Six Months on, WPIX tumbles as WNYW grows at 10

PIX11 NEWS (File)

On October 11th 2010, WPIX-TV, the New York City CW station (known on air as PIX11)altered their 10 pm newscast to make it look less like a traditional newscast and their graphics look like more or less like some app on an I-phone.

My October 15th 2010 article explaining my views against the change in newscast because many viewers-like myself- lost another traditional 10pm newscast since WWOR-TV moved the news to 11pm and My October 28th 2010 article featured responses from people who replied to the original article in anger over the changes.

Well, now it has been official, despite all the positive comments that WPIX has gotten over this “innovation”—the “innovation” actually caused a dip in viewership.

Despite this format being carried in other Tribune owned CW stations(albeit with some variations) In New York the format has failed to catch on with the main demographics that advertisers cater to—the 25 to 54 year old demo or the “money demo” as called by people in the TV business.

As explained in the comments sections of both my articles that were published on my own New York-centric blog “The City and My Life” and the “Andy’s Cue” column for Asnycnow Radio, people have absolved themselves form watching PIX News at Ten until the old newscast is returned.

The people—particularly the 25-54 year old group (which is also the key demo of readers for Asnycnow Radio and The City & My Life) have been leaving WPIX in droves to the ONLY other 10 pm newscast in town—WNYW Fox 5 (which originally started their 10pm newscast before anyone else did in the country) and WNYW has seen a slow but steady growth among the 25-54 year old group.

According to Nielsen, Ratings for WPIX among the highly coveted 25-54 age group, which WPIX was trailing WNYW by just 1.16(NYW) to 1.10 (PIX) in October 2010, saw the gap between viewership widen to 1.35 (NYW) to 0.92 (PIX) in December 2010 and then 1.96 (NYW) to 0.84 (PIX) in March 2011.

Harold Silverburg originally praised WPIX GM Bill Carrey over the format change in the comments section of The City & My Life:

“If Jim[Watkins] and Kaity[Tong] (the former 10pm news team) were so beloved, where were all the viewers? Congrats to [WPIX GM]Bill Carey for having the guts to make a format change that provided a spark of energy that viewers will get to like in time. Watch the ratings climb.”

Well, Harold and WPIX management got it wrong.

RATINGNYWPIX This is not good news for WPIX management, The Tribune Co., currently having financial issues and this is not making it better for them—public relations or otherwise.

WPIX’s image has been tarnished in the city based on management quarrels. WPIX currently has lawsuits pending over charges of ageism (ending one’s employment over one’s age) and one of its reporters, Vince DeMentri was terminated with the station over a public spat and Chris Burrows, who was hired to be the face of the 4-6am edition of “PIX Morning News” was transferred to WPIX’s sister station KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles after ratings fail to grow under his stewardship.

A WPIX spokesperson pointed out to the New York Post that WNYW’s lead-in “American Idol” draws much higher ratings that reruns of CW programming airing on WPIX.

That is true, but “American Idol” was not on WNYW airwaves in December and WNYW still drew in higher numbers than WPIX compared to two months earlier when they were almost neck and neck.

WPIX  also ran into some trouble as well when Tribune hired Bill Carey’s longtime friend– former KYW CBS 3 anchor Larry Mendte as a commentator following his termination from KYW after allegedly hacking into former co-anchor Alycia Lane’s e-mail.

Alycia Lane has since resurfaced as a reported for NBC’s Los Angeles affiliate KNBC Channel 4.

Also, The New York Post reported that, When Lane issued a lawsuit to Mendte,WPIX shipped him over to Libya for an exclusive interview with Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. Mendte accompanied Former Pennsylvania Rep. Curt Weldon, who has a long history with Qaddafi to try an broker a truce.

Skeptics inside the station told The Post that they believed Mendte wanted to go to Libya so he could rebuild HIS reputation before he face charges on ruining Lane’s reputation.

This is a station that fires people left and right,and they’ll pay for a Libya Trip”- WPIX Insider tell the New York Post (03/12/11)

So now Six months after the changed at PIX, not only have they lost viewership at 10pm but also lost to “Good Day New York” due to the presenter shuffle.

Now, WPIX still has time to undo their mistake and return the old 10pm newscast. They don’t have to do it immediately, they should phase in the old newscast back on air before the change in viewership is permanent.

With American Idol now the main lead-in plus many strong FOX programming serving strong lead-in, WNYW is now dominating the 10pm news market and WNYW had it right since 1967—If it Ain’t Broke, Dont fix it!—something that WPIX is now learning the hard way.