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What a difference Jay Leno makes

I know I’ve already blogged about this so I’ll keep it short and sweet. The January sweeps television ratings came out this week, and once again WJZ (Baltimore’s CBS affiliate) is riding high with the No. 1-rated nightly newscast.

WJZ’s 11 p.m. newscast drew a household rating of 8.8, while WBAL (Baltimore’s NBC affiliate) drew a 6.7. (ABC affiliate WMAR drew 2.2 for its late night newscast and FOX affiliate WBFF drew a 4.4 for its 10 p.m. newscast.)

After this fall’s experiment, Jay Leno will soon be off the air at 10 p.m., but the damage has been done. Compare WBAL’s 6.7 with what it drew last May, when it was the No. 1 nightly newscast: then, the station had a 10.2 rating. WJZ had a 9.7.

Now the real recovery test for NBC affiliates starts when the network broadcasts the Winter Olympics beginning next week. Jordan Wertlieb, WBAL’s president and general manager, told me during an interview last month he believes NBC has the ability for a quick turnaround.

“We’re glad to see they’ve been reactive to local stations,” he said at the time. “Of course we always hope the rating goes back up.”