Some May TV Ratings Numbers & Odds and Ends on a Thursday

By now, TV folks in Memphis have a pretty good idea of the numbers of for the May book.  For everyone else, here’s something to chew on from the partials that have been shared with me.  I’ve edited a little from the originals sent to me.   Not sure what the 5am numbers look like but Fox 13 has moved into 2nd place in the mornings.

Local Morning News at 6am

WMC     6.7/16

FOX13   6.3/15

WREG    6.2/15

WPTY    1.8/4


No really big surprise that WREG continues to lead here.

Midday/Noon News

WREG   7.7/19

FOX13   4.5/11

WMC     4.3/10

WPTY    2.0/5


5pm News

WMC     8.7/16

WREG    8.3/15

FOX13   6.0/11

WPTY    4.0/7


WMC still strong here.

6pm News

WMC     10.0/17

WREG    8.3/14

WPTY     3.0/5


And the seesaw continues here.

Late News

WREG    11.4/17

WMC      11.1/17

FOX13    10.0/14

WLMT    4.4/6

WPTY     4.1/6

Man, oh man. Where have the last two weeks gone. I’ve been up to my uh…..ears in alligators and haven’t had time to do anything but work, much less blog. I’ve discovered that I’ve actually missed blogging over the last two weeks. I’ve been so tied up that I even missed the Memphis in May BBQ fest which would be the first time that’s happened in about 15 years. I hope a good time was had by all. Speaking of which, apparently someone suggested on the Mediaverse Blog that Joe Birch and I team up with a chorus of notable back-up singers and that we perform down at the Fest next year as part of the Mediaverse cooking team. I think someone was inhaling too much hickory smoke or snorting too much dry rub and sauce. I’m not sure it’s legal for two guys like JB and me with that much hair to be in the same vicinity.

Congratulations to Joe Birch on 30 years at WMC. I was asked by a friend if I had seen the various tributes to Joe over the last week and I had not so I went on line to check them out. I clicked on Mason Granger’s comments to see what he had to say. I always liked Mason. In fact, somewhere around my office I have a very kind and gentle rejection letter from MG dating back to about the mid-80s. Our paths crossed on numerous occasions when he was at WMC and he always spoke. I’m not sure how much of his tribute comments made it on the air but the interview I saw on-line ran more than 7 1/2 minutes.. It got a little draggy after a while. I lalso ooked over Joe’s blooper reel. Not that many real bloopers but some amusing stuff. Joe has been good for WMC and WMC has been good to/for Joe. Joe is a genuinely nice guy who has managed to finish first. Someone pointed out that it’s just a coincidence that Joe’s 30th anniversary just happened to be in the May sweeps and that it was coincidence that last May during sweeps that Dave Brown celebrated 30-years there as well. Lee Meredith, GM at WMC says it’s also coincidence that Jarvis Greer will celebrate his 30-years NEXT May. Gee, I HATE it when that happens. By the way, have they announced if I’ve won Dave Brown’s Vette yet?

The days of anchors sticking around for their entire careers almost appear to have passed us but I saw an item in Shoptalk about an anchor in Hawaii who after celebrating 40-years at a station was given a ten year extension on his contract. Now that is loyalty. Joe Birch, you have a goal to shoot for.

And a tip of the hat to Bob J. for sharing this tibdit of “Old School TV News vs. New School” that I think was originally posted on a newspaper website in Tampa/St. Pete. Look it over and see if you don’t agree.

Old rule: news is news. New rule: news is marketing.

Old rule: news is never old New rule: news has an expiration date

Old rule: live shots compliment the story New rule: live IS the story

Old rule: weather gets the attention it deserves New rule: rain is a lead story

Old rule: Cover the issues New rule: cover the emotions

Old rule: Staff experience is valuable New rule: 1 year is experience

Old rule: Cover breaking news New rule: make up breaking news

Old rule: Build credibility and you’ll gain a bigger audience New rule: Reach more people through the Internet

Old rule: Be good storytellers New rule: more stories, less telling

Old rule: Report the facts New rule: report what people say

Old rule: Follow the news director’s lead New rule: Who’s the news director?

Old rule: Consultants suggest New rule: Consultants control

Old rule: Ratings rule New rule: Demos dominate

Old rule: Know your community New rule: know your research

Old rule: Bad staff behavior is not tolerated New rule: address your questions to our attorneys

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9 Comments on “Some May TV Ratings Numbers & Odds and Ends on a Thursday”

  1. tv junkie Says:

    News flash!!!! From 6 to 8 a.m.>>> Channel 3 is Third in ratings!!!

  2. joelarkins Says:

    As I mentioned at the top of this post I haven’t seen the 5am numbers nor have I seen the numbers for the CBS morning show to see how things fared. Traditionally when it comes to CBS’ Morning show I think that it ‘s safe to say the show generally “creates an intense vacuum”. I’ll let you translate.

  3. Newzgrl Says:


    WREG 3.3
    WMC 3.5
    WPTY 1.4
    WHBQ 3.3

    A very tight race.

  4. newsinsider Says:

    WMC won 5am

  5. joelarkins Says:

    Thanks for the extra numbers.

  6. Doug J. Says:

    Before I get to the numbers, let me take a quick look at the numbers (can you tell I used to work in TV?).

    I think in my 8 years working in the Memphis market, I only had one opportunity to speak to Joe Birch (shortly after Danny Thomas’s funeral service). In our brief chat, he came across as a nice guy. Usually after 30 years, TV people show their age. Joe looks and sounds as good as he did when I came to town in 1990. I had worked at 5 stations by that point, and including WREG and CNN, 4 after that. I think it’s a credit to Joe and to ‘MC that he’s been able to enjoy a good run in one place. Congratulations to him and all the other folks in Memphis who’ve been able to avoid the gypsy life of TV news.

    As far as the other numbers, I can’t get too worked up. I have some interest as to what’s going on in the business because of the people I know — but as far as watching — I don’t; well, not as much as I once did.

    I might watch for a particular story, if I know it’s going to air, but I can’t sit still for an entire newscast anymore. I still scan the newspaper and watch the network news, but I can’t watch kids doing news anymore. That’s not a knock — I used to be a kid doing the news myself (25 years ago!).

    Also, a lot of the stories in this town never seem to change. I was at the doctor’s office this week (don’t worry, I’m fine — old — but fine). He’s on the school board, so we usually end up talking about whatever drama has gripped that organization at the time. He asked whether I missed reporting. Every blue moon, there’s a story so juicy I wish I were in the middle of it — but really — I find that I’m liking civilian life a whole lot.

    And anyway, in my view, ratings are usually a result of viewer habit, programming lead-in and promotion — and the work done by the news professionals doesn’t have too much to do with any of those.

  7. jamey Says:

    Something I’d love to hear someone in sales or maybe the gm to address:
    what’s the current price per thousand for a tv spot? In other words, what is the current dollar amount an advertiser is willing to spend in order to get the eyeballs of one thousand viewers?

    how does the current cost per thousand compare to the same for local tv stations 10, 15 or 20 years ago?

    Isn’t that what all of sweeps and series and stunts boils down to? Spike the May numbers with giveaways and contests in order to get even a tenth of a point higher. How much difference is there, for a station’s sales department, if the 10pm news gets an 8.6 instead of an 8.4?

    All of the stations are scrambling to attract a higher percentage of this group of local television watchers that shrinks by the month. So I wonder…how much longer before we reminisce of 10.4s the same way news people in the 80s remember 30.2s?

  8. average viewer Says:

    Who cares. When the stuff hits the fan, i just want to know that my news station whoever it is, will have what I am looking for.

    That’s all that matters.

  9. The GM Says:

    The short answer is it depends. Broadcast sales is so much fun because it utlitmately boils down to supply and demand. Take for example the Super Bowl. NBC just opened the bidding at $3 million per spot. They can do so because there is a high demand and a limited supply.

    On a local level, cost per thousands and cost per points are up over 10, 15 or 20 years ago but the number is smaller because unlike a number of years ago the audience is dilluted with cable, satellite and interactive. With that said, broadcastTV is still the best way to reach the largest audience efficiently.

    A large audience does not necessarily mean a large rate. For example (keep in mind I have no idea what the individual ratinges are in Memphis so this is for arguments sake), if Jerry Springer does a 10 rating and WMC or WREG’s 6p newscast does an 8 rating the newscast will draw a higher rate. Here’s why. First, news drives a higher cost per point, second the news audience is a desirable audience. Believe it or not, the perception of the Springer audience is not that good and advertisers will not pay a premium for it.

    If selling TV was just about CPMs and CPPs, a station wouldn’t need salespeople. The rate card and the ratings would be posted on the web site and advertisers would order like they do on the McDonalds dollar menu. Salespeople earn their commission by selling the attributes of the station and/or the program convincing the advertiser to pay a premium. Look at it this way, a Kia and a Mercedes will both get you the road. The Mercedes drives a top sales price because of it value — perceived and otherwise.

    The GM

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