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Fallon's "Tonight Show" is big demographic winner here

By Alan Pergament

In about a week, many of the nation's television critics will head to Beverly Hills, Calif.  to preview the new fall shows and learn about the business of television.

One of my memorable experiences came decades ago when an advertising executive came to talk to us about demographics.

He explained the age and gender that each broadcast network was trying to reach and eventually came to CBS, which at the time carried programs that appealed to older viewers.

"The average age of a CBS viewer," said the ad executive, "is (pause) dead."

Many of us laughed loudly.

By that, he meant the average viewer was dead to advertisers, who want national viewers in the age 18-49 category and local viewers age 25-54.

At the time, CBS had the highest percentage of viewers over 54, and they are most likely to have made their choices of what cars to drive, what detergent to use and what beer to drink.

CBS has long since lowered its average age, most notably with the success of "Survivor."

But demographics have become even more important now than when the ad executive spoke.

They often can lead to the cancellation of programs that have strong household ratings or the retirement of talk show hosts who attract older viewers when the younger ones are more preferable.

I bring this amusing story up because it came to mind when looking at the local demographics for "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon" and "Late Night with Seth Meyers" during the May sweeps.

Continue reading "Fallon's "Tonight Show" is big demographic winner here" »

"48 Hours" repeats program on murder with Buffalo ties

By Alan Pergament

The "48 Hours" program on the murder in Florida of a University of Buffalo Law School graduate is being repeated at 10 tonight on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate, a network spokesman reports.

Reported by Peter Van Sant, the updated report is on the murder of 66-year-old Lanny Horwitz and is titled, "Love, Hate & Obsession." It originally aired in December. 


Kilgore shoots down Benigni source theory

 By Alan Pergament

When Channel 2 sports director Adam Benigni reported a few weeks ago about the interest that Buffalo Sabres Owner Terry Pegula and his wife Kim have in buying the Buffalo Bills, I got a text from someone in the media.

"Think anyone following the 'Pegula is interested in the Bills' story' Channel 2 is touting will report that Ed Kilgore works for Pegula? Just listened to Adam on with (WGR's) Howard Simon. Didn't come up."

The media person texting was obviously suggesting what several other people in the media also were thinking -- Kilgore was one of Benigni's sources and probably the most important one.

That idea not only surprised Kilgore but led to a vehement denial when I talked to him last week about his 40-year career in sports at Channel 2 and other non-sports topics. The conversation was a few days before Mike Gilbert, Sabres vice president of public and community relations, released a statement saying that Pegula and his wife "are following the developments involving the sale of the Bills."

"I want this on the record," said Kilgore early last week. "I have never given Adam one single word. I have not been the source of one single thing that Adam has said. And personally I know nothing about Terry's  interest in the Bills. I know nothing about it. We've never talked about it. His people in Pittsburgh haven't talked to me about it. I haven't asked him. I don't know any more than you or Adam or anyone else does about the Bills."

"Whoever his sources are, they are not me and I hope nobody else thinks that. I told him right away --  and Adam knows this -- whenever it came to being a source for something, I'm not going to be that guy."

Continue reading "Kilgore shoots down Benigni source theory" »

Local World Cup rating Thursday understandably lower than for Sunday

By Alan Pergament

The World Cup rating for the United States' 1-0 loss to Germany Thursday afternoon was lower in Western New York than it was for the 2-2 draw with Portugal early Sunday evening.

But that's totally understandable.

After all, many WNYers were working on Thursday and were off on Sunday.

The game had a 7.0 local rating on ESPN from noon to 2 p.m., which was about 20 percent lower than the 8.7 rating for two hours Sunday. Each rating point in Buffalo equals about 6,300 households. which means about 44,100 households were tuned in.

The soccer rating was higher than any prime time network show Thursday evening except for a repeat of "The Big Bang Theory," which had a 7.4 on Channel 4. The second episode of "Big Brother" had a 6.0. 

Of course, Nielsen doesn't count all the people watching the soccer game together in offices around WNY, in area bars or at Canalside.

The fact that Portugal's victory over Ghana -- which enabled the U.S. to reach the knockout round on tiebreakers -- was being played simultaneously on ESPN2 didn't impact the U.S. rating much, if at all. It had a .3 rating and didn't get any rating at all for several 15-minute periods.

ESPN actually includes the 30-minute pregame show in its ratings. I took out the low-rated 30 minutes to get a rating just for the time the U.S. games were played and the intermission period.

If the pregame show was included, the Portugal game had a 6.2 rating here and the Germany game a 6.1. ABC reportedly said the Germany game averaged a 6.3 rating in national overnight ratings of the Top 56 TV markets. It is unclear if that national figure includes the 30-minute pregame show, which would depress the rating. 

I don't know why ESPN includes the pregame show, but it is able to sell advertising during those 30 minutes, which one local expert believes might have something to do with it. There is no stoppage time during the game for advertising.


