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Williams Signing Isn’t TV News Game Changer

This is what I’m thinking:

English: Los conductores, Colin Cowherd y Mich...

Michelle Beadle: Pro Buffalo

The Buffalo Bills’ $100 million signing of free agent Mario Williams that topped local newscasts Thursday wasn’t a game changer in the news ratings. The collective numbers from 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m. and at 11 p.m. were below the normal range because Channel 4 was carrying NCAA tournament games for a good deal of the time.

It also probably didn’t help that No.1 seed Syracuse was struggling to beat No. 16-seeded UNC-Asheville, 72-65, at news time in a first round game of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The big winner at 5 p.m. was Channel 2, which had an 11.1 rating at 5 p.m. when Channel 4 was carrying basketball. The 11.1 rating was higher than anything in prime time here.

At 6 p.m. when hoop was over and the normal news schedule was in play, Channel 4 was first with an 8.7 rating to Channel 2’s 8.1. Channel 7 had a 3.7.

Channel 4 stuck with the Williams signing longer than Channel 2. Channel 2 used the headline “Game Changer” to describe the signing. Channel 4’s George Richert referred to the Williams watch over the last two days as “Mario Mania.”

ESPN’s Eric Mangini rained on Buffalo’s parade Thursday night on “Sports Nation” when he was asked the true or false question of whether the Bills signing of Williams was a huge deal. The former coach of the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns ultimately said it was false because of Williams’ injury-prone past and the fact he has had only two seasons with double-digit sacks. Co-host Michelle Beadle disagreed, noting how much the Williams signing had excited the Buffalo area and adding it is a great sports town. The voters in Sports Nation sided with Beadle, with 94 percent calling it a big deal. Of course, we don’t know how many of those votes came from Western New York.

Meanwhile, former New England Patriot Tedy Bruschi, another ESPN analyst, said this morning that the Bills would have been smart to sign Williams even if they had to pay more than the $100 million. The comment should improve Bruschi’s image in Buffalo. It wasn’t in the Tom Brady negative range, but it was pretty close. 

As a Syracuse University graduate, I initially reluctantly agreed that the Orange seemed to get some big help from the referees near the end of its win over UNC-Asheville Thursday afternoon. But that’s because I didn’t know the rule on a key lane violation called against the 16th-seeded team and the announcers were going nuts over the call. It turned out they didn’t know the rule, either, and they’re supposed to know it. Getting a second chance on a 1 and 1 at the line, Syracuse’s Scoop Jardine then hit two big free throws. Still, you rarely see such a call at such a key moment in the game so the Orange was very fortunate.

The second break the Orange received came when the refs wrongly thought a ball went out-of-bounds off of Asheville instead of Syracuse’s Brandon Triche. However, Triche clearly was fouled on the play so the two bad calls on the same play evened out. Calls like that happen all the time in the NBA.

The Syracuse game had a 2.5 local rating, which is pretty impressive considering it was an afternoon game carried on truTV rather than on CBS.

ABC took advantage of CBS’ basketball coverage Thursday (normally a big CBS night) by premiering “Missing,” a strong female series starring Ashley Judd. The move worked in Buffalo, where “Missing” averaged a 9.7 rating on Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate. It beat the fading “American Idol” (9.2) here. Before ABC calls it a hit, it should wait to see how it does when it doesn’t play opposite basketball.

In other ratings news, NBC’s product placement series “Fashion Star” opened Tuesday with a weak 3.5 rating on Channel 2. And the second addition of NBC’s confusing “Awake” had a 4.4 here. It was expected to do better opposite basketball games on CBS that get in the 2-4 ratings range here in prime time for early round games.

One final Williams note: Like former Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly, I often have deer in my backyard in a northern suburb. But I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to shoot them. Not that I ever would even if it were legal in a residential neighborhood. 

pergament@msn.com

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8 responses to "Williams Signing Isn’t TV News Game Changer"

  1. Gman says:

    It is safe to say that this Mario is more popular than the previously famous Mario that once led this state.

  2. rob says:

    Some notes while wondering what happened to Ted Textor….

    The Mario Williams signing, and the lack of TV ratings bump, shows clearly how social media and the internet are the undisputed kings of instantaneous information for news updates. I wonder what the increase in web traffic for those same stations, plus ESPN or Twitter was specific to this story during the three day span of Mario Williams? Legacy radio also came into play as Wgr-550 did a nice job with minute by minute updates. I think it’s safe to say that this was the biggest Bills signing in the Social media age.

  3. Bill J. says:

    They should have spent the money on Peyton Manning. The Bills are not going anywhere without a quarterback

  4. Rob says:

    I didn’t forget the TO saga. I think this story was bigger in the digital and social media age

  5. rob says:

    Also with TO, there wasn’t this 3 day wait and speculation. TO’s deal just happend period

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