Late news ratings remain static, according to latest Nielsens

Ch. 7 late night news with Ron Magers still leads ratings

The August 2011 Nielsen television ratings book ended Wednesday, and the results suggest the principal contenders in the hotly-contested late news ratings wars haven’t budged much from where they have been ranked in recent months.

Admittedly, ratings have been known to fluctuate during the summer months when TV viewing habits may vary a bit.  Numbers go up or down depending on how many folks are on vacation or otherwise occupied during the late evening hours.

The start of the fall TV season next month could prompt more substantive changes in the numbers. But, then again, it may not.

For now, as the August book indicates, ABC-owned WLS-Ch. 7 remains the comfortable frontrunner with its 10 p.m. newscast.
The more interesting battle for bragging rights is taking place in the middle of the pack, where NBC-owned WMAQ-Ch. 5 is holding on to a rather narrow lead in the No. 2 post in the ratings over Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Ch. 9’s hour-long 9 p.m. newscast, which is in third place.

CBS-owned WBBM-Ch. 2’s late news could do no better than fourth place, which suggests that co-anchors Rob Johnson and Kate Sullivan are going to take a while to fully click with large numbers of viewers, if they ever do.  The Johnson and Sullivan anchor team debuted in September, 2010.

Certainly, Fox-owned WFLD-Ch. 32’s struggles to right its teetering late news product, which competes directly against the Channel 9 newscast at 9 p.m., have greatly benefited the Tribune operation.  Viewers who like to get their news an hour earlier appear to have voted in favor of WGN/9 over WFLD/32.

And the August book makes clear, if any more clarity were needed, that last-place WFLD/32 still has a long way to go to claim success in its protracted effort to resuscitate its 9 p.m. news fronted by Bob Sirott and Robin Robinson.

Contact Lewis Lazare at