The curiosity factor of watching Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman replace Tyrod Taylor as the team's starter just may be the TV ratings boost that local television stations need in the second half of the NFL season.
Peterman's debut at 4 p.m. Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers will be on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate.
The Bills' 47-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints last Sunday on Fox was the lowest-rated Bills game in three seasons and resulted in the ratings this season to be down 7 percent from a year ago. The first nine games of the season have averaged a 35.8 rating.
Peterman's start and the fact that the game starts at 4 p.m. should mean Sunday's rating should be above average if the game is competitive.
The 7 percent ratings decline this season should come with an asterisk.
A local research guru notes the first nine games a year ago included two games against the New England Patriots and one with the Miami Dolphins, which generally get higher ratings. This season, they are at the end of the Bills schedule.
To put the 35.8 rating for more than three hours in perspective, the two highest-rated prime time entertainment programs in Buffalo so far this season – CBS' half-hour comedy "Big Bang Theory" and NBC's hour-long drama "This Is Us" -- are averaging about an 18 rating up to seven days after they air.
Much has been made of declining NFL ratings this season. But outside of Bills games, the NFL ratings were strong in Western New York for the first half of the season that ended Nov.5.
The non-Bills games on Sunday afternoon averaged a 13.1 rating here, up about 21 percent from a year ago.
All non-Bills games averaged a 12.3 rating, up 18 percent from a year ago.
All games averaged a 16.3 rating, up 8 percent from a year ago.
NBC's "Sunday Night Football" averaged a 14.1 rating, which is up about 14 percent from a year ago.
CBS' part of Thursday Night Football averaged a 10.3 rating, up 12 percent from a year ago here.
There have been many theories about why national ratings have declined, including player protests, the concussion issue and the number of injuries to star players.
Those theories ignore the fact that network television viewing is down across the board for entertainment programs as well.
One of the most compelling explanations for the decline came from CBS Sports President Sean McManus, who feels overexposure from all the night time packages is a big part of the problem.
Another largely unspoken part of the equation is that viewers can be tiring of the same teams being dominant and the same story lines emerging to the point that the seasons seem like repeat episodes of TV shows.
In addition, the product hasn't been that good this season. The parity in the league means there rarely is a must-see game on any given Sunday. As Fox play-by-play man Kenny Albert noted, the Bills-Saints game was the only one last Sunday between two teams with winning records.
And it was hardly must-see TV.