By Alan Pergament
In a very eventful national news week, there were a number of strange results in local viewership patterns that may or may not mean anything long-term.
In some cases, the results are likely to give ammunition to those people who think daily ratings are about as accurate as CNN these days.
On Wednesday morning, Channel 4’s “Wake Up!” at 6 a.m. (7.2) had a rare ratings victory over Channel 2’s “Daybreak” (6.0), and by a good margin.
The large Channel 4 lead-in on Wednesday helped CBS This Morning (4.4) with Charlie Rose, Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King come within .5 of a rating point of NBC’s “Today” (4.9).
While “Today” is fading and is second place nationally to ABC’s “Good Morning, America,” it has remained dominant in WNY so it was interesting to see if Wednesday's morning results were an anomaly or a local trend that continued Thursday morning.
It wasn’t a trend.
On Thursday, Channel 2’s “Daybreak” (5.8) was back on top of Channel 4’s “Wake Up!” (4.0) by a big margin and NBC’s “Today” (5.5) dominated CBS This Morning (3.1).
I did note in a Tuesday blog after the Boston Marathon bombings that I had done something I hadn’t done in 20 years –- turned on CBS This Morning on the morning after a big story. Apparently, I wasn’t alone. I have especially become a fan of something CBS calls an “Eye Opener” in which it gives some quick video shots of news highlights that happened overnight and in the morning.
On Wednesday night, there also were some interesting local viewership choices.
Sports anchor Ed Kilgore’s lengthy and cheerful goodbye on Channel 2’s 6 p.m. helped give the newscast a healthy win over Channel 4, 10.6-9.9. But Channel 4 – which carried its regular sportscast -- actually won the second half-hour when Kilgore got several minutes to say goodbye, 10.3-10.2. That's really a statistical tie.
At 10 p.m. Wednesday night, Channel 2’s 10 p.m. newscast on its new Fox home at WUTV (3.4) came the closest it has been in two weeks to Channel 4’s 10 OClock News (4.2) on WNLO.
It isn’t difficult to see why. Channel 2 had the benefit of a decent lead-in from “American Idol.” The 7.1 rating in the final 15 minutes Wednesday wasn’t great by “Idol” standards – the series has taken a huge hit locally -- but it certainly was a big advantage over the .2 (yes, that’s point .2) lead-in that Channel 4 received from CW’s “Supernatural.”
Channel 2 actually was closer to Channel 4 (3.9-3.6) in the first 15 minutes at 10 than it was in the second 15 minutes (4.4 -3.2) when it carries a lengthy sports report. If the pattern continues, Channel 2 might be wise to cut down on the minutes the sports report gets. I can’t believe I just wrote that. However, sports can be a turn-off to many viewers, especially if there are live sports events on at 10 p.m.
The importance of the 10 p.m. news lead-in was also obvious Tuesday when Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News dominated, 5.9-1.3. Channel 2 suffered because the lead-in from Fox’s “The Mindy Project” was a pitiful 1.0.
Channel 4 (6.4) also won at 10 p.m. Thursday, but there was good news for Channel 2 (3.6). It held almost all of its lead-in from Fox’s “Glee” (3.8) and had double the viewership of its 10 p.m. viewership when it was on WNYO.
On another note from Monday, the NBC special on the Marathon bombings anchored by Brian Williams had a strong 8.4 rating on Channel 2 and won its time period. It preempted an original episode of “Revolution,” which now will air this Monday and extend the series’ original episodes into June.
On another note from Tuesday, local viewers continued to say no to the reality series “Ready for Love.” It averaged a 2.8 rating, a lead-in that was so low that Channel 2’s 11 p.m. news ((4.9) finished third to Channel 4 (8.9) and Channel 7 (5.2), which got a strong lead-in from “Body of Proof.”
In this market, NBC would have been better off keeping “Smash” at 10 p.m. after “The Voice,” which had an 11.2 rating Tuesday that was wasted on “Love.”
On another note from Wednesday, the Buffalo Sabres' 3-2 shootout- win over the Boston Bruins on an emotional night two days after the Marathon bombings had a 9.0 local rating on cable’s NBC Sports Network. It was by far the highest-rated prime time program locally on Wednesday.