Western New Yorkers love reality in the summer.
That's the No. 1 takeaway from looking at the local prime time ratings for broadcast programs during the July sweeps.
It is the least important of the four ratings periods each year but they show what broadcast programs that WNY is watching in the summer when viewing patterns are different and many people head to cable and the streaming services.
Of course, the broadcast network choice for viewers is usually between reality shows and reruns of comedies and dramas.
So it really is no wonder that Western New Yorkers were watching NBC's "America's Got Talent," "World of Dance" and "Little Big Shots: Forever Young," CBS' "Big Brother" and ABC's "The Bachelorette" in relatively high Nielsen numbers last month.
"AGT" was the No. 1 broadcast program in July with an 11.4 household rating on WGRZ-TV, the local NBC affiliate. It also was No. 1 in the key demographics.
The multiple weekday editions of "Big Brother," which has featured Grand Island's Mark Jansen, ranged in July from a 6.5 average rating to a 7.3 on WIVB-TV, the local CBS affiliate.
"World of Dance" averaged a 6.9 rating on Channel 2.
"The Bachelorette" averaged a 5.7 rating on WKBW-TV. That is an unusually high rating for the local ABC affiliate.
The reality shows also score best with the age 18-49 demographic that advertisers love. Only eight shows received a 3.0 rating in that demo in July and all were reality shows. Only 11 shows averaged higher than a 3.0 rating in the age 25-54 and all but one was a reality show or news magazine.
News magazines shows do decently. CBS' "60 Minutes" was tops at a 6.5 household rating average. NBC's "Dateline" Friday averaged a 6.3.
The networks do air some original scripted programs over the summer with mixed success.
NBC's "The Night Shift" averaged a strong 6.4 rating at 10 p.m. Thursday. CBS' "Salvation" averaged a 5.9 rating. But CBS' "Zoo" only had a 4.1 rating "NBC's "Midnight Texas" only had a 2.5 rating.
CBS has the most success with comedy reruns, with "The Big Bang Theory" averaging a 6.0 rating. "Kevin Can Wait" averaged a 5.0. But the reruns don't do nearly as well as the top reality shows in the 18-49 demographic.
When looking at the local results for national news and talk programs during the July sweeps, you have to wonder if Western New Yorkers became numb to the daily news in the Trump administration.
With a seemingly endless stream of news coming out of Washington, D.C. in July, you might have expected national news ratings to be on the rise here from a year ago even if that was when the 2016 presidential campaign was in full swing.
On the contrary, total viewing for the network morning newscasts was down in July compared to a year ago and "NBC's Nightly News with Lester Holt" was the only network dinner hour newscast to have a higher rating than a year ago.
The funny thing – and I mean funny – is that the national late night comedy shows experienced a rating rise from a year ago. That suggests some Western New Yorkers would rather laugh along with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyers about presidential politics than watch news coverage of it.
Now let's look at local results for the three day parts covered by the networks:
Morning: NBC's "Today" on WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) took the biggest hit, dropping almost 20 percent in households from a year ago. But even in going from 6.8 in July, 2016 to a 5.6 this July, it almost had the combined audience of CBS and ABC in the morning.
ABC's "Good Morning America" slipped 0.1 of a point to a 3.3 on WKBW (Channel 7) and CBS' "This Morning" was flat at a 2.7 on Channel 4. "Today" may have taken the local hit because of the decline in ratings for its first place lead-in, Channel 2's "Daybreak." However, it also took a big hit nationally. "GMA" won in total viewers nationally, "Today" in the key 25-54 demo.
Nationally, morning viewership was down, just like it was locally. "Today" also won the key 18-49 and 25-54 demos locally, beating its rivals combined in both categories. CBS was No. 2 in both demos, a switch from a year ago when "GMA" was second.
Nightly News: Despite the Trump reality show, Holt's newscast was the only one to gain from a year ago, when the 2016 presidential campaign was in full swing. NBC rose about 20 percent to a 7.4. In its first sweeps without anchor Scott Pelley, CBS was in second with a flat 6.9.
ABC's "World News Tonight with David Muir" was third with a 4.7 rating, down 0.2 points from a year ago. Of course, Muir's newscast suffers from Channel 7's lead-in. Nationally, Muir was No. 1 in total viewers, Holt No. 1 with the 25-54 demo. In the local demos, Holt's broadcast was No. 1 in the 18-49 and 25-54 categories. All three newscasts were up from a year ago in both demo categories.
Late Night: NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" won with a 2.6 household local rating, which was 0.2 higher than a year ago. Colbert's program grew 20 percent from a year to a 2.5 rating. ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live grew by 0.1 to a 1.4 rating.
The combined local ratings for the three 11:35 p.m. show was up about 15 percent. (I have not seen the national figures). Fallon won local in the 18-49 and 25-54 demos, but Colbert closed the gap from a year ago in both categories. Colbert won in the age 35-64 demo, a switch from a year ago when Fallon won.
At 12:35 a.m., Trump bashing host Seth Meyers on NBC overtook CBS' James Corden this July locally in households, a big change from a year ago. Corden won in 2016, 1.0-0.8. Meyers won in 2017, 1.3-1.0. Meyers also wins in the 18-49 and 25-54 demos.