Monday, July 18, 2011

Subtle Changes for Sweeps

Subtle Changes for Summer Sweeps

Sharp-eye, savvy viewers already notice the changes at KXAN TV (NBC).

Just in time for the relatively unimportant July “sweeps”, KXAN trotted out a new look—new graphics for everything—from the weather, to the background on the set, to the front of the set, to the “supers” or identifiers on the screen, to the sports.

[“Supers” are the old-school term for the identifiers that viewers see over someone speaking during a story. The words were literally superimposed. Two pictures, one with the person talking, and another with the letters on a card, were mixed for a moment. A little TV trivia.]

Anyway, back to KXAN’s new graphics: It’s a clean, uncluttered look. It’s an attempt to repackage their news product.

And, oh, there is one other significant change in the KXAN identity. No longer do reporters say, “Live from wherever, Tina Great-Tan, for KXAN Austin News.” Now, they simply say, “…Tina Great-Tan, KXAN News.” Why is that significant? While KEYE TV (CBS) uses the phrase, “We are Austin”, KXAN wanted viewers to hear that KXAN New IS Austin news. It was the battle for the best slogans.

Personally, I always thought that it was silly saying, “In Georgetown, I’m Tina Great-Tan for KXAN AUSTIN News.” Or my all-time favorite: “In the studio, Tina Great-Tan for KXAN Austin News. It’s TV. Viewers can see where you are, especially if you were just talking to the anchors.

The theme music seems to be the same as it was before. It’s important to keep some things constant. Otherwise, viewers wonder what’s going on behind the scenes.

What’s going on behind the scenes is this: KVUE TV (ABC) remains the dominate station for news in the Austin market. KXAN had chipped into KVUE’s weekday morning ratings for a while, but KVUE won them back, even though KXAN got the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters’ award for best morning news team. Now, both stations are starting their day at 4:30 a.m., pushed back from 5 p.m.

Noteworthy too in the morning TV wars, KEYE-TV (CBS) pulled the plug on their radio-on-TV morning experiment. They’re back with a two person morning team promising to be “different from anything else” on the air in the mornings. KEYE hopes to pull itself out of last place. It’s going to be tough.

In the all-important May ratings, KVUE won almost every hour of the broadcast day.

There was one glimmer of glory, tinged with a bit of irony. KXAN News was #1 at 6 and 10 p.m. on Saturday nights. The irony is that those newscasts are anchored by David Scott. Scott was the weekday 6 and 10 anchor in the 1990s when KXAN News was “perennial number three” in the words of former Austin American-Statesman TV writer Diane Holloway.

We’ll see if the repackaging changes anything.

© Jim McNabb, 2011

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NewsMcNabb is now posting to CultureMap Austin.

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