Here is my vote for the Top 10 takeaways about Buffalo viewing habits in a presidential election year after looking at the November sweeps and the year-to- date ratings:
1) Tuesday Is Must-See TV Night Now: The two new prime time entertainment programs hitting it big in the ratings in Western New York are “Bull” on CBS (WIVB Channel 4 in Buffalo) and “This is Us” on NBC (WGRZ Channel 2). They both air live on Tuesday, though they also get viewing later in the week On Demand and via DVRs. Since the TV season started in September, “Bull” has averaged a 14.6 rating in viewing live and seven days later, making it the third highest-rated prime time program here. “This is Us,” which is my favorite new program because I am a sentimental fool, is averaging a 12.8 rating, making it No. 5 in Western New York. The top rated program here remains “The Big Bang Theory” (17.4). “NCIS” (17.1), which also airs on Tuesday, is second and “60 Minutes” is No.4 with a 13.2 rating. Four of the top five programs air on Channel 4.
2) An Election Bump Locally for Colbert: “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” saw a ratings spike as the host spent much of his time bashing nominee Donald Trump before he won the presidency. Colbert’s program carried by WIVB tied “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” on Channel 2 with a 3.1 rating during the sweeps. A year ago, Fallon won, 3.6-2.4. Though his program carried on Channel 2 took a big hit from the last three sweeps periods, Fallon still has a decisive advantage in the key 25-54 demographic that advertisers covet.
3) Corden Has Something to Sing About: The big local winner at 12:35 a.m. is James Corden, whose “Late Late Show” grew by 50 percent from a year ago and now averages a 1.8 rating. At that hour, the rating is as joyous as “Carpool Karaoke.”
4) “CBS This Morning” is Alive: All three morning shows saw big increases thanks to the election, with CBS’ program growing a full point or about 35 percent from a year ago to a 3.8.
5) “Good Morning America” is Good News for Channel 7: WKBW’s local morning program experienced small growth, but “GMA” grew a full point or about 30 percent from a year ago to a 4.3. Nationally, it beats NBC’s “Today” in viewership. “Today” wins here, averaging a 6.8 on Channel 2.
6) ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” Gets Local Boost: Muir, a Syracuse native, actually led the ABC newscast to its first national sweeps victory in viewers in 15 years. And he is catching on here as well. “WNT” remains third in the time slot, most likely because of Channel 7’s lead-in, but it grew by 20 percent from a year ago to a 6.0 rating. Few of ABC’s prime time programs do as well here. “The NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” remains No. 1 here with a 9.2 rating on Channel 2, but it was the only national evening newscast to decline locally from a year ago. “The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley,” which is third nationally, is second here with an 8.2 rating on Channel 4.
7) Channel 2 is Dying at 2 p.m.: The talk show, “T.D. Jakes” Show” being syndicated by Channel 2’s owner, TEGNA, averaged a 0.4 rating in November, 69 percent below what aired at that time last year. Normally, that would spell quick cancellation. But since Channel 2’s owner syndicates it, the station most likely is stuck with it in the hopes the audience will grow.
8) Three Big Networks Take a Prime Time Hit: The success of “Bull” and “This is Us” doesn’t give the full picture of what is happening at CBS, NBC and ABC. The three big networks saw an overall ratings decline in prime time ranging from 8 percent (Channel 4) to 11 percent (Channel 7) from a year ago.
9) ABC Lead-in Hurting Ch. 7: Yes, leads-in still matter. The lead-in that ABC is giving Channel 7 just about destroys any chance WKBW’s improved 11 p.m. newscast will receive stronger ratings. ABC’s prime time lead-in at 10:45 p.m. to 11 p.m. averages a 4.1 rating, down 24 percent from a year ago. That makes the 5 percent decline at 11 p.m. for Channel 7 small by comparison. First place Channel 4’s lead-in from CBS was 6.5, down 19 percent. Channel 2’s lead-in from NBC was flat at a 5.1.
The 4 p.m. program, “Hot Bench,” that leads into third-place Channel 7’s 5 p.m. newscast is down by 27 percent from a year ago, while the lead-ins at Channel 4 and Channel 2 have improved ratings at that hour.
10) A Statistical Demo Tie: Channel 4 wins in households ratings at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., but more importantly is practically in a statistical tie with Channel 2 in those time slots in the age 25-54 demographic key to local television. Channel 2 wins, 3.3-3.1 at 6 p.m. and 2.2-2.1 at 11 p.m. That’s actually good news for Channel 4, which usually loses by a bigger margin in the demo and typically draws an older audience.