Ch.2 ratings right behind Ch.7’s dropping numbers

According to Nielsen’s February sweeps book, local late news ratings competition is tighter than it was a year ago. Though still No. 1, longtime frontrunner ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 is down some 16 percent to an 8.1 rating at 10 p.m., from a 9.7 rating a year ago Monday through Friday.

The falloff comes despite a seven percent ratings increase in Channel 7’s lead-in to the 10 p.m. news.

Second-place CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 pulled a 6.1 rating, leaving it just two rating points behind Channel 7.  A year ago, with a 6 rating, Channel 2’s 10 p.m. news trailed Channel 7 by nearly four rating points.

Channel 2 still has a ways to go to overtake Channel 7, but the gap has narrowed.  A Channel 7 spokeswoman attributed the station’s lower late news numbers this February to last year’s historic blizzard, which caused a ratings spike for the station’s late news at the time.

Meanwhile, NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 now finds itself squarely in third place in the February sweeps book.  The station’s 10 p.m. newscast could do no better than a 5.4 rating, essentially flat year over year.  The station’s late news continues to suffer from poor lead-in network programming — something that has been a problem at NBC for a while.

Down in the pack, Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9 remains mired in fourth place with a 9 p.m. newscast that scored a 4.5 rating in February. And Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 is dead last.

That station’s 9 p.m. news, with a 2.2 rating, still shows no signs of gaining a larger audience in the wake of Phyllis Schwartz’s appointment as news director.

Contact Lewis Lazare at