The four-game erasure of the Los Angeles Lakers wasn't the only sweep the Utah Jazz were involved in recently.

For the second year in a row, the ratings of Jazz playoff games were so enormous that they put a big dent in all the competition during the important May sweeps TV ratings period.How big were the Jazz numbers? Well, without the ratings from the nine prime-time Utah playoff games telecast by KJZZ during the 28-day sweeps, Ch. 14 was a weak fifth in prime-time ratings during the months.

With those eight nights averaged in, Ch. 14 was a strong third - beating more established stations like ABC/Ch. 4 and Fox/Ch. 13. (See accompanying box.)

The Jazz games - particularly the three that ran past 10:30 p.m. - adversely affected the ratings of the late local newscasts. And May sweeps numbers are particularly important, given that they are used to set add rates pretty much through the end of the year.

(The July sweeps period is of relatively little importance, and the next sweeps after that isn't until November.)

The playoffs didn't actually change the order of finish in the late-night news competition, but the games did drop those numbers by up to 1.3 ratings points. (See accompanying box.)

As is customary, KSL-Ch. 5 led the way in late-night news - and by a considerable margin. And as has become the custom, KTVX-Ch. 4 beat out KUTV-Ch. 2 for second place.

However, there's both good news and bad news in that for both the second- and third-place stations. Ch. 4 held onto second, but the station's ratings fell by 1.7 ratings points and 2 share points.

Over at Ch. 2, meanwhile, the numbers were up 1.3 rating points and 2 share points - making the race considerably closer than it was a year ago.

(Ch. 5 saw its numbers rise .3 ratings points and 1 share point.)

Meanwhile, the folks at KSTU-Ch. 13 presumably were hurt the most by the Jazz games - seven of the contests ran through station's 9 p.m. newscasts. But, all things considered, the Fox News did quite well - up 1.1 rating points and 2 share points from May 1997 to May 1998.

As to who's winning the early evening news wars, that answer depends largely upon how you look at it:

- The single highest-rated early evening newscast remains Ch. 4's 5:30 p.m. show, with a 9.4 rating and a 21 share.

- Ch. 5's 6 p.m. show (8.7/18) beat Ch. 4's 6 p.m. show (7.8/16).

- However, Ch. 4's hour of news from 5:30-6:30 p.m averaged an 8.6 rating, which was higher than Ch. 5's 6-7 p.m. newscasts (8.3) and and Ch. 2's 5-6 p.m. newscast (5.7)

- On the other hand, Ch. 2's 5 p.m. newscast averaged a 5.7 rating, while KSL's 5 p.m. newscast averaged a 5.4 rating.

Got all that?

Another way to determine which newscast is a winner and which is a loser is to look at how each did in May 1998 compared to May 1999:

- Ch. 5 at 6:30 p.m. - up 25 percent

- Ch. 5 at 6 p.m. - up 10 percent

- Ch. 2 at 5 p.m. - up 8 percent

- Ch. 5 at 5 p.m. - down 2 percent

- Ch. 4 at 6 p.m. - down 10 percent

- Ch. 4 at 5:30 p.m. - down 16 percent

A year ago at this time, of course, Ch. 4 wasn't airing news at 6 p.m. - it was airing "Wheel of Fortune." And while the station's newscast attracted 10 percent fewer viewers in May 1998 than "Wheel" did in May 1997, a locally produced news program offers greater financial rewards to a station than a syndicated game show.

Of course, it doesn't help Ch. 4 to see the numbers on that 5:30 p.m. newscast drop by 16 percent.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Prime-time ratings

Here are the approximate average number of households that tuned in to the local stations in prime time (7-10 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 6-10 p.m. on Sundays) during the May sweeps period. The first rankings include the nine prime-time Jazz playoff games; the second rankings factor those numbers out.

Overall rankings

1. Ch. 5 - 85,000

2. Ch. 2 - 71,000

3. Ch. 14 - 68,000

4. Ch. 4 - 61,000

5. Ch. 13 - 48,000

Jazz factored out

1. Ch. 5 - 92,000

2. Ch. 2 - 75,000

3. Ch. 4 - 65,000

4. Ch. 13 - 50,000

5. Ch. 14 - 23,000

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Jazz sweeps ratings

Here's a look at how the 12 Jazz playoff games that took place during the May sweeps period did in the ratings locally. (A rating point represents about 6,900 homes; 1 share point equals 1 percent of the homes watching TV at a particular time - which explains why lower-rated games on a Saturday afternoon can have higher shares.) The games on May 3, 9 and 16 were telecast by NBC/Ch. 5; the others were seen on KJZZ-Ch. 14.

OPPONENT DATE/TIME RATING SHARE HOUSEHOLDS

Rockets 4/23-7:30 p.m. 26.3 40 181,000

Rockets 4/25-8:30 p.m. 33.4 53 230,000

Rockets 4/29-7:30 p.m. 28.5 44 197,000

Rockets 5/1-7:30 p.m. 26.6 42 184,000

Rockets 5/3-1 p.m. 35.2 74 243,000

Spurs 5/5-8:30 p.m. 37.0 53 255,000

Spurs 5/7-8:30 p.m. 37.0 54 255,000

Spurs 5/9-1:30 p.m. 29.9 63 206,000

Spurs 5/10-7 p.m. 27.1 43 187,000

Spurs 5/12-6 p.m. 36.9 54 254,000

Lakers 5/16-1:30 p.m. 37.3 73 257,000

Lakers 5/18-6:30 p.m. 38.9 58 268,000

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Your late local news

Here are the Monday-Friday local news ratings, according to Nielsen Media Research, for the May sweeps periods. The numbers listed are rating points/share points - approximate number of housholds. The first set of numbers contains overall averages; the second set excludes competition from Jazz playoff games. (Ch. 13's newscast airs at 9 p.m.; the others air at 10 p.m.)

... May sweeps overall Jazz factored out

KUTV-Ch. 2 9.0/14 - 62,000 9.9/16 - 68,000

KTVX-Ch. 4 10.5/17 - 72,000 11.6/19 - 80,000

KSL-Ch. 5 19.0/30 - 131,000 20.3/34 - 140,000

KSTU-Ch. 13 6.6/10 - 46,000 7.2/12 - 50,000