The latest Nielsen ratings for local television news stations show the revamped KTVA still trails longtime leader KTUU by a wide margin.
The ratings come from February sweeps—one of the four times a year when Nielsen measures television audiences. In those ratings, KTUU continued its long string of dominance in TV news over local competitors.
In 2013, local cable TV and data communications company GCI spent millions to buy and upgrade KTVA, in both technology and on-air talent, to compete with KTUU. It is now closing in on three years since KTVA launched their new slate of news products, yet the station still dramatically trails KTUU across the board.
Both stations offer news products at 6 – 7 a.m., 5 – 5:30 p.m., 6 – 7 p.m., and 10 – 10:30 p.m. on weekdays. In all cases, KTUU received ratings upwards of triple those of KTVA, and in many cases the margin was substantially wider than that.
For the morning news shows, there are some bright spots for both stations; KTUU shook up their morning lineup by adding KTVA vet MJ Thim to their on air crew. That move appears to have paid off with the KTUU Morning Edition getting a bump from a “3” to a “4” rating in the coveted 18-54 age demographic.
KTVA’s Daybreak, on the other hand still failed to pick up a single rating point in any of the key demos, but did see their share of the viewing audience grow from 0% a year ago to 10% this time out. They still trail KTUU, however, who garnered 44% of the Anchorage TV audience in the mornings.
In the evening, KTUU did well across the board: their 5 o’Clock Report with Rebecca Palsha, the 6 p.m. Newshour, and 10 p.m. Late Edition all held or increased their ratings from over a year ago. The 5 o’Clock Report did particularly well, doubling their ratings in the 25-54 age demographic.
For KTVA, it was a mixed bag; their 5 p.m. First Take and 6 p.m. Evening News both saw small increases in overall ratings and in the 25-54 age demographic. The 10 p.m. Nightcast, however, actually saw its ratings drop slightly.
At this point, KTUU is still hands-down the market leader, and it isn’t close. With GCI’s investment closing in on the three-year mark, they have to be wondering if the current path will ever get them there.
KTUU General Manager Andy MacLeod in an email to staff called the ratings “Great news” and said:
“Overall, Channel 2 News increased its market share from 79 to 83% of the news viewers year over year. All newscasts were either up, or held their leads from last year in the key news demo of adults 25-54, and in the secondary demo of adults 18-49.”
In response to a request for comment, KTVA’s News Director Bert Rudman said via email that his station doesn’t look at Nielsen ratings, stating that their numbers produce “lagging indicators and have a large margin of error.” He went on to say:
“At KTVA we use data from more than 60,000 set top cable boxes that do not rely on recall and reveal we are enjoying a substantial and growing viewership since our re-launch of the station two and a half years ago.”