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Too Early for Ch.4 to Bank on New Set, Anchor

Weeknight news open.

Strong Sweeps Start

Channel 4’s new anchor Diana Fairbanks sent out a panoramic view of the station’s new high definition set this week to her social media followers.

The view apparently hasn’t impressed Channel 4’s viewers so much during the first two weeks of the February sweeps.

The new set (which got big play in a promotional Buffalo News story) and the new anchor getting high grades haven’t helped Channel 4 News in its battle with Channel 2 for local news supremacy in the early evening hours.

And the Amelia Segal for Mike Cejka weather trade  in the morning isn’t helping Channel 4’s “Wake Up,” either.

Channel 2 News has much more to celebrate in the first two weeks than its rival, which was expected to gain some viewers in February now that it entered the 21st Century with a new set and added an impressive anchor in Fairbanks.

With two weeks left in the sweeps, Channel 2 ‘s “Daybreak” leads by a wider margin from a year ago over Channel 4’s “Wake Up” ago at 6 a.m.  Channel 2 also now owns a solid lead from 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m. over Channel 4, which was No.1 there last February when programs in Oprah Winfrey’s final season provided the lead-in.

At 5 p.m, Channel 2’s lead is 9.3-7.8. At 5:30 p.m., Channel 2’s lead over the first newscast anchored by Fairbanks is 10.0-7.6. At 6 p.m., Channel 2 leads 9.7-8.5. A year ago, Channel 4 won all three newscasts. (For those who wonder, Channel 7 is a poor third in all time slots).

The race at 10 p.m. between Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News on WNLO-TV and Channel 2’s “10 at 10” on WNYO is even much tighter than it was a year ago. That’s where Fairbanks competes with former Channel 4 anchor Melissa Holmes, who now is at Channel 2. The race has tightened because of WNLO declines from a year ago, not because of audience gains at WNYO.

A year ago, Channel 4 on WNLO won by a 6.1-1.9 margin over Channel 2 on WNYO for the entire sweeps period. In the first two weeks of this sweeps period Channel 4 has lost more than a point of its lead and wins 4.7-1.7.

Of course, Buffalo is a news market that is notorious for being slow to accept any changes so it isn’t that surprising that Fairbanks hasn’t become as instantly popular with viewers as she has become with critics.

This February also has been unusually calm weather-wise, which may have something to do with the diminished news audiences compared to a year ago.

Channel 4 is trying to promote Fairbanks, using her in promos with main anchors Don Postles and Jacquie Walker and even having her read promos for the morning “Wake Up” show that she doesn’t appear on.

“Wake Up” needs the promotional help. After closing to win two-tenths of a point last February, it is behind by almost a full point this February.

The only newscast besides 10 p.m. where Channel 4 still dominates is at 11 p.m., where it holds a commanding lead over Channel 2. Of course, Channel 4 has a big lead-in advantage because of the popularity of CBS’ 10 p.m. shows. NBC’s 10 p.m. shows don’t help Channel 2 much at all.


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12 responses to "Too Early for Ch.4 to Bank on New Set, Anchor"

  1. Dave says:

    Channel 4′s problem isn’t their set, I really don’t like any of their anchors. Won’t watch Wake Up because I do not like Joe Arena and Victoria Hong. Not crazy about Don Postles and Jacquie Walker in the afternoon. They might have the big names, but I find them boring. I don’t care for the Kiddie Corp. I am not a fan of any of the weather people. John Murphy is not a lure for Sports, even as the voice of the Bills. There’s nothing special that we’re getting.

    But while I find Channel 2 totally phony with their over-the-top “We’re all best friends” schtick, the “We’re the only ones who care about you” B.S. and silly banter between stories, overall, the difference is I like almost all of their people. I like Mary Alice Demler and Scott Levin. John Beard has grown on me, even though I can’t stand Jodi Johnston. The morning show is good because of Beard (anyone see him dancing this week? Awesome!), Andy Parker, Kevin O’Neill and Mary Friona. They make up for my disdain for Johnston. Ed Kilgore is OK, but it is time for Adam Benigni to be #1. And I can take or leave Kevin O’Connell, but he’s likable, even with his groan humor.

