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Republican talent debating on CNN out-draws "America's Got Talent" finale here

Inquiring minds what to know: Who won Wednesday night?

I’ll leave the Republican debate winner to political pundits, but the ratings winner in Western New York was CNN.

The entertaining debate between front-runner Donald Trump and his 10 Republican competitors had a 12.9 rating locally on CNN.

That was down about 8 percent from the 14.1 local rating for the first GOP debate on Aug. 6 carried on Fox News.

However, the competition was tougher on Wednesday night. The debate ran for two hours opposite the live finale of the summer’s highest-rated entertainment program, NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”

The two-hour version of “AGT,” which featured the elimination of University at Buffalo graduate and stand-up comedian Gary Vider around 10:30 p.m., had a 9.9 rating on Channel 2. British ventriloquist Paul Zerdin won the $1 million and the opportunity to do an act in Las Vegas, defeating second-place Drew Lynch, who ousted Vider. Perhaps the show should be renamed "Britain’s Got Talent, Too." The one-hour replay at 8 p.m. Wednesday of Tuesday's  performance final had a 6.9 rating on Channel 2.

Vider was consistently funny on “AGT” but not as funny as Trump was at times Wednesday night.

On another ratings note, the Tuesday night premiere of NBC’s “Best Night Ever with Neil Patrick Harris” averaged a healthy 7.1 rating on Channel 2 with the help of the 9.8 rating for the “AGT” performance finale as its lead-in.

Buffalo was the second-highest market in the country for Harris’ program. However, a closer look at the rating shows that many viewers weren’t amused. The show started with an 8.2 rating at 10 p.m. and lost a quarter of that audience by 10:30 p.m. when it had a 6.2 rating.

The show also got some pretty nasty and funny national reviews from critics. It started very slowly and was a bit of a mess. I could have done without a high-wire performance by Harris and his celebrity announcer, Reese Witherspoon. I’m so afraid of heights I couldn’t watch it.

But portions of it were fun and watchable enough -- thanks to Harris’ charisma -- that I’ll give it another try next week to see if the show can reach new heights.


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