Let’s See, Fewer Commercials, More Time for News, Longer News Reports, My God, What a Concept!

The success of the NBC Nightly News with its experiment of fewer commercials is getting the attention of advertisers and viewers alike. It probably has more than a few consultants salivating at the prospect of presenting a new “news model” to those clients who can’t figure things out for themselves. That means a large number of newsrooms across the country.
But while the single sponsored newscast was an extreme, according to an article in Broadcasting and Cable, NBC’s success on the Nightly News is due in part to the fact that it tends to run fewer commercials allowing for (gasp) more news time and longer news reports. Another key point is that NBC tends to cover more hard news than its rivals. NBC also leads the other networks in covering terrorism, politics, disasters and the economy and less on social issues.
It seems the folks that run NBC have figured out a way to give the viewers what they want.
Yes, expect consultants to fall all over themselves trying to pitch this idea. We’ll see if it catches on.
Shifting gears now, there was a recent article in the Commercial Appeal about the local TV ratings in Memphis but it only focused on the nightside. Unless you work at a TV station, you would have had no idea of how the rest of the competition stacked up.
I’ve received a copy and just now getting around to posting at least the general highlights for the mornings as that is where interesting things are happening.
At 5am, WREG won with a 4.44 Rating and a 14 Share. Coming in that half hour was WHBQ and WMC was third. The key point here is that both WREG and WMC were DOWN from a year ago with WHBQ showing a BIG jump here.
At 5:30 am, WREG won and WMC was second. ( I didn’t receive numbers for WHBQ for that half-hour.) Again, both WREG and WMC were down from a year ago.
From 6-7 am, WREG again led the way with a 7.27 Rating and a 17 Share followed by WMC and then WHBQ. Again both WREG and WMC are down from last year while WHBQ is up.
In the 7-8 hour WHBQ won with a 6.45 Rating and a 15 Share, followed by WMC and WREG.
Having sat through the four hour Morning Show at Fox 13, I can tell you a couple of the things they have going for them. The folks there seem to genuinely like each other and it comes across on the air. They also have a good time doing what they do. Yes, they have the same problems that other newscasts have but everyone seems to like each other. It’s not forced and they don’t mind joking around with each other both on-air and off. I was impressed with what I saw and I would not be surprised to see them take over the mornings altogether. Granted they may have a tough time as some people switch over to the Today show but unless a consultant decided to “tweak” things over on Highland, I think they have found the recipe for success.
And finally, a received a post about a new blog here in town. I was told it is a media only blog by a media person. Perhaps you might check it out for some interesting reading. It’s mediaverse-Memphis.blogspot.com/ . Tell ’em Joe sent you.

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5 Comments on “Let’s See, Fewer Commercials, More Time for News, Longer News Reports, My God, What a Concept!”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Fox 13’s morning show has a great balance of anchor chemistry, feature stories, and hard news. Has anyone heard the rumor of Fox News getting together a national morning show to rival Today/GMA/Early Show?

  2. ready camera one, take two Says:

    Not exactly a rumor…anchors have been named, EP has been hired from the ranks of the Today Show, articles written in Television Week.

    13’s show sort of takes me back to the days of Wake Up Call on channel 5 which enjoyed a gi-normous ratings run only until the news dept. took it over and tanked it.

  3. Joe Larkins Says:

    It was the same way on the Daybreak show at WREG back in the mid-90s. We had a strong friendship among the folks who worked on the show and we did quite well until the ND wanted to “fix” the show with harder news. I asked him why he wanted to tinker with what seemed to be working as our ratings were good and we were beating the compeition. He said just imagine how much better the ratings would be if we had more hard news and less chitchat. He finally brought in a producer who forced the heard news and less chat time. That’s when our numbers started to drop. Maybe the numbers would have dropped anyway, but I will always believe that move started the ball rolling. That and the fact that WMC began to copy our morning format and proceeded to beat us with our own formula.

  4. John Says:

    Thanks for the numbers, Joe. Not surprised to see 13’s morning show doing so well, and I definitely believe they deserve it. Though there has been debate about how much the Emmy really means these days, it would be nice to see them get it this year for their morning show. The four hour format that many Fox stations are running now is seeing similar successes as in Memphis.

    As far as a national morning show for Fox, they’ve tried it before, and have failed all those times. They are trying it again with another syndicated morning show that will run on the O&Os, I believe the hosts are from the Fox News Channel. It an hour long and runs after the local Fox morning shows, nothing is being cut from those. Starts in January.

  5. AMNewsBoy Says:

    Ah, the Fox national morning show idea…

    About 10 years ago, they had a totally awesome show on fX called “Breakfast Time” — it was witty, quirky, and just plain fun. Fox thought, hey, let’s put it on the big network… only they tinkered with it so much that when it hit the air, it was a shell of itself anyway, and within a few months, it was gone.

    It was such a shame — although that show did help a couple of big names get their big break (Tom Bergeron and Phil Keoghan… plus Jeff Probst from his other work on fX), it just got consultant’ed to death — much like the network did.

    (When fX premiered, it was supposed to be live programming, all day and night — entertainment, feature, lifestyle shows, all live. I don’t think there’s a “live” show on that network anymore.)

    Those were the days…

    Semi-related — I was in J’boro today and caught a little bit of each show (‘cept for 24, ’cause they aren’t on Jonesboro cable)… 5s and 3s were good (although, Joe, I wasn’t totally impressed with your successor, but maybe I caught him on a bad day). I was mixed about 13 — it just seemed they were trying too hard sometimes.

    But, of course, that’s just MHO.


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