Across the board, Nielsen's February 2005 sweeps period, a four-week survey, showed strong growth for the local ABC affiliate: it took the lead in total households in the eight-parish "designated market area" at both 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. TV10, the CBS affiliate, held on in the 10 p.m. slot, though its audience has stayed flat over the past year. KATC, meanwhile, jumped from a 9 rating in February 2004 to a 14 this year, trailing KLFY by three points with its 10 p.m. newscast. (A rating represents the percent of televisions tuned into a specific program or station.)
KLFY's top local official, however, claims it's too soon for KATC to ring the victory bell. "There are weeks that have anomalies in them," says TV10 General Manager Mike Barras. "[There are] numbers that just jump out at you." He immediately contacted Nielsen about the February "book," as it's called. Barras, who declined to reference specific instances in the survey, says the New York-based company, which measures audiences nationwide, agreed to take a closer look at the numbers.
For its part, Nielsen is standing by the February book for the Lafayette market. Nielsen officials say sporadic spikes in the numbers are common, and the average of the four-week period is the most accurate gauge of viewership. Deanna DeYoung, who represents the local market for Nielsen, says the company's goal was to get 435 diary samplings and 440 were returned. Each household gets the diary for a week. "It's my responsibility to look at a sample every time the book comes out," DeYoung says. "The sample looks great. There's nothing about it that looks statistically invalid."
Barras is not the only person who sees irregularities in the survey results. Julie Calzone of Calzone & Associates, a local ad agency, says she's already decided to eliminate certain weeks in the new ratings from consideration in her future television ad placements. "As an agency what you look for is consistency. When you look at week four across the board, they're just way out of whack. I've been in business 22 years, and I'll just tell you that media trends don't change overnight. You just don't see the numbers shift like that."
Last week Nielsen did clarify that a mailing glitch caused some third-week diaries to be counted in the fourth week ' though at least one New Orleans-based media buyer says that doesn't explain this book's inconsistencies. Scott McNulty, vice president and media director of The Graham Group, says while weekly variations are not uncommon, the issue in this book is specific to the ratings in three time slots, 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. "If the [late diaries] were the culprit, why did it make KATC's numbers go up in three time periods only? It definitely looks unusual for it to be that dramatic."
Still, McNulty says he's not discarding the fourth week's numbers. "We're always taking into consideration all types of variables," he says, explaining that the Academy Awards, for example, caused a number spike on Sunday at 8 p.m. for KATC during the fourth week. Other time period jumps, like the 5 p.m. newscast in that week, are not as easily accounted for (any special promotions, contests or other types of activity would have been footnoted in Nielsen's book). "Because the station is moving up, people are going to take a lot harder look at the numbers. I'm not saying the book's wrong or that KATC didn't earn it," McNulty says.
While survey results are tightly held by local media due to contractual agreements with Nielsen, The Independent Weekly obtained figures from specific days. On Mondays at 5 p.m., for example, KATC got a 10 rating the first week, and a 14 and 10 the following two weeks. In week four, however, it logged a 26. In contrast, KLFY performed more consistently, logging 17, 15, 15 and 9. On Mondays at 5 p.m. in February of last year and again in November, it was KLFY that had roller coaster variations, tallying a 10, 22, 6 and 15 in November, and a 21, 16, 18 and 30 in February.
"There were numerous situations in those books to TV10's benefit," says KATC General Manager Nannette Frye.
Calzone's elimination of week four's averages in the most recent book puts the two stations in a dead heat at 5 p.m., with KLFY garnering a 13.7 rating to KATC's 13.2. In February of last year at 5 p.m., TV10 had a 16 ' down from a 22 in February 2003, compared with KATC's 14 ' up from a 9 rating in 2003.
"We're pleased with knowing where we stand on all newscasts," declares TV10's Barras. Though Barras' station led at 10 p.m., he's still "not happy" with those numbers as well. He declined to discuss specifics.
