Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 4, 2014
Boosted by some of the highest Winter Olympics ratings in the country, NBC affiliate KXAN grabbed the gold in primetime and in most head-to-head news time slots during the recently completed February Nielsen ratings period.
ABC affiliate KVUE won at 4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. but, for the rest of the day — 6 a.m., middays, 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. — KXAN cruised to victory.
Austin is the nation’s 40th largest TV market, based upon population, but KXAN managed to outdraw NBC affiliates in much larger cities on several nights when the Olympics aired. During the closing ceremonies, for instance, the station was 10th in the nation, according to figures provided by NBC.
Those large audiences night after night gave KXAN an ideal platform to promote its newscasts — and the station took full advantage of it.
"All weekday KXAN newscasts are performing stronger now than when we had our last Winter Olympics," said Eric Lassberg, president and general manager of KXAN and sister stations KNVA and KBVO. "It’s all about serving and getting results for our viewers, so we’re thrilled about their growing response to our in-depth and investigative story-telling focus."
Mornings, a time period KVUE has dominated lately, were incredibly competitive in February. About 1,000 Central Texas households separated the first- and second-place stations from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m., with KVUE ranking No. 1 from 4:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. and KXAN taking the lead at 6 a.m.
NBC’s "Today" managed to unseat ABC’s "Good Morning America," the city’s usual frontrunner, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Just more than 1,000 households separated KXAN and KVUE middays.
Afternoons, the margins of victory were much, much higher. First-place KXAN drew nearly 20,000 more households than second-place KVUE at both 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. — the largest gaps in recent memory.
At 10 p.m., where KXAN typically ranks second or even third, the station jumped to first in February.
Austin’s NBC affiliate isn’t the only station with bragging rights, though. Looking at the entire broadcast day — not just during newscasts and primetime — KVUE president and general manager Patti Smith said her station was neck-and-neck with KXAN.
"I’m very proud that, even with the great programming that the Olympics provided our competition, KVUE ended the period only seven one-hundredths of a rating point behind KXAN," Smith said. "When you consider the totality of our programming from 5 a.m. to midnight Monday through Sunday, that’s quite an accomplishment. I attribute this success to the loyalty of our KVUE viewers in the market."
Fox-owned KTBC reported year-to-year increases for most of its newscasts, as well as a large chunk of its programming during other portions of the day. An example: Its 4:30 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. newscasts saw year-to-year increases in audience share as high as 56 percent.
The recently introduced Saturday and Sunday editions of "Good Day Austin," were a bright spot, as well, a Fox 7 spokeswoman said. At 7 a.m. Saturday, the newscast outdrew the programming it replaced by 500 percent. And at 7 a.m. Sunday, ratings jumped 250 percent year to year.
Click here to read more ratings data provided by Fox 7.
Broadcasters use ratings data collected during February and three other "sweeps" months — May, July and November — to set advertising rates. Higher ratings mean stations can charge more for the commercials they air.
February Nielsen ratings
Each ratings point equals 7,334 Central Texas households. The first number is ratings points, the second is share (the percentage of in-use TV sets tuned to a particular channel) and the third is total households.
4:30 a.m.KVUE: 1.1 / 8.8 / 8,067KXAN: 1 / 8.3 / 7,334KTBC: .8 / 6.1 / 5,867
5 a.m.KVUE: 1.8 / 12.3 / 13,201KXAN: 1.7 / 11.2 / 12,468KTBC: 1.1 / 7.3 / 8,067KEYE: .4 / 2.5 / 2,934
6 a.m.KXAN: 3.4 / 15.5 / 24,936KVUE: 3.2 / 13.7 / 23,469KTBC: 1.9 / 8.6 / 13,935KEYE: .9 / 4.2 / 6,601
7 a.m.KTBC: 2.2 / 8.3 / 16,135KNVA: .3 / 1.3 / 2,200
8 a.m.KTBC: 2.4 / 8.6 / 17,602
9 a.m.KTBC: 1.8 / 6.5 / 13,201
11 a.m.KVUE: 2.1 / 7.8 / 15,401
NoonKXAN: 2.3 / 7.9 / 16,868KTBC: 1.2 / 4 / 8,801
5 p.m.KXAN: 6.3 / 14.7 / 46,204KVUE: 3.6 / 8.4 / 26,402KTBC: 2.1 / 4.7 / 15,401KEYE: 1.2 / 2.9 / 8,801
6 p.m.KXAN: 7 / 14.2 / 51,338KVUE: 4.3 / 8.7 / 31,536KEYE: 2.2 / 4.6 / 16,135
9 p.m.KTBC: 2.9 / 5.2 / 21,269KNVA: .6 / 1.1 / 4,400
10 p.m.KXAN: 7.2 / 15.6 / 52,805KVUE: 5.4 / 10.7 / 39,604KEYE: 4.2 / 8.2 / 30,803