- The Washington Times - Monday, March 4, 2002

Put down your brooms, TV viewers. The February sweeps have ended.Sweeps, of course, are the quarterly periods when television stations try to jack up their ratings so they can charge advertisers more money for airtime. The February sweep began Jan. 31 and concluded Feb. 27.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, WRC-TV (Channel 4) was the big winner with its blockbuster Winter Olympics coverage. The NBC affiliate was No. 1 from sign on to sign off, with an average 5.5 Nielsen rating and 14 percent audience share.
In second place was CBS affiliate WUSA-TV (Channel 9) with a 5 rating and 14 share, followed by Fox affiliate WTTG-TV (Channel 5) with a 3.9/11, ABC affiliate WJLA-TV (Channel 7) with a 3.3/9, UPN affiliate WDCA-TV (Channel 20) with a 1.2/3 and WB affiliate WBDC-TV (Channel 50) with a .9/3.
Each ratings point represents 21,280 local households. A share is the percentage of viewers watching television who are tuned into that station.
WRC's competitors put up a valiant fight to steal viewers away from the Olympics.
WTTG, for example, trotted out reports on dangerous dental fillings, poorly trained security guards and an expose on TV psychic Miss Cleo on its local news shows.
WJLA's news operation, in the meantime, produced reports on the black market for human organs, international adoption and a three-part report on the Brentwood anthrax attacks.
But, alas, the stations failed to capture the gold medal from WRC.
The good news for WRC's competitors is that many local media buyers say they will largely dismiss the results of the February sweeps, since the deck was stacked so strongly against the NBC affiliate's competitors.
But WRC management points out that it would have won even without the Olympics. In fact, the station has won every major ratings sweeps since February 1994, except for February 1998, when WUSA broadcast the Winter Olympics.
Here's a look at how the local stations did last month in some of the key weekday ratings races. Keep in mind that each ratings point represents 21,280 households, and that a share is the percentage of viewers tuned in at that time:
From 5 to 6 a.m.: Local news on WUSA led with a 2.3 rating and 15 share, up from a 1.3/9 last February. Second was WRC's local news at 2.1/13 (down from a 2.4/16), followed by "Good Morning Washington" on WJLA at 1.6/10 (1.7/12). At 5:30 a.m., "Fox Morning News" on WTTG averaged a 1.4/8 (1.1/7).
From 6 to 7 a.m.: WRC's local news led with a 4.9/21 (5.3/22), followed by WUSA's local news at 3.2/14 (2.2/9), "Fox Morning News" at 2.2/10 (2.1/9) and "Good Morning Washington" at 2.1/9 (2.5/10).
From 7 to 9 a.m.: "Today" on WRC led with a 5.5/20 (5.3/19), compared with a 3.3/12 (3.3/12) for "Fox Morning News" on WTTG, a 2.5/9 (3.2/11) for "Good Morning America" on WJLA and a 2.4/8 (1.7/6) for "The Early Show" on WUSA.
From 9 to 10 a.m.: The final hour of "Today" on WRC led with a 3.5/14 (3.6/14), followed by "Live with Regis and Kelly" on WJLA at 3.3/13 (3.3/13), "Maury" on WTTG at 2.9/12 (3.4/13) and local news on WUSA at 1.8/7 (1.6/6).
From 10 to 11 a.m.: "Divorce Court" on WTTG led with a 3.2/14 (2.8/12), followed by local news on WRC at 2.8/11 (2.5/10), the "Hollywood Squares" and "Family Feud" combination on WJLA at 2.7/12 (3.2/13) and "Iyanla" on WUSA at .8/3 (down from a 1.6/7 for "Sally Jesse Raphael" last February.)
