By Alan Pergament
Channel 2 News is arguably the top news station in town, but one of the areas where Channel 4 still dominates is at 10 p.m. That might be about to change.
Effective April 8, Channel 2’s 10 p.m. newscast will switch from little-watched WNYO-TV to local Fox affiliate WUTV and it will expand from five nights a week to seven nights a week with the addition of weekend newscasts. Both stations are owned by Sinclair Broadcasting.
That will mean a few weeks before the start of the May sweeps, Channel 2’s newscast on WUTV will be getting much stronger lead-ins than Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News gets on sister station WNLO from little-watched CW programming here. On many nights now, WNYO gives Channel 2 stronger lead-ins from its rerun programming than Channel 4 gets from the CW.
Channel 4 generally wins the 10 p.m. news battle by as much as a 3-1 margin over Channel 2. Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner has cited the strength of the stations the two newscasts are on as one reason for Channel 4’s dominance at 10. He adds another reason – Channel 4 has been in the 10 o’clock news business on WNLO for a longer period of time than Channel 2 has been on WNYO.
Under the arrangement, Channel 2 produces the news for Sinclair for a fee and Sinclair sells commercial time. The larger the viewership, the more Sinclair can charge for ads.
The move of the 10 p.m. newscast to Fox should be a game changer since Channel 2's newscast will follow such popular Fox prime time programs as “American Idol” and “The Following.”
“It will multiply the lead-in we have been getting on WNYO-TV,” said Toellner. “And we’ll be getting promotion on a stronger station.”
Channel 2’s 10 p.m. news on WUTV will replace reruns of “Seinfeld,” which still do well here but not as well as they did when Jerry Seinfeld’s show first went into syndication. WUTV General Manager Nick Magnini said that the 10 p.m. “Seinfeld” will move over to WNYO before a second episode of "Seinfeld" is carried at 10:30 p.m.
WUTV has had an unfortunate distinction among Fox affiliates. "The majority of Fox stations do have a 10 p.m. newscast," said Magnini. "We were one of the few that did not."
In other news, WNYO will be re-airing the 6 a.m.-7 a.m. hour of Channel 2’s No.1 morning show “Daybreak” starting at 7 a.m. The “Daybreak” rerun, which also starts April 8, also will eventually move to WUTV, Toellner said.