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Simpson series, Sabres game and cable news primary coverage get similar-sized local audiences


This is what I’m thinking:

I’m not sure I can remember any recent TV program that has gotten as many glowing reviews as the FX limited series “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.”

Critics generally don't agree 100 percent on anything, other than there are too many terrific current programs even for them to have the time to watch.

The praise for the series starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Courtney B. Vance, Sarah Paulson and John Travolta has been pretty much been unanimous among critics.

That’s one reason why I expected the local ratings to be higher.

The second reason for my local expectations was the fact that Simpson is a former Buffalo Bill.

Considering the Bronco chase episode of the Simpson series competed Tuesday against a Buffalo Sabres game on MSG and the results of the New Hampshire primaries on three cable news channels, the ratings drop locally from the season premiere wasn’t that large.

The episode had a local rating of 3.0 and added 1.7 additional ratings points on two subsequent airings for a local rating of 4.7.

The premiere had a 3.6 local rating and it added a 1.8 rating for two subsequent episodes on opening night for a total local rating that night of 5.4.

Those are impressive ratings for anything on FX here, but I still expected viewership to be larger because of Simpson’s ties to Buffalo.

FX, which doesn’t report ratings until episodes are broadcast up to three days afterwards, said the opening episode of the critically-acclaimed series was the most watched original scripted series premiere in the network’s 22-year history with 12 million viewers, half in the 18-49 demographic that many advertisers seek.

FX could just have said it was the most-watched premiere since Simpson and his friend and driver Al Cowlings took police on the low-speed Bronco chase on June 17,1994, which is almost 22 years ago.

Locally, the rating for the premiere rose from the 5.4 on opening night to 7.5 after viewing up to three days later was added.

Even more viewers have actually watched the episode than FX has counted so far. On Tuesday, episode one was played around midnight and had a 0.8 rating here. FX plays the series at various times during the week.

To put the rating Tuesday in perspective, the Simpson series had about as many viewers here on Tuesday as the Sabres’ 7-4 loss to the Florida Panthers and the coverage of the Democratic and Republican primaries on the three cable news channels.

The Sabres game had a 4.9 rating, which was the lowest weeknight rating of the season when the games have been played at night in the Eastern time zone.

The three cable news channels averaged about a collective 4.8 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. locally covering the Republican and Democratic primaries in New Hampshire.

Fox News, which is widely viewed as a pro-Republican channel, was No. 1 with about a 2.8 average here. CNN, which is widely viewed as down the middle, was second with a about a 1.2 average. MSNBC, which is widely viewed as a pro-Democrat channel, was third with a 0.8.

While we are on the subject of politics and ratings, the Larry David hosted edition of “Saturday Night Live” last weekend that also included an appearance by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had a 5.3 rating on Channel 2, which wasn’t much different than most live episodes of the late-night program have had this season. The Nov. 7 episode hosted by Donald Trump had an 8.4 local rating and the Jan. 16 episode hosted by actor Adam Driver had a 7.5 local rating. Most of the other episodes had ratings in the 4s and 5s here.

Of course, many more viewers undoubtedly went online to watch the hilarious filmed piece in which David played his lookalike and sound alike, Sanders, in a takeoff of David's HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The takeoff was called “Bern Your Enthusiasm” and had Sanders losing key votes in Iowa because of the kind of thoughtless misbehavior David’s character routinely had on “Curb."

If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you go online. It made me wish that David would start making more “Curb” episodes after a delay that has been much too long. HBO continuously says that David hasn’t ruled out making more episodes.

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