Huge soccer surge in popularity may be bending the truth

By Alan Pergament 

NBC News correspondent Bill Neely finished his Monday night report on Team USA's 2-2 draw with Portugal by declaring that this year's World Cup performance of the team "may prove to be the turning point for soccer in the United States."

About 36 hours earlier, ESPN's Roger Bennett used a two-year-old ESPN survey to declare in a commentary on "CBS Sunday Morning" that "we now live in a nation in which demographics determined that soccer is the second most popular sport for those aged 12-24, ahead of basketball, baseball and college football."

"In fact," the Brit added, "the United States has become a bona-fide soccer nation. And the 2014 World Cup will empower the sport to complete its takeover."

I hope that's all true. It's a wonderful sport. It also is a safer sport to play than football, which is why so many parents prefer their kids play it.

But is it a continuing revolution? Not so fast.

Please forgive me for interjecting some reality and perspective and possibly be a downer at the party, but I have my doubts because I've heard this revolutionary song before.

Continue reading "Huge soccer surge in popularity may be bending the truth" »

Johnston 'not interested' in returning to TV despite survey

Jodi Johnston says online survey "is news to me." (Buffalo News file photo)

By Alan Pergament 

Is Channel 7's new owner interested in eventually trying to lure former Channel 2 anchor Jodi Johnston back to broadcasting?

It certainly seems that way since there is an online survey going around asking respondents which local station they feel Johnston would be best for a return to television. She left Channel 2 in November of 2012 to become director of corporate media relations and first vice president at First Niagara.

Johnston was surprised late Tuesday to hear about the survey, which I'm told is heavily focused on respondents' thoughts on WKBW-TV, which switched owners last week to the E.W. Scripps Company.

"It is news to me," said Johnston of the survey. "I'm really happy at First Niagara. It is a great organization with great leadership and a great culture. I'm not interested in making a return to television."

Scripps previously confirmed that it is taking a research survey and the Johnston question certainly sounds like one it might ask.

Channel 7 General Manager Mike Nurse would only say "we are surveying all market talent."

It is common for media companies to do that in their surveys to compare how their talent is viewed in a market.

The Johnston question is hypothetical. Scripps wouldn't have to ask her for permission to ask the question.

Even if Johnston had been interested, I'm sure Channel 2 wouldn't be happy if she returned to TV anywhere but with it. It certainly wouldn't be happy if she returned to mornings where she helped "Daybreak”" became first in the market.

I'm also pretty sure First Niagara wouldn't be happy about seeing the speculation about her possible return to television. However, Johnston said this isn't the first time she has had to respond to unfounded rumors about a return to TV.

Channel 7's morning program is so deep in third place that Scripps needs a game-changer so it isn’t surprising it might consider emptying its bank to try and attract Johnston back to television if the research survey indicates she would be that valuable.

But if I were Scripps, I wouldn't bank on her ever being interested.


*For former TV personalities, 'Dark Side' has a bright side

*As she leaves airwaves, Johnston is happy for the people she met

*Ch. 2's Jodi Johnston takes job at First Niagara

*Photo gallery: Recent departures from local TV news. 





WNYO digital channel to add movie channel

By Alan Pergament

Get ready for another digital television network in Western New York featuring old productions.

Sony Pictures Television Networks has announced that it will introduce getTV sometime this summer on one of the digital channels on Sinclair Broadcasting's WNYO-TV.

getTV will join a long roster of TV digital networks here featuring old TV programs and movies that include Antenna TV on one of Channel 2's digital channels, Bounce on one of CW's digital channels and Cozi TV on one of the new low power digital channels introduced by former Lockport policeman Steven Ritchie.

And, of course, independent broadcast channel WBBZ also carries old television programs through its affiliation with Me-TV. 

According to a Sony release, getTV is "dedicated to showcasing classic Hollywood movies from the 1930s to the 1970s."

Continue reading "WNYO digital channel to add movie channel" »

World Cup scores in local ratings on ESPN, but not as well as NFL

By Alan Pergament

World Cup fever hit local news Sunday, with all three stations leading their 11 p.m. newscasts with stories about local reaction to the United States' 2-2 draw with Portugal.

From the crowds watching at Canalside and Hertel Avenue, you might think all of WNY is caught up with the soccer tournament that is played every four years.

But those crowds, as well as everyone in local bars, don't count in Nielsen ratings.

And perhaps that is why the local rating for the ESPN telecast didn't hit double-digits. The estimated 5,000 people at Canalside alone could have added a half a rating point. 

The game had an 8.7 rating locally from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m, which was about 35 percent higher locally than the United States' 2-1 victory over Ghana in its first Cup game.

To put the soccer rating in perspective, we should remember there is what the world calls football and not what the United States calls football.

The 8.7 rating is lower than the local average for regular season National Football League games in 2013 on ESPN. The NFL games on ESPN averaged a 9.8 here last season.

However, the 8.7 rating is slightly higher than the 8.6 rating that Channel 7 had for San Antonio's game five clinching victory over Miami in the NBA finals.

And it was higher than any prime time network summer program Sunday. "America's Got Talent," the top broadcast network program Sunday, averaged a 7.3 on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate.

