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Bills get little national visibility or respect in NFL schedule

After looking at the Buffalo Bills TV schedule for the 2017 National Football League season, a couple of things stand out.

The big local winner is WIVB-TV (Channel 4), which isn't surprising considering it is a CBS affiliate and the network carries the American Football Conference in which the Bills play.

The second thing to standout is how little the Bills will be seen nationally, most likely a product of the low expectation and lack of respect for the team.

The schedule includes 14 games that start at 1 p.m., one West Coast game against the Los Angeles Chargers that starts at 4:05 p.m. and one Thursday night game.

Channel 4 is scheduled to carry 12 of the 1 p.m. games, which provides a big revenue boost. It has the first five games when expectations are high and the last six when advertising sales should be high going into the holidays.

WUTV (Channel 29), a Fox affiliate, gets two of the 1 p.m. games featuring National Football Conference teams coming to Buffalo ā€“ Tampa Bay and New Orleans ā€“ and the 4:05 p.m. game against the Chargers that involves two AFC games.

Normally, the Bills-Chargers game would be carried on CBS, but the league recently flexed some games out of its regular network to balance the schedule. The 4:05 p.m. game is the only one at that time on Fox on Nov. 19, which means it will likely give the Bills more national visibility. But even that game isn't on a Fox doubleheader weekend.

That leaves the Nov. 2 Thursday Night Football game with the New York Jets. It is the Bills only prime time game, but even it isn't getting maximum coverage. While CBS and NBC simulcast many of the Thursday Night games, the Bills-Jets game is being carried only on cable's The NFL Network, which should reduce the audience for it. It also will be carried by a local channel in keeping with the NFL's policy of showing cable games on broadcast television in the markets of participating teams.

Of course, the NFL has a policy of flexing or moving games involving surprise teams to give them more visibility. So if the Bills surprise in Coach Sean McDermott's first season, their games can be moved to prime time or late afternoon so more people see the team do what all Bills fans are dreaming can happen.

Inquiring minds want to know: Where has Channel 2 co-anchor Maryalice Demler been the last few weeks? Kelly Dudzik has been filling in for her. I'm told Demler took a vacation and also dealt with a minor health issue but is expected back on Monday in plenty of time for the start of the May sweeps on Thursday



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