The second most popular new broadcast network program in Western New York, “This Is Us,” ended its fall finale with a shocking cliffhanger in a Christmas Eve episode.
That gives fans of the NBC program a full month to contemplate and speculate on whether a lovable secondary character lives or dies.
Smart, suspenseful move.
But what a bummer. Since the theme of the episode was “nothing bad happens on Christmas Eve,” I’m guessing he lives.
It is common now for fall programs to end with a cliffhanger designed to keep viewers interested at a time it has been increasingly difficult for the broadcast networks to find new hits.
As the network programs end their fall portion of their season before returning with new episodes in 2017, it is a good time to look at what Western New York is watching.
Because when it comes to what programs we like and don’t like, This is Us.
Here is a look at where many programs rank among the about 90 regular series carried on CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and the CW starting in September.
The Top 10: As usual, CBS programs dominate in our older market. It has eight of the top 10, NBC the other two. 1. “Big Bang Theory” 2. “NCIS” 3. “Bull” 4. “60 Minutes” 5. “This Is Us” 6. “Blue Bloods” and “NCIS: New Orleans” 8. “Kevin Can Wait,” 9. Sunday Night Football 10. “Scorpion”
The Top New Shows: “Bull,” “This Is Us” and the new Kevin James comedy, “Kevin Can Wait” aren’t the only new programs finding decent-sized audiences here. The new version of “MacGyver” is in the top 25, which is impressive when you consider it is carried on Friday, a low viewing night. Even the lame CBS comedies, “The Great Indoors” and “Man with a Plan” are doing decently here. Kiefer Sutherland’s “Designated Survivor” is ABC’s top-rated new show and it barely hits the Top 30. Fox’s highest-rated new program locally is my favorite guilty pleasure, “Lethal Weapon,” which just makes the Top 50. Amazingly, it is tied here with the national hit “Empire.” Of course, these are household ratings and demographics attractive to advertisers are the keys to a program’s success. While “Bull” has a higher household rating than “This is Us,” the demos favor “Us” by a wide margin.
New Comedies Aren’t in Such a Good Place: It is tough to launch new comedies. ABC’s “American Housewife” and “Speechless” and NBC’s “The Good Place” are doing well by network standards, but none of the trio average higher than a 6.0 rating. “Big Bang” almost gets three times that rating and the veteran ABC comedy “Modern Family” gets a rating about 50 percent higher than the three new shows.
The Top DVRed Shows: One of the best measures of the popularity of shows is how well they do seven days later when viewers watch them on DVRs, On Demand or in some other way than when they air live. The program receiving the highest secondary viewership is CBS’ “Scorpion,” which grows by 4.6 points to a 10.9 rating. “This is Us” grows by 4.4 points to a 13.1 rating. Shockingly, the second-year CBS medical drama “Code Black,” believed to be on its death bed last season, gets secondary viewership of 4.0 points to hit a 9.6 rating. “Designated Survivor” grows by 3.9 points to a 9.0 rating. “Blue Bloods,” which remains one of my favorite shows even though this hasn’t been a great season, also gains 3.9 points to a 12.5 rating. As a rule, the most popular veteran programs get the highest secondary viewership.
Western New York Loves Hospital Shows: Would you believe ABC’s top-rated program here is the ageless “Grey’s Anatomy”? It is in the Top 25 and within 0.1 of a point behind NBC’s “Chicago Med” here and 0.3 ahead of “Code Black.” Even the new high-tech CBS medical series “Pure Genius,” which has essentially been canceled, is in the Top 40 here.
Fox Execs Must Want to Scream: Other than “Empire” and “Lethal Weapon,” Fox programs don’t do well here in household ratings. Most don’t even hit a 4 rating, though the programs do appeal to younger viewers advertisers seek. I like the female baseball drama “Pitch,” but predicted it would be a tough sell. However, I thought it would do better than a 2.3 rating. At least that’s much better than the new Fox program “The Exorcist,” the comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Scream” do here.
The CW Isn’t So Super Here: The ratings for the CW programs carried locally on WNLO-TV or CW 23 make the Fox shows look like hits. “Supergirl,” which moved from CBS, almost hits a 2 rating. But the critically-acclaimed “Jane the Virgin” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” get around a 1 rating and my favorite new CW show, “No Tomorrow,” averages only a 0.5 and reportedly won’t last beyond 13 episodes. That’s a shame.
Shows Losing Their Buzz: ABC’s “Quantico,” one of my favorite new shows last year, has gotten too complicated for its own good and is barely in the Top 65. NBC did “Blindspot” no favors by moving it to 8 p.m. Wednesday. It is barely in the Top 40 here. ABC’s former buzzworthy “How to Get Away with Murder” has slipped out of the Top 50.
Singing Beats Dancing: ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” is showing its age. The former hit is now barely in the Top 35 as it searches for more B list stars to appear. NBC’s “The Voice” continues to thrive, finishing just outside the Top 10 on one night and inside the Top 20 on another night. The granddaddy of all reality series, CBS’ “Survivor” is hanging in the Top 20 here.
Prime Time Football Still Scores: “Sunday Night Football” is NBC’s top-rated program locally with an 11.3 average rating. CBS’ “Thursday Night Football” completed its season in the Top 30 with a 9.3 average rating. The networks may expect higher ratings considering the expense. But don’t forget the top-rated program every week in Buffalo is a Bills game, which more than doubles the highest rating of any prime time series and can sell advertising over a three-hour telecast.