By Alan Pergament
Some Buffalo Bills fans got a little scare Sunday morning and I'm not talking about the condition of quarterback EJ Manuel’s knee.
They were concerned that this Saturday's Bills-Washington preseason game won’t be carried by Channel 7 because of a graphic in Sunday's TV Topics that mistakenly said the channel will be off the air for the entire day.
Channel 7 General Manager Mike Nurse reported Sunday night that the station will be on the air Saturday carrying the Bills-Washington game. The game, which has a 4:30 p.m. start time, also is being televised by The NFL Network but that channel will be blacked out here, according to Nurse and the Bills.
Nurse added the mistake in saying the ABC affiliate would be off the air Saturday appeared to have been made by the service that supplies TV Topics with program listings.
As a rule, Bills preseason games carried on tape delay get a fraction of the rating of live preseason games.
I thought the Bills-Minnesota preseason game carried on tape delay Saturday might get a ratings bump on Channel 7 because it was carried a few hours after the NFL team announced Manuel needed minor knee surgery.
I theorized that more Bills fans might watch to see if they could spot when Manuel was hurt during the Bills' 20-16 victory.
The game had a 5.1 rating, which made it the most-watched TV program here on Saturday. That is about a third of what live preseason games get but it was about 10 percent higher than the 4.6 rating
the 2012 preseason game carried on tape delay received. So perhaps the bump was because of the Manuel injury.
I taped the game and watched the play he supposedly was hurt on Sunday and didn’t see anything. Bills announcers Ray Bentley and Steve Tasker didn't say anything about Manuel's condition after the play, either.
The telecast was enlightening when Tasker blamed rookie wide receiver Marquise Goodwin for Kevin Kolb's first-quarter interception. Tasker said Goodwin should have made himself more available for the throw. In other words, Bills fans were booing the wrong guy, according to Tasker. With Manuel out, the fans who were booing at The Ralph better hope that Kolb succeeds now.
Here’s my take on the Time Warner Cable-CBS transmission fight that has kept Showtime off the air in Western New York and nationally.
You should root for TWC to make a reasonable deal as hard as you root for the Bills.
If CBS -- the No. 1 broadcast network in the country -- gets considerably more money from TWC to carry its 13 owned-and-operated stations that probably will eventually mean that the cost will be passed down to cable subscribers like you. And it won’t be long before NBC, ABC and Fox get similar raises that will bloat your cable bill and eventually impact your satellite TV or FiOS bill.
In Western New York and many other areas across the country, CBS affiliates are available for free with rabbit ears antennas. TWC doesn't want to pay much more than it already does for something that many of its subscribers can get for free even if CBS has so many popular shows. However, it reportedly is not as easy for many New York City residents to get CBS without cable because of the high-rise buildings in the way of signals. And as many media analysts supporting CBS have noted, not many people get television stations the old-fashioned way via antennas for free and they like the convenience of getting them via cable, satellite dishes or FiOS.
While fans of Showtime's "Dexter" and "Ray Donovan" are upset that those series aren’t on TWC here because of the dispute, as I pointed out in my Sunday column there aren’t that many of them. Neither show gets more than 1 percent of the available TV audience here, partly because Showtime isn't nearly as popular here as HBO.
When CBS and TWC make a deal, local Showtime viewers will be able to quickly catch up on their favorite series by binge viewing via the pay-cable network’s On Demand feature.
The absence of Showtime on TWC also hurts the cable company since I believe it gets a share of the monthly fee subscribers pay to get Showtime. So in punishing CBS, TWC also appears to be punishing itself.
One more thing: While most national analysts believe the pressure will increase on TWC once the NFL season begins, there also could be more pressure on CBS as it plans to roll out its new fall season of shows in September. Its ratings could decline if TWC isn't still carrying the network in major markets. TWC clearly gains by carrying networks. However, the networks also gain by being carried on cable systems and getting a larger audience that pays off in bigger advertising revenue.
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