Channel 2 News is the big winner at 6 a.m. and from 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m.
Channel 4 News remains the leader in the late evening newscasts.
And Channel 7’s Eyewitness News has seen big percentage gains from a year ago, which is easier to do when your ratings are low.
There is something positive for every local news station in the just-concluded February sweeps, which saw news viewing levels increase in most time periods from a year ago when the winter weather was decent.
According to Nielsen, Channel 2’s lead at 6 a.m. with Melissa Holmes replacing Jodi Johnston as the co-anchor on “Daybreak” alongside John Beard has grown significantly from a year ago. The rating for “Daybreak” was up more than 24 percent from a year ago to 7.2.
Channel 4’s new “Wake Up!” team of Diana Fairbanks and Jordan Williams had a decent sweep as well. The station’s ratings at 6 a.m. went up almost 15 percent to a 5.5.
Channel 7’s morning newscast co-anchored by Ginger Geoffery and Patrick Taney was down about 4 percent to a 2.4. In other words, Channel 2 has a slightly smaller audience than Channel 4 and Channel 7 have combined.
Channel 2’s 5 p.m. news co-anchored by Holmes and Scott Levin, its 5:30 p.m. news and its 6 p.m. news co-anchored by Maryalice Demler and Levin all averaged double-digit ratings and finished first. The race with Channel 4 was closest at 6 p.m., where Channel 4’s team of Don Postles and Jacquie Walker was within four-tenths of a point. Channel 7 was a deep third in all early evening time periods, though it experienced big percentage gains in all of them.
Holmes presumably wll get some relief soon from the early morning and early evening split shift, with newcomer Kelly Dudzik arriving from Little Rock, Ark. on Monday.
Though it may be hard to believe because remote controls make it so easy to change channels, lead-ins really matter big time. Channel 2 gets a significant early evenings news lead-in advantage from “Ellen” at 4 p.m., a time period that Channel 4 used to dominate with Oprah Winfrey when it was No. 1 from 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m.
Channel 4 continues to dominate at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. when it has a lead-in advantage. The 10 p.m. newscast anchored on WNLO-TV by either Walker or Postles now that Fairbanks is in the morning widened its lead over Channel 2’s newscast anchored by Levin or Demler on WNYO. Channel 4 now gets triple the rating that Channel 2 gets at that hour.
Partly thanks to the CBS lead-ins, Channel 4 also has a big advantage at 11 p.m., with second place Channel 2 closer to third place Channel 7 at that hour even though its viewership increased from a year while Channel 4’s was flat.
If you combine all the numbers for the newscasts in which Channel 2 and Channel 4 compete, Channel 2 has a slight advantage. However, if you add Channel 4′s noon numbers to Channel 2′s 11 a.m. numbers then Channel 4 is the overall No.1.
Of course, the whole story isn’t complete until the demographics arrive in a few weeks. As a rule, Channel 2 usually does better there.
When it comes to national news programs, WNY is atypical.
While ABC’s “Good Morning America” has surged ahead of NBC’s “Today” nationally, locally “Today” is riding Channel 2’s morning lead-in to a huge victory. Its audience almost equals that of “GMA” and the CBS morning program combined. The good news for Channel 4 is the CBS morning program co-anchored by Norah O’Donnell and Charlie Rose gained 37 percent from a year ago and is within four tenths of a point of second place “GMA” on Channel 7 here. Channel 7’s news weakness clearly is hurting “GMA” here.
And it isn’t helping with the nightly newscasts, either. While ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer” is closing the gap with the “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” nationally, locally it is no contest.
Williams’ program is a strong No. 1 on Channel 2 with a 9.9 average rating. “The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley” is second with an 8.5 average rating on Channel 4. Sawyer’s newscast, which suffers from Channel 7’s lead-in, is a weak third with a 5.1. All of the national newscasts are up here substantially from a year ago.
Channel 7 announced today that it has hired a new multi-media journalist, which is a fancy way of saying it has a new reporter who can shoot video of her own stories. Hilary Lane, a Syracuse University graduate, arrives from WKTV in Utica. She starts March 13.