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Ch.2′s Olympic Rates Impressive, Absence of News Spoilers Is Silly

After further review, it is impossible to take a few days off from watching the London Olympics even if you go out of town.

As I wrote Friday, that was my game plan. I tried. Unsuccessfully. Avoiding the Olympics is about as easy as avoiding a promo for Matthew Perry’s new comedy “Go On.”

The London Games are one of the few remaining programs that are a shared experience. Practically everyone is talking about them even more than Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart’s love lives and Mitt Romney’s tax returns.

I went out to breakfast in New York City on Sunday and heard some people over at the next table giving their Olympic game plan. They DVR the nightly coverage because “the first hour doesn’t usually have anything of interest” and start watching at 9 p.m. or so and still finish by midnight because they can speed through the commercials.

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 28:  NBC Nightly News ...

Brian Williams: Olympic Spoiler (Getty Images via @daylife)

It’s a smart way to do it, though it can’t make NBC’s advertisers too happy.

I also got a call Sunday about the Olympics from a good friend of mine, Dusty Saunders, a legendary TV critic in Denver. He wanted to know how Canada television covers the Games. When I told him that CTV carries everything that is important (admittedly a subjective opinion) live, he wondered how badly that hurt the Buffalo NBC affiliate, Channel 2.

He sounded incredulous when I told him the Canadian coverage doesn’t hurt Channel 2 all that much, most likely because the people watching CTV during the daytime are senior citizens and other lucky people who don’t work during the day. I added NBC executives are right when they say most Americans find it more convenient to watch the coverage in prime time even though it isn’t live and they might know who won.

This isn’t to say that Channel 2 doesn’t get hurt some by CTV’s coverage, which doesn’t get rated in the States. It does hurt. As impressive as Channel 2’s ratings have been — in the 14.8 to 21.0 nightly – it has been one of the weakest of the 56 NBC affiliates rated in larger markets that comprise the overnights even though we think of WNY as a great sports town.

On Saturday night when NBC ran taped coverage of Michael Phelps’s final gold medal in a relay, Channel 2 averaged its lowest rating of the Games. It had a 14.8 rating, ranking 49th out of the 56 markets. That was a big dip from the comparable night in Beijing, which had an 18.8 rating on Channel 2.

Perhaps CTV’s coverage hurts more on Saturday, when even working people are off and can watch it.

On Thursday when Phelps broke the Olympic medal record and Gabby Douglas won the women’s gymnastics all-around, Channel 2 averaged a 21.0 rating, which was considerably higher than the 18.2 rating it received for the corresponding night in Beijing. However, Buffalo was only the 45th rated market out of 56 with the 21 rating.

Through the first nine nights of competition, NBC is averaging an 18.9 national, 9 percent higher than the 17.4 it averaged for those nights in Beijing. Channel 2 is averaging an 18.0 rating, which is in range of NBC’s average but only ties it for 46th among NBC overnight affiliates. It averaged a 19.3 for Beijing through nine nights. So Channel 2 is down about 6 percent from Beijing, largely because of Saturday’s 14.8 rating.

My educated guess is that viewership is still strong here because more people may actually be driven to watch in prime time when they know how well Americans have done than are pushed away because the action isn’t live.

To put Channel 2’s average of an 18 rating for the first nine nights in perspective, the highest-rated entertainment prime time show during May in Western New York was the long-running CBS drama “NCIS” with a 16.5 rating.

And Mark Harmon’s series only runs for an hour a week. The London Olympics is running four to five hours a night.

While in NYC, I also noted that the local NBC affiliate (which is owned by NBC) there runs “spoiler alerts” before giving Olympics results during the local newscasts that run before the network coverage begins.

I returned home Sunday to see if Channel 2 treats the Olympics the same way.

At 6 p.m. Sunday, Channel 2 sports anchor Stu Boyar showed the medal count in a tease before a commercial that delayed the sports report. His sports report focused on Michael Phelps’ Saturday relay win and the men’s volleyball loss to Russia on Saturday featuring an interview with WNYer Matt Anderson.

There was no mention of Usain Bolt’s win in the 100 meter race, which was the highlight of Sunday’s competition. Boo. Ten minutes later, the “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” (which Channel 2 carries) gave spoilers via a photo that showed Bolt had remained the fastest man in the world.

Channel 2’s Olympic game plan on its newscast was just silly. If an NBC affiliate owned by the network and Williams’ newscast can give spoiler alerts, so can Channel 2. Check that, so should Channel 2.



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6 responses to "Ch.2′s Olympic Rates Impressive, Absence of News Spoilers Is Silly"

  1. gary says:

    I have TWC, and CTV has been blacked out several times this past week during events that were going to be broadcast on NBC later that night.

    • alanp says:

      Where do you live? That makes no sense. It hasn’t been blacked out on my TV and I have TWC.

      • gary says:

        S.Cheektowaga,I don’t know why, but at times CTV(ch.15)was the only channel not coming in. Last time I noticed it was sat. afternoon, when Phelps was swimming in his last event.

  2. GMan says:

    Yawnnnnn …..No one and nobody in my “circle” is talking Olympics.( and I ‘m an avid sports fan) The only reason I’ve even seen them this year is because of the extremely hot summer. Stay inside, keep cool, and watch TV. To me, that’s why they have any kind of ratings. Otherwise, lots of people would be attending our many festivals.

  3. Judi says:

    NBC has promoted Matthew Perry’s series so much that I find them as annoying as Billy Fuccillo and his sidekick Abby’s commercials.

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