Area TV Viewing Up Slightly, but Prime Time Shows Down
Daytime Rating Jumps
By Hugh Davis
Spokane Daily Chronicle
In what is described as a normal fluctuation, Spokane viewers watched 2.2 percent more television in 1977 than in 1976, according to recent Arbitron rating surveys.
While a small plus or minus audience change may be normal for Spokane, the year’s slight increase is contrary to a national trend, a decline in the number of television sets in use. Both Arbitron and A.C. Nielsen rating services indicate as many as 1.1 million fewer sets in use this year than last.
Jack Reber, national sales manager for KHQ-Channel 6, feels Spokane viewers are confused, with “all the stunting and special programming the networks are doing.”
Dean Woodring, KREM-Channel 2 station manager, agrees.
“There appears to be a trend in specialty programming,” said Woodring, “and that tends to reduce loyalty viewing.”
KXLY’s sales manager Ted Bravakis is less definite for a couple of reasons. “For one thing, there was an unusual amount of specials during the rating period. That’s not regular programming and, in my estimation, distorts the ratings.”
Bravakis feels the ratings systems are not all that conclusive because of “relative standard error factors that could vary from 25 to 50 percent in a single program,” therefore, “it is difficult to say, nationally, people are viewing less.” Bravakis said KXLY is very proud of what the American Broadcasting Corp. has done in the ratings race besting the other two commercial networks 14 out of the last 15 weeks.
Loyalty appears important among Inland Empire viewers, who watch only two new shows among their 10 favorites.
Arbitron lists the following shows, with number of viewers in parentheses, as the top 10 for the Spokane market: “Happy Days,” KXLY (213,000); “Laverne & Shirley,” KXLY (200,000); “Emergency One!,” KREM (171,000); “60 Minutes,” KREM (166,000); “Eight Is Enough,” KXLY (163,000); “The Waltons,” KREM (151,000); “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams,” KHQ (151,000); “The Six Million Dollar Man,” KXLY (145,000); “The Wonderful World of Disney,” KHQ (143,000); and “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries,” KXLY (142,000).
Woodring found it interesting that all three shows which are broadcast at 7 Sunday night, “60 Minutes,” “The Wonderful Word of Disney,” and “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries,” were in the top 10. That indicates a substantial portion – 451,000 – of the estimated 1.2 million viewers in the Inland Empire watch television Sunday nights.
The Nielsen service told the Associated Press that networks experienced a national drop of 870,000 sets in use during the daytime (8 percent) and 260,000 (3 percent) during prime time. Approximately the same declines were recorded the year prior and network programmers are concerned it may be a trend.
The prime time viewer decline was evident in Spokane, but a large increase in daytime watching offset the drop and gave this market an overall increase.
Arbitron ratings show a 34 percent increase in the 7-9 a.m. period, 24 percent in the 9-noon slot and 3 percent in the noon-4 p.m. period.
There was a 5 percent increase in the 4:30-6 p.m. period, which includes local news programming, traditionally the barometer of local programming and the scale for setting local sales rates.
KHQ continued its dominance of the early news shows, collecting a 42 percent share of the audience for that time period. KREM was second with 25 percent, and KXLY had 17 percent.
KREM, with 36 percent, was the late night news leader while KHQ was second with 32 percent. KXLY improved to 20 percent share in its late news programming.
However, the total audience for the 11-11:30 p.m. period was off 14 percent.
Woodring was frank about the reasons for the nighttime viewer declines: “There were some bad shows and viewers on the North Side of the city may have been watching other things on cable.”
Reber thinks the reason is more fundamental.
“The network has already heard from us,” he said. “We told them stability is something all the networks seem to have forgotten.”
Local programmers would prefer that networks maintained a set schedule of programming and keep the specials and short series to a minimum.
Friday, January 13, 1978