WBAL (Channel 11) increased its lead in the all-important 11 p.m. news slot during February's sweeps period, according to figures released yesterday by ACNielsen, a national market research firm.
Ratings data showed WBAL with the highest ratings among Baltimore's 11 p.m. weekday newscasts, averaging better than 37,000 more viewing households than its nearest rival, WJZ (Channel 13). WMAR (Channel 2) finished third, with less than one-third of WBAL's viewership.
WBAL's late-night news lead over WJZ represents the largest disparity between the top-ranked and second-ranked late-night news programs since 1992, when metered ratings (as opposed to log books kept by viewers) were introduced to the Baltimore market.
In the early morning, WBAL won both the 5 a.m.-9 a.m. (by 16 percent over WJZ) and 7 a.m.-9 a.m. slots (by 38 percent). Overall numbers were down for three of Baltimore's four stations in the morning. For the 7 a.m.-9 a.m. slot, for instance, viewership was down 21 percent at WJZ (where the CBS Morning Show last month took over some of the time that had been reserved for WJZ's morning team of Don Scott and Marty Bass), 16 percent at WBAL and 9 percent at WMAR. Only Fox's WBFF (Channel 45) saw a morning increase, climbing 15 percent in the 6 a.m.-9 a.m. time slot.
WJZ handily won the noon news slot, with about 70,000 viewing households, compared with about 42,000 for WBAL.
WBAL dominated the 6 p.m. news, with about 96,000 viewing households - roughly 25,000 more than WJZ and 48,000 more than WMAR. At 5 p.m., WBAL had an even larger lead over WJZ, by about 32,000 households.
Overall, WBAL and WJZ finished in a virtual tie for total viewers in a 24-hour period. Measuring weekdays only, WJZ finished ahead, with an average of 3,000 more viewing households every quarter-hour than WBAL. Including weekends, both stations averaged roughly 44,000 households.