The ratings in the first sweeps period to arrive since a new owner, Nexstar, took over WIVB-TV (Channel 4) showed how difficult it will be to grab the local news lead in households and demographics from WGRZ-TV (Channel 2).
And if Nexstar needs more evidence of the difficulty, it just has to look at the results at WKBW-TV (Channel 7) since its newest owner, Scripps, took over the station in 2014 and immediately began improving its newscasts.
Channel 2 anchors Scott Levin, Maryalice Demler, Kelly Dudzik, Melissa Holmes, John Beard and Pete Gallivan have reason to celebrate, since the station is in first place in all time periods it competed with Channel 4, except for 11 p.m.
And even at 11 p.m., the station reports that it won in the key demographics of adults ages 18-49 and women ages 25-54.
This is quite a turnaround from the November 2016 sweeps, when Channel 4 was the winner in households at 4:30 a.m., 5 a.m., 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. It also was the closest it has been at 5:30 p.m. in five years, losing by a tenth of a point.
Channel 7, which gets a terrible lead-in from ABC's primetime schedule for its 11 p.m. newscast, remained deep in third place this February in all time periods it competed with the two stations.
Considering how improved the news product is, you would expect Channel 7 to show more ratings improvement. However, Western New York's news market is extremely slow to change.
According to Channel 2, it also won 20 of 24 battles in the three key demographic of adults ages 25-54, women ages 25-54 and adults ages 18-49.
In a month without weather issues that typically drive news ratings in Western New York, local news viewership declined in all time periods except 6 a.m.
Channel 2's victory margin declined slightly in some time periods from a year ago, with the closest contests at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. The combined three-station decline at 5 p.m. was about 20 percent.
At 6 p.m., Channel 2 leads with a 10.7 to Channel 4's 10.1. Channel 7 has a 4.1.
At 10 p.m. when Channel 2 and Channel 4 carry newscasts on different stations, Channel 2's newscast on WUTV reversed the results a year ago when Channel 4's newscast on WNLO-TV was the winner.
The one bit of good news for Channel 7 was at 6 a.m., with its newscast gaining 21 percent from a year earlier to a 2.3. Still, that is half the rating that second-place Channel 4 receives at an hour that Channel 2 wins with a 6.2 rating.