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Local Viewership Patterns Are Changing

Scott Pelley in Antarctica

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Men and Women of a Certain Age appear to be changing their news watching habits.

And this is good news in a way for Channel 4, the local news leader.

According to the recently-arrived demographics for the May sweeps, more people ages 18-through-49 and 25-through-54 were watching Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News on sister station WNLO than were watching any newscasts on the three local affiliates that carry news, including the 11 p.m. newscasts.

Among aIl viewers. WNLO only beats Channel 7 at 11 p.m. in household viewership, losing decisively to first-place Channel 4’s 11 p.m. viewership and Channel 2’s 11 p.m. viewership.

I won’t bore you with too many numbers, but WNLO’s 10 p.m. win isn’t even close in the age 18 through 49 category. Channel 2 does beat WNLO by a tenth of a point among 25-54 females but WNLO wins by almost a full point among men in that age group.

That probably should concern the broadcast networks, which are having trouble keeping audiences for their prime time programs that air at 10 p.m.

The 10 p.m. viewership at WNLO isn’t the only head-scratching result from the May demos.

At 6 a.m., Channel 2’s “Daybreak” wins more decisively over Channel 4’s “Wake Up” in the demos than in households. But that’s no big surprise.

However, Channel 7’s third-place morning news is tied with Channel 4 for second place among 25-54 viewers and beats Channel 4 among women in that category. That’s a head-scratcher for local researchers, who find it hard believe that the newscast would get an abnormally high 17.8 rating among women 50-54 when it had a 2.2 in that category a year ago. Who knew that Mike Randall and Patrick Taney – the men on Channel 7’s morning show alongside Ginger Geoffery — had become such sex symbols.

Nielsen certainly has no reason to help Channel 7 – which doesn’t even buy the service. The ratings service certainly isn’t making its paying customers at 4 and 2 happy with that result.

* Some viewers and critics may find CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley (see above) as exciting as reading the telephone book, but Katie Couric’s replacement gained popularity in his second week locally.

In his opening week in the anchor chair after little promotional fanfare, Pelley’s newscast averaged a 5.3 rating on Channel 4 for second place, which was in the range of Couric’s numbers. In week two, Pelley’s ratings rose by 10 percent to a 5.9, while the first place NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams slipped by practically the same margin (7.8-7.3). Diane Sawyer’s newscast is third here, primarily because of the poor lead-in from Channel 7’s third-place 6 p.m. newscast.

It could be that more viewers have become aware of Pelley and are sampling his newscast. Or it could be his style attracts the older audience that watches network news. It will take months or even years to find out.

Here’s another local demographic shocker. “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” is winning here over “Late Show with David Letterman,” primarily because Lettermen lost a big chunk of his 25-54 audience – including more than half his female viewers that age — from a year ago. That’s another head-scratcher since I can’t find anyone who tells me that they watch or like Leno..

*Wondering about Conan on TBS? Locally, he gets almost as twice as many viewers as George Lopez did a year ago but he still doesn’t average a full ratings point. O’Brien also has much stronger demos than Lopez here but is no threat to Leno or Letterman.

* Channel 2’s Ed Kilgore, a friend of former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, obviously had an inside track at knowing what college Chad Kelly – the St. Joe’s star quarterback who is Kelly’s nephew – was going to select before his recent announcement. The night before young Kelly announced his choice of Clemson, Kilgore said he was going to pick someplace warm. That eliminated Syracuse and the University at Buffalo from a list that reportedly included Alabama and Florida State.

The courting of Kelly by UB may have seemed odd to those who thought that Williamsville South quarterback Joe Licata could be the Bulls’ quarterback of the future. Kelly is only a year behind Licata. Of course, Licata is going to face plenty of quarterback competition at UB every year.

*Good timing award: As NBC’s Bob Costas was telling U.S. Open champ Rory McIlroy Sunday that having back-to-back champs from Northern Ireland was as likely as winning the lottery, Channel 2 ran a crawl announcing Sunday’s lottery numbers.

The chance of that happening was close to the odds of winning the daily lottery.

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3 responses to "Local Viewership Patterns Are Changing"

  1. Mark says:

    Who is watching the US OPEN to see lottery numbers? It just clutters the screen.
    As far as 6:30Pm National News goes, I try to watch, but the networks collude to make sure their commercials are on at the exact same time, and they are all for drug companies.

    Its sickening

  2. I can’t help thinking that some of these numbers are outliers…

  3. Pergy's friend says:

    I like Leno better. He just seems friendlier than old Dave.

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