Jay Leno in Little Rock: Not Bad for KARK at 10 pm

Jay Leno

The Leno Effect: Not terrible in Little Rock

The big media news today is no doubt the disaster that has been NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show,” which seems to be coming to head in the least surprising way possible. The bottom line: NBC’s experiment with Leno in primetime is a spectacular failure, forcing the third-place network to contemplate putting the former late-night king back in late night while somehow honoring its commitments with new “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien, himself a ratings disappointment.

Good luck with all of that.

But why all the wailing and gnashing of teeth? Leno’s primetime numbers are performing about where NBC expected — only about 5 million viewers per night. But a large audience wasn’t necessarily part of NBC’s plan. The plan was to produce a cheap nightly show that would draw a guaranteed audience, one that could easily be sold around and bring profits to the network.

The fatal flaw? Local affiliates need a strong ratings lead-in to their late local news, which in many cases is the most significant source of revenue those affiliates have. Leno’s low ratings, they complained, were driving viewers to other networks — or cable — where they were less likely to come back to the NBC affiliate’s late news.

In larger, metered TV markets — markets where the previous night’s ratings are delivered to affiliates the next morning — affiliate station general managers were watching their late news ratings drop like a brick. And many began complaining to NBC. Consider the scene in Baltimore a few months ago:

Baltimore may be called Charm City, but for WBAL — the local television station that carries NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show” — there isn’t much to smile about lately.

Usually, WBAL is in a neck-and-neck race for viewers against arch rival WJZ. But since NBC debuted “The Jay Leno Show” in prime time five weeks ago, the station’s 11 p.m. newscast — where silver-haired Rod Daniels’ 25-year run as anchor is the longest in Baltimore history — has been shellacked in the ratings. Now WBAL is a distant second.

And there was this from an NBC affiliate owner in Detroit:

Alan Frank, who runs two NBC stations including the affiliate in Detroit, told the trade publication Broadcasting & Cable over the weekend: “The handwriting is on the wall. The only question is what [NBC] is going to do about it.”

Here in Little Rock, NBC affiliate KARK-TV, Channel 4, has been running third place among most daily newscasts, including at 10 p.m. What’s the Leno Effect been like for the Nexstar Broadcasting-owned station? Advance numbers from latest November ratings book, which came out in late December, might surprise you.

It shows KARK, while still in third place, gaining audience at 10 p.m., going from a household rating/share of 5/11 in November 2008 to 6/14 last November. In fact, KARK logged bigger share gains at 10 p.m. than any of its local competitors, which each saw about a 1-point bump. Some demographic numbers (men and women 25-54) were also up slightly, as were all but one competitor.

In fact, this last November ratings period almost returned KARK to its November 2007 10 p.m. ratings level of about 6/13.

And there was another surprise looking at estimates for NBC primetime (7-10 p.m.) performance locally. Those numbers were up slightly as well, going from a 4/7 in November 2008 to 5/8 last November.

No doubt both NBC in prime and KARK at 10 p.m. have have seen stronger ratings in the past. And there are myriad factors that go into ratings, not to mention that these numbers are estimates based on paper surveys of only a sampling of the local TV audience. Still, it’s the best evidence we have, and it suggests that the Leno Effect might not be such a bad thing in Little Rock.

More on November Ratings in Little Rock

KATV, KTHV Still Tops in Latest News Ratings

More on NBC, Leno and Conan

Blame Jay Leno – Gawker

Late-Night Shift Sinking, NBC Wants Leno Back in Old Slot – New York Times

An Open Letter to NBC – Videogum

(Disclosure: I appear regularly on KTHV-TV, Channel 11, a Gannett-owned CBS affiliate that is a direct competitor to KARK and other local TV affiliates in the Little Rock market.)

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Media Continue to Try and Explain Weird Web Site That ‘Tweets’

'Blake Rutherford. Uses Twitter.'

'Blake Rutherford. Uses Twitter.'

Here’s Blake Rutherford of the Think Tank, Twittering away somewhere he virtually never goes, the state Capitol!

It’s all part of this piece last night on local NBC affiliate KARK-TV, Channel 4 — the latest attempting to explain Twitter to baffled luddites everywhere. No one knows exactly what Twitter is for, but everyone is doing it! Including KARK, which has set up its own Twitter account here.

Also featured: uber-Web savvy solon Steve Harrelson, who claims an addiction that scares even us. And then there’s lots of shots of people tapping away on their iPhones and Blackberrys. What are they doing? They’re Twittering of course!

