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Preakness, Stanley Cup ratings strong here

By Alan Pergament

Buffalo didn't win, place or show in national ratings for NBC's coverage of the Preakness Stakes Saturday.

But it came close.

The Buffalo market finished fifth nationally with a 10.5 rating on Channel 2, one of the strongest NBC affiliates in the country for sports.

That was well ahead of the 6.3 national rating that the second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown received, but well below the 16.8 rating here for the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier when the Buffalo market was fourth nationally.

However, the decline from the Derby to the Preakness isn't unusual locally or nationally.

The good news for Channel 2 and NBC is that the back-to-back wins by California Chrome in the first two legs of the Triple Crown should drive ratings for the Belmont Stakes on June 7 when it tries to become the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.

The rating for the Preakness was more than three times the local rating Saturday for NBC's coverage of the New York Rangers' 7-2 victory over Montreal in the first game of the Eastern Conference finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The game started at 1 p.m., where viewership is generally lower than it is later in the afternoon when the Preakness was carried. 

The game had a 3.3 rating on Channel 2, which was No.1 among NBC affiliates. That was slightly ahead of the 3.2 rating in New York, which is the nation's largest TV market. Of course, a ratings point in New York is worth many more viewers than one in Western New York. The Montreal market is not measured in the United States.

apergament@buffnews.com

 

 

"Idol" with WNY roots makes final 3; NFL draft ratings soar here

By Alan Pergament

Judging by recent local ratings, many Western New Yorkers seem to have lost interest in "American Idol" but at least there will be a rooting interest in the May 14 semifinals.

Jena Irene Asciutto, the 17-year student from the Detroit area who has WNY roots, earned a spot in the final three after Thursday's results show.

She will compete with the two other survivors, Alex Preston and Caleb Johnson, in the 500th episode of the series next Wednesday to determine who makes it to the two-night season finale on May 20 and May 21.

The trio survived after the elimination of Jessica Meuse on the results show Thursday. Next Wednesday, the trio will return to their hometowns, where residents will select a song from this season that they will perform on the semifinals. The other two songs will be chosen by the judges and Randy Jackson, who is a mentor this season.

Continue reading ""Idol" with WNY roots makes final 3; NFL draft ratings soar here" »

Sabres get fair and balanced treatment; WGR; Polian is ESPN star

By Alan Pergament

The Buffalo Sabres couldn't have gotten a more fair and balanced treatment Wednesday morning from their radio rightsholder concerning their season ticket price increase if they paid for it.

I'm not complaining about it. I applaud fairness. I was just a little surprised that co-hosts Howard Simon and Jeremy White were so fair about it after the Sabres horrendous season.

The co-hosts acknowledged that fans wouldn't be happy to pay more for tickets after the team finished last in the National Hockey League.

But then they explained that, in a way, fans won't really be paying more.

A season ticket-holder in the oranges, White noted that he is receiving several more dollars back in SabreBucks for concessions and other merchandise than he will be paying in ticket increases.

And both co-hosts mentioned that the NHL revenue sharing policies essentially forced the Sabres to raise their ticket prices and added that the team expects to remain 23rd in the league in average ticket price.

Continue reading "Sabres get fair and balanced treatment; WGR; Polian is ESPN star" »

A dinosaur on Twitter deals with how media has changed

By Alan Pergament 

I am a media dinosaur even if I am on Twitter.

I bring this up because of my take on a couple of internet issues involving the Buffalo Bills last week.

The first occurred on Tuesday night, April 22, when a draft of a story about Bills Coach Doug Marrone having a cancerous mole being removed from his skin somehow was briefly put on the team's website before it was taken down.

The premature posting set Twitter on fire and eventually led to the Bills releasing a statement from Marrone that said the procedure took care of the problem and it wouldn't impact his ability to coach.

After that statement was released, you had to wonder why the Bills even planned to deal with Marrone's condition on their website. The most logical explanation is that they felt so many people were aware of it that it was bound to leak.

In the old pre-Twitter days, the media might have been able to wait for Marrone's statement to put the premature website story in perspective before leading with it on newscasts without knowing the details.

