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NBA Finals outdrawing Stanley Cup Final here but can't beat "Talent"

This is what I’m thinking:

As much as Western New Yorkers love hockey, they appear to love basketball even more in June.

Cleveland’s 96-91 Game 3 victory in the NBA Finals over Golden State Tuesday night had a 7.0 rating on Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate. Unlike what happened in the overtime of Game 1, WNYers stuck with the game at the end. It had an 8.0 rating from 11:45 p.m. to midnight when the game was decided.

Those are very healthy ratings for Channel 7. Only two of ABC's prime time programs -- "Grey's Anatomy" and "Dancing with the Stars" -- had a higher live rating locally during the May sweeps.

By comparison, Tampa Bay’s 4-3 victory over Chicago in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final Monday had a 4.3 local rating on NBCSN, which is half of what Game 2 had when it was carried on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate.

Nationally, the quest of Cleveland’s LeBron James to bring a championship to his hometown area has led to much stronger ratings than in WNY. The ratings have been record-breaking for ABC (Game 3 had a 13.7 national overnight rating) and dominate the Stanley Cup Final nationally. Even in losing half of its Game 2 audience, Buffalo still was the third-highest rated market for Game 3 of the Cup final.

Admittedly, comparing the two Games 3 should come with an asterisk. It isn’t a fair comparison. The NBA Finals are on a broadcast network, two games of the Stanley Cup Final are on NBC’s cable network. The second on NBCSN is tonight’s game 4.

Putting two games of the Cup Final on cable seems a bit foolish on the NHL and NBC’s part, considering the reality shows the broadcast network is carrying tonight while the game is on NBCSN.

Surely, Game 4 could have a rating on NBC in the ballpark of “I Can Do That” and “American Ninja Warrior.”

Game 3 is the second time the NBA Finals has had a larger audience here than the Stanley Cup Final. Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final had a higher rating than Game 2 of the NBA Finals, but that also wasn’t a fair competition.

The hockey rating was fueled by the lead-in from Belmont Stakes telecast of the first Triple Crown winner in decades and the game had no real competition on a Saturday night.

The NBA game had to compete Sunday with The Tony Awards and a big episode of HBO’s popular “Game of Thrones.”

On Tuesday, the NBA game had to compete with NBC’s very popular “America’s Got Talent,” which started more than hour before the game. It soundly defeated the game with an 11.8 rating on Channel 2 for the hour that they  went head-to-head.

I don’t know what Yahoo paid for the streaming rights to the Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville game in London Oct. 25 but I can’t see too many NFL fans watching the game on a Sunday morning except in the areas of the participating teams. Besides, I’m told there are no ratings for streaming. In case you wondered, Channel 4 has the rights to televise the game in Buffalo. I would suspect many Bills fans who are used to getting the games via DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket aren’t amused by the move to streaming, even if it is free.

While hearing the Frank Sinatra version of “New York, New York” before the start of the Belmont Stakes, I realized I had forgotten who wrote the song.

“CBS Sunday Morning” to the rescue. It had an interview with John Kander, the surviving member of the songwriting team of Kander and (Fred) Ebb. They are best known for musicals “Cabaret” and “Chicago.” Kander explained that the song was originally written for a movie of the same title and sung by Liza Minnelli. Kander added that Sinatra changed some words of the song in his rendition, but Kander didn’t mind because the royalties from the song probably built the house he was sitting in.

Jerry Seinfeld and I have something in common. We’re both fans of ESPN’s Colin Cowherd, whose show is carried locally on ESPN 1520. Cowherd doesn’t get any love from some media columnists and WGR hosts, but I often find myself listening to him instead of Sabres Hockey Hotline on WGR. They air at the same time.

During an appearance last week on Cowherd’s show, Seinfeld repeatedly praised the sports talk host and advocated that ESPN break the bank to keep him in during contract talks. Seinfeld also made some news (see today’s paper), saying he doesn’t play colleges anymore because the audiences have become too politically correct.

Seinfeld has been making the rounds lately to promote the newest season of his Crackle series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” I watched the opening episode featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus on my iPhone and can report it is a hoot, especially when they discuss various moments in “Seinfeld.” If you haven’t downloaded the free Crackle app yet, I advise you to do it now.


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