A dramatic shift has occurred in viewership of local television news, according to the results from Nielsen about the just-concluded May sweeps.
WIVB-TV (Channel 4) probably is producing promos immediately to trumpet its successes.
The local CBS affiliate has in recent years lagged behind WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) in the age 25-54 demographic important to local advertisers.
But not this May.
According to Nielsen, Channel 4 has won at 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. in that key demographic with only one day left to be measured.
A year ago, Channel 2 won in that demographic in every one of those time periods.
"We are a little perplexed by the demo skew this month according to Nielsen’s Viewer Assignment methodology, especially after our long history of strong 25-54 numbers in relation to households including the April’s ratings period," wrote Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner in an email.
"This is especially aberrational in 'Daybreak' and with women. Proud of our dominating overall viewer performance in 'Daybreak' though. We also had very strong growth in our digital numbers on our other platforms as some consumption moves there. We of course will do a considered analysis of our performance and perhaps adjust some things moving forward."
"The station is very happy to see our hard work result in #1 in Adults 25-54 at 5 a.m. 6 a.m. 5:30 p.m. 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.," wrote Channel 4 General Manager Dominic Mancuso in an email. "We’re especially happy to see the growth of the news on CW23 at 10 p.m, the toughest hour in TV."
The viewership change could be partially because Nielsen recently started measuring demographics differently, partly by measuring the Buffalo market by matching similar homes in other bigger markets.
Or it could be because viewers have just changed their viewing habits as much as Nielsen claims.
Channel 4 also wins in household ratings at 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Channel 2 only wins in households at 5 a.m., 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Channel 7 remains deep in third, but did receive some positive news at 4:30 a.m. when it finishes first in the 25-54 demo.
It also has the only 6 p.m. newscast to improve in households from a year ago and the only 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. newscasts that aren't losing audiences from a year ago.
Some other things to note:
Channel 4's 6:30 p.m. newscast on sister station WNLO-TV still isn't doing very well. It averaged a 0.7 rating.
The exit of John Beard from "Daybreak" has cost Channel 2 viewers in the 25-54 demographic, but Channel 2's household audience with Pete Gallivan alongside Melissa Holmes is flat from a year ago and it grew its household ratings lead over Channel 4 at 6 a.m. from one-tenth of a point o a full point. It also took the household lead at 5 a.m., where Channel 4 won a year ago.
The combined household ratings for all three stations are down in all time periods where the stations compete.
A year ago at 6 p.m., the three stations combined for 22.9 ratings points. This May, they combined for 21.7 rating points.
A year ago at 11 p.m., the three stations combined for 16.8 ratings points. This May, they combined for 14.9 points. That's a drop of about 11 percent.
Despite those drops, Buffalo still is viewed as a very strong news market compared to the rest of the country.