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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

WISN-TV Ch. 12 won the May sweeps from sign-on to sign-off, while WITI-TV Fox 6 was strong in the morning and No. 1 at 10 p.m. Monday to Sunday. (PHOTO: shutterstock.com )

WITI and WISN both win May sweeps


As we wrap up our holiday weekend and get back to the regular routine, area TV stations' staffers are doing the same after pulling out all the stops to win the May sweeps period. May is a key time in TV land, as the latest sweep and its viewership numbers help set the advertising rates for the summer and into fall.

"I am proud of WISN 12's continued strength throughout the day and with WISN 12 News," Jan Wade, president and GM WISN-TV Ch. 12 said. "It is particularly gratifying that our 10 p.m. news continued to be the viewers' No. 1 choice despite weaker lead-in audiences. This proves that our audience is loyal and they will find us. We are grateful for every one of our viewers and will continue to provide them with relevant local news that impacts their lives."

The Hearst-owned ABC affiliate did well in the sweep, edging out the other competition for the top news show at 10 p.m. on weekdays. WISN had a 6.4 household rating, where each point is around 9,100 households in the Milwaukee market. WITI-TV Fox 6 had a 6.3, WTMJ-TV Ch. 4 had a 5.8 and WDJT-TV CBS 58 finished with a 4.6.

While the half hour broadcast at 10 p.m. on weekdays tells one story, it is only a single slice in the entire pie. For instance, if taking a wider look with the evening newscasts on the weekends, and average it in for an entire 7-day week, the rankings change. In this case, WITI wins the 10 p.m. crown with a 6.3 for newscasts Monday through Sunday. WISN takes the second place spot with a 6.0, WTMJ holds at a 5.8 and WDJT bumps up to a 4.7.

WITI can claim to be the No. 1 choice in Milwaukee as well.

Decades ago, when traditional media outlets would cover the new television industry and report the numbers, the "Top Station" honors were given to which station did the best in evening news. Back then, only three stations and a public TV outlet were the only signals available, if your antenna worked well enough to get a clear picture.

The landscape has changed drastically in the TV industry, yet the way in which we measure success for a sweeps winner hasn't changed to keep up with the reality of the average viewer. So, as I make an analysis of the latest numbers, I like taking a much broader look. I look at the various day-parts differently. Morning news and evening newscasts have a different audience, as do the people to have time to watch, or take the time to record the different shows on during the day. Someone who watches a sporting event on a weekend may be loyal to a different station for its primetime shows.

What criteria should we look at in determining the sweeps winner? I don't think I have to follow the format that the Journal and Sentinel (separate papers back then) set years ago.

Because of this, I like to look at the sign-on to sign-off rankings. Before stations went on 24 hours a day, they would literally shut down in the early morning hours on the clock – think 2 to 6 a.m. Now, the ratings number accounts for the full 24 hours, with the "next day" starting somewhere between 1 and 3 a.m. depending on the market and which time zone it is in. For us, the next day starts at 2 a.m.

Locally, WISN is the ratings winner for sign-on to sign-off. Ch. 12 finished the sweep with a 3.6, WITI was second with a 2.8 and WTMJ and WDJT tie for third with a 2.4.

In weekday morning news, WITI held strong as the ratings winner. Morning news is difficult to judge because each station has local programming at different times. WITI is local from 4:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. with "Fox 6 Wake Up News" and "Real Milwaukee." WISN, WTMJ and WDJT are on locally in the early morning, but switch over to national morning shows at 7 a.m.

From 6 to 7 a.m. weekdays is considered the best way to measure each station in the morning, when all four have local news offerings at the same time. WITI has the largest viewership with a 5.9 rating. WISN takes second place with a 5.3 and WTMJ had a 3.8 and WDJT brought in a 1.3.

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