from NBC's Tom Brokaw (down 7 percent to a 13/24). St. Louis viewers continue to ignore ABC's Peter Jennings, who drew just a 2 rating (just over 23,000 households) and a meager 3 percent audience share (down 2 points from last May) on KDNL (Channel 30).

If you think that's scary for ABC News, consider that "Good Morning America" declined even further in May to a 0.7 rating (just 8,200 households) and 2 percent audience share - and was beaten by "The Daily Buzz" on KPLR.

At 6 p.m., KMOV saw 11 percent growth, finishing the month with a 10 rating and 19 percent audience share, up a point in both categories from last May. KSDK declined 1 ratings point and 2 share points to a 13/24. KTVI was flat from last May with a 5 rating but lost 1 share point, declining to 8.

In early morning, the fastest-growing news time period, Channel 5 remained the ratings leader by a significant margin, but Channel 2 showed the biggest gains. Between 6 and 7 a.m., KSDK dropped a ratings point and 2 share points, to a 9/32 from a 10/34 last May. KMOV showed a similar drop, to a 3/12 from last May's 4/14. KTVI rose a ratings point and 2 share points to a 5/17.

From 7-9 a.m., KSDK dropped to an 8/26 from last May's 9/29. KMOV was flat with a 3/10, while KTVI rose to a 6/19 from last May's 5/17.

Midday news viewing was pretty much unchanged from last May. KSDK had an 8 rating and 24 share, with KMOV at 7/21 and KTVI at 5/15.

For one last set of numbers, here's how St. Louis stations are doing in total viewership, sign-on to sign-off, or 7 to 1 a.m. seven days a week. At the bottom is WRBU (Channel 46), the new UPN affiliate, with a 1.1 rating and 3 share. Following are KETC (Channel 9) with a 1.4/3; KDNL with a 2.2/5; KPLR with a 3.3/8; KTVI with a 4.8/11; KMOV with a 7.0/16; and KSDK with a 8.0/19. KTVI and KMOV were up in May from last year, while all the other stations were down.