By Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist Published Dec 02, 2014 at 6:03 PM Photography:

Measuring performance of the competitive television market in Milwaukee has always been about perception. Nielsen, the company that records viewing information from a number of households, uses a mathematical formula to estimate the ratings and rankings of each station on the air.

Then, based on the number given for each 15 minutes throughout the day, winners are chosen based on the overall viewership.

The concept of winning is both objective and subjective. Based on statistical mathematics, the numbers measured by a number of methods – including electronic devices and written diaries – are combined and averaged among the viewership to determine the overall and household ratings.

In the past, other outlets covering media would say the best news station was the one that had the highest rating for the 10 p.m. weekday news. But a station’s reach goes beyond just news programming. That’s why I believe the sign-on to sign-off is a better measure of success. Without looking at the demographic breakdowns based on age and gender that come out later than the overnight numbers, station managers can see how their programming stacked up against what their peers aired.

For the 10th consecutive November sweep, WISN-TV Ch. 12 has won the ratings contest with the best performance from sign-on to sign-off. The 3.68 average rating for the ABC affiliate brought in the most viewers for the latest measuring period that is used to set commercial airtime prices from now until May.

A rating point represents 8,932 households in the Milwaukee market.

"As we reflect back on all the important news of the past few weeks, it is humbling and rewarding to continue to earn the loyalty of southeastern Wisconsin viewers," Jan Wade, president and general manager of WISN, said in a statement. 

"Keeping viewers informed on the news that impacts their lives is a responsibility our news team and entire staff take very seriously," Wade said. "It’s always our No. 1 priority."

As far as news casts are concerned, WITI-TV Fox 6 was the top in the market, winning in the morning and at night. At 10 p.m. the Fox affiliate earned a 6.4 rating, edging out WTMJ-TV Ch. 4 and WISN that were tied for second place at 6.2. WDJT-TV CBS 58 was fourth with a 5.1.

"I cannot express how proud I am of this station and the work that my employees do.  We are a 24/7 business and that means we work holidays, weekends, etc.," WITI general manager Chuck Steinmetz said.

He also pointed out that on Thanksgiving, the station was fully staffed, and news director John La Porte came in to help set up a full Thanksgiving meal. Steinmetz said it is really a large family at the station.

"The success the station is seeing is a direct reflection on the dedication of the staff – every engineer, photographer, reporter, producer, manager – they all have to work together as a team and they do it for our viewers.  ‘Because You Matter’ really means something to us and I’m proud to be a part of it," he said.

In the morning, WITI won the race with a 2.4 at 4:30 a.m., a 4.1 at 5 a.m. and a 6.0 at 6 a.m. WTMJ was the most viewed newscast at 5 p.m. weeknights, and WISN was the winter at 6 p.m.

Here’s a look at some of the most competitive time slots during the November sweep:

Sign-on to Sign-off: WISN 3.68, WITI 3.62, WTMJ 2.85, WDJT 2.66

Primetime: WTMJ 6.5, WISN 6.3, WDJT 6.2, WITI 4.2


4:30 a.m.: WITI 2.4, WISN 2.1, WTMJ 0.8, WDJT   0.4.

5 a.m.: WITI 4.1, WISN 3.1, WTMJ 1.4, WDJT 0.7

6 a.m.: WITI 6.0, WISN 4.9 WTMJ 2.7, WDJT 0.8

4 p.m.:  WISN/Ellen 5.0, WTMJ/News 4.1, WDJT/Dr. Phil 3.0, WITI/Studio A 2.5

5 p.m.: WTMJ 6.8, WISN 6.5, WITI 4.6, WDJT 3.3

5:30 p.m.: WISN/ABC News 7.9,                WTMJ/NBC News: 7.9, WITI/local news 4.4, WDJT/CBS News 4.2

6 p.m.: WDJT/Jeopardy 7.3, WISN/local news 7.0, WTMJ/local news 5.2,                WITI/local news 4.7

10 p.m.: WITI 6.4, WISN 6.2, WTMJ 6.2, WDJT 5.1.

10:30 p.m.: WISN/local news 4.4, WITI/Seinfeld 3.7, WTMJ/Tonight Show 3.5, WDJT/Late Show 1.9


6 a.m.: WISN 4.3, WTMJ 1.5

7 a.m.: WISN 4.3, WITI 3.4, WTMJ 2.5

8 a.m.: WITI 4.2, WISN 4.1, WTMJ 2.7


6 p.m.: WISN 8.8, WTMJ 6.3

10 p.m.: WTMJ 7.9, WITI 4.9, WDJT 4.6, WISN 3.2


5 p.m.: WITI 7.8, WISN 4.3, WTMJ 3.7

5:30 p.m.: WITI 5.6, WTMJ/NBC News 5.2, WISN 4.4, WDJT 2.6

10 p.m.: WITI 9.0, WTMJ 7.3, WISN 5.4, WDJT 4.8

Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist

Media is bombarding us everywhere.

Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.

The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.