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WBBZ Has a Lot Riding on Bills-Miami Game

Some leftovers along with some new material after enjoying a three-day weekend:

If anyone is thrilled that the Buffalo Bills game Thursday with Miami on The NFL Network is sold out in time to be televised locally, it is probably WBBZ Owner Phil Arno.

The station already had a considerable amount of promotional money invested in the game, which WBBZ hopes will attract more viewers to the independent station or to at least find it. (It is Channel 67, but can be viewed in most cable areas on Channel 5 or Channel 710 in HD.)

WBBZ already had to deal with Time Warner Cable’s recent deal with The NFL Network, which means the game will have double coverage in this market. WBBZ expects more viewers will watch it on its channel than on The NFL Network.

In years past when prime time Bills games have been carried on ESPN and a local affiliate, more viewers watched on the local affiliate. However, that could be partly because all viewers are aware of where local network affiliates like Channel 7 are on their TVs.

WBBZ General Manager Bob Koshinski, who also hosts a couple of sports shows on WBBZ, will host a two-hour pregame show on the station starting at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Paul Peck, the former Channel 4 sportscaster who remains the voice of the University at Buffalo football, will be involved in WBBZ’s coverage. Radio personality Rob Lucas of 102.5, who was involved in the station’s national July broadcast of “Buffalo Night in America,” also will be involved in covering the pre-game party from Eastern Hills Mall, where WBBZ is located.

WBBZ is believed to have paid $100,000 or more for the rights to televise the game, which it hopes to recoup with advertising. Back in June when WBBZ pulled the upset over rival local affiliates to land the game, Koshinski told stilltalkintv “We put in a very aggressive bid, well beyond anyone else…We paid more than anyone has paid for an in season game.”

At the time that WBBZ won the rights to the game, the Bills were presumed to be a playoff team and the Dolphin game was considered by many fans to be a likely win. Neither of those presumptions is accurate now. However, the game is still expected to get a combined local rating between cable and WBBZ in the 30s or low 40s.  

After two weeks of the November news sweeps, Channel 2 continues to dominate in the early morning, at 5 p.m. and at 5:30 p.m. and wins at 6 p.m. in a tight battle with Channel 4. Channel 4 wins comfortably at 11 p.m., though the race has tightened from a year ago. Channel 7 is third in all time slots.

Channel 4’s 10 p.m. newscast on WNLO-TV also dominates over Channel 2’s 10 at 10 on WNYO-TV.

There are several things of note after half of the sweeps have concluded.

News ratings are up substantially at all three stations, most likely because of the November election and the coverage of Hurricane Sandy.

Jodi Johnston: Leaving Ch.2 Shortly

Channel 2’s 6 a.m. rating for “Daybreak” is higher than the rating the station gets at 11 p.m.

Channel 2’s rating at 11 a.m. with Mary Friona is up about 30 percent, possibly because of the coverage of the election and the hurricane.

The only Channel 2 newscast that has declined from a year ago is “10 at 10.” Not to beat a dead horse, but I think you know why I think its ratings are down. However, Channel 4 also has slipped at 10 p.m., though it still dominates.

Channel 4’s “Wake Up” ratings have taken a big hit in the first book since co-anchors Victoria Hong and Joe Arena have left.

There are multiple factors for Channel 2’s dominance in the morning besides Channel 4′s implosion. One of the additional factors – the popularity of co-anchor Jodi Johnston —  will be eliminated when she exits the station for a big public relations job after the sweeps end. The station isn’t expected to announce Johnston’s replacement until January. Melissa Holmes is the leading in-house candidate for the job, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the station also is looking at outside candidates.

If Holmes ultimately gets the morning job, Channel 2 will also have to find a new female co-anchor at 5 p.m. and a new anchor at 10 p.m. because no anchor is likely to volunteer to work Johnston’s incredibly taxing split shift of 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

pergament@msn.com

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4 responses to "WBBZ Has a Lot Riding on Bills-Miami Game"

  1. Rick says:

    Will WBBZ ever get HD on DirecTV? Bob Koshinski promised last year they would have it for the Yankees season and that never happpened. Unless they provide HD service by Thursday, I can’t see their ratings being that high since Time Warner now carrier the NFL Network.

  2. Brian says:

    Typically the cable channel (NFL Network in this case)gets blacked out locally for nationally televised games. Don’t be surprised if your only option to watch the Bills game is on WBBZ.

  3. Joe says:

    I stopped watching Channel 2 at 10 for the same reason Alan keeps pounding them. It is just dopey beyond belief to not lead with the top story and go down from there rather than work up to it. Now that I am watching Channel 4 at 10 I wouldn’t go back as I like Diana Fairbanks a great deal and their rapid fire approach to stories. Diana has been a real welcome addition to a station that has bled talent for years.

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