Will makeover give NBC 5 a boost with viewers?

Maybe a new set will do the trick. As the saying goes, it couldn’t hurt.

NBC 5 ended February in third place at 5 and 10pm weekdays, behind both ABC 7 and CBS 2. It also ended the month by unveiling a fresh new look for its newscasts — the station’s first major overhaul in nearly 20 years — including a new set, new graphics and new music.

“We’re having fun getting to know our new home,” news anchor Allison Rosati told viewers in a behind-scenes video. “Almost like a new car, trying to figure out all the new gadgets.”

A spokeswoman said new sets and other enhancements are being rolled out at NBC stations nationwide as part of a major investment in the product under NBC Universal’s new Comcast Corp. owners. In New York, the new set that had been constructed for WNBC-TV reportedly was scrapped at the last minute because senior management said it looked “too similar” to that of rival WABC-TV.

Initial reaction to NBC 5’s makeover this week was largely negative, with comments on the station’s Facebook page complaining the new set looks “cheap and hard on the eyes,” the new graphics look “cheesy,” and the new music sounds “annoying.”

The Nielsen news in February was better for NBC 5 at 6pm weekdays (when the station leads CBS 2 by a narrow margin but continues to trail ABC 7), and in mornings (when it’s in the middle of the pack, behind ABC 7 and WGN but ahead of Fox and CBS 2). NBC 5's noon news, which debuted in September, was up 43 percent over ratings in the same time period last year for The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

The picture also looks brighter for NBC 5 among viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 — the group tied most directly to advertising dollars. In that demo, the station beats CBS 2 at 5, 6 and 10pm as well as mornings. But it still lags behind perennial leader ABC 7.

Here are Nielsen late-news ratings and shares for households in February:

  • CBS 2 (10pm) 6.1 rating 11.2 share
  • NBC5 (10pm) 5.4 rating 10.0 share
  • ABC 7 (10pm) 8.0 rating 14.9 share
  • WGN 9 (9pm) 4.6 rating 7.5 share
  • Fox 32 (9pm) 2.3 rating 3.8 share

Here are Nielsen late-news ratings and shares for 25-to-54 adults in February:

  • CBS 2 (10pm) 2.1 rating 6.1 share
  • NBC 5 (10pm) 2.8 rating 8.1 share
  • ABC 7 (10pm) 3.8 rating 10.9 share
  • WGN 9 (9pm) 2.1 rating 5.2 share
  • Fox 32 (9pm) 1.4 rating 3.5 share


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)