Costly Coverage on Local TV

One more round of this hellish precip, a reminder to those of us on high land not to move near the Ohio River, no matter how fun it looks when things are nice. Of course we’re all tired of it — the traffic, the comparisons to 1997, the scenes of reporters standing in water, idiots driving over flooded roads, Jay and Monty and Kevin and Marc and of course the storm coverage pre-empting favorite shows.

An all-too familiar site on TV

And with local TV stations devoting so much time to wall-to-wall weather coverage and pre-empting network programming, some are airing network programs on the weekend. Of course it’ll be nice then, and you won’t be watching TV. Even though last night’s tornado was not a threat in Louisville, stations are obligated to go to storm coverage when a warning is in their viewing area, as was the case with last night’s events to our south.

Last night, all four local stations pre-empted huge chunks of their prime time lineups, at a cost of thousands of dollars in lost local commercial time.  It’s hard to say who was hurt worst — Fox41 lost a big episode of “Glee” which it is re-airing on Sunday at 5. On WHAS, the popular “Dancing with the Stars” was pre-empted except for the last few minutes, and The Voice, a new show on WAVE, was heavily-promoted but didn’t air here. WLKY was in reruns of NCIS and the Mentalist.

The main tornado warning expired about 9:40, time for WAVE to get back to a part of “Dancing” that, for fans of the show, came a few minutes too late to see Pia Toscano. Fox41 just hung on until its newscast at 10. There were more cut-ins throughout the night on every station.

Glenn Haygood, WLKY’s GM, said it’s not likely stations will cut in tonight if it’s just flooding and rain.

The coverage is costly. Pressed for an estimate, Haygood said last night’s coverage cost stations “thousands and thousands” in lost revenue. WLKY led the way in ratings, followed by WHAS, then WAVE and WDRB.

Local meteorologists battled it out on camera and many stayed extremely late into the night.

BREAKING NEWS FROM KDF: The Great Steamboat Race scheduled for next week is being pushed back, out of Derby Week, to June 29.