Reality set in during the just-completed February sweeps. And while the ratings success of Fox's 'Joe Millionaire' and 'American Idol' are making folks at KPTV (12) drop to their knees and bow to Evan Marriott and Simon Cowell, it's Portland's NBC affiliate Ñ KGW (8) Ñ that's getting the last laugh in the nitty-gritty reality of local news.
In head-to-head newscast matchups, KGW won every time, although No. 2 KOIN (6) narrowed the gap, especially at 5 p.m.
In prime time (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) KGW and KOIN tied for first, with KPTV in an unprecedented third place and KATU (2) coming in fourth. When the 18-49 age group demographics are released later in the month, KPTV is going to look even better.
On the national level, Fox won the 18-49 race. Expect NBC and ABC to scramble in creating some hot, new reality shows to counter CBS and Fox.
KGW's morning crew of Brenda Braxton, Russ Lewis and Dave Salesky romped again, winning with a 20 percent share of the audience. But KPTV's 'Good Day Oregon' continued to make inroads with a 12 percent share, overtaking KATU and KOIN. Amazingly, 'Good Day' found itself only three share points behind NBC's powerhouse 'Today.'
Bottom line: 'Good Day' is proving that local news and information often are preferable to a three-hour tape-delayed network show. But when there's big national news brewing Ñ and it would appear there's going to be a lot more of it in the coming months Ñ the networks are going to be the place to be. Besides, if the 'Air 12' chopper keeps finding lost people in the woods (as it did last week in Molalla when it spotted three shivering teenagers), KPTV might be deputized.
5 p.m. news
Compared to the last sweeps in November, KGW (20 percent share) dropped two share points, while KOIN's Jeff Gianola and Julie Emry (14 share) picked up two share points. KATU (10 share) dropped a share point.
Bottom line: Returning 'Maury Povich' to 4 p.m. and the continuing strength of 'Dr. Phil' at 3 p.m. provide KOIN with an improved lead-in. KOIN's new slogan, 'Coverage that's to the point,' could work if the station buys in to the no-nonsense approach that has helped KGW.
As for KATU, expect more problems in gaining an audience and keeping people. Weather guy Rob Marciano heads off to CNN at the end of April. (Does anyone watch CNN for weather?)
10 p.m. news
KPTV (with a 13 share) showed a healthy boost in viewers and a3 percent share increase. More folks tuning into Fox this month obviously translated into bigger numbers at 10 p.m.
Bottom line: With KGW's 10 p.m. half-hour newscast on KPXG (22) debuting in January, it's too early to tell when and if it will eat into KPTV's news audience.
11 p.m. news
KGW has increased its lead (20 share) over KOIN (16 share), while KATU (10 share) picked up a share point. Compared to a year ago, KOIN is up considerably. But remember, KGW aired the Winter Olympics in February of 2002, which is always a ratings bonanza.
Bottom line: KATU got a ratings bump from the Anna Song jailhouse interview with Ward Weaver.