The Nielsen numbers at 10 p.m. show KATC skyrocketing from a 3.3 rating to a 9.7 rating in the key demographic of 18 to 49 year olds, the most important category for media buyers. KLFY slipped slightly from a 10.9 to a 10.2 in this age bracket. (KATC attributes its swell to an increase in total viewers tuning in at 10 p.m.)
Though it's the only available measure of local television stations' audience ' and in turn the primary tool for placing TV advertising ' Nielsen's diary system is anything but scientific, as it relies on participants to log in their daily viewing habits. In 51 larger markets across the country, much of the sampling is done electronically, with meters placed on the television sets, eliminating human error from filling in diaries. In five major markets, "local people meters" are utilized, eliminating diaries altogether.
Both methods, TV set and people metering, require significant equipment investment and Nielsen personnel to set up the "Nielsen families" and carefully monitor the equipment and TV usage. To become a metered market, Lafayette's Nielsen subscribers, like agencies and television stations, would have to absorb that cost. "Not every market can financially fund that," says Nielsen spokeswoman Kerry Kielar.
Despite what some view as an unexplainable caveat of this book, it's undeniable that KATC has been gaining ground on its rival.
Longtime media observer Bruce Schultz, former Acadiana bureau chief at The Advocate, says KATC has come close in the past but always seemed to take a misstep ' like letting a key anchor go ' to kill its momentum. This time around, however, all signs point to stability at the station. He particularly favors KATC luring former TV10 anchors Hoyt Harris and Darla Montgomery back to the business, as well as the successful recruitment of meteorologist Rob Perillo from TV10 in early 2004. "To steal him away, that took a lot ' hell, it took a lot just in attorneys' fees," says Schultz, referring to TV10's unsuccessful legal challenge to uphold Perillo's non-compete clause in his contract.
Schultz sees TV3 hitting its stride. "I think they finally got the right combination of people, not just the anchors, Nannette Frye, too," he says.
Regarding TV10, Schultz says that station's 10 p.m. co-anchors, Val Wilson and Chuck Huebner, "just don't seem to gel." TV10's fortÃ© has always been its familiar faces, Schultz adds, which is why he thinks pulling Maria Placer off the air last year was a bad idea (she still makes minor on-air appearances). "I think they should have kept her on in a more prominent role."
Placer is so popular in the community that her name was in circulation as a potential candidate for city-parish president two years ago, Schultz says. "Just the other day, people were talking about [former TV10 meteorologist] Dick Faurot. He's still a household name."
No longer plagued by turnover both at the anchor desk and behind the scenes ' both Frye and KATC News Director James Warner insist they are in Lafayette for the long haul ' the ABC affiliate has been climbing steadily in Nielsen's quarterly surveys since Frye joined in late 2002. This, though, is the first real victory. "To finally see these numbers happen in a ratings book â?¦ it's exciting," says Frye.
Among the major adjustments of the past two years, says Warner, is the station's "to the point" news format. "We have to get to the point and move on, which is our producing, writing and reporting philosophy," he says. The primary effort at the station has been to jam as much news content into each broadcast as possible. The time slot where the station has remained flat ' while KLFY has lost a small amount of its audience ' is in its morning show. From 6-7 a.m., both stations have an 11.5 rating, but an hour earlier, from 5-6 a.m., TV3 has a 5.4 rating and TV10 has a 6.1.
Recently, KATC switched to a more focused news format in the morning, hoping to reverse those numbers. Less time is devoted to lighter features like cooking demonstrations and community events promos, and there's less cutting up among the personalities.
"We're being very careful not to throw everything out and start from scratch," Warner says. "We have the most popular personalities [Tom Voinche, Candice Gale and meteorologist Dave Baker] in the morning. Hopefully, you're going to see more out of the talents of those three."
Media buyer McNulty says only time will tell if KATC has really taken control of the ratings. "The real question is going to be, 'What's the new book going to look like?'" The results of Nielsen's May survey will be published in late June.
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.