    Ever since Channel 2 came out with a 10 PM newscast, I haven’t watched WNLO at all. I don’t even know who they have. Our morning routine is Daybreak and Today, every day. And we watch Channel 2 news from 5-6:30, and at 10. (We’re not usually awake at 11)

  2. Bill J. says:

    I think a lot of people changed the channel in the morning when Amelia replaced Mike in the morning. People want to see an experienced weather forecast in the morning, not one guessed up by some newbie. Amelia’s weather forecasting is mediocre at best, where as Mike always delivers a solid forecast. Plus Mike is well liked

  3. Gman says:

    Ch 4 gambled and made too many changes in personnel too fast. It doesn’t have that homey feel anymore. So to the station mgr. Mr Musial, I have two words for you: WAKE UP!

  4. Rob says:

    Some notes while wondering what happened to Lou McNally

    Great points all the way around about all the changes at WIVB and the GRZ Daybreak. John Beard does a nice job there but if I hear Jodi Johnston talk to me one more time like I’m seven years old I’m going to throw my TV out the window (heads up for my neighbor walking their dog at that time) They had two statements of late saying they “take their journalism seriously” yet that have a dog photo contest, Matt Granite singing and dancing and the Why Guy doing his Letterman. They should open their “show” with the Don Henley song “Dirty Laundry”

    I hope people do warm up to Diane Fairbanks because I think she is an asset to WIVB. Good delivery and broadcast presence

    I’m amazed at how the face of broadcast news has changed in my time. Eyewitness News was the king for decades, WGRZ always a distant third, then WIVB (with a deep bench at the time) was the top dog. Fast forward to today and it looks like Channel 2 is the lead dog in the race.

  5. Joe says:

    Pleasantly surprised to read that others share my view of Jodi Johnston. Her reading of news stories is just so annoying. The stress is on the wrong words, she goes with the cloying fake “anchor concern” voice and basically treats listeners as if they are 2 years old. Man to me she is just unwatchable.

    I agree with Alan that it takes a while for people in Buffalo to accept new news people. I suspect 4′s ratings will not recover any time soon (even with 2 more new people en route).

    • Dave says:

      Yes!!! Cloying fake anchor concern. Exactly. Perfectly stated.

      John Zach on WBEN has that in his news reading as well. I can’t take him either.

    • Warren says:

      I find it so FUNNY that someONE elSE notices that jody emPHAsizes WORDs so weirdly. I stopped WATCHing HER a long TIME ago

  6. buk says:

    Haven’t watched Wake Up since Lisa Scott was let go. Joe Arena was like a block of wood…..
    Been watching 7 more lately.

  7. Warren says:

    Anyone else get dizzy watching ch4′s newscasts with the backgrounds swirling and constantly moving? They are way too bright and distracting. Makes it annoying to watch.

  8. Tom W. says:

    I think WGRZ really has assembled a great team. It took a while for me to like John Beard but he has become really good in the morning. Andy Parker- hands down the best AM meteorologist with Mike Randall being right up there. Amelia- she’s nice but not a Mike Cejka. Jodi needs to get the boot at some point. As others have mentioned, she is pretty unwatchable. Perhaps make Mary Beth Wrobel a permanent meteorologist and move Maria Genero back to the anchor desk? Melissa Holmes also brings a lot to the table as well, doing a great job at her new station. Even Michael Wooten has done a nice job taking over the anchor role on weekend Daybreak. Overall, a solid team.

    4 did a decent job with the new set but they are still having some technical issues. They still don’t even have a time/temperature bug up for all newscasts yet. Also, a lot of their newer staff make broadcasts unwatchable. To their credit, Diana Fairbanks is a very solid anchor and probably the best hire they have done in several years. She would be a great replacement for Jacquie Walker whenever she decides to leave the desk.

    4 will need to take a look at their staff. Instead of going all kiddie corps, build with a good balance. That would potentially help their ratings. 2 seems to have achieved this with many of their staff having 5+ years tenure. Sure, some newer reporters such as Michael Wooten, Sarah Hopkins, Heather Ly have been added over the past few years. But, they also added Patrick Moussignac, John Beard, and Mary Beth Wrobel as a fill-in. That’s achieving a good mix of youth and veteran staff, which probably helped ratings.

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