The soccer rating also was in a statistical tie with the rating for Channel 2's 11 p.m. newscast, which had an 8.8 rating. The 11 p.m. newscasts for Channel 4 and Channel 7 both had a 4.4 rating.





Shaw's hiring in Louisville has Buffalo angles

By Alan Pergament

It took former Channel 4 meteorologist Bryan Shaw exactly one day to land a new job after his contract wasn't renewed by the local CBS affiliate.

And as is often the case, there is a Buffalo angle. Well, actually there are three Buffalo angles.

The news director, David Seals, at his new station, WHAS in Louisville, Ky., is from Buffalo.

Seals could have asked his sister, Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold, about Shaw's work because she still lives here and is often on television. She is the president of the Buffalo School Board.

And before Shaw was hired, the 28-year-old meteorologist apparently got the seal of approval from Channel 2, which like WHAS, is owned by Gannett.

In a telephone interview Sunday, Shaw said he is going to do weather on weekends and also do the forecasts at noon and 4 p.m. on Fridays on WHAS.

"I got the job offer the day after I left Channel 4," said Shaw.

Was he planning on leaving even if Channel 4 renewed him?

"Not necessarily," said Shaw. "That's all I can say."

Asked if he was told why he wasn't being renewed, Shaw said he couldn't discuss that.

Asked if he had to sign something to prevent him from talking about his Channel 4 departure, Shaw said: "I can't discuss why I can't discuss it."

I haven't laughed so hard in weeks.

Shaw was excellent with social media, was well-liked and worked hard so I suspect that he was let go because of his on-air presentation. He wasn't the smoothest weathercaster in town. 

Shaw's abrupt departure from Channel 4 didn't sit well with some staffers, who didn't think he deserved to be escorted out the door on his last day.

"That's not uncommon though," said Shaw of how he left.

He added he received plenty of messages, calls, texts and emails of support.

"It meant a lot that my co-workers really liked me and had my back," said Shaw. "I loved everybody I worked with. It was definitely sad to say goodbye to everybody."

Since he was talking to Louisville before Channel 4 let him go, it appears Shaw realized he might be in jeopardy here.

"I'll just say I felt like I should look other places," said Shaw. "It would have been irresponsible to not look at other places just to see what my value was."

He is moving to a slightly bigger market than Buffalo in the Top 50.

"You always want to move up," said Shaw. "Moving to a Top 50 is a big deal." 

He isn't sure if Seals ever saw him on Channel 4 because Seals recently got the job in Louisville and wasn't involved in Shaw's hiring. Shaw said he was told that Seals' sister was the president of the Buffalo School Board.

"I told him he should give his sister a call and ask her if she has seen me and what she thinks," said Shaw.

Shaw said that Seals could have said no to his hiring.

"I'm sure he could have very well said, "I don't like this guy, I don't want him to be part of my team,'" said Shaw. " He called me and said the exact opposite. He had nothing but good things to say. He said, 'I really like what you do.' It was nice that he was from Buffalo because he did ask me some things about what separates me from other people and I was able to use specific examples of the area and towns and he knew what I was talking about."

For instance, Shaw said he explained how he was able to focus on smalls town in Western New York and how they might be impacted differently by the lake and weather patterns here.

He also understands that WHAS representatives called sister Gannett station Channel 2 to find out what the station thought of Shaw. 

Shaw said he was open to anything when his Channel 4 contract was up.

"It worked out the way it worked out and it worked out well," said Shaw, who added he got a raise from WHAS.  "That's all I can say."

He never got to say goodbye on the air, so I gave him the opportunity.

"I love Buffalo, I'll be back to visit, I already have a visit set up for next May," said Shaw. "My wife and I spent a lot of time here and really got to know the area. it's an awful lot like home. I honestly know Buffalo now better than I know my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio because when you move to a new city at my age you kind of make the effort to get to know about the city and the fun things to do, as opposed to just what you grew up with and your parents did with you.... I think my wife and I did everything here and we had a blast doing it. Definitely, we'll miss it."

While Shaw never got to say goodbye, Channel 4 anchor Diana Fairbanks ended her last newscast last week with a nice sweet message to viewers about her time here. She also noted that she is leaving the business to return to Traverse City, Mich. with her family.

She doesn't officially leave the station until Friday. I've tried to interview Fairbanks. I suspect that -- like Shaw -- she can't discuss why she can't discuss her departure right away. 


WNED repeats beautifully-designed Olmsted production tonight

By Alan Pergament

If you enjoyed this beautiful weekend in one of the three original Olmsted Parks in Buffalo, you might want to know more about the landscape architect who designed them and many of the parks across the country with another parks expert.

You're in luck because at 8 tonight, WNED-TV is repeating its co-production that premiered Friday night, "Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America."

I wasn't able to note Channel 17's plans to repeat the special tonight when I initially posted my review Friday, but added it later.

It is a special well worth watching -- if you get home from the parks in time to see it tonight.

Here is my Friday review.  

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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.

@StillTalkinTV |