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Alan Pergament: Ch. 4's WNLO newscast looks like bad investment; Olympics ratings take fall

This is what I'm thinking:

Channel 4 may want to reconsider the decision to carry a 6:30 p.m. newscast on sister station WNLO-TV opposite the national network newscasts.

The newscast co-anchored by Dave Greber and Christy Kern averaged a 0.65 rating for the first four weeks and it doesn't appear to be growing. It hit a high of a 1.0 rating in the second week and fell to a 0.5 and a 0.6 in the following weeks. It averaged a 0.3 rating through Thursday of week five.

Considering the promotion it has dedicated to the newscast, Channel 4 isn't getting much return on its investment.

The numbers suggest that Buffalo viewers finally think there is enough local news from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and aren't buying the extra half-hour opposite the national newscasts. On the night of the Florida school shooting, the 6:30 p.m. newscast had a 0.1 rating.

If the ratings don't improve quickly, station management may have to decide whether to move the newscast to 7 p.m. or cancel it.

How the Buffalo Sabres will do without Jack Eichel isn't only a question relating to the team's play on the ice.

It also is a question for its TV ratings, which already are down significantly from a year ago in this disappointing season.

In two of the first three games without Eichel, the ratings have been close to the season average.

Before Buffalo's surprising 5-3 home win Tuesday over the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning, the Sabres were averaging a 5.2 rating for the season, down 16 percent from the 6.2 rating for the entire 2016-17 season. The 5.2 average is still strong for any National Hockey League team.

Buffalo TV ratings are usually near the top in the league, though bigger market teams have larger audiences since a rating point in their markets equals thousands of more viewers.

Normally, you might think TV ratings without Eichel would tank since he is the most dynamic player on the team. But there always is a chance that viewers will be as interested in how some of the players and the team perform without its All-Star as it did with him.

The first game since Eichel was injured against Colorado on Sunday had a 3.8 rating, the lowest rating in February. Tuesday's surprising win over the NHL's top team at that point had a 5.0 rating on MSG and the 3-2 overtime loss to Ottawa Thursday had a 5.1 rating, which are near the season average.

Recent ratings with Eichel playing were generally in the 4s. However, a Feb. 6 loss to Anaheim and former Sabre goaltender Ryan Miller had a 6.0 rating, which was the highest-rated game since Dec. 14.

The season started with high hopes and a 10.9 rating for the season opening loss to Montreal.

The highest-rated game was the Winter Classic against the New York Rangers, which had a 12.3 rating on Channel 2 on New Year's Day. The other top-rated games on the season were against Detroit (7.2) on Oct. 24, Pittsburgh (7.5) on Nov. 14 and Edmonton (7.0) on Nov. 24.

The season's lowest-rated game was a 1.1 for the game with Philadelphia that was played on the afternoon that the Buffalo Bills played their first playoff game in 18 years, a 10-3 loss to Jacksonville.

Ever since WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) sports anchor-reporter Jonah Javad announced he was leaving for a job in Dallas in February, readers wanted to know what impact that would have on his girlfriend, WIVB-TV (Channel 4) anchor-reporter Nalina Shapiro.

Shapiro started telling her Channel 4 colleagues more than a week ago she plans to leave after the end of the February sweeps to join Javad in Dallas after he leaves Channel 2. Shapiro also told colleagues that she is pursuing a job outside of television in Dallas.

The move is a significant blow to Channel 4 since Shapiro appeared to be the likely eventual heir apparent to Jacquie Walker, the station's main female anchor.

While Greber appears to be in line to be the eventual replacement for Don Postles when he retires, there is no one besides Shapiro on Channel 4's staff that would appear to be ready to eventually replace Walker.

Shapiro, who anchors the station's 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. weekday newscasts, joined Channel 4 about eight years ago almost immediately after graduating from Franklin Pierce University.

Javad announced in December he is leaving for a job at a Dallas station and remained here to be part of Channel 2's coverage of the Winter Olympics.

He will be missed at Channel 2, but it has a deep sports bench in sports director Adam Benigni, Stu Boyar and the best female sports anchor-reporter in town, Heather Prusak.

Source: Jonah Javad verbally agrees to join Dallas station

This week, veteran newsman John Zach said management of WECK knows "exactly why" he abruptly left the station recently two weeks ago.

Station owner Buddy Shula didn't want to get into a war of words with the Buffalo Broadcasters Association Hall of Famer, but he did issue a statement.

"The news of John's departure truly took us by surprise. I was not at the station when he told our program director he was done immediately on that Friday. I don't know why he quit the way he did -- nor why he was not reachable by me, friends, others at the station or Alan Pergament. He still hasn't spoken with me about it.

"I don't know why he won't discuss his departure, but at this point, I respect that it's his business. That said, I am relieved and glad he's OK.  We're sorry he left the station, yet we're truly grateful for his contributions during the few months he was with us. John is a tremendous journalist and a big part of Buffalo. We wish him nothing but the very best."

News legend John Zach mysteriously exits WECK without talking to owner

Channel 2's Olympic ratings in Pyeongchang were strong early in the competition, with some nights exceeding the corresponding night in Sochi four years ago. However, they are somewhat dependent on strong American results and some disappointments in skating and skiing Thursday saw a slip to an 11.9 rating, down about 23 percent from that night in Sochi.

Before that, local ratings were only off about 5 percent from Sochi. Prime time entertainment programs and the NFL have dealt with much steeper declines.

Inquiring minds watching the Olympics want to know: When will CBC be available in high definition on local cable? I've been trying to find out for years why local cable isn't carrying it in HD and if there are any plans to do it. I've gotten the same non-answer from Spectrum cable that I received from Time Warner Cable when it was the company delivering local cable.

The short answer is I don't know why Spectrum has no plans to carry CBC in HD or if it ever will. But I imagine the issue could involve money, bandwidth or both.

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