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Despite weekly problems, Rio ratings here should be just fine

A week doesn’t go by without some bad news for the Rio Olympics.

The Zika virus has led to daily announcements of athletes declining to go.

The Russians aren’t coming, the Russian aren’t coming to compete in track -- one of the signature events in the Games -- because of past state-sponsored doping allegations.

The bacteria level in the water is too dangerous for the competition involving boats.

The buildings aren’t ready.

All the negativity makes one wonder if local viewers are going to watch the 2016 Summer Olympics in the same high numbers as usual when NBC carries it from Aug.5-21.

Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate, has traditionally performed well above the network average in ratings at Olympic time.

This is despite the fact that Canadian television is seen here and it carries many of the events live that NBC saves for prime time.

NBC has been promoting the Games heavily during its morning program “Today” and with frequent prime time coverage of the Olympic trials that determine which American athletes make the Games in a few weeks.

In a way, you can consider the trials the equivalent of the conference tournaments before the NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins. The qualifiers for Rio are excited to reach their lifelong dreams of making the Olympics.

It is always a little baffling that the ratings for the Olympic trials aren’t higher than they are.

Generally, most of the hours of coverage for the last few weeks have gotten ratings in the range of 1.8 to 4.9 on Channel 2.

Of course, summer viewing is very low for broadcast programs. Many shows get local ratings in the 1s, 2s and 3s and even lower. The only program that gets a double-digit rating here is  NBC's “America’s Got Talent.”

And the demographics for the Olympic Trials are undoubtedly stronger than for regular programming.

One promising sign for NBC and Channel 2 came Sunday night, when local product Jenn Suhr qualified to defend her pole vault championship. The first 90 minutes averaged a 4.9 rating, the second 90 minutes of competition averaged a 7.6 rating.

The only regular broadcast program that came close to the 7.6 rating on Sunday was the ABC game show “The $100,000 Pyramid” with a 7.4 rating on Channel 7. However, it most likely appeals to older viewers.

CBS repeat entertainment programs on Channel 4 struggled to get a 2 rating and Fox entertainment repeats on Channel 29 couldn’t even get a 1 rating.

Of course, the lack of network competition during the Olympics helps NBC. It really is the only game in town for more than two weeks during the Games.

So even if the inclination is to think all the problems in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the mediocre ratings here for the Olympic trials will finally mean there will be an Olympic ratings collapse, it wouldn’t be wise to beat on it.

The Rio edition of “America’s Got Talent” is bound to hit ratings in the low and high teens on many nights on Channel 2, super for the summer.

Tennis Anyone: It has been years since “Breakfast at Wimbledon” moved from NBC to ESPN but I still find myself heading to Channel 2 before I realize that. The move to cable certainly hasn’t helped local ratings for the women’s and men’s final.

Serena Williams’ victory over Angelique Kerber of Germany Saturday in a terrific match averaged about a 2.2 local rating. The victory by Britain's Andy Murray over Canadian Milos Raonic on Sunday averaged a 1.5 rating locally.  The women’s rating was helped by the participation of Williams, an American who may be the greatest female player of all time.

Crying Uncle: ABC has canceled the reboot of “Uncle Buck.” I gave the pilot 1 and a half out of 4 stars. ABC delayed carrying it until the summer, the first indication that it was in trouble. Not many Western New Yorkers will be crying over its end. Two episodes on June 28 averaged a 2.2 local rating. Two July 5 episodes only averaged a 1.8 rating. The show’s ratings actually were higher here than the repeats of the sitcoms the network played those nights and higher than many ABC summer programs here. This appears to be more of a case of a network not happy with the show’s quality than its ratings.

apergament@buffnews.com

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