Miami ABC-affiliate WPLG is returning local news to its 5 p.m. time slot.
After scrapping its 5 o’clock newscast in favor of “Dr. Phil” a few years ago, the Post-Newsweek station is set to debut a new 5 p.m. show on August 22nd.
Calvin Hughes and Laurie Jennings (right), WPLG’s team at 6 and 11, will be behind the anchor desk from 5:00 to 5:30, with Jen Herrerra subbing for Jennings during the last half-hour.
In a recent phone conversation with TVSpy, WPLG vice president and general manager Dave Boylan said the programming shift comes down to dollars and cents.
“5 p.m. newscasts make sense given today’s economy,” Boylan said.
When WPLG decided to go with “Dr. Phil” back in 2006, the 5 p.m. time slot was saturated with local news, Boylan explains, and the syndicated show was an attempt to offer Miami viewers a different option. It was a bet that paid off as “Dr. Phil” surged in the ratings, and eventually NBC O&O WTVJ followed suit–dropping its 5 p.m. newscast for “Ellen.”
Times have changed, though. Earlier this year, WTVJ brought back its 5 p.m. newscast and moved “Ellen” up to 4. When WPLG launches its newscast next week, there will once again be four English language newscasts at 5 p.m. in Miami–with WPLG, WTVJ, WSVN, and WFOR, which will begin airing “Dr. Phil” as its “Oprah” replacement at 4 p.m.
Boylan attributes the change to a lack of “sure-thing syndicated shows that would provide a better return for stations than local newscasts.” He added that fellow Post-Newsweek station WKMG in Orlando has also reinstated local news in place of “Dr. Phil.”
“With the distinct nature of our talent and the strength of our brand, we expect to have the 5 p.m. newscast at the top of the ratings,” Boylan said.