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Ch.4 tightens local news race with Ch. 2 in key slots during November sweeps

Ski operators aren’t the only ones lamenting the absence of snowstorms during November.

So are the local TV news operations, which use weather coverage to juice the ratings.

In November of 2014, Snowvember had many Western New Yorkers in front of their sets for four days as combined ratings for the three news stations during the entire sweeps period were higher than they had been in more than six years.

Channel 2’s newscasts averaged in double-digits from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for the sweeps month in 2014.

With the weather surprisingly warm in November of 2015, the NBC affiliate remains No. 1 in those time slots but viewership has understandably decreased and Channel 4 has tightened the race in the time slots it lost a year ago.

Channel 7, meanwhile, remains a distant third in all time slots as it prepares to bring in a new lead female anchor, Ashley Rowe, to replace Joanna Pasceri in 2016.

The November storm of 2014 makes comparisons to last year a bit harder this year.

If you count the four days of the storm, overall news viewership understandably has sharply declined.

If you remove those newscasts, viewership has gone down from a year ago by a much smaller margin.

Here are the results in the key time periods without and with the week of Snowvember included:

6 a.m.: Channel 2's cheerful newscast anchored by John Beard and Melissa Holmes  leads with a 5.3 rating but its margin over second-place Channel 4 (4.5) has dropped by more than half compared to the time period without the Snowvember numbers and slightly more than that with those numbers included. The combined ratings at this early hour have dropped about 15 percent without the Snowvember numbers and by about 25 percent with the numbers included. Channel 4 has cut the gap by maintaining its audience from a year with the Snowvember numbers included and experiencing only a 10 percent drop when they are included. Ch. 7’s newest edition in the morning (1.8) is responsible for most of the decline. It has dropped 25 percent from last November when Snowvember coverage isn’t included and by about 40 percent when it is included. Channel 2's ratings in the hour have dropped about 20 percent without the Snowvember numbers and by about 25 percent when they are included.

5 p.m.: Channel 2 (9.3), Channel 4 (6.7), Channel 7 (3.6): Channel 2 still dominates but Channel 4 is about a point closer than it was a year ago without the Snowvember numbers and by slightly more than that when they are included.

5:30 p.m.: Channel 2 (9.2), Channel 4 (7.1), Channel 7 (3.2): Channel 4, which paired anchor Nalina Shapiro with anchor Don Postles during the sweeps, almost cut the ratings gap by a point from a year ago with and without the Snowvember numbers. Shapiro will go solo now that the sweeps are over, News Director Scott Levy said.

6 p.m.: Channel 2 (9.9). Channel 4 (9.2), Channel 7 (4.2): Channel 2's newscast anchored by Scott Levin and Maryalice Demler leads, but once again Channel 4 has cut the margin almost in half with and without the Snowvember numbers.

11 p.m.: Channel 4 (7.1), Channel 2 (5.6), Channel 7 (4.0). The lead of the Channel 4 newscast anchored by Postles and Jacquie Walker is pretty close to what it was a year ago with and without the Snowvember numbers included. But the big news is combined news viewership at 11 p.m. without the Snowvember numbers is down about 20 percent from a year ago and down about 25 percent when they are included.

Even with that decline and smaller declines throughout newscasts, WNY stations get household news ratings much higher than they are in most markets.

One more asterisk should be added. These are household numbers. Advertisers buy demographics so the full story arrives when they arrive in a few weeks.

apergament@buffnews.com

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