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“X Factor” May Bite “American Idol” Here

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 08:  Judges Steven Tyle...

Tyler, Lopez and Randy Jackson

This is what I’m thinking:

Will Western New Yorkers continue to be big “American Idol” fans?

That’s a huge question when the American institution premieres tonight after local viewers largely ignored the Simon Cowell copycat singing competition “The X Factor” last fall.

Quickly, name the “X” winner? The show seemed more determined to find a singer with a good story than to find a great performer.

Of course, last year was supposed to be the year that “Idol” slipped severely because of Cowell’s departure. But the arrival of judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler kept the local losses down and it remained a hit.

But this year could be different. Fox always had protected “Idol” by refusing to have more than one run of it each season starting in January. The disappointing local ratings and to a lesser degree national ratings for “The X Factor” could be viewed as evidence that it was a wise choice. Now the question is what factor the arrival of “X” and other popular singing competition shows will be on “Idol’s” ratings.

Of course, you could make the argument that the weak “X” viewership suggests local viewers were waiting for the real thing (and I’m not talking about the Coke glasses in front of the judges). But I doubt it.  More likely, viewers are getting tired of all the karaoke on TV. I would expect that there will be a bigger “Idol” decline than last year despite any new creative efforts by the show’s producers unless we see a bigger infusion of talent than there was last year.

If you missed Monday’s salute to 90-year-old Betty White, NBC is repeating it Saturday night. It is a nostalgic, entertaining 90 minutes of television loaded with comments from veteran stars of series that used to air on Saturday nights when the networks carried quality original programs rather than repeats. Viewers undoubtedly will focus on who has aged well (Valerie Harper, a/k/a “Rhoda” gets my vote) and who hasn’t (I think the winner is obvious but won’t name her). Viewers may also be surprised to see how long White has been playing roles in which her characters feasted on double entendres.

I keep reading comments on my site, the Buffalo News site and elsewhere suggesting that Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula buy out the TV contract from MSG and put the games on a local TV station. Of course, once upon a time Channel 2 and Channel 7 used to carry an extensive schedule of Sabre games. But the rules of network affiliation have changed since then. Most, if not all, broadcast deals nowadays would prevent local network affiliates from carrying an extensive schedule of Sabre games. Local affiliates generally are allowed a limited number of preemptions every year in newer deals and some networks are even refusing to allow any preemptions. So you probably should forget seeing an extensive schedule of prime time Sabre games on Channel 2, Channel 4, Channel 7 and Channel 29, all of which have network affiliation deals. That would leave independent stations that would likely be unable to afford the huge rights fee associated with Sabre games.

It probably doesn’t mean anything to the current Time Warner Cable-MSG battle because these things take years, but the Wall Street Journal reported last week that there have been longstanding rumors that TWC might try a takeover attempt of Cablevision, a smaller cable operator that owns MSG. If TWC ever tried and were successful, it would control the cable operator it is fighting with now.

Finally, “The X Factor” winner was Melanie Amaro.

pergament@msn.com

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4 responses to "“X Factor” May Bite “American Idol” Here"

  1. Re: buying out the Sabres.

    There are some options.

    1. Time Warner itself buys the contract and puts it on their sports channel. Probably not likely, since that means they’d have to put it on satellite providers, and TWCS is supposed to be a cable-only perk.

    2. WNLO or WNYO. Both are backed by major channels (4 and 29/2, respectively). Both are in desperate need for programming, judging by their woeful standing in the ratings outside news. Either take on the Sabres contract, or split it up so that Saturday night games air on the major channel (the time when, as you mentioned, none of the networks carry anything) and the minor networks get the weeknight games. Of course, being so close to the Canadian border I’m sure the Canadians won’t be too happy about infringing on Hockey Night in Canada. But oh, well.

    3. WBBZ, the lone independent, gets the games, although as you said, they don’t exactly have the money. I could see them picking up a limited package, though, and because they go by must-carry instead of retransmission consent, you don’t have to worry about cable blackouts.

  2. alanp says:

    They can’t make enough money on their sub-channel to avoid losing tons of money on a rights deal.

  3. Warren says:

    Your right. Plus the Sabres like any Major League sports team, looks to their TV contracts to produce revenue. But it’s too bad that the NHL, can’t follow the lead of Baseball and offer a Team package of some over air broadcast games, certainly would increase the viewers of the games, broadcast TV appears to bring better ratings then cable. MSG did pay for the broadcast rights and it does give them some cards to pressure Time Warner. Sad to see the fans caught in the middle, but it is a business.

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