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John Lamb, Published June 22 2013

WDAY reaches more viewers in May

FARGO – More people in the Red River Valley are turning to WDAY for their news, but its main competitor says their stations get the viewers that matter most.

The May 2013 Nielsen Ratings showed that WDAY’s audience grew in households in the market area for the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news broadcasts, tying or leading competitors in each time slot. The market area consists of 35 counties in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.

Fargo-based WDAY does not reach all of these counties since its sister station, WDAZ in Grand Forks, serves the northern part of the valley. Together WDAY’s and WDAZ’s area is called WDAY+ in Nielsen ratings.

While KVLY didn’t win the overall ratings, Jim Wareham, president and general manager of Valley News Live, which operates both NBC affiliate KVLY and CBS affiliate KXJB, thanked viewers on the station’s website for a demographics win.

Wareham declined to be interviewed and directed questions to his statement in which he explained demographics are important for advertisers and that women, ages 25 to 54, are “the most coveted demographic,” because they control purchasing power in households.

Jeff Nelson, news director for WDAY, the local ABC affiliate, wasn’t too concerned about the demographics report.

“It’s an up and down flow,” Nelson said. “It didn’t go our way this time like it normally has. I don’t see it as a trend. I see it as a blip, and I think we’ll be OK. More people still watch WDAY and WDAZ than any other news show in the valley.”

WDAY and WDAZ, like The Forum, are owned by Forum Communications Co.

During the May ratings period, WDAY+ at 5 p.m., anchored by Robin Huebner and TJ Nelson in Fargo, landed a 9 rating and a 28 share, up slightly from an 8 rating and 26 share in the previous May book. KVLY, anchored by Stephanie Goetz at 5 p.m., pulled a 6 rating and 19 share, a slight dip from its 7 rating and 22 share a year ago.

Ratings refer to the percentage of all households in a market that are watching a station, while the share is the percentage of TVs in use at the time watching that station.

The 5:30 p.m. newscast anchored by Andrea Larson on KXJB had a 3 rating and a 9 share, compared to a 3 rating and 10 share in May 2012. No other local station airs a newscast at 5:30 p.m.

During the 6 p.m. news, KVLY, with Goetz and co-anchor Mike Morken, grew from a 7 rating and an 18 share in May 2012 to a 9 rating and a 23 share.

WDAY + still held the lead, however, with a 15 rating and a 36 share, compared to a 14 rating and a 39 share a year ago. Kerstin Kealy and Dana Mogck anchor WDAY’s 6 p.m. broadcast in Fargo.

The 6 p.m. newscast for the FOX affiliate KVRR+, including KVRR based in Fargo and KBRR in Thief River Falls, Minn., drew a 1 rating and a 2 share, compared to a 1 rating and 3 share a year ago.

The station’s 9 p.m. broadcast did better than the previous year, landing a 9 rating and a 17 share over a 7 rating and 14 share in May of 2012. Both the 6 and 9 p.m. newscasts are anchored by Candace Thornberg and Austen Schauer, who announced Friday he’s leaving TV to take a fundraising job at Park Christian School.

KVRR news director Jim Shaw called the ratings, “tremendous,” considering Thornberg and meteorologist Rob Kupec are new to those broadcasts.

“I’m delighted,” he said, noting that FOX network’s big show, “American Idol” slipped in ratings, making the strong news showing more significant.

“People are really loyal to that 9 p.m. show and have made it a regular routine in their lives,” he said. “This is beyond my expectations.”

WDAY+ and KVLY also both showed improvement at 10 p.m. WDAY+, with Kealy and Mogck anchoring in Fargo, recorded a 17 rating and a 36 share, up from a 16 rating and a 34 share at the same time last year.

KVLY, with Goetz and Morken, earned a 9 rating and an 18 share, up from an 8 rating and a 17 share a year ago. The simulcast of that broadcast on KXJB pulled a 4 rating and an 8 share on sister station KXJB, the same as May ’12.

In his statement on Valley News Live’s website, Wareham said he offered a demographic breakdown because he believes The Forum has “resorted to twisting and contorting the ratings to fit whatever the scenario they wished.”

Wareham said the focus should be on demographics because “that is where the advertising dollars are and advertising revenue is how we pay our employees and bills.”

Among women ages 25 to 54, KVLY beat WDAY+ at 5 p.m. with a rating of 4.5 to 2.3 and at 6 by 7.7 to 5. At 10 p.m. the KVLY/KXJB simulcast squeezed by at 10.3 to WDAY+’s 10.2 in that demographic. KVLY also beat WDAY+ in adults 18 to 49, 25 to 54 and women 18 to 49 in the same broadcasts.

WDAY+ beat KVLY in adults 55 and older at the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. broadcasts.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533