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Beatles give Olympics "Back in the U.S.S.R." a battle locally

By Alan Pergament

While watching "The Grammys Salute to the Beatles" Sunday night, I tweeted "will be interesting to see if Beatles special on CBS causes NBC to shout HELP! when its Olympic ratings come in."

My comment was based on my Twitter followers, who seemed more interested in the Beatles celebration.

The local ratings have arrived and they were very interesting.

The Sochi games in the former U.S.S.R. averaged a 17.9 rating for four hours of coverage on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate.

The two-and a half hour Beatles special averaged a 12.1 rating on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate.

But the battle for viewers got even more interesting in the hour starting at 9:30 p.m. The Olympics averaged a 15.4 rating and the Beatles a 12.7.

Of course, this area has more older viewers than many markets and they probably were more into the nostalgic Beatles special. My Twitter was uncommonly upbeat, which most people tweeting extremely positive things about the program.

Nationally, the Olympics won the battle for 18-49 viewers by more than a 3-1 margin over the Beatles but lost that category for one hour to cable's "The Walking Dead."

In any event, the Beatles were great counterprogamming by CBS. So was "Downton Abbey" on PBS. Sunday's original episode had a 7.4 rating, up considerably from the ratings in the 4s that it received opposite the Super Bowl and the Grammys the last two Sundays. It also appeals to older viewers.

AMC's "The Walking Dead," which appeals to younger viewers, had an 8.6 local rating, which is a healthy number opposite the Olympics but lower than it normally gets.

I also tweeted Sunday that every time I switched over to NBC's Olympic coverage from the Beatles I caught a commercial. As is usually the case, NBC is running a lot of ads to help pay off the huge rights fee it paid for the Olympics.

One more Olympic note: CBC's daytime coverage of the opening of the Olympics on Friday certainly didn't hurt Channel 2's ratings all that much.

Channel 2 averaged a 20.4 rating for the opening ceremonies on Friday night, tying it for ninth place among all NBC affiliates in the country. Imagine what the rating might have been if so many Time Warner Cable customers hadn't had the chance to watch the opening ceremonies twice on CBC before NBC carried them.

The E.W. Scripps announcement Monday that it had purchased Channel 7 and a MyNetwork TV affiliate in Detroit from Granite Broadcasting for $110 million makes it difficult to know how much of that figure was for the Buffalo ABC affiliate.

It also is difficult to know how well  Silver Point Capital, the hedge fund that has controlled the station since 2007, did in the sale because when it took control of Granite Broadcasting I never saw a price for the individual stations.

The purchase price for the two stations Monday does illustrate that TV stations aren't considered to be as valuable as they used to be.

In 1985, Queen City Broadcasting bought Channel 7 from Capital Cities for $65 million and that was considered a bargain price.

A decade later, Granite purchased Channel 7 from Queen City for $76 million and that also was considered a bargain at the time. Analysts back in 1995 said the station was worth between $105 million and $114 million.

If that was the case, then Scripps was able to buy Channel 7 and a Detroit station Monday for about what Channel 7 was worth almost 20 years ago.







Drama | Olympics | Television | TV news
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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

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