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Snowden better prepared than Williams; Local TV "Giants" get small ratings

By Alan Pergament

Brian Williams "big get” interview with Edward Snowden Wednesday night suggests that not that many Western New Yorkers are interested in the privacy versus security debate driven by the NSA leaker.

The hour-long NBC interview had a 4.9 rating on Channel 2, which is decent by post-May sweeps standards. It means 4.9 percent of WNY television households were tuned in in an hour in which he competed with NHL and NBA playoff games.

The rating for the Snowden interview was just a fraction ahead of a 4.7 rating for a repeat episode of "CSI" on CBS affiliate Channel 4.  It didn't even win the time period locally. Channel 2's hour-long 10 p.m. news on WNLO-TV averaged a 5.4 rating.

According to an NBC poll on "Today" Thursday morning, the exiled Snowden helped his cause doing the interview from Moscow.

Though a majority of people felt he was a traitor before the interview ran, a bigger majority viewed him as a patriot for exposing NSA politices after it ran.

Snowden gets some of the credit for the change in attitude and television gets the rest. He looked comfortable, intelligent and presented his views well, all attributes that play well to TV audiences that can't instantly know about the truthfulness of what he was saying.

But Williams gets some of the credit, too, since he was a soft interviewer who challenged Snowden too infrequently and often seemed more determined to ask his next prepared question than follow up on Snowden’s answers. Williams also asked soft questions that humanized Snowden, such as what he misses about the United States and whether he would like to return. 

Snowden seemed much better prepared for the interview than Williams. In short, Williams was no Edward R. Murrow.

The WBBZ specials last week featuring the of Buffalo Television and Radio and former female TV anchors didn’t give WBBZ much of a rating boost.

The first part of the interview with Channel 7 legends Irv Weinstein, Rick Azar and Tom Jolls had a 1.2 rating on Monday. The rating slipped to a .3 for part two on Tuesday, meaning three-quarters of the audience had enough nostalgia on Monday.

A repeat of the "Giants of Radio" had a 1.0 rating on Wednesday and the "Ladies of TV" a 1.0 on Friday.

To put those numbers in perspective, "Perry Mason" repeats on WBBZ at 11:30 p.m. that week averaged a 2.2  rating and repeats of "The Untouchables" averaged a 1.9 rating at 12:30 a.m.

I guess you could say that Irv, Rick and Tom are no longer untouchable when it comes to generating ratings.


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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