The U finds news viewers elusive

Hosea Sanders, Jim Rose, Cheryl Scott and Linda Yu

Hosea Sanders, Jim Rose, Cheryl Scott and Linda Yu

Question: When is a WLS-Channel 7 newscast in last place? Answer: When it’s not airing on WLS-Channel 7.

For the first time in three decades or more, a newscast produced by Chicago’s top-rated ABC-owned station is bringing up the rear in the Nielsens. That’s because it’s airing on Weigel Broadcasting WCIU-Channel 26.

Under a licensing agreement between ABC 7 and Weigel Broadcasting, ABC 7 Eyewitness News on WCIU, The U has been airing at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday since January 12. Featuring news anchors Hosea Sanders and Linda Yu, sports anchor Jim Rose and meteorologist Cheryl Scott, the one-hour newscast originates from ABC 7 studios at 190 North State Street.

After almost three months on the air, the newscast has had no impact one way or another, according to ratings analysts. Figures for March show WCIU garnering a scant 0.3 rating and 1 percent share among viewers between 25 and 54 — identical to the station’s rating and share for the 7 p.m. hour in February 2015 and in March 2014.

Weigel Broadcasting bosses insist they’re not worried about the numbers, saying it’s way too early to draw any conclusions.

“It’s a local newscast in a time period where there are no other local newscasts,” said Bob Ramsey, executive vice president of local media for Weigel Broadcasting. “We are pleased with the quality of the telecast and of the partnership’s commitment to growing the show. This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

The only other news airing at 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday is “Chicago Tonight” on WTTW-Channel 11, the Window to the World Communications’ public television station.