A couple of weeks into the November sweeps, station owners are getting their first glimpses at local ratings for The CW and MyNetworkTV. They’re seeing pretty much what they expected: The CW is a solid performer, matching The WB and UPN, while MyNet has struggled to pull in broadcast network-worthy viewership.
“The CW affiliates are pleased with where they are,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz Television Group. “You always hope you’re going to improve on past performance, but the shows are roughly where they were on WB and UPN. Now, MyNetwork, I’m sure there’s a concern, the numbers are tough.”
The CW earned a 2.3 average household rating in prime time, season to date, through Nov. 19, according to Nielsen Media Research. That’s down 8 percent versus the prior year on comparable stations. The measured period includes some of the November sweeps period, which runs Nov. 2-26.
Market by market, however, owners see a promising trend. Large markets that received heavy CW branding promotion are well above the network’s average. Consider the averages of the nation’s three largest markets: New York is at 2.9, Los Angeles at 2.6 and Chicago at 3.4. Mid-size and smaller markets tend to match or run lower than The CW’s average. Cincinnati, Nielsen Designated Market Area 33, is a .6. San Antonio (market 37) is a 1.8. Sacramento (market 20) is a 1.2.
Therefore, some owners think The CW is still suffering from simple lack of awareness in many markets, a claim bolstered by the network’s showing modest year-to-year increases in the 18 to 34 demographic (suggesting younger fans are finding the shows faster).
“The CW spent some fairly respectable dollars in the top markets and didn’t spend them elsewhere,” said John Hendricks, VP of sales for Tribune. “There’s still some confusion out there and I think some viewers are taking a while to find it. So that’s encouraging.”
Another encouraging sign is that using the same measurements, CBS and Fox are both down 5 percent, which makes The CW’s 8 percent decline seem tame considering it’s a new network.
“It’s been interesting because they seem to be climbing every week during sweeps,” said Doug Gealy, president and chief operating officer of the Acme Communications station group, which was founded by former WB CEO Jamie Kellner. “And as much as we promoted it, there was still some confusion, which is why the 18 to 34 has been stronger.”
As for MyNetworkTV, the programming has averaged about a 0.7 household rating season to date. Station owners said owner Fox Television Station Group has reassured them they’ve been doing extensive focus group testing since the network debuted its first English-language telenovelas in September. Next month’s new telenovelas will be revamped in every respect-from the editing and music to promotion.
“There’s a certain level of trust and patience in a business not noteworthy for its trust and patience,” one MyNetworkTV station owner said. “I don’t remember a fall that has been such a strong promotional environment. If this works, it’s going to work very well.”