By Alan Pergament
Channel 4 and Channel 2 both had something to cheer about from Monday’s news ratings at 10 p.m.
On the first night of Channel 2’s switch from little-watched WNYO to Fox affiliate WUTV, Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News on sister station WNLO won with a 3.9 rating and that's worthy of a cheer.
However, Channel 2 can cheer because it was much closer than normal at 10 with a 2.3 rating on a night that both newscasts were deflated because of the large viewership for CBS’ coverage of the NCAA men’s basketball game on Channel 4. The 1.6 ratings points that separated the newscasts most likely was the closest Channel 2 had been to Channel 4 in the time period recently and might have been the closest it has ever been at that hour.
On a typical night, Channel 4’s ratings for the 10 O’Clock News tripled those of Channel 2’s rating for its 10 p.m. news when it was carried on WNYO. During the February sweeps, Channel 4 averaged a 5.2 on WNLO and Channel 2 a 1.7 on WNYO.
Of course, this competition is a marathon and not a sprint and the basketball game made Monday an unusual night. By the end of the week, we should know more about much ground Channel 2 will make up because of the switch to a Fox station that carries such popular shows as “The Following” on Monday and “American Idol” on two nights a week.
Louisville’s 82-76 victory over Michigan for the men’s basketball title continued to give Channel 4 some of its strongest ratings ever for the NCAA tournament but it wasn’t a local record breaker.
The game – which was instantly labeled “epic” and a “classic” by the media – averaged a 13.3 rating on Channel 4. That was 33 percent higher than the local rating for Kentucky’s win over Kansas in 2012. However, Syracuse's win over Kansas in 2003 had a 14.7 rating here and remains the top-rated title game in WNY since the Buffalo market became metered in 2000. North Carolina’s win over Illinois in 2005 also had a higher rating – 13.8 – than this year's title game.
I have an additional theory about why the tournament ratings were so much higher in WNY. It could be because more local viewers realize every year that the basketball competition – entertainment programs – can be watched On Demand or on DVRs and don’t have to be watched on their scheduled times.
That would explain the low 6.6 rating for NBC’s “Revolution” at 10 p.m. Monday. I would expect the rating might double after On Demand and DVR viewing is added. Similarly, ABC’s “Castle” can be expected to grow its audience from the 5.5 it received at 10 p.m. Monday.
ABC play-by-play man Mike Breen gave a shout out to Buffalo Braves fans Sunday during the Los Angeles Clippers division title-clinching win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Breen noted that it was the Clippers’ first division title in 43 years. Breen noted the franchise started in Buffalo in 1970 and moved to San Diego in 1978 before settling in Los Angeles.