Sinclair Broadcast Group’s revelation last month that it will use the ratings service ComScore to track all local TV viewership was old news to journalists at KATV, Channel 7, the Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate in Little Rock.
“We’ve had it for a while now,” News Director Nick Genty said. “It’s a great tool for us.”
Sinclair’s switch from the traditional ratings giant Nielsen was a boon to ComScore, which also has KARK, Channel 4, as a client in the Little Rock TV market. Sinclair, which has 173 TV stations in 81 U.S. markets, recently made a $3.9 billion deal to acquire Tribune Media. After that merger takes effect, Sinclair will have more than 230 stations in 108 markets, reaching 70 percent of American homes.
Austin Kellerman, news director at KARK, an NBC affiliate, told Arkansas Business that it has been years since the station subscribed to Nielsen. He said ComScore, a public company based in Reston, Virginia, offers a “great system.”
“We get ratings back in a few days, so you have a better understanding of what’s working, where you stand, etc.,” Kellerman said. “They have live audience charts that show when your audience is building or dropping.”
Officials at KTHV, Channel 11, did not respond to several emails and calls inquiring about its current ratings service, though it has been a client of Nielsen.
The battle to provide what’s called “cross-screen” measurement has raged hotter since ComScore and Rentrak merged last year, intensifying efforts to rate viewership of both digital video and linear television, measures that had been tracked separately for years. In 2015, Nielsen announced its Total Audience project, also designed to meld cross-screen viewership tracking with traditional TV ratings.
Genty used the mention of ComScore as an opening to promote the service’s latest ratings for the May “sweeps,” or rating emphasis periods. “As a matter of fact we have the May sweeps numbers in, and they show KATV as No. 1 in all key demos across all of our newscasts, including our weekend shows.”
A press release from the station said KATV beat its Little Rock competitors in ComScore’s overall household ratings, as well in demographics like adults ages 25-54 and women in that same age group. KATV’s biggest win came at 6 p.m. with a 10.27 household ranking, compared to 7.26 for KARK and 5.61 for KTHV.
KATV General Manager Mark Rose noted that news viewership in Arkansas was fueled in early May as stations covered several consecutive executions of condemned inmates. He said Arkansans rely on the station for coverage of big stories, severe weather, and its public-service reporting on frauds and scams.
As for ComScore? “We are very pleased that ComScore data tells the same story as Nielsen has for years,” Rose said. “That Channel 7 is the most-viewed, most trusted news source in central Arkansas.”