KXAS, KHOU Sweeps' Gains
By Allison Romano -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/13/2005 7:00:00 PM
An identity crisis helped KXAS Dallas-Fort Worth nab top late-news ratings in February sweeps. On seven nights last month, the NBC O&O showcased investigative series “Identity Theft,” demonstrating how easily a person's identity can be stolen. “We hit on something people care about,” says News Director Susan Tully.
In one story, “Stealing a U.S. Senator's Identity,” reporter Grant Stinchfield located Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's Social Security number online and printed checks with her name and address. He explained how viewers could secure their identities and directed viewers to the KXAS Web site.
The series helped boost KXAS in a tight news race. Its 10 p.m. news posted a 10.9/17, edging out CBS O&O KTVT's 8.82/14, and Belo-owned ABC affiliate WFAA's 8.81/14. Fox-owned KDFW placed fourth with a 5.5/9.
Farther south, Belo's KHOU Houston is picking off ratings wins one newscast at a time. For the first time in five years, it earned top marks in February at noon, 5, 6 and 10 p.m., according to Nielsen. In November, it won late news but finished second to ABC O&O KTRK in evening. By February, KHOU was tops in noon, evening and late news. “Month by month, 11 News is building momentum,” says President/GM Peter Diaz. “Our brand is strong investigative reporting and franchise pieces in every newscast.” It has also scored Peabody and DuPont awards.
Of course, lead-ins help. Oprah sets up the early-evening news, and Wheel of Fortune is the lead-out. Later, CBS' solid prime time delivers more viewers into late news. But to get a full house, KHOU needs an early-morning news win. KTRK dominates that daypart; its 8.8/27 beat KHOU's 4.1/13 last month.
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