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Scott D. Pierce: Utahns prefer 'Talkin' Sports' on KUTV

Published June 5, 2012 12:44 pm

Sports television • Channel 2 leads the way among local late-night sports shows.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When it comes to local late-night sports shows, the competition isn't close. You might even call KUTV's performance during the recent May sweeps a blowout.

On Saturday nights, Channel 2's "Talkin' Sports" (4.8 rating/10 share) out-rated its competition on KSL-Channel 5 (2.9/6 for "SportsBeat") and KTVX-Channel 4 (1.4/3 for "Sports Zone") combined.

On Sundays from 10:35-11:05 p.m., "Talking Sports" (5.4/12) out-rated "SportsBeat" (2.6/6) and "Sports Zone" (1.6/4) combined.

The second half of "Talkin' Sports" (2.8/8) beat every other local Sunday-night sports show, including KSTU-Channel 13's "Sports Page" (2.6/6). And that's impressive because the later it gets, the fewer people watch TV. So the second half of "Talkin' Sports" was drawing from a smaller pool and still drew more viewers.

A local rating point represents about 9,275 homes — 1 percent of the 927,540 TV-equipped homes the A.C. Nielsen Co. estimates are in the Salt Lake television market. A share point is 1 percent of the homes where someone is actually watching TV at any one time.

We're not talking about massive numbers here, but they're still significant. Here are approximations of how many households tuned to various shows during the May 2012 sweeps:

Saturdays: "Talkin' Sports," 44,400; "SportsBeat," 26,900; "Sports Zone," 13,000. Sundays: "Talkin' Sports" (10:35-11:05 p.m.), 50,100; "Talkin' Sports" (11:05-11:35 p.m.), 26,000; "SportsBeat," 24,100; "Sports Page," 24,100; "Sports Zone," 14,800.

By the way, KUTV's "Hooked on Utah" (23,200 homes) easily outdrew "KSL Outdoors" (13,000) on Saturdays at 11:05 p.m. And the second half of "Talkin' Sports" on Sunday more than doubled the number of homes watching "KSL Golf" (12,100).

Clearly, more people are turning to KUTV for their late-night sports fix on the weekends. The obvious question is — why?

You can't look at numbers for an answer, however. Ratings are not a scientific experiment with controls. We're left to speculate.

Here's the speculation:

• "Talkin' Sports" gets a better lead-in from KUTV's late-night news. OK, but that's less true on the weekends. And Channel 2 doesn't hold a 2-1 advantage over Channel 5 .

• The decline of "SportsBeat" is tied to the general decline in KSL ratings. Hard to argue with that.

• "Talkin' Sports" doesn't have an overt tie to BYU or Utah. Cougar fans might turn away from Channel 4 and Ute fans might avoid Channel 5.

• KUTV is making a bigger commitment to late-night sports shows. "Talkin' Sports" airs weeknights at 10:35 p.m. on KUTV's sister station, KMYU, which is now available on cable, Dish and DirecTV. These really aren't big numbers. The Monday-Friday show averaged a 0.6 rating — about 5,500 homes — but that number doubled from February to May. And it does give "Talkin' Sports" a presence throughout the week.

• Viewers like KUTV sportscasters Dave Fox, David James and Adam Mikulich more than they do their counterparts. Ouch. That's a bit harsh if you're at Channels 4, 5 or 13. But there has to be a degree of truth in that. There are certainly options besides "Talkin' Sports," and a lot more Utahns are choosing to watch the KUTV guys.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce; read his blog at sltrib.com/blogs/tv.