By Alan Pergament
In the first week of the May sweeps, Channel 2 news has held its lead in the early morning, expanded its lead in the early evening news hours and made some progress at 10 p.m.
But there also is some good news for Channel 4 in the early morning and in the late news hours.
Channel 7 remains deep in third place, but it did improve slightly at 6 p.m.
That's the early takeaways from the first of four weeks of sweeps, which came during a busy national news week. Ratings for the second week are expected to drop because of the summer-like weather.
I will try not to bore you with too many numbers, but I will remind you that I started out as a math major in college.
Both Channel 2 and Channel 4 can be pleased at what is happening at 6 a.m., where there have been some notable anchor changes.
Channel 2's "Daybreak" hasn't lost a beat with Melissa Holmes in Jodi Johnston's old anchor chair next to co-anchor John Beard. Channel 2 averaged a 7.1 rating, up 16 percent from a year ago.
Channel 4's "Wake Up!" also gained, indicating approval of new co-anchors Diana Fairbanks and Jordan Williams. The newscast -- which has lost co-anchors Victoria Hong and Joe Arena and meteorologist Amelia Segal in the last several months -- rose 17 percent from the corresponding week of a year ago to a 5.5 rating.
Channel 7's morning newscast with Patrick Haney and Ginger Geoffery wasn't able to take advantage of the anchor changes by its rivals. It fell 17 percent to a 2.4.
From 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Channel 2 now is more dominant. The strong lead-in from "Ellen" at 4 p.m. helps. The ratings for Channel 2's 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts grew by 12 percent and 28 percent, respectively from a year ago, while Channel 4's dropped by 16 percent and 3 percent. Its biggest drop -- 23 percent -- was at 5 p.m. Channel 4's 6 a.m. newscast actually beat its 5 p.m. newscast by one-tenth of a point, which makes it a statistical tie.
Channel 7's already low ratings at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. slipped by 11 percent and 10 percent, respectively. It gets less than a third of Channel 2's audience at 5 p.m. and slightly more than a third of its audience at 5:30 p.m.
Channel 4's 10 p.m. news on sister station has gained 11 percent from a year ago despite the move of Channel 2's newscast to Fox affiliate WUTV. The 10 p.m. move has helped Channel 2 -- its 10 p.m. audience has gone up by 43 percent -- but hasn't hurt Channel 4.
Channel 4 also continues to dominate at 11 p.m., when there was little movement from a year ago.
There are a few things to note about local viewership of national programming.
NBC's "Today" has experienced a slight decline on Channel 2 in the morning, but remains a solid No.1 here despite its national problems.
The CBS Morning News is making a big move on Channel 4, growing 48 percent from a year ago and is within striking distance of ABC's "Good Morning America" on Channel 7 for second place here. "GMA" is No.1 nationally.
"The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" remains a strong No. 1 here, with the help of Channel 2's lead-in. "The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" is a strong No.2 locally on Channel 4. ABC's "World News with Diane Sawyer" is a poor third on Channel 7, getting half of Williams' audience. Sawyer's newscast, which is No.2 nationally, is hurt locally by the poor lead-in that Channel 7 supplies.
Channel 7 probably can't wait until the fall when it gets to replace the temporary 3 p.m. program it presently airs that has a lead-in that is killing Katie Couric's 4 p.m. program and then the 5 p.m. news. "Katie" only averaged a 1 rating during the first week of the sweeps on Channel 7.
"Amazing" Ending: A reminder. At 8 p.m. Sunday, CBS carries the two-hour season finale of "The Amazing Race." Local newlyweds Katie and Max Bichler have made it to the Final Four and have won the last two legs so they would appear to be the favorites to win the $1 million. However, a lot of luck is involved. Any long-suffering Buffalo fan just has to hope that if they lose, it won't be a heartbreaking loss.
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