Local Morning Shows Beating Network Shows in Largest Markets

By Kevin Eck 

AM shows_570

The morning show battles aren’t just between ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today Show anymore. TVNewsCheck reports a smaller, leaner, local opponent has entered the arena.

In March, on FOX owned station WNYW “Good Day New York” beat GMA with a 1.425 rating among 25-54 year-olds compared to GMA’s 1.421. Chicago CW affiliate WGN and Los Angeles CW affiliate KTLA also beat both GMA and Today in mornings by a larger margin.

Circling above New York on a frigid morning two weeks ago, WNYW’s helicopter spotted a lone surfer along the coast of Long Island and fed the images to the Fox O&O’s Good Day New York. As the surfer struggled to catch a wave, co-hosts Greg Kelly and Rosanna Scotto provided rather snarky commentary.

The next day, they featured the surfer, Doug Bard, on the four-hour morning show to learn about cold-weather surfing. They received a bar of Sex Wax (look it up) from him and Bard got a chance to do the weather in front of the green screen.

“In all these cases, the shows are anchored by extremely likeable, fun, accessible talent that isn’t afraid to make fun of themselves,” TV Guide Los Angeles Bureau Chief Michael Schneider told TVNewsCheck. “The anchors on these local shows just feel more real.”

WGN Morning News in Chicago has topped ratings in the country’s third largest market for more than three years. It earned an average 2.5 rating among 25-54 year-olds from 7-9 a.m. in March, according to ratings provided by Tribune. It was followed by GMA with a 1.4, and Today with a 1.2.

In February, WGN lost audio during its morning show. Instead of bailing on the show, the anchors stuck with the off-beat style they’re known for and held up hand printed signs to the camera. One sign read, “Boss said ‘Hey let’s get a cheaper audio board. No one will notice.'”

More recently, the morning show interviewed a guy who gave up food for Lent, opting for beer instead.

KTLA Morning News, produced by Tribune’s CW affiliate in Los Angeles, is also on a winning streak, rating first for at least a year, says News Director Jason Ball. In March, the show averaged a 1.2 rating, followed by GMA with a 0.8, according to Tribune-provided numbers. Fox-owned KTTV’s Good Day LA rated third with a 0.6, followed by Today at 0.5.

Ball says the show’s recent stint at the top reflects KTLA Morning News’ commitment to providing hard news with a distinct Southern California vibe.

Ball says viewers are “going to get everything they need locally” — including traffic and weather, which air every 15 minutes — without missing any big national or international stories.

Because it’s live and local, KTLA can offer viewers insights and timeliness they don’t get from the tape-delayed national morning shows, he says. In covering the recent earthquakes, KTLA reports included its own cache of U.S. Geological Survey sources and the like.