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Ch.2 Wins Most Key News Races in February

English: cropped version of Image:Oprah Winfre...

Oprah Winfrey: Big Loss to Ch.4

 

After the results of the first three weeks, it was about as expected as the Oscar win of “The Artist” as best film. However, Channel 2 reporters, anchors and managers still have to feel like award honorees after officially winning most of the key battleground news areas during the four-week long February sweeps period that ended Wednesday night.

Channel 2 actually declared victory a night before sweeps ended when it ran promos announcing it had overtaken Channel 4 from 5 a.m. through 7 a.m. and from 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The feat says as much about Channel 2 making all the right moves in the past few years as it does about Channel 4 making so many wrong moves.

It took Channel 4 far too long to add an impressive new anchor in Diana Fairbanks and a new high definition set. And it could take even longer to regain news dominance in the market.

In many ways, Channel 4’s slide is similar to Channel 7’s earlier slide, starting with the loss of Oprah Winfrey as the early news lead-in. Channel 7 let Oprah get away to Channel 4 many years ago. Through no fault of its own, Channel 4 had the misfortune of seeing Oprah retire her daytime talk show.

The lead-in that Channel 2 received from “Ellen” at 4 p.m. now beats Channel 4’s lead-in from Oprah’s replacement, “Dr. Oz.” “Ellen” rose 4 percent from a year ago to a 5.3 rating, while the 4.6 for “Dr. Oz” was almost 40 percent lower than Oprah’s lead-in from a year ago.

As a result, Channel 2 won the 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts, with almost a combined 29.0 ratings points. Channel 4 was second in each time slot with almost a combined 25 ratings points.  Channel 7 was a weak third with 11.5 points.

At 6 a.m., Channel 2’s lead widened by almost a full point from a year ago over Channel 4, which has discovered moving meteorologist Amelia Segal’s into Mike Cejka’s spot isn’t the answer.

Channel 4 still dominates at noon (where Channel 2 doesn’t compete) and in the late evening but even the late evening victories come with some disappointing ratings news.

Its 10 p.m. newscast on WNLO with Fairbanks as the anchor beats Channel 2’s on WNYO with Melissa Holmes by 4.6-1.9. But while Channel 2’s 10 p.m. ratings were flat from a year ago, Channel 4’s 10 p.m. newscast slipped 25 percent in a year.

At 11 p.m., Channel 4 rides the advantage it gets from CBS’ prime time programming to a 9.1-6.2 advantage over Channel 2, which gets half the lead-in from NBC.

If you do the math, Channel 2 has a about a combined total of 37 points in the early morning, afternoon and late night time slots. Channel 4 has a collective total of 38.5 points in the same time periods (without the noon) so it can declare an overall victory. Channel 7 news has about half the news audience of its rivals, with a combined 19 ratings points in the same time periods.

Channel 4 News should maintain its edge at 11 p.m. as long as CBS programming remains strong in prime time. However, the trends are against it everywhere else but at 10 p.m., when it has a competitive advantage by being on a station it owns.

The Buffalo market is notoriously slow to change news habits. Once it does, it generally takes a seismic mistake by the news leader to give a competitor a chance to regain the top spot.

In Channel 4’s case, the major mistake besides losing Oprah was cutting news staff and replacing departing veterans with young reporters and anchors who weren’t immediately ready for the big time.

In the meantime, Channel 2 showcased a much better balance of veteran reporters and newcomers. It is hard to imagine it will make any of Channel 4’s mistakes any time soon. But as they say in the lottery advertisments, “hey, you never know.”

pergament@msn.com  

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6 responses to "Ch.2 Wins Most Key News Races in February"

  1. “At 6 a.m., Channel 2’s lead widened by almost a full point from a year ago over Channel 4, which has discovered moving meteorologist Amelia Segal’s into Mike Cejka’s spot isn’t the answer.”

    Judging by the criticism that all the weather bureaus have taken the past few weeks, it may have backfired more than anything! I just typed up a new promo for my Web site… it says “I don’t ‘do’ sweeps week… forecasts without the fearmongering.”

    • Tina says:

      I for one could not be happier that moving Mike backfired on Channel 4. It was ridiculous considering Mike is a pretty damn good meteorologist not to mention his seniority at the station was obviously not taken into consideration. Amelia is fine….for weekends.

  2. Gman says:

    If Ch 4 News were a reality show, it would be called ” Romper Room.” Keep getting rid of your veteran news people , and your ratings will go nowhere but down. Congrats on your strategy.

  3. Tina says:

    At the risk of sounding corny I will tell you that I love Channel 2 News, especially Scott and Mary Alice. They have great chemistry and while they are still professional they still make room for a bit of fun. Don Paul tries it but Don and Jackie are like two mannequins standing there that it always seems uncomfortable and forced. They need to lighten up a bit, it doesn’t help that their new studio looks like a cave.

    • Dave says:

      The problem with Don Paul’s attempt to have fun is that it usually is at the expense of the viewer’s paranoia about weather. He puts on his shark grin, and starts beating the drums of doom, laughing that he hates to be the bearer of bad weather news (no he doesn’t, he relishes in it).

      The thing about Channel 2 that is appealing is that they seem to recognize when someone on in the market has value and is popular. Kevin O’Neill wants to leave Channel 4, pick him up. Andy Parker gets fired from Channel 7, pick him up. Mary Beth Wrobel gets let go from Channel 4, pick her up. Melissa Holmes is unhappy at Channel 4, pick her up.

      They’ve gone from a third place station to a first place station. They’re doing well with their anchors, their making good hires for their reporting and weekend anchor staff.

      I’ve said it here many times, I think their whole “On Your Side” schtick is nauseating, but there is no doubt that it has branded them, and that their people have proven to connect with the audience.

      • Tina says:

        Aww.. I actually like Don Paul and his quirkiness makes him likeable and yes, sometimes corny but still likeable. Don and Jackie on the other hand could use a bit of his quirkiness and while I like their professionalism they are lacking personality of any kind.

        You are right on about Channel 2 picking up Channel 4′s talent after they have been tossed out. I was hoping Mike might leave and go that route as well but so far it looks like he is going to stay and put up with whatever they throw at him for now.

        Sometimes “On Your Side” is annoying and even overdone on certain stories. There are times though that they do come through for people and get things done.

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