After all, Marrone or anyone else in his medical situation deserved to be able to address the issue before the story was driven by speculation.

Continue reading "A dinosaur on Twitter deals with how media has changed " »

Robitaille really isn't retiring, plans to continue on radio

By Alan Pergament

Buffalo Sabres analyst Mike Robitaille said a tearful goodbye at the end of his final MSG post-game show Sunday night.

But the 66-year-old Robitaille really isn't retiring in the traditional sense.

He might even be on his regular WGR talk show hour, "Roby Radio," at 8 Wednesday morning.

His tears Sunday night seemed to surprise him, though in retrospect they were totally understandable.

"I was signed by the New York Rangers when I was 14," said Robitaille. "When your whole life is hockey, it is not an easy thing to give up."

His tears might have confused some viewers into thinking Robitaille was giving up all his media ventures instead of just his regular MSG role.

In a telephone interview Monday night, Robitaille said he expects to do his WGR show for four or five Wednesdays during the National Hockey League playoffs, plans to be back on WGR at least for his hour show in the fall and might also appear on MSG next season on an emergency fill-in basis.

"This is a semi-retirement," said Robitaille. "I'll just have enough to do on TV to have a parking pass."

Continue reading "Robitaille really isn't retiring, plans to continue on radio" »

Media skepticism is wise in Trump interest in Bills

By Alan Pergament

Pardon my skepticism, but some elements of the local radio and TV media went way overboard Tuesday over the speculation that Donald Trump might buy or invest in the Buffalo Bills after the death of owner Ralph Wilson.

Of course, regular readers known I am skeptical of just about everything involving the billionaire blowhard.

I would gladly cheer if Trump saved Bills fans a lot of angst, bought the team and kept it here.

I just wish Channel 4 and Channel 2 had watched ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday before they carried their stories on Trump's interest based on his remarks on WBEN radio earlier in the day.

"PTI" co-hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon both agreed that Trump's purchase of the Bills would be "great" for the National Football League and for Buffalo. But they added the chances of it happening are minimal because he would need approval from other NFL owners who still hold a grudge against him for being a strong voice when he owned a team in the USFL and sued the NFL.

The local stations also would have been wise to have read a post by the Buffalo News' Tim Graham Tuesday that noted the USFL lawsuit and added that Trump's ownership of casinos would prohibit him from owning a team.

Those two nuggets belonged in any Trump story related to the Bills Tuesday because they added much needed perspective. The chance that Trump would give up a sure money-winner like owning casinos to take a financial risk and own the Bills is about equal to the chance -- well -- that he would run for governor of New York State.

Continue reading "Media skepticism is wise in Trump interest in Bills" »

Bills hire multi-media journalist with local ties

By Alan Pergament

The Buffalo Bills have added a new member to its team of reporters covering the National Football team for its website and other media ventures.

Alexandra Vitale, who most recently was a sports multi-media journalist and weekend anchor at a Columbus, Ga. station, is joining the team's marketing and broadcasting department as a multi-media reporter.

Vitale, who was an accomplished swimmer at Canisius College before she eventually graduated from Saint Leo University in Florida, joins Chris Brown and John Murphy for the Bills' internal coverage of the team.

She replaces Hannah Buehler, who left the Bills to become a reporter at Channel 7.

According to the Bills, Vitale will cover the team and report on community, marketing and business intitatives and off-the-field endeavors for buffalo bills.com and other Bills media properties.

She previously was a production assistant and in-studio host of Patriots This Week for the New England Patriots'  Kraft Productions. The Patriots are owned by Robert Kraft.

apergament@buffnews.com

 

 

TV, social network reflections highlight Wilson coverage

By Alan Pergament

ST. MARTIN - Traditionally when I go away big news happens.

I can not imagine any bigger than the news I got via text from my older son as I sat on a beach in the Caribbean: "Ralph Wilson died." I headed to the Internet on my phone and saw that the Buffalo Bills confirmed it.

It was time to reflect on Wilson's well-lived 95 years and all the things that have changed in pro football and in life over that time.

The text I received on my iPhone was one small example. I am also writing this on an iPad. I immediately wished I could see the local television coverage of Wilson's legacy and life in what will be one of the biggest stories of the year in WNY. And then I remembered I could because all the local TV stations stream their newscasts and I have WiFi at my hotel.

