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Dull Bills preseason loss sets summer high for TV ratings

The Buffalo Bills rebounded in one area Saturday night – TV ratings.

The Bills' 13-9 loss to Baltimore in one of the dullest preseason games in recent history had a 20.1 rating on WKBW-TV (Channel 7), the local ABC affiliate, making it the highest-rated TV program of the summer and obviously the highest-rated game of the first three preseason games under new coach Sean McDermott.

It barely beat the 20.0 for the Bills preseason opening home loss against Minnesota but was well ahead of the 18.6 rating for the 20-16 road loss to Philadelphia a week earlier.

To put the rating in perspective, the second highest-rated broadcast network program Saturday night was NBC's "Dateline Mysteries," which had a 2.5 rating on WGRZ-TV, the local NBC affiliate. A preseason NFL game on WIVB-TV (Channel 4), had a 0.9 local rating.

The first three games of the McDermott coaching era have averaged a 19.6 rating. The four preseason games a year ago in Coach Rex Ryan's second season when expectations were diminished averaged a 17.0 rating. But the four preseason games in Ryan's first season when expectations were high averaged a 23.5 rating. Bills regular season games generally average in the mid-to-high 30s or low 40s.

For further comparison, let's look at "Game of Thrones," which many of its fans believe practically everyone watches.

The terrific and revealing season finale of HBO's megahit had a 4.4 live local rating Sunday night and a 1.5 rating for the midnight repeat that followed for a total of 5.9 ratings points.

Of course, "GOT" gets a significant rating from DVR viewing and all the repeats that HBO carries over the week. However, you might think that the show's fans would watch live at a higher rate for the season finale to avoid people spoiling it for them on social networks.

"GOT" has an advantage in delayed viewing over live sporting events, which generally get limited viewing after they are played.

The Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight Saturday night may be an exception with that rule. Showtime is airing a replay of the pay-per-view fight on Saturday night, Sept. 2, that should attract people who didn't want to pay about $100 to see Mayweather's victory live.

Buffalo loves reality ... at least the TV version of it


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