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National viewing trends not always reflected locally

I’ve always found what television shows Western New Yorkers watch to be instructive about our community.

I mean, who would have thought the zombies of “The Walking Dead” on AMC would have outdrawn “The Bible” on the History Channel and the skating dead Buffalo Sabres on Easter Sunday in a community with so many Roman Catholics and fans that treat pro hockey as a religion?

While the nation has fallen in love with ABC’s “Good Morning America” and overwhelmingly rejects “The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley,” WNY has kept NBC’s “Today” as a strong No. 1 on Channel 2 and put Pelley’s newscast in second place here behind “The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.”

Obviously, Western New Yorkers often – but not always – see things differently than the rest of the nation.

When it comes to broadcast television shows, this region is pretty much in line with the rest of the country, although viewers here watch broadcast shows at a much higher level than is done nationally. About a dozen shows averaged double-digit ratings here during the February sweeps.

I’ll try not to bore you with too many numbers, but here are the Top 20 broadcast series during the February sweeps, according to local household ratings. 1. “NCIS” 2. “Big Bang Theory” 3. “Two and a Half Men” 4. “Person of Interest” 5. “Grey’s Anatomy” 6. “Modern Family” 7. “Criminal Minds” 8. “NCIS: Los Angeles” 9. “How I Met Your Mother” 10. “CSI” 11. “Blue Bloods” 12. “Elementary” 13. “Chicago Fire” 14. “Two Broke Girls” 15. “Law & Order: SVU” and “Vegas” 17. “American Idol” 18. “CSI: NY” 19. “Mike & Molly” 20. “Undercover Boss.”

If you’re scoring at home, CBS (carried by Channel 4) has 15 of the Top 20 here, NBC (carried by Channel 2) and ABC (carried by Channel 7) have two each, and Fox (carried by Channel 29) has one.

This really isn’t much of a surprise since Western New York is an older community, and CBS shows generally appeal to older viewers.

The household ratings can be a little deceptive, which is one reason why some local residents are stunned when their favorite shows are canceled. The demographics – which are the key to advertisers – tell a different story here.

The Top 20 shows here in February with viewers age 18-49 that are important to advertisers: 1. “Big Bang.” 2. “Modern Family” 3. “How I Met Your Mother” 4. “Two and a Half Men” 5. “American Idol” 6. “NCIS” and “The Biggest Loser” 8. “Two Broke Girls” 9. Criminal Minds” and “Rules of Engagement” (tie) 11. “Mike & Molly” 12. “Grey’s Anatomy,” “New Girl” and “Law & Order: SVU” (tie) 15. “Person of Interest” and “The Amazing Race” 17. “Chicago Fire” and “The Middle” 19. “The Office” 20. “The Following.”

You might be surprised not to see ABC’s attention-getting “Scandal” on the Top 20 demo list. It gets a low 18-49 audience here and barely beats NBC’s “Smash” among viewers 25-54.

CBS has been trumpeting “Elementary,” the new take on Sherlock Holmes that stars Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, as the No.1 new show of the year. It is one-tenth of a point ahead of NBC’s “Chicago Fire” here for the honor of being the No. 1 new show in household ratings.

But the demographics tell a different story. “Chicago Fire” gets almost twice as many viewers in the age 18-34 demographic and gets about 15 percent more viewers in the age 18 through 49 demographic here. “Elementary” wins in the older 25-54 demographic.

Similarly, the new Dennis Quaid series “Vegas” is a Top 20 series in households. However, it was moved to Fridays and is danger of being canceled because of its national demographics. In WNY, “Vegas” gets 18-49 demographics that are about half of the Tuesday series that replaced it on Tuesday – “Golden Boy.”

Many critics – including myself – lamented that the Julianna Margulies series, “The Good Wife,” appeared to be in danger of cancellation. It was renewed for another season on Thursday. CBS carried only one original episode in February but the results show why it was in trouble. Put simply, “The Good Wife” doesn’t have good demographics. Its household rating was higher than ABC’s “Revenge” here, but “The Good Wife” had a much lower 18-49 audience and a lower age 25-54 audience.

While “NCIS” is the most-watched series in Western New York, it isn’t as valuable as second place “Big Bang” because advertisers get more bang from their buck with the comedy series. “Big Bang” is No. 1 by a wide margin in all demographic categories here, almost doubling the 18-49 audience that “NCIS” gets.

Another CBS series that scores well with the young audience that advertisers love is “How I Met Your Mother,” which may explain why it was renewed for another season. “Mother” was only the No. 9 rated series in households here in February. It was No. 3, only behind “Big Bang” and ABC’s “Modern Family,” among viewers 18-49 here and No. 2 in 18-34 viewers, only behind “Big Bang.”

A Fox series that has experienced big national audience declines, “American Idol,” remains a hit by demographic standards. It is barely in the Top 20 in household ratings here, but it gets more viewers than “NCIS” in the 18-49 demo. It does best in the age 25-54 demo, which often happens with older series.

The audience of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” which is No. 5 in household ratings in WNY, also is aging with its cast. It doesn’t do as well as “Criminal Minds” in the age 18-49 demo here and is tied with the “New Girl” with viewers in that category even though its overall audience is almost three times higher.

Finally, let’s look at some of NBC’s comedies, none of which get any local or national household ratings to talk about. They survive because they are popular with the so-called “right” audience.

Amy Poehler’s “Parks and Recreation” averages an extremely low 3.9 household rating. However, it gets better demos than “Elementary” and does as well with the 18-49 crowd as “Survivor” and the aging “CSI,” which has just been renewed.

Finally, there’s NBC’s “The Office,” which ends its series run next month with an hour finale. Like “Parks and Rec,” “The Office” gets a low rating here. But its 18-49 viewership is higher than “Elementary” and almost as high as “Person of Interest,” which is No. 4 in household ratings here.

Additionally, “The Office” always has had a large viewership of people who make more than $100,000, and they’re worth more to advertisers.

Even a businessman as dense as Michael Scott would know that made it worth keeping around all these low-rated years.