April ratings underscore just how tight the race for Central Florida viewers has become and how the competition is challenging longtime leader WFTV-Channel 9.
The numbers in this story, unless otherwise noted, reflect viewers in the 25-to-54 age group, which is most important to news advertisers.
WESH was tops at 5 and 5:30 and came close to WFTV at 6. WESH was also reaching the most 25-to-54 viewers with its 4 p.m. newscast.
WKMG-Channel 6 surpassed WFTV at noon, and WKMG notched another victory at 11 p.m. CBS prime time, with "The Big Bang Theory" and NCAA basketball, certainly helped WKMG. The Fox schedule bolstered WOFL, which remained the leader in 10 p.m. news.
It was not all gloom for WFTV: The ABC affiliate continued at No. 1 in morning news and at 6 p.m. Yet 6 p.m. was close, with WFTV drawing 31,500 viewers to WESH's 30,600, WOFL's 19,500 and WKMG's 12,600.
WFTV still has a big piece of the pie in total viewers, but the game these days is based the 25-to-54 age group.
In the 5 p.m. half-hour, WESH set the pace with 26,900 viewers to WOFL's 18,100 (for the hour), WFTV's 16,600 and WKMG's 8,400.
At 11 weeknights, WKMG averaged 28,100 viewers to WFTV's 26,600, WESH's 26,000 and WOFL's 18,600.
At 10 weeknights, WOFL averaged 25,100 viewers to the WESH news on sister station WKCF-Channel 18 (with 11,200 viewers) and the WFTV news on sister station WRDQ-Channel 27 (8,700).
At 6 a.m., WFTV pulled ahead with 25,300 viewers to WESH's 14,600, WKMG's 12,500 and WOFL's 10,200. WESH picked up an additonial 1,900 viewers through a simulcast on WKCF.
In households, the former way of measuring the market, WFTV had some big leads. At 6 p.m., for instance, WFTV was seen in 107,300 homes to WESH's 78,400, WKMG's 33,000 and WOFL's 32,800.
In prime-time viewing, the Monday edition of "Dancing With the Stars" on ABC was No. 1 with 258,250 total viewers, followed by CBS' "NCIS" with 208,800. But the No. 1 telecast with the 25-to-54 age group for the April ratings period was the season finale of "The Walking Dead" on AMC.
The next ratings race, the all-important May sweeps, starts Thursday (today). Networks will feature big-name guest stars and season finales to help win viewers for their affiliates.