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Series falls short in WNY's eyes

Western New York isn't going gaga over this year's World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays.

Even with a tense 3-2 Philly victory on Wednesday night, Game One averaged only a 6.8 rating on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate. And the nail-biting final innings after midnight slipped to a 6.0 rating, representing 6 percent of the area's households.

The local rating was about 25 percent lower than the disappointing national rating of 9.2. Tampa Bay's 4-2 win in Game Two -- which aired opposite the Buffalo Sabres' overtime win in Minnesota -- slipped to a 5.7 here. The Sabres game averaged a 10.1 rating.

Of course, Buffalo is most interested in the Series when a New York team or the Boston Red Sox are involved. A year ago, Boston's opening win over Colorado averaged an 8.9 rating. The four-game sweep averaged a 9.9 rating.

One might have thought local Series ratings would have improved this fall because Channel 4, which carries the area's most popular prime time programming, is available in only about 50 percent of the market because of its dispute with Time Warner Cable. Baseball doesn't appear to be one of the alternatives viewers are looking for here.

The low ratings for the Series were telegraphed by the low 3.8 rating here on Fox for the Phillies' five-game elimination of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tampa Bay's seven-game series victory over Boston averaged a 3.7 on cable's TBS, with the help of a 7.5 rating for Game Seven.

Even though Channel 4 is off cable and a good portion of the Bills' 23-14 victory over the San Diego Chargers didn't make it on CBS because of the stadium blackout, the game had a 19.6 rating last Sunday and finished with a 24.6 rating in the final 15 minutes. The ratings are underreported, too, since the audience in bars isn't counted and probably is larger than usual because of Channel 4's situation.

Attention, Niagara County cable subscribers: CFTO, the CTV affiliate in Toronto, is carrying the Bills-Dolphins game Sunday, called by Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon. CBS' top team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms have been assigned the Bills-Jets game Nov. 2. Dick Enberg and Randy Cross call the Nov. 9 game at New England.

ESPN's top Bills booster, Chris Berman, is giving quarterback Trent Edwards some love Sunday on the sports network's Sunday NFL Countdown. Berman's one-on-one interview with Edwards will air sometime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. At 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Merril Hoge of "NFL Matchup" breaks down the Bills' passing game and offense.

Dennis Williams, who now has a full-time job in sales at Channel 2, said he will continue doing WGR's Monday morning postgame Bills show, "The Extra Point," through the end of the season. However, his night gig is history. "There were a lot of factors, they wanted me to stay," said Williams. He is busy in his new job and enjoying it and will be less involved in covering sports. "I'm clearly moving in a different direction."

Williams wasn't needed much in the evenings anyway now that the Sabres' season has started. Andy Roth, WGR program director, said Williams "has done a great job for us." He added that on non-Sabre nights WGR will fill from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m with "The Best of WGR," which highlights the morning show with Howard Simon and Jeremy White and the afternoon show with Mike Schopp and Chris (Bulldog) Parker.

The five Niagara University hockey games and and four basketball games produced by the Niagara Sports Network will air locally on RTN 11 and nationally on Fox College Sports on digital cable and DirecTV. Fox and DirecTV raise the potential viewership from 1.5 million viewers in New York and parts of New England to more than 106 million viewers nationwide. NU's 4-2 loss to Michigan Thursday was the first NSN game. The next one is Oct. 31 at Maine.

The Bills-Chargers wasn't the only televised football game that had to deal with missing plays. During the University at Buffalo's come-from-behind victory over Army a week ago, Time Warner Cable was in commercial when Army committed a game-changing fumble in the fourth quarter.


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