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Ch.4's Paul down to one newscast at 5 p.m.; Sabres afternoon game rating tops prime time network programs

This is what I’m thinking:

You are probably well aware that Channel 4 meteorologist Don Paul is riding into the sunset in a month when he retires after more than 30 years doing weather in the market.

But you might not have known that Paul will be able to see the sunset in his final month on the job.

He no longer is working the 6 p.m. weekday newscast, a situation that became evident on Monday when Paul’s replacement, Todd Santos, took that role. Earlier in the February sweeps, Paul was dropped from the 11 p.m. newscast.

In his final month, Paul will only be seen on the 5 p.m. weekday newscast. He is doing it alone, without the unnecessary double team that has featured Santos for the past year or so. It would have been much classier of Channel 4 to allow Paul to finish his career working the same newscasts he has worked during his lengthy tenure.

Santos is now working the 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts.

This is no surprise. NBC said Buffalo was the top-rated hockey market for the Sabres’ 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh Sunday. NBC said the game had a 10.1 rating on Channel 2 here, which is slightly higher than the 9.9 rating a local researcher said the game achieved. Nationally, it had a 0.8 overnight rating, which shows you how much more Western New Yorkers love hockey than the rest of the nation.

The telecast had a local rating that was about 50 percent higher than the average for the Sabres games carried on cable, which indicates the strength of broadcast television.

The game also had a higher rating than the Daytona 500 carried by Fox (9.4) and any prime time network program. The highest-rated prime time program Sunday was “60 Minutes” with a 9.3 on Channel 4, the CBS affiliate.

Channel 2 had a 3.2 rating for Minnesota’s 6-1 victory over Chicago Sunday before more than 50,000 fans in an outdoor stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Former Sabres Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek scored for the Wild, South Buffalo’s Patrick Kane scored for Chicago. The local rating was about three times the national overnight rating of 1.2, which was the lowest rating for an outdoor game carried on network TV.

With the Sabres-Pittsburgh game televised on NBC and Rick Jeanneret still on vacation until March 1, WGR’s coverage featured Brian Duff as the play-by-play man. I caught the game for about a period in my car.

Duff fills his play-by-play with a lot of information about the players and instant commentary. Some of it is interesting. But it also can be distracting. Duff was talking about something unrelated to the play when a Sabre goal was scored. A listener knew it was a goal by the fan reaction in the First Niagara Center before Duff was able to confirm it.

“Circus” Performer: Daniel Amigone, a Canisius High School and St. Lawrence University graduate, is one of the producers on the 30-minute Showtime series, “The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth, ” that is following the Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns. The program, which airs at 8 p.m. Sunday, features political analysts Mark Halperin and John Heilemann and political strategist Mark McKinnon. Amigone previously worked on the HBO production, “Road to the Winter Classic.”

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