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KSL wins by not losing

KSL-Ch. 5's late news is the big winner for the February sweeps, in large part because it didn't lose.

The station's 15.9 rating and 27 share was flat when compared to its numbers during the February 2000 sweeps. And, while a lack of growth can be a concern when it comes to ratings, consider the alternative — all three of its competitors were down in the ratings from February to February, and two of those drops were significant.

KTVX-Ch. 4 dropped 19 percent, falling two full rating points to an 8.4 average. (Each rating point represents 1 percent of the TV-equipped homes in the Salt Lake market — approximately 7,300.)

KUTV-Ch. 2 dropped 21 percent, falling 2.4 rating points to a 9.2 average.

Even KSTU-Ch. 13 was down, albeit slightly, falling 3 percent (two-tenths of a point) to a 7.6 average.

All of which makes KSL's flatness look pretty good, huh?

There are, of course, other ways to view this. Comparing the February 2001 numbers to the most recent previous sweeps period, November 2000, shows Ch. 13 flat; Ch. 5 off 2 percent; Ch. 4 off 4 percent; and Ch. 2 off 9 percent.

If we look only at the Monday-Friday numbers from February to February, Ch. 13 is up 1 percent; Ch. 5 is off 2 percent; Ch. 2 is off 15 percent; and Ch. 4 is off 21 percent.

But if we look at Monday-Friday numbers from November to February, Ch. 4 is actually up 5 percent; Ch. 13 is up 3 percent; Ch. 5 is off 2 percent; and Ch. 2 is off 9 percent.

(Guess which set of comparison numbers they like to look at at Ch. 4 right now?)

When all is said and done, however, Ch. 5 retains a formidable lead in late news with an audience 42 percent larger than second-place Ch. 2 (based on seven-night averages); 47 percent larger than third-place Ch. 4; and 52 percent higher than fourth-place Ch. 13.

Overall, however, the late news ratings aren't good news for local television as a medium as the ratings falloff continues. The four stations' combined rating dropped 10 percent from February 2000 and 5.5 percent from November 2000 as viewers continue to find alternatives, whether they're on other local stations, cable, satellite or tape.

Local news standings:

Eyewitness News at 10: In first place during the February 2001 sweeps. Averaged a 15.9 rating and 27 share (approximately 116,400 homes).

2 News at 10: In second place during the February 2001 sweeps. Averaged a 9.2 rating and 16 share (approximately 67,400 homes).

News 4 Utah at 10: In third place during the February 2001 sweeps. Averaged an 8.4 rating and 14 share (approximately 61,500 homes).

Fox News at 9: In fourth place during the February 2001 sweeps. Averaged a 7.6 rating and 12 share (approximately 55,700 homes).


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com