WLS Continues Local News Dominance

By May 27, 2009 ABC, Journalism No Comments

Chicago — WLS-TV (“ABC7”), the Disney owned-and-operated ABC station in Chicago continues its dominance in local news ratings, reports Lewis Lazare of the Chicago Sun-Times. Last may, WLS trailed in one news time slot, to Tribune’s WGN in the morning news. This year is a different story, with WLS leading WGN with 2.3 rating to WGN’s 2.

The story repeats itself throughout the broadcast day, with WLS convincingly winning against the other stations it competes with.  With these strong numbers, the station has thus far avoided some of the  cuts that have been seen at WBBM and other stations around the country.  For example, here in St. Louis, KSDK leads by slim margin in most news time slots, but it has come at price, with the loss of a prominent anchor, and several reporter changes.

That puts Emily Barr, WLS’s General Manager, Lazare reports, in an enviable position. With such strong ratings, the station can charge a premium for it ad time. While station revenue is down from last year, WLS’s ad revenue leaves the possibility of layoffs remote.  

However, Barr is remaining frugal, cutting costs without laying people off. 

“I don’t think laying off people would necessarily help us now.”

-Emily Barr, WLS-TV GM

With the news video sharing agreement going into effect between WBBM (“CBS2”), WMAQ (“NBC5”), WGN (“WGN9”) and WFLD (“FOX Chicago”), there’s a potential for WLS to get even higher ratings. 

My Take:

WLS represents a type of operation that just isn’t present in St. Louis. KSDK ran away with the ratings for a while, changed talent, and slipped behind KMOV. KMOV led for a bit, started changing things, and fell behind KSDK.  The relatively constant KTVI is gaining on both, and has not made major changes to it’s lineup. 

Our ABC affiliate, KDNL is the polar opposite of WLS, with some of the lowest ratings of an ABC affiliate, and with no news, it’s not a competitor to the other stations in the market.

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