In Movies & TV Commentary

Ted Perry and Mary Stoker Smith anchor the 10 p.m. news from the main desk on WITI-TV Fox 6.

WITI-TV takes advantage of evening opportunities

As the nights stay cold and we bundle up in the evening, there's a common place we turn to as a way to wind down after a long workday. In front of the television set, we may escape into a favorite program, catch up on what has been recorded or seek more information on what is going on in our community.

It's the latter that has propelled WITI-TV Fox 6 to the most-watched late night local news destination – surprising considering the traditional tide in broadcast history and that its nightly edition starts at 9 p.m.

For the Milwaukee market in the last February sweep, WITI led the pack from 9 to 9:30 p.m. with a 6.8 ratings average. For us, each point represents just under 9,000 people, according to Nielsen.

That local rating for Fox 6 fared well against primetime entertainment programming from the other networks. CBS on WDJT-TV was the next-best at 9 p.m. weekdays with a 5.5. WISN-TV and ABC had a 5.2 and NBC with WTMJ-TV had a 3.5.

The only other local news on at that time is WDJT's 9 p.m. report that airs on its local sister station WMLW-TV. There, the 9 p.m. rating was 1.9, which has grown since the numbers recorded in 2014.

I have a two-part theory on why the news at 9 p.m. has helped WITI earn the 10 p.m. week-day news ratings crown. Part one has to deal with technology.

A viewer's habits on primetime viewing has changed. With technological advances, more people are recording programs to view at a more convenient time. Also, viewers have access to mobile streaming applications, secondary-service offerings through Hulu Plus, Netflix and other outlets, and internet-enabled devices like Blu-ray players and gaming consoles that has the same programs available.

The great part is that the major networks have embraced the consumers' need for flexibility in watching shows.

However, that means a slight drop in viewership for the local affiliates for programming not created in-house. And before all you advertisers head for the hills, the drop is "slight."

The second part of the theory has to deal with the quantity and quality of what is available. Unlike the times when only two or four programs were all that we could watch on TV, the entertainment options are nearly limitless now.

Local news, where and when it is available as an offering, gets the advantage of the people who are surfing and sampling for something better on to watch.

It does take some work beforehand to get to be in a spot to take advantage of the change in viewer habits, however,

"Our success at both 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. has been the result of a long-term focus we've placed on providing viewers in Southeastern Wisconsin the news, weather and information they want to see," said Chuck Steinmetz, general manager at WITI. "Viewers don't just decide to switch channels one day. You have to earn their trust."

"We live our brand – Because You Matter – in all departments of the station 52 weeks a year," he continued. "It's that same commitment that has made us the number one morning news station for so many years. We have a great team in front of and behind the camera who work every day to make a difference. It is gratifying to know that our viewers see that as well."

QUESTIONS: Quiz Local Wisconsin will be hosting a "Breaking Bad" quiz at 7 p.m. Sunday night at two locations. Bring your knowledge of chemical substances and remarkable characters to Three Lions Pub or Howie's on La Crosse. Cost is $5.

ANOTHER SEASON: Fox Business Network (FBN) has picked up a second season of "Strange Inheritance," according to Bill Shine, senior executive vice president of FBN and Fox News Channel.

"Whether a family business or a forgotten heirloom, viewers have really responded to the compelling and financially surprising stories of 'Strange Inheritance'," he said. "We're excited to bring the program back for a second season," he said.

As far as news networks go, this is one of the best special programs produced. As a fan of history and how it connects people, I love the way this series shows how items can take on a life of its own.

Hosted by Jamie Colby, the first episode was the highest rated show launch in the business news network's history. Each of the 26 half-hour episodes explores unusual circumstances of inheritance from across the country.

"This has been the most rewarding experience in my career, and I can't wait to get back out on the road for season two," Colby said.

Fox Business Network will air two new episodes from the first season of the show at 8 p.m. on Monday. Colby heads to Wilmington, N.C. for "Pickett's Charge," exploring the story of how the great great grandson of Confederate General George Pickett was swindled out of his inheritance of Civil War memorabilia by a museum representative. At 8:30 p.m., Colby talks to the new owners of several "quirky furniture" pieces that turn out to be the early works of world-renown craftsman George Nakashima.

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