WPIX News Ratings Fall Precipitously During Blackout


Tribune surely knew the ratings PIX-ture would get bad. So far, however, any lost ad dollars caused by the bleeding have not prompted the station group to accede to Cablevision’s demands to restore the CW affiliate (WPIX) to millions of homes in the New York market.

During the approximately five-week period from Aug. 20-Sept. 23, household ratings by one metric for WPIX’s late newscast declined 42% to a 1.1 compared to a similar period last year. In the key adult 25-to-54 demo, the decline was 33% to a 0.6.

WPIX, which runs late news from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., has been blacked out in Cablevision’s approximately 3 million New York-area homes -- an estimated 40% of the market -- since Aug. 17 as Tribune and the cable operator have been embroiled in a carriage-fee dispute.



Tuesday night might begin to alter the dynamic as the CW gets its new season going. Pressure on Cablevision from subscribers who want the CW shows could play a role in ending the standoff. The CW can’t be happy, with its network unavailable in about 3% of the U.S. and off the air in the homes of all those advertising and media executives in New York.

With its lower news ratings, WPIX might be missing out on some of the political ad dollars being spent, notably by wealthy Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon. The FCC Web site indicates that WPIX has not landed a single dollar in political spending this season.

Tribune might have been able to gain some leverage with fan anger over missing WPIX’s broadcast of a New York Giants game this season. But Cablevision pulled an end-around offering all subscribers the NFL Network with the game -- and airing it on Channel 11, where WPIX usually resides.

The Tribune-Cablevision clash extends outside New York. There are about 50,000 homes without Tribune’s Hartford Fox affiliate, which don’t have access to “The X Factor” and NFL games, but that hasn’t been enough to bring a rapprochement. Cablevision will likely be asked about levels of subscriber exodus caused by the dispute when it holds a call with analysts to discuss third-quarter results.  

Tribune’s CW affiliates in Hartford and Denver are also out in Cablevision homes, as is the MyNetworkTV station in Philadelphia and WGN America across the footprint.


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