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Ch.4 adding third person in sports department; Something for everyone in news ratings during sweeps

It’s that time again to tell you what Western New Yorkers are watching.

That’s another way of saying I am warning you that I’m talking about ratings today.

But first, here’s some breaking news.

OK, I’m kidding.

Channel 4 is looking to hire a third sports reporter as soon as possible. The news surfaced when the station posted an opening for a sports reporter.

News Director Scott Levy confirmed the station is expanding the sports department and will have more resources with the new hire to cover more local and college sports in addition to covering the Bills and Sabres.

Channel 4 presently has the smallest on-air staff in the market with sports director Josh Reed and weekend anchor and reporter Tom Martin.

Halfway through the February sweeps, all three local news departments have something to be pleased about.

Channel 2 remains No. 1 at 6 a.m. and from 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m. even though most of its newscasts have lost viewership compared to the entire sweeps a year ago and also from this January.

Channel 4 has regained the decisive lead at 11 p.m. it had a year ago after barely beating Channel 2 in January. All three newscasts have experienced double-digit percentage losses at 11 p.m. from a year ago, possibly because the weather wasn’t as big an issue this year and the 10 p.m. network leads-in aren’t as strong.

Channel 7 is the only station to improve its audience at 6 a.m. from a year ago and it experienced a 31 percent gain from January. However, the high percentage increase is primarily because its ratings are so low. It still gets half or a third of the audience of its rival stations in the time slot.

Channel 7 also is the only station to improve its ratings from a year ago at 5 p.m. Its third-rated newscast, now co-anchored by Jeff Russo and newcomer Ashley Rowe, went up 16 percent from a year ago. However, the ratings for the first two weeks of February are 10 percent lower than they were in January.

The Grammys Hit Local High Note: The move of the Grammy Awards from Sunday to Monday this year had little impact on local viewership. The three and a half hour program had a 15.7 rating on Channel 4, up slightly from the 15.5 rating the local CBS affiliate had for the Sunday program last season.

Super Ratings in Buffalo: According to the trade publication Broadcasting and Cable, Channel 4 took first place in nine of 14 demographic categories among CBS affiliates for its coverage of the Super Bowl. That includes the demos for adults 18-49 and 25-54 that are so important to advertisers.

Sabres Are No. 1: It was nice to see that a national publication this week picked up on something I reported in December and January about the improvement in ratings for the Buffalo Sabres.

The Sabres’ 2-1 shootout loss to Ottawa on Tuesday had a healthy 7.0 rating, right in the range of what the team has been averaging this season.

In late December, I noted that the Sabres have the highest TV ratings of any NHL team in the United States,

In a Jan.7 column, I wrote that “despite their position near the bottom of the National Hockey League standings, the Buffalo Sabres’ TV ratings are up about 50 percent from a year ago at just about the perfect time.

“The team’s TV contract with the Madison Square Network expires after the 2016-17 season and the strong ratings put the Sabres in a position of strength in negotiations that have already begun."

Saturday Night Fights: The Republican debate last Saturday that sparked fireworks and verbal fights between Donald Trump and the rest of the field had an 8.0 rating on Channel 4. That’s extremely high for any Saturday night program, but other debates carried on cable had higher numbers here.

O.J. Simpson Series Running Up Decent Local Numbers: Finally, the third episode of “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” on cable’s FX had a 2.1 live rating at 10 p.m. here that rose to a 4.5 after it was viewed in three time periods on Tuesday.

The 2.1 rating is a significant drop from the 3.0 live rating here for the Bronco chase episode a week earlier at 10 p.m. However, the 3.0 rating rose about 65 percent to a 5.1 rating for the time period after viewing up to three days later was counted. And, of course, overall viewing is much higher than that when you add the numerous times the episodes are repeated throughout the week.

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