Gayle Guyardo's low-key return to WFLA-Ch. 8 heralds local TV war in mornings
Her return, when it came today, was low-key and barely referenced.
Co-anchor Rod Carter joked about her being off on a "seven month vacation." But anchor Gayle Guyardo's return to the A.M. shift at WFLA-Ch. 8 also heralded the latest salvo in the hottest competition on local TV:
The fight for viewers in the morning.
I wrote a column for Sunday's Floridian breaking down the various fronts on this war, spread across the five outlets for local news in Tampa Bay area television. WFLA's move to re-hire Guyardo seven months after she left to start an infomercial business feels a bit like a Hail Mary pass -- a hope to recapture the show's past top ratings by bringing back a face from when the program was the highest-rated in morning television.
But the local TV landscape has changed an awful lot, even since Guyardo left the anchor char back in March; particularly as rivals 10 News and ABC Action News have ramped up their morning shows with new sets, graphics and features. Longtime rival Fox 13 (WTVT-Ch. 13) seems to have benefited most from the slow dissolution of WFLA's longtime morning team, which began when Guyardo's co-anchor Bill Ratliff retired rather than deal with serious cost-cutting last year.
Those cutbacks seem to have hurt WFLA significantly, reducing its resources just when competing channels were energizing their efforts.
This morning, the NBC affiliate's 4:30 a.m. broadcast still didn't boast many sponsors, featuring just two commercials which weren't in-house promotional ads, public service announcements, commercials for NBC programming or some other non-paid advertising. When the newscast debuted in September it seemingly had no paid ads across its three commercial breaks, perhaps reinforcing the notion that the timeslot is still relatively new territory for viewers and sponsors.
Click here to read my station by station breakdown on the local news competition in mornings; perhaps the last frontier where local TV news viewership is growing and sparking spirited competition.