WIVB-TV (Channel 4) headed into the May sweeps with strong momentum in its battle for news supremacy with WGRZ-TV (Channel 2).
During the month of April, Channel 4 was ahead in eight of the nine time periods in household ratings where the two stations competed.
Channel 2's lone victory was at 6 a.m. It usually wins the 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. news block, which Channel 4 won in April.
Additionally, Channel 4 grew its household share over the previous month in seven of the nine time periods, while Channel 2 declined in all of them and by double digits in five of them.
Of course, demographics are more important to advertisers than household ratings and they generally favor Channel 2.
April also is a month when many schoolchildren can be off, resulting in their parents going out of town on vacation with them. Channel 2's primary anchors, Maryalice Demler and Scott Levin, also had plenty of time off in April. Levin also is leaving the station after the end of the sweeps.
The May sweeps actually started last Thursday. Viewers probably could tell by the scary titles of some of the stories and series that started late last week. It is way too early to see where the May sweeps is going, but Channel 2 dominated on Thursday and Channel 4 dominated on Friday.
Channel 4 also won big in prime time with the help of CBS' programming that typically attracts older viewers less likely to watch cable or streaming shows.
In April, Channel 4 had 23 of the top 25 prime time broadcast network programs. "The Big Bang Theory" was No. 1 with a 12.7 rating. NBC's only top 25 performer was "The Voice," which had the only two programs carried on Channel 2 in the Top 25. It tied with CBS' "Blue Bloods" at No.13 with an 8.4 rating and also finished No. 21 with a 7.2 rating. ABC (Channel 7) didn't have one April program in the Top 25.
Most of the programs on the list are older ones, which illustrates network' television's problem. The Top 25 included four "Big Bang" episodes, four episodes of the various "NCIS" programs and two episodes of "60 Minutes." "Bull" was the top-rated new program at No. 6 with a 9.5. The granddaddy of all reality shows, "Survivor," was No.7 at 9.4.
There were only four programs that hit a double-digit household rating in April. North Carolina's win over Gonzaga for the men's national basketball title was No. 4 with a 10.9 rating. The top-rated entertainment special was the "Stayin' Alive Salute" honoring the Bee Gees with a 9.6 rating for fifth place.
The rating for the men's title game helps put the local Thursday night rating for the NFL draft in perspective. The draft had a combined 10.4 rating on cable's ESPN and The NFL Network, which would have put it No. 5 on the broadcast network list ahead of "Stayin' Alive."
Speaking of the draft coverage, if you didn't cry watching Tom Rinaldi's ESPN piece on Pittsburgh running back and cancer survivor James Conner, you should check your pulse to see if you are alive. The piece, which detailed Conner's battle with cancer and the support he gave to two people struggling with challenging health issues, was award-winning. I cried my eyes out.