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Shaking my head over Fallon, MNF here

By Alan Pergament

Several months ago, I got a message on social media that someone was SMH over a remark I either made or quoted.

I was shaking my head over what the acronym stood for and asked some equally clueless members of the faculty at a local college about it when a student walked by and said it means "shaking my head."

It is used to underscore how surprising, stupid or silly things are.

I've been SMH over a few things in TV locally lately.

I can't understand what's going on in late night here.

"The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" has been a huge national hit and it started off really well on Channel 2 during and after the Olympics.

But last week things started to change locally. "The Late Show with David Letterman" on Channel 4 easily won the week. It also tied Fallon's show on Tuesday night. Fallon won Wednesday but it was close, 4.3-3.9.

Letterman's success here surprises me because the widespread consensus is Dave isn't what he used to be, and so many people of all ages have told me how much they I have enjoyed Fallon since he took over for Jay Leno on Feb.17.

So I'm trying to get my head around why Fallon is losing viewers and am throwing out some theories.

First off, Channel 4 News at 11 p.m. gives Letterman a stronger lead-in than Fallon gets from Channel 2. This theory makes some sense, though it is pretty easy to change the channel these days.

Secondly, the weakest part of Fallon's show is the monologue and perhaps viewers here have quickly discovered that.

Thirdly, Western New York is an older TV market demographically and the old-timers here are sticking with Lettermen, who has always done better here than he has done nationally.

Fourth, young people who love Fallon have very busy lives and just might decide to head to You Tube or someplace else on the Internet on the next morning to see which of his comic bits go viral. In that way, they don't feel they have to watch at 11:35 p.m.

My final theory is that this just has to be a temporary situation because the group of Nielsen viewers on meters here doesn't represent WNY as much as they did when Fallon began.

I'm also SMH over the Fox Sports report in Wisconsin that the Green Bay Packers game with the Buffalo Bills will appear on ESPN's Monday Night Football in the 2014 season.

I was SMH even before a Buffalo Bills executive and an ESPN source I have known for 40 years told me Wednesday that they are unaware of the MNF game and that they don't get the schedule until hours before the general public. The ESPN source even added "anyone who thinks they know, doesn't know."

He added that the NFL's TV partners often request games, but it doesn't mean they will get them and the schedule changes up to the last minutes.

Let me add I've been around long enough to know that these reports don't generally come out of thin air. I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be accurate. It could be a good, educated guess.

But I am SMH about why ESPN would want the game. The Pack and the Bills play in two of the smallest markets in the National Football League, which usually translates into smaller ratings. However, Green Bay is a national draw that could help draw viewers.

But looking over the Green Bay schedule, the game with the Bills seems to be the weakest on its schedule. That is especially true of its away schedule that includes games with Seattle, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Miami, Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota.

I can't see ESPN asking for the Green Bay-Bills game over any of those games. A Thursday night game would make more sense.

Additionally, I find it surprising that the Wisconsin report is one of only two that have surfaced nationally about the upcoming MNF schedule. The only other report came from a Jacksonville TV station that claimed the Jags were getting a MNF game. That report already has been discredited.

But as I said, I wouldn't be surprised if the report turns out to be a good guess and all the speculation about it here turns out to validated.

I will say I am not shaking my head over the report that the Bills might play Detroit on Thanksgiving. It makes some sense because the Lions rotate games between visiting AFC and NFC opponents on Turkey Day, this is the AFC's turn and the Bills are one of their only two AFC visiting opponents. So in other words, that speculation has a 50-50 chance of being accurate.

Finally, I'm not SMH over the relatively low local rating for the NCAA women's basketball championship victory by the University of Connecticut over Notre Dame. Nationally, UConn's 79-58 victory had a 2.8 rating on ESPN Tuesday, making it the highest for any ESPN title game in a decade. It also was 40 percent higher the rating for UConn's victory over Louisville a year ago. Of course, the game was helped Tuesday because both teams were undefeated going in, their coaches hyped the game by noting how much they don't care for each other, and, of course, there is the Notre Dame popularity factor.

Locally, the women's title game had a 1.9 rating, which is about 25-30 percent of what the men's semifinals received here on cable. I'm not SMH because this just isn't a very big market for women's basketball yet and the 1.9 actually is pretty decent by local standards.


Sports | Sports on TV | 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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