And it’s all so simple. Except when you try explaining Twitter to your mom. Or anyone not in the media.

Meanwhile, you Twitterholics can follow me @LT. Look for others to follow in our Arkansas Twitter Guide.

Pew Study: Online Audience for News Grows

The biennial news consumption survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press came out yesterday. In short, bad news for newspapers, but good news for online news, with modest growth in the audience there:

This year for the first time in roughly 15 years of asking the question, fewer than half of all Americans report reading a daily newspaper on a regular basis. Only 46% say they read the paper regularly – this number is down from 52% in 2006 and was as high as 71% in 1992. In a similar vein, fewer now report having read a newspaper ‘yesterday,’ a more reliable measure of newspaper readership. Only 34% say they read a newspaper yesterday, down from 40% in 2006.

The falloff in readership over the past two years has occurred across the board – men and women, whites and blacks, college graduates and those who never attended college are all reading the newspaper at lower rates than in 2006. Age continues to be strongly correlated with newspaper readership…. Currently, only 15% of those younger than 25 report having read a newspaper yesterday. Among those ages 25 to 34, 24% read a newspaper yesterday. This compares with roughly half (46%) of those 50 and older.

A word about that last graf: That part about folks under 25 barely reading newspapers? That completely tracks with what we’ve seen with our summer interns at Arkansas Business Publishing Group. Think about that for a second. ABPG is a publishing company. And these kids aren’t reading newspapers. What are they reading? Magazines and the Internet.

On online readership:

The audience for online newspapers has grown modestly since 2006. In the current survey, 13% say they read the web version of a newspaper yesterday, or both the print and online versions, up from 9% two years ago. Yet that increase has not made up for the steep loss in print readership (from 34% to 25%).

Still, online newspapers are gaining readers, especially among people ages 25 to 34. Among people in this age group who read a newspaper yesterday, fully 16% report having read the paper online; slightly fewer (12%) say they read the paper version.

The full version of the study is available here, and you can read Editor & Publisher’s summary here. Meanwhile, after the jump, we’ll leave you with another little nugget from the survey, on TV news programs, as noted by E&P.

Continue reading

NYT on NBC’s Olympic Tape Delay – And All The Ways Around It

Thanks to Angel Galloway for tipping us to this story yesterday (via Twitter) in the New York Times:

NBC, which owns the exclusive rights to broadcast the Olympics in the United States, spent most of Friday trying to keep it that way.

NBC’s decision to delay broadcasting the opening ceremonies by 12 hours sent people across the country to their computers to poke holes in NBC’s technological wall — by finding newsfeeds on foreign broadcasters’ Web sites and by watching clips of the ceremonies on YouTube and other sites.

In response, NBC sent frantic requests to Web sites, asking them to take down the illicit clips and restrict authorized video to host countries. As the four-hour ceremony progressed, a game of digital whack-a-mole took place. Network executives tried to regulate leaks on the Web and shut down unauthorized video, while viewers deftly traded new links on blogs and on the Twitter site, redirecting one another to coverage from, say, Germany, or a site with a grainy Spanish-language video stream.

As the first Summer Games of the broadband age commenced in China, old network habits have never seemed so archaic — or so irrelevant.

More here, including a cameo by Little Rock IT worker Lorie Johnson.

Also

More unhappiness over NBC’s tape delay.

NBC’s Tim Russert Dead at 58

A true broadcast and political talent, Tim Russert, NBC’s Washington Bureau Chief and host of “Meet the Press,” died this afternoon at age 58.

From Poynter’s Romenesko media column:

Tim Russert, 58, was recording voiceovers for Sunday’s “Meet the Press” program when he suffered a heart attack. || Howard Kurtz: The Democratic operative turned NBC commentator revolutionized Sunday morning television and infused journalism with his passion for politics.

This is sad news. Sad because Russert was so young, and sad because he won’t be here to see the end of this already-historic presidential election. He would have loved it.

More

Tim Russert Dies From Apparent Heart Attach (New York Post)

And

Mr. Brokaw is to host a special edition of “Meet the Press” on Sunday, which will pay tribute to Mr. Russert’s life and career. With Mr. Russert’s unexpected passing, NBC will soon be forced to confront a question with no immediately easy answer: how to replace its lead political analyst with the presidential election less than five months away.

(New York Times)