In a TV Week must-read, Michele Greppi explains ABC’s curious western launch of World News Tonight, and why the broadcast will place third in the evening news ratings in the first week of 2006:
| ABC News went to a lot of expense and trouble to add, among other things, an extra live broadcast of “World News Tonight” every night in the Pacific time zone.
Then the news division asked ABC-owned KABC-TV in Los Angeles and KGO-TV in San Francisco not to carry the revamped “WNT,” now officially anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff, on its first two nights last week.
Why? Because college football bowl games being broadcast on the network would push “WNT” out of its usual 6:30 time slot in the Pacific time zone and into earlier time slots where it was sure to get lower-than-usual ratings.
By not clearing “WNT” at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time and instead devoting that half-hour to local news, the stations got an extra half-hour of local news revenue on both days.
The move also helped reduce “WNT” clearances enough to allow ABC News to omit those two nights’ national ratings from the newscast’s season ratings average. Since the newscast already was scheduled to be pre-empted nationally on New Year’s Day, only Thursday and Friday night from the first week of the Vargas-Woodruff era of “WNT” will go into the ratings record for the season when the broadcast networks’ flagship newscast ratings are released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research. That effectively guarantees “WNT” will drop from its usual second-place ranking to third place for that week.
Read the story for the rest of the detail…