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Channel 4 has reason to celebrate July sweeps

The July ratings period is considered the least important of the four sweeps periods annually because viewership patterns change due to vacations and the improved summer weather.

But this July it may have had a little more meaning.

It was the first sweeps since longtime WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) anchor Scott Levin left the station and the last sweeps that WIVB-TV's (Channel 4) Brittni Smallwood will co-anchor the morning program "Wake Up!"

In the end, Channel 4 had the most reasons to celebrate and it is doing so with promos extolling the fact it is the most-watched news station in town.

The CBS affiliate was tied or No. 1 in household viewership in all time periods, except at 6 a.m. And even then, the good news was it increased household viewership from a year ago while WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) saw a decline.

A year ago, Channel 2 had a 5.7 to 3.8 advantage in household ratings at 6 a.m. Now it leads Channel 4 by 4.6-3.9, meaning Channel 2's lead has almost been cut by two-thirds.

Channel 4 now is tied with Channel 2 in households at 5 p.m. and wins at 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., time slots that Channel 2 won a year ago by healthy margins in most cases. It is a similar story to what happened in May, which is a more important sweeps period.

As usual, the news is slightly better for Channel 2 when looking at the age 25-54 and age 35-64 demographics that advertisers may be more interested in.

Channel 2 wins in all time periods except at 4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. in the 25-54 demo, but even then its margins are shrinking.

In the age 35-64 demo that Channel 4 is trying to persuade advertisers is increasingly more important because more people that age have more disposable income, Channel 4 either wins or ties in all time periods. A year ago, Channel 2 won almost all time periods in that demo.

WKBW-TV (Channel 7) remains third in all time periods, but could find some encouragement in that it has increased its ratings in some time periods and some demographics. At noon (when Channel 2 doesn't compete), it is almost tied with Channel 4 in the age 25-54 demographic.

Of course, the ratings news comes with a few asterisks.

The measurement of demos is unusual in the Buffalo market in that is estimated by comparisons to bigger out-of-town markets. Household ratings don't make those comparisons.

Channel 2 also was bound to lose some viewers to sampling after Levin left and was at least temporarily replaced by sportscaster Adam Benigni alongside Maryalice Demler.

Benigni has done very well as an anchor and you would think these results would have little impact on whether he gets the job permanently since sampling was expected and the summer viewer patterns are so different. But you never know if management is going to feel that way.

Benigni to take Levin's anchor spot until final decision on replacement

Finally, Channel 4's narrowing of the gap at 6 a.m. came with Smallwood as co-anchor alongside Jordan Williams. As I said before, it certainly seems to be a strange time for Channel 4 to replace Smallwood with newcomer Melanie Orlins.

Channel 4's new 'Wake Up!' anchor will try to sustain momentum

Smallwood deserved the job on the basis of Channel 4's strong "Wake Up!" ratings during her almost year tenure as the temporary replacement for the departed Theresa Weakley.

But as I said about Benigni's situation, it can be tough to understand what management really is thinking when they make changes.



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