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Dropping sports has hurt Channel 4’s ratings – or maybe it’s helped

This is what I’m thinking:

The Nielsen results since Channel 4 decided to drop a regular sportscast inside its 6 p.m. news are as confusing as the events in the second-season premiere of HBO’s “True Detective.”

And one may need to be a detective to figure out what it all means.

Channel 4 won eight weeks, and lost six weeks to Channel 2 and tied with Channel 2 once since it made its sports move. That is better than it had been doing before the switch.

But Channel 4 lost the most significant four weeks – the ones during the May sweeps – to Channel 2. Channel 2 won the sweeps, 9.2-8.4.

Since Channel 4’s sports move in March, it has tied with Channel 2 at 6 p.m., with an 8.9 rating as of Tuesday. Since the sweeps ended on May 25, Channel 4 and Channel 2 have been in a tie, with ratings averaging 8.5 at 6 p.m. Channel 7 is a poor third, with less than half of the audience of the other two stations.

Why would Channel 2 win the sweeps and then drop into a tie after the sweeps ended?

It could be due to a variety of reasons – the importance of sports news, the choice of news series and the change in Nielsen viewers among the chief factors.

If the trend continues, it will be good news for Channel 4, since starting in October Nielsen is going to provide monthly demographics that will negate the importance of the four sweeps periods.

Of course, Channel 4 hasn’t abandoned sports during its 6 p.m. newscasts. Lauren Brill and Steve Vesey can appear inside the newscast with features and when there is important sports news.

On the 6 p.m. newscast Tuesday, Brill did a decent story about Taylor Wood, a Frontier High soccer player who suffered a series of concussions while trying to head the ball in games.

But it is hard to understand why Brill didn’t mention that Wood was going to be featured that night in a story on HBO’s “Real Sports” titled “Girl, Interrupted.”

Wood’s situation had been given even more attention Sunday in an excellent Buffalo News column by Greg Connors that included the details of the “Real Sports” feature.

Local television news often does stories that it is alerted to by this newspaper without giving credit, so it was no surprise that Connors’ piece wasn’t mentioned by Brill. But Brill should have given HBO credit.


CBS News reports that an Orchard Park native, Dave Barrett, won a prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for his CBS Radio News feature on Sept. 14, 2014 about the 200th anniversary of the writing of the national anthem.

Barrett, who joined CBS Radio in 2001 after previously working at Fox News Radio, ABC Radio and ESPN radio, also won a Murrow Award in 1998 for sports reporting for a profile on Tiger Woods.


Days 2 and 3 of the Lester Holt era on “The NBC Nightly News” have gone much better locally than his premiere did on Monday. After losing locally on Monday to CBS, Holt’s newscast was a huge No. 1 here on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Wednesday, the 10.1 rating for “Nightly News” almost equaled the combined ratings for “The CBS Evening News” (5.4) and ABC’s “World News Tonight.”