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WGRZ is storm coverage ratings leader; Pro Bowl rating tops NHL All-Star game in Buffalo

This is the latest edition of What Western New York is Watching:

If the WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) promos extolling its Nielsen ratings for its coverage of the Blizzard of 2019 haven’t been created by now, I’d be more surprised than if the New England Patriots were destroyed by the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday's Super Bowl.

Of course, WIVB-TV (Channel 4) couldn't promote its Nielsen ratings even if it had won since it no longer subscribes to the service.

Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate, won a close race Tuesday with Channel 4 on the early evening newscasts on the first night of the storm, with both stations getting much higher ratings than usual due to the weather coverage as thousands of WNYers were stuck at home. Channel 2 won at 5 p.m. Tuesday, 12.2-11.7, and at 6 p.m., 14.4-13.7. The 5:30 p.m. newscasts finished in a statistical tie, with Channel 2 ahead, 12.1-12.0. WKBW-TV was deep in third place for all newscasts, with a high rating of 4.9 at 6 p.m. Channel 4 was the winner at 11 p.m., 8.0-7.5. It also won at 10 p.m. when its newscast on sister station WNLO-TV (Channel 23) had a strong 7.7 rating. Channel 2's newscast at 10 p.m. on WUTV had a 4.5 rating.

As much as people complain about weather coverage overkill, the Channel 2 and Channel 4 newscasts did draw audiences bigger than almost all prime-time entertainment programs during the week.

The results for the second night of the storm Wednesday were even better for Channel 2. Channel 4 won at 5 p.m., 12.8-12.3. Channel 2 won at 5:30 p.m. (13.4-12.9), 6 p.m. (15.5-14.5,) 10 p.m. (5.8-5.5) and 11 p.m. (7.8-6.3). Channel 7's highest rating was a 6.4 at 6 p.m.

On Thursday, Channel 2 won at 5 p.m. (11.3-10.7), 5:30 p.m. (10.8-10.5) and 11 p.m. (6.4-6.0), while Channel 4 won at 6 p.m. (14.9-13.5) and 10 p.m. (4.9-2.7). The highest-rated newscast on Channel 7 was the 5.6 rating it had at 6 p.m.

Channel 2's "Daybreak" was a big winner at 6 a.m. on all three days over the morning programs on Channel 4, Channel 23 and Channel 7. Channel 2 (5.6) beat the simulcasts on Channel 4 and sister station Channel 23 (4.2 total) on Tuesday. Channel 7 (1.9) was third. Channel 2 (7.2) won Wednesday morning over the simulcasts on Channel 4 and sister station Channel 23 (4.6). Channel 7 (2.7) was third again, but it beat Channel 4 (2.6) before the sister station rating was added. Channel 2 won (8.5) Thursday morning over the Channel 4 and Channel 23 simulcasts (6.2). Channel 7 (3.9) was third.

Here are some more ratings news of note in the past week:

“Sunday Morning” Success: The most-watched national program locally last weekend wasn’t the NHL All-Star game on WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) or the NFL Pro Bowl on WKBW-TV (Channel 7) and ESPN.

The Buffalo market ranked very high nationally for both the hockey and football games,

But the most-watched national programs last weekend were “CBS Sunday Morning” on Channel 4 and NBC’s “Today” on Channel 2.

The Sunday morning favorites both averaged a 7.7 rating.

CBS’ "Sunday Morning" had a higher rating than the entire CBS lineup here in prime time. CBS’ news magazine show “60 Minutes” was the highest-rated program in prime time Sunday with a 7.1 rating.

Channel 2 scores big at 6 p.m. Sunday: As evidenced above, there is nothing like frightening weather forecasts when it comes to generating high ratings. Channel 2’s 6 p.m. news before the storm on Sunday had a 13.4 rating, which is higher than the prime-time rating for any entertainment program last week. Of course, Channel 2 had the benefit of being the only station with a newscast that started on time. Channel 4 and Channel 7 had to wait until sporting events ended.

The NFL defeats the NHL: The NFL’s joke of an All-Star game had a combined rating of 7.8 on Channel 7 and ESPN on Sunday afternoon when ratings typically are lower. The Buffalo rating tied for sixth nationally with Chicago. Of course, a 7.8 rating in Chicago, the nation’s No. 3 market, is worth about six times the viewers in Buffalo, the No. 53 market. The NHL’s All-Star game in prime time Saturday had a 5.9 rating on Channel 2. Buffalo was the top-rated market in the country for the game. However, Pittsburgh (4.7 rating) and Minnesota (3.0 rating) had more viewers for the game because a rating point in those cities is worth more viewers than a point in Buffalo. A rating point in Pittsburgh, the No. 24 market in the country, is worth about twice as many viewers as a point in Buffalo. A point in Minneapolis, the No. 15 market, is worth even more than it is in Pittsburgh.

Low “Rent”: The Fox telecast of “Rent” had a 1.5 on Fox affiliate WUTV. The Broadway hit was supposed to be performed live, but an injury to a key performer forced Fox to show significant portions of Saturday’s dress rehearsal. Viewers knew something was up when Fox announced it was prerecorded before the program began. The rating plummeted locally after the first 15 minutes of the program. Nationally, “Rent” was the lowest-rated musical since the networks rediscovered the form.

SAG Awards score on two channels: The Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday night, which had a surprise win by the movie "Black Panther" and a mini-surprise win by the TV series "This Is Us," had a combined 2.8 rating here on TNT and TBS. That is almost twice the rating for “Rent.” A compelling CNN movie that previously played in movie theaters, “Three Identical Strangers,” about brothers being reunited after being separated at birth, also beat “Rent” Sunday night. The film, which had a tragic ending, had a 1.6 local rating.

“Saturday Night Live” scores: The NBC late-night comedy program was the highest-rated program Saturday night locally with a 6.5 rating, which was even higher than the NHL All-Star game in prime time here.

At 7 a.m. Monday, Spectrum News Buffalo premieres the first of a five-part series, “Flight 3407: 10 Years Later.”

Casey Bortnick, Katie Gibas and Breanna Fuss are the reporters on a series that will feature two reports daily “on how the victim’s families have fought for safer skies, a survivor’s story and the relationships that grew out of tragedy.”

Bortnick begins the series Monday with a report on how three sets of sisters are coping with the loss of family members.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Gibas does reports on “Legislation Then” and “Legislation Now,” respectively, on how families have fought for new safety regulations in the airline industry.

On Thursday, Gibas interviews Karen and Jill Weilinski, who lost their husband and father Doug when the plane crashed into the family home.

Fuss ends the series on Friday with a report on “the victims who continue to inspire the community to be better, stronger, and selfless and to live life to the fullest.”


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