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“American Idol” Slipping Here and Nationally


Western New Yorkers appear to have fallen deeply out of love with “American Idol.”

And their love of hockey is partially responsible.

The local ratings slide of the 12-year-old series is in tune with what is happening nationally despite the addition this season of feuding judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.

Last Thursday’s episode had a 6.9 rating on WUTV, which is about one-third of what the program used to get in the glory days when judge Simon Cowell was spouting insults.

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj

In this market, “Bones” often gets a better rating than that.

There is one asterisk. “Idol” played opposite the Buffalo Sabres’ highlight of the season – its bashing of the Boston Bruins. The Thursday game almost averaged a 12 rating on cable’s MSG.

In the defense of “Idol,” ratings for many  prime time network programs seem to be taking a dive in the era of DVRs and time shifting. And it still gets strong demographics that advertisers love.

After three weeks of “Idol” this season, “Idol” is down 17 percent locally on Wednesday and down 10 percent on Thursdays in household ratings. It no longer averages double-digit household ratings.

On the same night of “Idol’s” low rating last week, the premiere of NBC’s new series “Do No Harm” had a 1.9 rating on Channel 2. The premiere of the Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde series starring Steven Pasquale of “Rescue Me” didn’t even hit a 1 rating nationally in the 18-49 demographic.

In Buffalo, “Harm” finished sixth and last in household ratings in its time slot among network affiliates. The 10 p.m. local winner was CBS’ “Elementary,” which had a 7.8 rating on Channel 4. ABC’s “Scandal’ had a 6.1 rating on Channel 7 and Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock News on WNLO had a 6.0 rating. Channel 2’s “10 O’Clock News” and the repeats of “Seinfeld” and “Two and a Half Men” all did better here than “Harm,” which probably won’t be long for this world. However, one thing should be noted. Viewership stayed constant during the hour, suggesting that people who tuned in weren’t turned off.

Now on to the ratings for Baltimore’s 34-31 victory over San Francisco in the Super Bowl. Inquiring minds want to know: How impressive is the fact it is the third most-watched in history?

Not that impressive. Every year, there are more potential American viewers and the NFL expects each year’s Super Bowl to become the most watched. Sunday’s game actually was the first Super Bowl in three years than wasn’t the most-watched in history. Games can be the most-watched even when they get lower ratings because each rating point equals more viewers every year.

CBS eliminated the 34-minute blackout from its national rating for Sunday’s game and arrived at a 46.3 rating, which was lower than the 47.0 rating for the New York Giants win over New England in 2012. But Sunday’s game still was the second highest-rated Super Bowl in 27 years. The game had a 50.2 rating on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate, with the blackout time included. That was down about 4 percent locally from the Giants win in 2012. Interestingly, viewership on Channel 4 was higher during the blackout than the game average.  That is quite a compliment to ex Bill Steve Tasker, who tried to explain what was going on for CBS viewers during those 34 minutes. The rating for the game peaked at 56.8 in the final minutes.

Of course, the 34-minute delay reduced the audience for the special post-Super Bowl airing of “Elementary.” It still had a healthy 11.9 rating on Channel 4. And Channel 4’s post-Super Bowl rating that started at 12:10 a.m. had a healthy 8.4 rating. Who knew that Don Postles, Jacquie Walker and Don Paul had so many relatives in WNY willing to stay up for the delayed newscast?

And here is something that may best illustrate the TV power of the Super Bowl. A paid program that ran on Channel 4 at 2:30 in the morning had a 1.3 rating. That’s higher than some CW prime time shows get on WNLO-TV, Channel 4’s sister station.

Finally, the hour-long series finale of NBC’s “30 Rock” last Thursday wasn’t exactly a big hit on Channel 2. It had a 3.2 rating. However, it also was up against the Sabres-Bruins game so presumably it will get more viewers On Demand and via DVRs.


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2 responses to "“American Idol” Slipping Here and Nationally"

  1. Matt says:

    FYI… Channel 4 has posted for a meteorologist, investigative reporter, and anchor on its website.

  2. Jill says:

    I wouldn’t say it’s any testiment to Tasker. I mean he filled for like…what…40 seconds before they went to their analysts? As for Idol, my gosh has it really been TWELVE years already?? Seems like only yesterday that Kelly Clarkson first became a household name. In some ways I’m surprised the shine to this show didn’t wear off sooner. IMHO the real star was Simon Cowell, and I thought it would die when he left. BTW, inquiring minds want to know: whatever hapoened to Brian Dunkleman?

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