The departures of Don Paul and veteran reporters Rich Newberg and George Richert didn’t appear to hurt Channel 4 during the just-concluded May sweeps. After all, the station significantly narrowed the household ratings gap in several time periods where Channel 2 has been the news leader.
However, the gap hasn’t been closed as much by any Channel 4 viewer gains as the significant losses Channel 2 is experiencing for its 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m. news block.
Channel 4 is up 2 percent in household ratings at 5 p.m. from a year ago, up 3 percent at 5:30 p.m., down 5 percent at 6 p.m. and down 3 percent at 11 p.m., where it is in first place.
Channel 2 remains No. 1 from 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m. but it is down 20 percent at 5 p.m., 18 percent at 5:30 p.m., 10 percent at 6 p.m. and 10 percent at 11 p.m. from a year ago.
The big percentage winner in May is third-place Channel 7, which has it easier to record high percentage gains because of its low ratings overall. It is up 29 percent at 5 p.m., 17 percent at 5:30 p.m., 22 percent at 6 p.m. and 14 percent at 11 p.m., where it is the only station with an increase.
As impressive as all those percentage gains are, Channel 7 still gets about half the audience of the first place station in the time periods.
Of course, the larger picture emerges when the demographics that are important to advertisers arrive. The April demographics just arrived and offer a preview. In the age 25-54 demographic that is widely viewed as the most important to advertisers locally, Channel 4 and Channel 2 are extremely close in all time periods that they compete. Channel 2 wins by 0.1 at 5 p.m., Channel 4 wins by the same margin at 5:30 p.m.