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On TV: Nothing shocking in sweeps

Friday, December 01, 2000

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

There are few changes from the status quo in the November sweeps ratings.

Most newscasts are in the same positions they're usually in: KDKA continues to defy the popularity of NBC prime time by ranking first at 11 p.m., WPXI still benefits from the "Judge Judy" lead-in at 5 p.m. and WTAE continues to lead in the morning.

The most noteworthy change was WTAE's rise at 5 p.m. A year ago the station was third behind leader WPXI and second-place KDKA. But in the most recent ratings period WPXI ranked first, WTAE second and KDKA was third. WTAE probably benefited from its "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" contest, although a similar contest in May led the station to tie with KDKA rather than beat the CBS affiliate.

The ratings released yesterday by Nielsen Media Research are household ratings that reflect more a measure of popularity rather than a basis for advertising rates. TV commercials are generally sold on demographic ratings, which won't be available for several weeks.

In its ratings book, Nielsen flags contests, including those during newscasts on WPXI and WTAE, because they may influence ratings. Lottery drawings on KDKA, which may also influence ratings, are not flagged because they're telecast year-round rather than only during sweeps months.

Compared to a year ago, all three stations saw their ratings rise at 6 a.m., but all three were down at noon.

At 6 p.m. WPXI was up from a year ago, while KDKA and WTAE were both down. Though still third at 11 p.m., WTAE was up slightly from a year ago while KDKA and WPXI were both down. At 10 p.m., WPGH's hour-long newscast saw its ratings rise slightly.

Despite all-time ratings highs nationally, NBC's "Today" placed second in Pittsburgh, trailing No. 1-rated "Good Morning America" on ABC. Ratings for CBS's "The Early Show" on KDKA were down from a year ago.

"The View" improved on WTAE's performance at 11 a.m. compared to "The Martin Short Show" a year ago, but "Dr. Laura" bombed for WPXI, doing much worse than "Leeza" a year ago. Next week WPXI will banish "Dr. Laura" to late night.

At 4 p.m. ratings for "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on WTAE were down by more than a full ratings point from a year ago. "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" on KDKA dropped by almost a full ratings point, and "Judge Judy" on WPXI was off slightly.

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