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Draft lottery a Buffalo TV hit; UB angle to Brian Williams story

NBC’s decision to carry the NHL Draft Lottery before the Pittsburgh-New York Rangers game Saturday night sure paid off big time in Buffalo.

The first 15 minutes of the telecast in which Edmonton won the right to draft Connor McDavid with the first pick instead of the last-place Sabres had a 9.7 rating at 8 p.m. on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate.

After the drama ended and Sabre fans learned that their team would have the second pick and likely draft Boston University’s Jack Eichel, the rating immediately slipped to a 7.0 rating at 8:15 p.m. Pittsburgh’s 4-3 win led by two goals from Sidney Crosby ended with a 5.6 rating here.

When the national ratings come in, Buffalo most likely will be behind the Pittsburgh market and finish as the second or third highest-rated market for the game.

The game was the highest-rated program locally Saturday night. A “48 Hours” program on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate, finished with a 5.5 rating and Channel 4’s 10 p.m. news had a 5.0 on CW 23.

Most of the other broadcast programs Saturday had ratings in the 1s, 2s and 3s.

WNY No Longer Mad about “Mad Men”: The third of the final seven episodes of AMC’s “Mad Men” had an anemic 0.8 rating locally Sunday and a 0.1 at 11 p.m. when it was repeated. That most likely is the result of the popularity of the American Country Music Awards on CBS, which won the night with an 11.1 rating on Channel 4. Many “Mad Men” fans watch the show On Demand or later on their DVRs.

“Mad Men” wasn’t the only Sunday program taking a big hit. NBC’s “American Odyssey” had a lowly 2.4 rating Sunday on Channel 2.

Local Angle: There always seems to be one. In Sunday’s column, I quoted a Vanity Fair article about the demise of "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams in which a recently departed correspondent mentioned one of “the strong figures” at the network who tried to keep Williams in check was an executive producer named John Reiss. The article by Bryan Burrough included a quote that said Williams “pushed out” Reiss.

One of my readers, David Davidson, noted that Reiss was a managing editor of the University at Buffalo newspaper, The Spectrum, in 1978 when Davidson was the sports editor.

Sure enough, Reiss’ biography mentions that he is a UB graduate. After leaving "Nightly News," Reiss was named acting executive producer of the Chuck Todd version of “Meet the Press” in September. According to an online report from The Wrap, Reiss started his career at NBC in 1994 as a producer on “Dateline” after 11 years with ABC News.

Davidson added that Reiss also was a former Buffalo News intern.

Buffalo Braves Nostalgia: During a NBA playoff game Sunday between the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets, TNT announcer Marv Albert noted that the father of Nets forward Thaddeus Young was once an eighth-round pick of the Buffalo Braves. Albert was referring to Felton Young, who was drafted by the Braves in 1978.

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