The winners at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. of the final regular news sweeps period in Western New York came down to the wire.
Going into Wednesday’s final night, Channel 2 and Channel 4 were statistically tied in both time periods.
On a news day that included team coverage of the federal arrest of a terror suspect in Lackawanna, Channel 4 won decisively at 6 p.m. Wednesday to earn a narrow household victory over the entire July sweeps.
Channel 4 averaged an 8.4 rating during the sweeps to an 8.3 by Channel 2. A year ago, Channel 2 won by the same slim margin so not much really changed -- except for declaring the winner.
At 11 p.m. Wednesday, Channel 4 also won the night but the two stations still ended up the month tied with a 6.6 rating. A year ago, Channel 4 won, 7.7-6.6, so Channel 2 earned the tie by virtue of Channel 4 losing viewers rather than it gaining any. Still, the tie is good news for Channel 2.
Channel 7 had less than half of the audience of its rivals at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Of course, these are household ratings and advertisers buy demographics. The demographics generally arrive in three weeks.
While Channel 2 and Channel 4 essentially finished in statistical ties at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Channel 2 was ahead in most other time periods the two stations compete in.
However, Channel 2's margins of victory were smaller this time and indicate a tightening of the news race, which should be encouraging to Channel 4.
Channel 2 won at 6 a.m. but by less than half the margin it won a year ago.
Channel 4 was a bigger winner at noon over Channel 7 than it was a year ago. Channel 2 doesn’t compete in the time period.
Channel 2 has a healthy lead at 5 p.m. over Channel 4, but once again the margin has been reduced.
Channel 2’s victory at 5:30 p.m. is almost the same as it was a year ago. Interestingly, Channels 2, 4 and 7 all experienced rating increases at that hour.
Channel 4’s 10 o’clock news on WNLO won over Channel 2’s 10 p.m. news on WUTV by a reduced margin from a year ago. Channel 2 won this time period in May so the reversal is good news for Channel 4.
Channel 7 remains deep in third place in all time periods, but it did see ratings increases at 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m. from a year ago.
Starting Oct.1, Nielsen is going to give monthly ratings reports, which means the end of the reliance on the four sweeps periods of November, February, May and July and the diaries associated with them.
July has always been the least important sweeps period because viewing habits in the summer are very different than they are during the other three sweeps periods.