The local numbers are in from the May ratings period, and the winner is . . . a matter of opinion.
As usual, A.C. Nielsen and Arbitron, the two ratings services, don't come close to agreeing in many areas. And what the numbers mean depends on who you talk to.But Mr. Spud is going to take a shot at figuring out what it all means. Among the winners in the May book:
- KSTU: Ch. 13 had little to complain about after perhaps its best book ever. Its overall ratings were up a third from May 1989.
"It would be hard for me to find anything wrong with that," said Milt Jouflas, KSTU general manager.
Ch. 13 had particular success programming against news shows on Ch. 2, 4, 5. "Silver Spoons" at 5 p.m., "Mr. Belvedere" at 5:30 p.m., "Who's the Boss at 6 p.m. and "Cheers" at 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. all increased their share significantly - in some cases more than doubling it over May '89.
The Fox programming also did relatively well, particularly "The Simpsons" and "Married . . . With Children."
" `The Simpsons' did our biggest numbers in the station's history for a continuing series," Jouflas said.
- KTVX: Ch. 4 was also up a bit in its overall ratings - the only other local station that can say that.
- Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!: The ratings have held pretty steady, and both win their time periods (6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., respectively) for Ch. 4 - and both win by hefty margins.
- Eyewitness News at 6 and 10: Ch. 5 is down somewhat, but it's still No. 1 - at least in a head-to-head battle with Ch. 2 at 6 p.m. and with both Ch. 2 and Ch. 4 at 10 p.m.
"We're still No. 1 in those two major news areas," said William Murdoch, KSL general manager. "We're happy we've maintained that lead."
However, the figures show there just isn't that much difference in the overall audience of the three main early-evening newscasts. Nielsen had both Ch. 4 and Ch. 5 with an 8 rating and Ch. 2 with a 7; Arbitron gave Ch. 5 a 9 and Ch. 2 and Ch. 4 both 8s.
KSL is clearly ahead at 10 p.m., with KUTV a relatively strong second and KTVX a poor third. But even here, there's room for debate about the figures.
Nielsen shows Ch. 2 ahead of Ch. 5 in some of the most desirable demographics (women 18-49, women 25-54, men 18-49, men 25-54). Arbitron shows the reverse.
And both shows could also be among the "losers" category - their once formidable leads have largely evaporated.
- Oprah, Geraldo and Donahue: All win their time periods, and "Oprah" and "Donahue" clean up handily against the competition.
- CBS' prime time schedule: The network nearly overtook NBC in the May sweeps, and won a large majority of the 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. hours.
"We enjoyed the best leadin from CBS in a long time," Murdoch said. "There was some smart programming going on there."
That, in turn, helped Ch. 5's 10 p.m. news. Kind of makes you wonder what might have happened to KSL newscast if CBS had turned in its usual third-place performance.
- M.A.S.H.: At least 10:35 p.m., which after all these years (and a considerable decline in the ratings) is still winning the the time slot for Ch. 5.
Among the losers:
- M.A.S.H.: At least at 5 p.m. It's now second or third, behind "ABC World News Tonight" on Ch. 4 and (according to Arbitron) "Silver Spoons" on Ch. 13.
And the share, which used to be in the 50s and 60s, is now in the low 20s.
- KUTV, KSL, KXIV: Ch. 2, Ch. 5 and Ch. 14 all saw their overall ratings drop a bit when compared to a year earlier.
- Eyewitness News at 6:30: Ch. 5's ratings are up a bit in Abitron, down a bit in Nielsen - but in both books the show finished fourth in its time period. (This is not the No. 1 Eyewitness News.)
- KUTV News at 5: The numbers didn't get worse (they were actually up a bit over May '89 in Arbitron's book), but the audience is still small. It's a weak fourth in its time period.
"It just hasn't attracted the viewers who would like it," said KUTV news director Dan Webster. "We're still hoping to build an audience."
- 3rd Degree and Win, Lose or Draw: Both game shows have plummeted in the ratings. "Oprah" builds a big audience at 2 p.m. on Ch. 5 - an audience that evaporates at 3 p.m.
"These game shows tend to wear out very quickly," Murdoch said.
KSL's answer to the problem? A pair of new game shows will debut in the fall.
- The People's Court and The Judge: Both are weakening - "The Judge" is fading fast and won't be back in the fall. "Court" will be, but may be moved to a different time slot.
- Cosby: It still does great on the network, but it's stinko in reruns on Ch. 5. It got a 4 rating in both books, which is particularly bad considering that it's the most expensive show KSL has.
And to make matters worse, it can't even match the ratings of the relatively inexpensive "Charles in Charge," which follows "Cosby" in the schedule.
- NBC's daytime schedule: A disaster. Some shows are pulling in 1 ratings for KUTV.
- NBC's prime time schedule: The No. 1 network was down significantly locally from May '89 - from a 13 rating and a 26 share to an 11 rating/22 share.