I was able to watch Channel 4 anchor Don Postles tell viewers that the news was not unexpected because of Wilson's age but it was still a bit of a shock.

A short time later, Channel 4 was carrying a live news conference in which former Bill Steve Tasker told a wonderful, moving story about how Wilson welcomed him to the team and wished him well before his second game. Tasker thought it was a nice gesture and didn't realize he was talking to the owner.

Tasker appeared ready to tell another moving story when Channel 4 inexplicably cut to comments made by County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Bad move. A little later, I saw Channel 2 sports anchor Adam Benigni's report on Wilson's death that was aided by file footage from an exceptional special on the owner that at the time seemed preparation for an obituary. Good stuff.

I also headed to Facebook to see a post by Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon that told a sweet story about Wilson joining her for a meal and trying to make her feel comfortable in her role as a reporter back then.

There were several sweet Facebook posts that illustrated how much many Western New Yorkers appreciated Wilson and his kind gestures. But I couldn't help but think that people who aren't Buffalo natives appreciate what Wilson has done for the community more than those who have lived here all their lives.

I am one of them. I came here when I was 21 and 20 years later watched my first Bills Super Bowl not knowing if I would root for the Bills or the team I grew up with -- the New York Giants. (At kickoff, I learned I was a Bills fan.)

Since I am not a Buffalo native, I think I understand how fortunate the area has been to have had Wilson as an owner more than natives.

The world has dramatically changed since Wilson bought the team in 1960. At the time, Buffalo might have been a top 30 TV market or close to it. Now it is outside the top 50.

The community has lost population and Wilson hasn't been able to charge as much for tickets as owners in bigger markets. I have a friend who is a Giants season ticket-holder who pays three times as much as I do for a Bills game and he also has to pay a license fee. I couldn't afford to go to one Giants game a season, even if I could get ahold of a ticket.

The disparity in ticket prices and market sizes is one of the reasons I have supported the Bills in their position against lifting the NFL blackout rule. I think lifting the rule could hurt attendance here and attendance is one of the ways this area can show it belongs in the NFL despite its market size.

Some people have criticized Wilson for a variety of things, including unfairly suggesting he didn't spend enough money on players. There were few such complaints when the Bills made four straight Super Bowls in the 1990s.

The NFL rules have changed and there is no way today a team could afford to keep all the Hall of Famers on the same team. Wilson is a Hall of Famer, too, which would seem to say how big his legacy is in Buffalo.

However, there is some sentiment that his legacy here would be tarnished if the Bills don't stay here forever. To the contrary, Wilson did everything he could to keep the team here in a world changed by TV money, technology and population shifts in the 54 years he's owned the team. If the Bills ever move, it is on WNY, not Ralph Wilson.

apergament@buffnews.com
 

Sweet 16 comments about NCAA tourney and announcers

By Alan Pergament

One of the additional reasons I like the invention of On Demand viewing so much is that it enables me to watch so much college basketball.

If a game is on, I always figure I can catch up with "Blacklist" or "Scandal" later On Demand.

That's especially true if Syracuse is playing and driving me crazy. Not that I overrated the Orange this season. Even when Syracuse was 25-0, I told friends and family that "they are not very good."

But I added: "No one else is, either."

Continue reading "Sweet 16 comments about NCAA tourney and announcers " »

Azar right on the money about Bills raising ticket prices

By Alan Pergament

I received my season ticket renewal information from the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday and immediately reflected on my conversation last week with former Channel 7 Sports Director Rick Azar.

If you missed Sunday's newspaper, Azar reminisced about a commentary he did decades ago when the Bills raised their ticket prices.

"Hey, the Buffalo Bills can charge anything they want," said Azar, "and if you don't want to pay it, nobody is holding a gun to your head to pay it. Don't buy a ticket."

The commentary, which didn't please the Bills public relations staff at the time because of the suggestion fans not buy tickets, certainly has relevance this year as well.

Continue reading "Azar right on the money about Bills raising ticket prices" »

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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 | apergament@buffnews.com

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