From noon to 12:30 p.m.: Local news on WUSA led with a 5.6/21 (6.4/23), followed by local news on WTTG at 2.4/10 (2.3/8) and "Inside Edition" on WJLA at 1.8/7 (1.8/6). "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," airing from noon to 1 p.m. on WRC, averaged a 1.3/5 (the same numbers "Queen Latifah" averaged in that time slot one year earlier.)
From 4 to 5 p.m.: "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on WJLA led with a 4.4/13 (5.9/15), followed by local news on WRC at 3.5/10 (5.1/13), "The Montel Williams Show" on WUSA at 3.2/9 (2.8/7) and back-to-back "3rd Rock from the Sun" reruns on WTTG at 1.4/4 (up from the 1.3/3 that cartoons averaged in that slot last February).
From 5 to 6 p.m.: "Judge Judy" on WTTG led with a 6/14 (6.2/14), followed by WRC's local news at 5.5/13 (6.3/14), WJLA's local news at 4.2/10 (5.3/11) and WUSA's local news at 3.8/9 (3.8/8).
From 6 to 6:30 p.m.: Local news on WUSA averaged a 5.3/11 (6/11), compared with a 5.3/11 (5.6/11) for "The Simpsons" on WTTG and a 4.3/9 (6.9/13) for WJLA's local news. Local news on WRC from 6 to 7 p.m. averaged an 8.3/16 (9.5/17),
From 6:30 to 7 p.m.: "ABC World News Tonight" averaged a 5.9/11 (8.5/15), "CBS Evening News" on WUSA averaged a 5.5/11 (6.1/11) and "King of the Hill" on WTTG averaged a 4.5/9 (compared with a 6/11 for "The Simpsons" one year ago).
From 7 to 7:30 p.m.: "NBC Nightly News" on WRC led with a 10.2/19 (9.9/17), followed by "Wheel of Fortune" on WJLA at 6.7/12 (9.4/16), "Friends" on WTTG at 6.6/12 (6.8/12) and "Weakest Link" on WUSA at 3.2/6 (compared with a 4.7/8 for "To Tell the Truth" last year).
From 7:30 to 8 p.m.: "Jeopardy" on WJLA led with a 7.6/13 (10.4/17), followed by "Seinfeld" on WTTG at 6.8/12 (6.6/11), "Access Hollywood" on WRC at 6.7/12 (6.5/11), "Entertainment Tonight" on WUSA at 5.4/10 (6.9/11), "The Steve Harvey Show" at 2.5/4 (up from a 2.3/4 for "Cosby" one year earlier) and "Everybody Loves Raymond" at 2.4/4 on WDCA (down from a 2.5/4 for "Frasier" last February).
Late night: At 11 p.m., WRC's local news led with an 8.8/21 (8.7/19), followed by WUSA's news at 5/10 (6.2/13), WJLA's news at 4.2/9 (5/11) and "Blind Date" on WBDC at 1.6/3 (up from a 1/2 for "Street Smarts" last year). WTTG's "Fox 5 News at Ten" averaged a 6/10 (7.9/13).

This just in
Two Washington TV stations are making schedule changes: WRC will flip the underperforming Ananda Lewis and Rosie O'Donnell talk shows next week. Beginning March 11, Miss Lewis' show moves to noon, and Miss O'Donnell's show moves to 3 p.m. weekdays. Meanwhile, WTTG will add Los Angeles-based chat show "Good Day Live" to its weekday schedule beginning March 18. The show is expected to air live at 1 p.m. No word on where the station plans to stick "Jenny Jones," which now occupies that time slot.
There's a new face at Broadcast House. Larry McDaniel has joined WUSA as marketing director. He comes to Washington from Portland, Ore., where he was marketing chief for CBS affiliate KOIN-TV (Channel 6).
Animal Planet has signed a one-year deal to promote Suzuki's "pet-friendly" XL-7 sport utility vehicle. The Bethesda cable network will air promotional spots that highlight Suzuki's support of the National Wildlife Federation, and it will sponsor a sweepstakes where viewers can win an XL-7 and a family safari trip. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Channel Surfing is published every other Monday. Got a tip? Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send an e-mail to [email protected]

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