Although ratings for the one-hour newscast have been lackluster to say the least, the unusual arrangement has proved beneficial to both stations since “ABC 7 Eyewitness News on WCIU The U” launched in January 2014.
Featuring news anchors Hosea Sanders and Cheryl Burton, sports anchor Jim Rose and meteorologist Jerry Taft, the newscast airs from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and originates from ABC 7 studios at 190 North State Street.
Steve Farber, senior vice president of operations for Weigel Broadcasting, confirmed the deal Thursday. “The U is committed to airing local content, and partnering with Chicago’s No. 1 news team is a key part of that effort,” Farber said.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but sources said it was a one-year renewal at terms more favorable to Weigel than the previous two-year deal.
In the recently completed November sweep, the 7 p.m. newscast on The U averaged a total viewership of 31,167 households, according to Nielsen figures. Among viewers between 25 and 54 — the group tied most closely to advertising revenue — the newscast drew a paltry 0.3 rating.
Two years ago the plan to produce and license a local newscast was a first for Chicago, although ABC Television Stations already had similar arrangements in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina.