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Jeanneret Hopes to Be Back for Sabres Game Thursday

Buffalo Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret will miss his second straight game tonight when the National Hockey League team plays Toronto, but he hopes to be back in time for the Sabres game Thursday in Carolina.

That’s the word from Sabres spokesman Mike Gilbert this afternoon.

“He’s not feeling 100 percent,” said Gilbert. He added that the Hall of Famer is resting at home and hasn’t been hospitalized but wants to maintain his privacy about what ails him.

“I talked to him today and he’s hoping to be on the plane Wednesday for Thursday’s game,” said Gilbert.

Kevin Sylvester, who works for the team, will call tonight’s game. It is simulcast by MSG and WGR. WGR’s Paul Hamilton was the radio play-by-play man of the Sabres’ 5-2 season opening win Sunday over Philadelphia, which was televised nationally by NBC.


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A Scary Protest and a Scary Fox Series

This is what I’m thinking on a morning that many of you have off:

It was hard not to be a little confused by TV reports about how many people attended the rally by gun-rights enthusiasts on Niagara Square across from City Hall Saturday.

Channel 4’s report at a so-called Gun Appreciation Rally was the most confusing. At 11 p.m., anchor Lou Raguse said a 1,000 people where there. Reporter Anthony Congi then said they were 2,000 people there and called the rally “massive.”

Massive? Congi obviously needs some history lessons from demonstrations in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Meanwhile, Channel 2 anchor Ron Plants was more conservative and said there were “hundreds” of people there.

I suppose it was a decent-sized protest on short notice. But when you consider how many people have registered guns around here, I’d hardly call a 1,000-2,000 or so people a “massive” demonstration.

The TV interviews with those attending and the offensive signs some of them were holding might not have done their cause much good. To put it mildly, many of the ordinary pro-gun enthusiasts were scary looking.

One other thing was a little scary – their lack of understanding of the new state law. It doesn’t take away their guns, though gun advocates believe it is the start of a slippery slope that could lead to that.

Of course, the reporters covering the story couldn’t say many of those at the rally were scary looking — they properly let the video show that without judging those interviewed. But Channel 2’s Jeff Praval did note that one of the politicians involved in the rally conceded some of the signs against President Obama and Governor Cuomo were “over-the-top.”

Speaking of scary, Kevin Bacon’s new Fox series premiering at 9 tonight on WUTV, “The Following,” is to quote Rick Jeanneret – scary good.

Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy

Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy

Bacon plays a former FBI guy, Ryan Hardy, “who doesn’t play well with others” and is re-enlisted to recapture a college professor and Edgar Allan Poe expert, Joe Carroll, (James Purefoy) who has turned into a serial killer and has escaped from Death Row a decade since Hardy first captured him.

The cast also includes Natalie Zea as Carroll’s ex-wife, Annie Parisse as a FBI specialist assisting Hardy and Shawn Ashmore as a FBI team member who idolizes Hardy.

The opening hour is full of exposition that explains who Ryan is and attempts to explain how Joe Carroll managed to manipulate a cult of people who become his followers (thus the title) outside of prison to add to his victim list.

I won’t give out many details because discovering the back stories of characters is part of the intrigue tonight.

Kevin Williamson, best known for “The Vampire Diaries” and “Dawson’s Creek,” is the creator of this creepy, psychological drama that has some unexpected twists that will be tough to top on a weekly basis.

Bacon’s damaged character is a bit complicated – he’s a jerk sometimes and a caring good guy at other times. Purefoy makes a good menacing villain and there are enough pretty women in jeopardy to add to the suspense. And this being Fox, there also is a pretty woman on Bacon’s side.

“The Following” might have worked better as a movie – at one point Williamson reportedly wrote it as one —  but tonight’s opener is well worth watching as long as you can stomach the horror. Many of the murders involve knives, which make me more squeamish than guns.

Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 4

I had to chuckle when Channel 2 sportscaster Jonah Javad told viewers Saturday at 11:29 p.m. to stay tuned to “Saturday Night Live,”  which he added has more jokes than he has.

“SNL” also has a better batting average. Jovad’s attempt to use humor in his sportscasts falls flat often because he tries too hard. Someone should tell him to scale it back a bit because many of his lines and his phrases just don’t make sense.

I should have noted in my Sunday blog that WNED-TV is repeating “Downton Abbey” episodes on Saturday nights at 11 p.m.


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“Downton” Huge Hit for WNED and PBS


Apparently my romance with Lady Mary, Lady Sybil and the other rich Brits on PBS’ “Downton Abbey” over the holidays isn’t unique in Western New York.

The first two Sunday night episodes of season three are getting ratings on WNED-TV, the local PBS affiliate, in line with prime time shows on the major broadcast networks on the night.

The season opener on Jan. 6 saw a 50 percent bump from the season premiere of season two, beat ABC’s “Revenge” on Channel 7 and was in a virtual tie with CBS’ “The Good Wife” on Channel 4 and NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” on Channel 2.

The second “Downton” episode on Jan. 13 maintained almost all of the premiere episode audience and beat “Revenge” but fell behind “The Golden Globes” on Channel 2 and “The Good Wife.”

Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery of "Downton"

Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery of “Downton”

These are heady numbers for PBS and WNED and they come despite the fact there have been a lot of spoilers out there about season three happenings since the Masterpiece Classic series already has been carried in England.

During a press conference in Pasadena, Calif., earlier this week, PBS President Paula Kerger noted the series premiere attracted 7.9 million viewers, quadrupled the average PBS prime time ratings and exceeded the second season premiere by nearly 100 percent.

“In other words, it’s a smash hit,” said Kerger. “We don’t see numbers like that in television that often and certainly not in public television … It was just ‑‑ it was a beautiful thing.”

She believes writing and production elements are largely responsible for the soap opera’s success.

“Those ‘Downton’ pieces feel like film,” said Kerger. “They are cast extraordinarily well… I think that the reason that anything pops at any given time is a little bit of alchemy.  I think if anyone else in the media industry could figure it out, then everything would be a hit, or at least we would see more hits than we do.  But I believe that sometimes you have really great programs that somehow don’t find their audience, so I think in this case it’s a little bit of an alignment of the stars.  But I think the core of it is that beautiful production, a lot of attention to detail, an amazing cast, and really strong writing.

“I mean, imagine ‘Downton Abbey’ without Maggie Smith, you know.  I mean, it’s just ‑‑ again, I think the casting of it was probably the most brilliant piece.”

Of course, some viewers want to imagine a “Downton” that runs simultaneously in the States and Britain so spoilers won’t be an issue.

“This is a question of great debate of whether to try to bring the broadcast of the two together,” said Kerger. “It’s complicated for a lot of reasons.  One is, as you know, the version that airs in the UK airs with commercials, and we air ours without.  So we actually edit the program together.

“We also look very carefully at where in the broadcast schedule it falls.  You have encouraged us often that everyone puts their most competitive work on in the fall, and to put ‘Downton’ in the teeth of that I’m not sure serves anyone well.  There’s also an enormous ‑‑ there’s been an enormous generation of publicity and attention around the series that we benefit from by having it in January.  So how we’re going to end up making the decision is actually based on what we think will be best for the viewers and will help serve them well.”

She added that history hasn’t been that kind to PBS when it tries to air British productions in the States closer to the time they are carried in the UK.

“It’s been really interesting watching ‘Downton’ in its first week and a half,” she added. “There are people that have read about some of the outcomes but are still watching it.  I think a little bit about the Olympics.  We knew what the outcomes were, but we were still watching them every night.  And again, I don’t mean to draw a comparison between the Olympics and “Downton” in terms of viewership and patterns, but I think that ‑‑ I want to make sure that we put “Downton” in a place that has ‑‑ it has the opportunity to be seen and appreciated by as many people as possible.”

One critic scoffed at the Olympics reference, noting that Americans were “annoyed” by NBC’s carrying events on delay when the rest of the world knew the results because they watched live.

“Do you feel like, to some degree, viewers are being punished?” he asked.

“No, we’re not punishing our viewers,” replied Kerger. “I do think that, again, if I was standing up here today saying, ‘Look, this is what we’re going to do, and we’re sticking with it’ and so forth — we’re just looking at it very carefully.  We talk to a lot of people, and we talk to a lot of people, again because we have stations in communities, and we’re talking to people that are watching “Downton.”

“I think that at the end of the day ‑‑ and maybe the Olympics is a bad example – but at the end of the day, I want to make sure that we’re putting the series in a place where the most people can find it and that people will have an opportunity to enjoy it and be part of a larger experience.  And I don’t know whether that means jamming it in the fall at the same time that every other broadcaster is running their stuff really serves the series or, frankly, the viewers well.”

It is hard to see PBS changing its strategy since “Downton” is a gold medal winner right where it is now.


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Oprah’s Enhances Reputation As Interviewer

Oprah Winfrey didn’t do Lance Armstrong any favors by separating her exclusive interview with the disgraced cyclist in two parts — Thursday and Friday.

It surely helped OWN – the Oprah Winfrey Network – sell more commercials.

But one of the major criticisms of Armstrong after Stage One of the interview Thursday – that he was unemotional – may have been softened if the entire interview had run on one night.

Oprah and Lance, Part 2

Oprah and Lance, Part 2















That’s because Armstrong looked more human in Friday’s installment, which most likely had fewer viewers than Part One.

Armstrong got very emotional discussing how he had to tell his son to stop defending his father over doping and performance enhancing drug allegations that we now know were always true.

I repeat what I said in Friday’s blog – we know what Armstrong placed in his body but we may never what is in his heart.

Winfrey asked just about every question that I suggested in Friday’s blog needed to be asked.

She asked if doctors believed what Armstrong did to his body contributed in any way to his cancer. Armstrong said no, though other reports have suggested otherwise.

She asked if he was therapy. Armstrong said he was and that he is the kind of person who never should stop going.

And she asked how his behavior affected his loved ones and his family. He addressed how it affected his children, his ex-wife and other people close to him.

The only question on my list that Winfrey didn’t ask is whether Armstrong faces any possible legal problems now because of his confessions or if he is in clear because of the statute of limitations.

But I guess I couldn’t expect that to be asked.

All in all, Winfrey did an outstanding job that should add to her reputation.

As far as Armstrong’s reputation, it is hard to see how the interview helped him.

Do you need to hear more from Jim Rome, who has a radio show carried by WGR, a show on cable’s CBS Sports Network and a show on pay-cable’s Showtime?

Didn’t think so. But on CBS’ pregame show before Sunday’s 6:30 p.m. AFC title game between New England and Baltimore on Channel 4, Rome is going to give his “unique perspective” on the game, according to a CBS Sports release.

With the weather in WNY expected to be frightful Sunday, local ratings for the AFC title game on Channel 4 and the NFC title game on Channel 29 should be higher than the predicted snow in some areas.

New England’s win over Houston Sunday was the highest-rated game locally last weekend with a 27.2 rating on Channel 4. Atlanta’s win over Seattle last Sunday had a 25.1 rating on WUTV. Baltimore’s overtime win Saturday over Denver had a 25.0 rating on Channel 4 and severely cut into the rating for San Francisco’s win over Green Bay. It had an 18.1 rating on WUTV.

To put the ratings in perspective, most prime time network programs gets ratings in the single-digits in WNY. Bills regular season games on Sundays generally get in the range of the high 20s to the low to mid-30s.

With ratings like last Sunday’s, the title games on Sunday should come close to a 30 rating.

It will be interesting to see if the NFL playoff ratings will be higher locally than the ratings for the long-awaited Buffalo Sabres’ season opener with Philadelphia on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate. The 12:30 p.m. start time means the hockey game should be over at around 3 p.m., when the San Francisco-Atlanta game starts on Channel 29.

Generally, games that start later in the afternoon get higher ratings. The Sabres have local interest on their side, but it is only a regular season game and the NFL has the advantages of a later start time and Super Bowl berths on the line.

Sabre playoff games on NBC can get ratings in the 30s, but a regular season rating close to 20 would be impressive for the opener.


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Armstrong Interview Not a Big Ratings Deal Here

Oprah Winfrey’s “big get” interview with Lance Armstrong ran relatively poorly in Western New York.

The 90-minute program averaged a 1.8 rating on cable’s OWN, meaning 1.8 percent of WNY households tuned in to Armstrong’s confessional.

The good news is the viewership stayed constant throughout the program. A repeat at 10:30 p.m. averaged a .6 rating (that’s a point six), which is about one third of the original broadcast.

Of course, those ratings are impressive by local OWN standards. After all, it is carried on the 100 tier of digital cable locally. (It is on Channel 105).

But the audience for Armstrong was small by comparison to the broadcast network offerings Thursday. The Armstrong interview got about one-fifth of the rating for Fox’s “American Idol” on WUTV and CBS’ “Person of Interest” on Channel 4, about a quarter of the size of “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC and about half of the rating for NBC’s “The Office” and “1600 Penn.”

I’m a little surprised by the low local rating for Armstrong because it had a lot of traffic on Twitter.

Nationally, the first airing of the Armstrong interview reached 3.2 million viewers, making it the highest-rated weekday program in OWN history. It didn’t beat a Winfrey interview with the family of Whitney Houston on March 11. 2012, which aired on a Sunday and remains the top-viewed program in OWN history.

In another bit of ratings news, the debut of Jordan Williams, Channel 4’s new “Wake Up!” co-anchor alongside Diana Fairbanks, shows how much ground the station needs to make up in the morning competition with Channel 2’s “Daybreak” team of John Beard and Melissa Holmes.

At 6 a.m. Thursday, Channel 2 (7.1) almost held a 3-1 lead over Channel 4 (2.7), which actually saw its audience decrease from 5 a.m. (where it tied Channel 2).

The Buffalo Sabres season hasn”t started yet, and WBBZ-TV is already thinking baseball. The independent station that is available on Channel 67 over the air and on cable, satellite and FiOS announced this afternoon that it will carry 21 New York Yankee games in the upcoming season. The first game is April 12 — which is less than three months away — against the Baltimore Orioles.



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Lee Evans on NFL Countdown Sunday

Former Buffalo Bills receiver Lee Evans is going to be featured in a story on ESPN’s “NFL Countdown” at 10 a.m. Sunday with the headline:  “Lee Evans’ Lingering Image.”

According to an ESPN release this morning, Adam Schefter reports on why Evans feels it is important to keep a photo in his home of his catch of what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown pass in last season’s AFC title game with New England and subsequent drop two plays before Baltimore’s Billy Cundiff added to the heartbreak of Ravens fans by missing a game-tying field goal.

Lee Evans' Big Drop

Lee Evans’ Big Drop

The Ravens meet the Patriots again Sunday in the AFC title game.

In the same release today, Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN. com wrote: “Here’s the thing you need to know about Lee Evans: He’s fine. One year after a potential winning touchdown catch was slapped out of his hands in the waning seconds of the AFC Championship Game, Evans sat in front of a television in his house last weekend, hoping for the second chance he never got. A few minutes earlier, Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones had dropped a third-and-5 pass in a playoff game at Denver. The Ravens trailed by seven and were running out of time in the frigid mountain air. Joe Flacco heaved up a 70-yard prayer, and Jones wrapped his arms around it and found the end zone.”

In a previous report, Merrill called Evans the “anti-diva” of receivers and said he is hoping to overcome recurring ankle injuries in an attempt to play somewhere next season. He was out of the NFL this season after being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars.



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Winfrey Makes Armstrong Interview All Her OWN


Thanks to Queen Oprah, we now know what was in Lance Armstrong’s body while he won seven Tours de France. But we still don’t know what is in his heart.

And we may never know.

But that won’t prevent people from saying he only confessed to all the performance-enhancing drug use because he thinks it will benefit him in some way.

I can’t see any way it benefits him.

Oprah Interviews Lance

Oprah Interviews Lance















“No winners here,” declared “Today” host Matt Lauer this morning during an interview with former Armstrong teammate Tyler Hamilton.

“No winners,” repeated Hamilton.

Actually, there was one big winner – Oprah.

For one thing, more people can now find the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in Western New York and around the nation. I had a couple of friends call me Thursday and ask where to find it. I sent them to channel 105 on Time Warner Cable, which isn’t in HD.

The title of the 90-minute confession that put OWN on the map even gave the interviewer top billing: “Oprah and Lance Armstrong.”

For another thing, Winfrey was the winner because she asked just about every relevant question with just the right tone and never seemed too sympathetic to Armstrong.

She owned the interview and surely stopped the pre-interview cheap shots that suggested she would be soft on Armstrong. Well, most of them anyway. In today’s Twitter universe, nobody goes unscathed.

But even if you thought Winfrey performed well, be honest. Raise your hand if you plan to watch Stage 2 of the interview tonight. After Winfrey was able to get Armstrong to admit everything with “yes or no” questions in the first few minutes, I’m sure that many viewers who aren’t cycling  enthusiasts got a little bored watching Armstrong trying to explain himself.

He never got too emotional, even when acting more sympathetic to those who he had verbally attacked or bullied would have been to his benefit.

However, as well as Winfrey performed, there were some issues that need to be raised tonight.

A couple of things quickly come to mind:

Did any doctors believe what Armstrong did to his body contributed in any way to his cancer?

Is he in therapy and if so did that enable him to understand himself better and come forward with the truth?

Does he face any possible legal problems now or is he in the clear because of the statute of limitations?

How has his behavior affected his loved ones and his family?

I did turn to CNN Thursday night in time to see Armstrong get mostly hammered for a few minutes by members of a panel who apparently were Armstrong experts.

So clearly he is right and the confessions are going to be too late for many people, if not all.

But I couldn’t help but wonder if it is impossible to know what it has been like to walk in Armstrong’s shoes all these years and if he is telling the truth when he says he nows feels so much better about telling the truth.

This morning on “Today,” Hamilton called Stage 1 of the Armstrong interview “a huge first step.” Hamilton added that he felt so much better after he came clean and admitted using performance-enhancing drugs and he expects that Armstrong will feel the same way.

If that’s in his heart, maybe Armstrong will be a winner after all despite all the negativity he is sure to face in the coming days, months and years.

I’m hoping another athlete watched the Armstrong interview – Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’O. The controversy surrounding Te’O’s non-existent dead girlfriend threatened to overtake the attention that the Armstrong interview was getting.

Once again, we’ don’t know what is in Te’O’s heart and we may never know. If he or his agent or Notre Dame officials took one thing away from the Armstrong interview it should be that it is best to confront things head-on as quickly as possible and not foolishly wait for some things to die down. Te’O should sit down for an interview with Oprah, Notre Dame booster Regis Philbin or someone else as quickly as possible.

As one of the strongest Notre Dame supporters I know told me Thursday night, Te’O now looks like either the dumbest human being alive or someone who made up a great story to get attention and adulation.

The Te’O story is getting more attention in WNY – as if it needed more – because some analysts had predicted he will be selected by the Bills in the upcoming NFL draft.

Stories like this tend to affect the draft position of players. Randy Moss and Dan Marino went down draft boards when they were eligible because of off-the-field issues.

They became Hall of Famers, which means a number of teams eventually regretted passing over them in the draft.

The point is if the Bills think Te’O is a future Hall of Famer — despite his weak performance in a 42-14 Notre Dame bowl game loss to Alabama for the national title — then they probably should overlook the possible invention of a fictional girlfriend.


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Ch. 4′s Williams Is Presentable But Not a Game Changer


I returned home from Hollywood and interviewing the stars just in time to see the debut of co-anchor Jordan Williams on Channel 4’s “Wake Up!”

Here are my first impressions watching Williams and co-anchor Diana Fairbanks, who brightened the morning by wearing a yellow blouse.

Is he a star? No. But remember I just came back from Hollywood so my standards might be a bit high.

Is he a game changer in the morning? I doubt it.

Is he presentable? Yes.

Jordan Williams: New Ch.4 Anchor

Jordan Williams: New Ch.4 Anchor

Williams, who arrived from a small Texas station,  reminds me of a younger version of Channel 4 veteran reporter Luke Moretti, who once upon a time was a Channel 7 anchor. He doesn’t look like a star. He even looks a little uncomfortable in his sports coat and when forcing a smile, which is obligatory in the morning.

However, he has a decent clear voice, a nice manner and a smooth reading style. It did feel a little strange to hear Williams instantly use the term “we” when addressing issues facing Western New Yorkers. It normally takes a little while to accept people as one of us as Fairbanks has discovered. Fairbanks, who has been much more embraced by critics than viewers, has the star power to potentially overwhelm Williams as she did this morning.

“Wake Up!” pretty much remains a straight newscast in contrast to Channel 2’s dominant morning newscast “Daybreak” co-anchored by John Beard and Melissa Holmes (who used to work at Channel 4). “Daybreak” actually seems to think a little fun in the morning goes a long way with regulars Andy Parker on weather and Kevin O’Neill (who started at Channel 4, do you see a pattern?) on the road doing features.

By contrast, Channel 4 morning meteorologist Amelia Segal and reporters Brittni Smallwood and Emily Guggenmos play it straight.

The major difference between “Wake Up!” and Channel 4’s afternoon and evening newscasts is that Fairbanks occasionally gets to channel “Saturday Night Live” weekend update anchor Seth Meyers on occasion and sprinkle in a “really?” after a strange story. I heard two “reallys?” from Fairbanks in the first hour.

Channel 4 didn’t do all that much to welcome Williams. It wasn’t until 5:45 a.m. before “Wake Up!” producer Shannon Ross – who looks comfortable in front of a camera – welcomed Williams by telling him he will “learn to love” the weather here after arriving in Texas.

“I’m getting acclimated already,” replied Williams without a trace of a Texas accent or any accent.

About 15 minutes later as the 6 a.m. hour of “Wake Up!” started, Fairbanks welcomed Williams again and read off some of his credentials. She told the audience that he’s an award-winning investigative reporter who also is a church organist.


Fairbanks pretty much repeated that introduction at 6:30 a.m., when Williams declared he is used to the morning hours and “I’m having fun already.”


Of course, changing momentum in morning TV is a marathon and not a sprint and it will take weeks, months and even years to determine if Williams is going to help Channel 4 become more competitive in the morning.

My initial impression is “Wake Up!” really doesn’t stand a chance against “Daybreak” unless it decides to have just a little fun in the morning to go along with its laudable serious presentation of the news.

But who knows? Maybe “you’ll learn to love it” as quickly as Williams enjoys the Buffalo weather.


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A Demanding (TV) Business Is Explained

PASADENA, Calif. – I’m not only here to talk to former “ER” star Anthony Edwards at a party about his new show, admire ageless “Body of Proof” star Dana Delany at a press conference or chat up WNY star Jacob Artist of “Glee.”

It is tough job, but somebody has got to do it.

I’m also here at the Television Critics Association annual meetings to talk to network executives to get a better understanding about how TV works so I don’t just write things about the industry from the seat-of-my pants.

You might not know the name David Poltrack, but the chief researcher officer at CBS is the go-to guy to explain how DVRs, On Demand and streaming of network shows are affecting the business and how things are about to change.

Lucy Liu

Lucy Liu

I brought up several topics to Poltrack that readers have asked me about, and a few that I’ve wondered about myself concerning the impact of the technological advances that have the potential to severely damage the network economic model in which advertising pays for the production costs of shows.

Years ago, Poltrack smartly predicted the DVR would help broadcast television when others suggested it could lead to its death by allowing viewers to skip commercials — the lifeblood of network TV.

He was right. The DVR and On Demand help the networks by getting viewership that they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. According to Poltrack, the broadcast networks get 40 percent of the live audience and about 60 percent of the DVR and On Demand audience.

Of course, the big issue is how much advertising dollars the networks are able to make from DVR and On Demand viewing. Poltrack explained that streaming video isn’t any help to the networks when it comes to ad revenue.

Advertisers currently won’t allow the networks to count the ratings for shows viewed on DVRs or On Demand seven days after they originally air. They only allow three days to count.

Poltrack added the networks are trying to move the advertisers to accept seven days, but some advertisers like movie companies don’t believe the extra four days of allowing their ads to be seen does them much good.

I was also curious as to why CBS shows run On Demand without any significant commercials while Fox, ABC and NBC programs have commercials and promos within them and disable the fast forward feature On Demand that otherwise would allow viewers to speed through the ads.

Poltrack explained that CBS had a legacy or old deal for On Demand in which they are directly paid a fee by cable operator for putting its programs On Demand without any significant advertising. CBS is about to join the other networks in a newer model that forces cable operators to air commercials and disable the fast forward feature for On Demand content.

The one topic that Poltrack wouldn’t discuss is the device that automatically eliminates ads from shows. He said that was in litigation and he couldn’t talk about it. You can understand why the networks would want to eliminate the device since it could significantly reduce the ability to sell the ads that finance the production of shows.

Of course, people who record programs on DVRs can fast forward through ads. That also isn’t good for the networks’ economic model. The networks are hoping that more subscribers will drop DVRs because of the monthly fee it costs and switch to On Demand, which is free in many markets. It would be a win-win as far as the networks are concerned. The consumer would save money by dropping the DVR and the networks would get more people to watch their commercials On Demand, which makes them more money.

“We want people to realize if they want to see programs (at their own convenience), they have to accept advertising,” said Poltrack.

Poltrack agreed with my long-held contention that DVR and On Demand viewing helps popular shows at the expense of newer shows. However, he added they also allow the newer shows to be sampled better.

And if a new show is a hit, the DVR and On Demand can quickly make it must-see TV. That occurred this season with NBC’s “Revolution,” which instantly had extremely high On Demand viewing.

“Elementary,” CBS’ new take on Sherlock Holmes with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, also benefitted from On Demand viewing. Poltrack said that the night after new episodes of “Elementary” premiere on Thursday, there is a big spike in DVR and On Demand secondary viewership on Friday of earlier episodes of the season. CBS also plans to run an episode of “Elementary” after the Super Bowl, which should help it become a bigger hit than it already is.

Of course, the extra viewing of “Elementary” on Fridays via On Demand hurts the viewing of shows that are regularly scheduled on Friday night. One of CBS’ Friday shows this fall, “Made in Jersey,” was canceled after only two episodes ran.

Why so quickly? Well, it obviously had low ratings and it also didn’t so well with DVR and On Demand viewership.

“That (the new technology) enables all of us to get input faster,” explained Poltrack. “With greater access to shows, the process of things being rejected and adopted is faster.”

But that isn’t the whole story. The network tested a few more episodes of “Jersey” before the public saw them and the creative team obviously wasn’t impressed. “We’re ahead of the general population,” said Poltrack.

In other words, a CBS programmer didn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to quickly realize that “Jersey” was going south before canceling it.


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Stargazing One More Time by Popular Demand


PASADENA, Calif. — Back by popular demand, stargazing with my Beautiful Girlfriend Patricia (BGFP).

OK, maybe just a couple of her friends and family members wanted me to blog about the sequel to the Fox party a few days ago and get my BGFP’s take on the ABC party here.

The ground rules for the sequel — let’s call it BGFP2 — were the same as for the earlier Fox party. BGFP would stay until she saw 10 people she recognized and I would interview some of the people she spotted or was interested in.

Toks Olagundoye

Toks Olagundoye

BGFP first sighted (No. 1) Nick Wechsler — Jack from “Revenge” — and was disappointed in the guy that Emily Thorne (Emily Vancamp) originally pined for. “He is a letdown in real life,” said BGFP. “Short and not cute. Jack looks way better on TV.”

BGFP then spotted two of “The Neighbors” though she didn’t know their names. But if you read the previous blog you know that BGFP isn’t big on names. Truth be told, I didn’t know their names, either, because my instant review of “The Neighbors” was that it was stupid and I didn’t bothered to learn their names. A couple of my blog readers strongly disagreed.

In any event, I sure wanted to know the woman that BGFP pronounced the prettiest in the room.

So I looked the cast up and learned I couldn’t properly pronounce the name of the the woman playing Jackie Joynee-Kersee on “The Neighbors” without a little help. Her name is (No.2) Toks Olagundoye. “She is a runway model,” said my fashion consultant, BGFP. “Really short sequined dress.”

After BGFP hit her quota and left the party, I told Toks that she earned BGFP’s approval. The actress has a British accent and told me she was originally from Nigeria. I thought she was out of this world.

Then I went up to another one of “The Neighbors” spotted by BGFP. He plays Marty Weaver and his name is (No.3) Lenny Verito. The character actor acknowledged that in the past he would have been the one playing the alien rather than the normal guy living among all the aliens.

BGFP then spotted the brother from “Everyone Loves Raymond,” who the show’s fans know as (No. 4) Brad Garrett. He stars in the upcoming ABC comedy “How to Live With Your Parents.” “He is quite dashing in the flesh,” pronounced BGFP. Hmm. When is the last time you heard anyone referred to as dashing. “He is talllll!” she added. “His voice is funny. He has long graying hair and a beard. Dresses well.”

Then BGFP found a candidate to unseat No. 2 Toks Olagundoge as the prettiest at the party. It was (No.5) Jeri Ryan, who is currently in ABC’s “Body of Proof” but who BGFP recognized from “Boston Public.” “Very glam in a black halter dress,” noted BGFP. “She is the belle of the ball. Great blonde hair. Lots of confidence because she attracted a group of men and all eyes were on her. Sort of Scarlet O’Haraish.”

Frankly, my dear wasn’t done yet. She spotted (6) Reba McEntire of “Malibu County” in front of us before I did. “She seems nice,” noted BGFP. “She’s wearing pants and a dull green sweater.”

Then BGFP’s eyes hit “the handsome guy” in “Nashville.” No. 7 was Charles Esten, who plays Deacon Claybourne. “He is there with a pretty girlfriend,” guessed BGFP. “She smiles a lot. I like them.”

Since I was a little tired of all the walking around, we sat down for a second and BGFP immediately spotted (No.8) Lily Tomlin of “Malibu County” being interviewed as she sat across from us. “She is gabbing a mile a minute and laughs a lot,” said BGFP. “Seems very likable.”

Then I spotted two docs from “ER”— (No.9) Goran Visnjic and (No.10) Anthony Edwards, who are starring in new ABC spring series.  BGFP informed me she rarely watched “ER” and didn’t know who Goran was. I still date her. Happily. She thought Visnjic and Edwards “seemed very nice.”

“Edwards has on a great plaid wool jacket that I just love,” said BGFP.

After she left, I looked for Edwards, who played Dr. Mark Greene on “ER.” We talked for several minutes about his life after “ER” and why he decided to return to TV. BGFP was right. He is very nice. One of the things he has done since leaving “ER” was taking his wife and children around the world for a year.

You can expect more on Edwards in a future blog just before his series “The Zero Hour” premieres. This blog is all about BGFP’s party finale.

After she hit her quota of 10, BGFP was ready to leave and compare the parties. “Tonight wasn’t as thrilling but I did see lots of stars,” said BGFP.

Just as I predicted in an earlier blog, it hadn’t taken long for BGFP to almost become as jaded at meeting stars as her boyfriend the critic has after 30 years of attending these things.


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