By Alan Pergament
One of the big reasons for the decline of Channel 7's news is the lousy lead-in it gets at 4 p.m. weekdays.
That isn't expected to change much this fall when it plans to carry a new judge show, "Hot Bench," produced by CBS and Judge Judy opposite Channel 2's powerhouse "Ellen" and Channel 4's "Dr. Oz."
The talk show from Queen Latifah moves back an hour to 3 p.m. in place of the canceled show from Katie Couric.
Down the horizon, Channel 7 may have to run a new program being produced by its new owner, E.W. Scripps.
Called "The Now," Scripps premiered it on its stations in Kansas City and Denver this week at 4 p.m.
Scripps executive Brian Lawlor said in a Scripps release that the program will have a heavy emphasis on what is trending on social media.
"I believe The NOW will set the pace for the type of programming that audiences on multiple platforms crave," Lawler is quoted as saying in the Scripps release. "The audiences want to know what's happening right now, give their own take on those events, and share their thoughts with their own social media networks."
The release said the program will expand to six more stations in the months ahead, including at the Detroit station Scripps purchased at the same time as Channel 7.
But the expansion of "The Now" won't include Buffalo's Channel 7 -- at least for now.
"We are not slated to be part of the initial rollout of The Now," wrote Channel 7 General Manager Mike Nurse in a text response. "It requires a dedicated crew locally for that show alone and the feeling was there were too many other priorities initially."
"We are excited about the various programming opportunities from Scripps and are closely following the rollout of 'The Now' as it reflects a different and topical approach to early fringe's 4 p.m. programming and a fresh alternative to syndicated talk."
Of course, another significant reason for Channel 7's decline is the cutback in its news staff. It is expected to rectify that with announcements of new hires shortly.
The celebration of New York Yankee great Derek Jeter during Fox's telecast of the All-Star game Tuesday gave the game a significant local ratings boost from a year ago when Yankee great Mariano Rivera was honored.
But it was no World Cup final by a longshot.
The American League victory averaged a 5.7 rating on WUTV from 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. and fell after that. A year ago, the All-Star game averaged a 4.6 rating here. Germany's World Cup victory over Argentina Sunday -- which obviously was more important to soccer than the All-Star game is to baseball -- had a 10.4 rating locally during game time.
The Nike advertisement in which a variety of sports stars -- including Michael Jordan at the end -- first responders and ordinary people tip their cap in Re2pect to Jeter (who wears No.2) ran during the game. It is an instant commercial classic.