Despite the loss of Oprah Winfrey as the early news lead-in, despite being the only local newscast not in high definition and despite replacing veteran reporters with people barely out of college, Channel 4 remains the news leader.
The CBS affiliate won the November sweeps period that concluded on Thanksgiving Eve and the right to run promos trumpeting its overall victory.
But there should be an asterisk this time around. Channel 4 won by virtue of its dominance at 10 p.m. (where its newscast is on sister station WNLO) and 11 p.m., where Channel 2 has some decided disadvantages. Channel 4 had a combined 14.1 rating points on those newscasts to Channel 2’s 7.9 for a 6.2 point victory.
Channel 2 has as much or more reason to celebrate. In the first post-Oprah sweeps period, it won the early evening news battle – 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. – for the first time in memory. It had a collective 26.8 points in these three news time slots. Channel 4 had a collective 26.4 points.
And how did Channel 7 do? Don’t ask. It was a weak third in all time slots where all stations competed, with the only newscast where it averaged a 5 rating being at 6 p.m. Its combined rating from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. is 12 points.
Now let’s take a time slot look at the ratings.
Early morning: Channel 4’s “Wake Up!” with co-anchors Victoria Hong and Joe Arena wins at 5 a.m over Channel 2′s “Daybreak,” 3.8-3.4. The margin of victory could be attributed to the number of viewers who turn off the TV and have the station on in the morning after watching one of the extremely popular CBS prime time programs carried by Channel 4 the night before going to bed.
Channel 2’s “Daybreak” with co-anchors John Beard and Jodi Johnston wins at 6 a.m., but the margin of victory has been reduced to three-tenths of a point over “Wake Up!” from 1.1 points a year ago.. That would seem to be a vote in favor of Channel 4’s move of meteorologist Amelia Segal in place of Mike Cejka. But Channel 4’s viewership is flat from a year ago, suggesting Segal didn’t have much of an impact. The race tightened because fewer people were watching Channel 2, perhaps because NBC’s prime time lineup is so weak and fewer people go to bed with their TVs left on Channel 2. Just a theory.
Noon: Channel 4 dominates over Channel 7, its only competition at the hour: Both stations saw ratings declines from a year ago.
5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m: Channel 2 wins from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. by two-tenths of a point, after losing by more than a point a year ago when Channel 4 had Oprah as its lead-in. Channel 4 does win at 6 p.m. by two-tenths of a point. All of the victories by Channel 2 and Channel 4 are within the margin of error. Channel 7’s 5 p.m. rating was only 3.1. It gets about a third of the audience of its rivals.
10 p.m.: Channel 4 averages a 5.1 rating at 10 p.m. on WNLO-TV. That was the only half-hour newscast where its ratings improved. The 5.1 rating was higher than the 5.0 Channel 7 receives at 11 p.m. Channel 2 averaged a 2.0 rating on WNYO-TV.
11 p.m.: Channel 4 with co-anchors Don Postles and Jacquie Walker almost doubled its lead over Channel 2 with co-anchors Scott Levin and Maryalice Demler from a year ago and wins, 9.0-5.9. The huge margin could be largely attributable to the popularity of CBS prime time programming and the weakness of NBC’s prime time programming. As hard as it is to believe in this technological edge, news lead-ins still matter.
Of course, the news demographics are the final determination of who wins and who loses. Channel 2 (and NBC) usually do stronger here, with much of the Channel 4 (and CBS) audience traditionally older. The demos don’t arrive for a few weeks.
Bills Beat: CBS announcers Marv Albert (see above) and Rich Gannon missed one of the biggest penalties in the Buffalo Bills’ 28-24 loss to the New York Jets Sunday. Neither seemed to realize that Bills receiver Stevie Johnson received a 15-yard penalty for his celebration act after scoring the touchdown that gave the Bills a 14-7 lead with about two minutes left in the half. However, a CBS graphic illustrated that there was a penalty. The penalty forced the Bills to kickoff from the 20-yard line, which was compounded when kicker Dave Rayner practically missed the ball and the Jets recovered the poor kick in great field position. That lead to a Jets tying touchdown before halftime.