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Ch. 2's Olympic ratings are amazing considering U.S. performance

I was amazed to discover Monday that halfway through the PyeongChang Olympics, Buffalo's WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) is in 12th place nationally in TV ratings among the 56 NBC affiliates.

I was even more amazed Tuesday when Channel 2 researcher Jon May advised me that the station has moved up to No. 8 in household ratings in prime time, No. 2 in weekday and weekend daytime viewing and No. 7 in the overnight replay of prime time.

The station is 17 percent above the national average in prime time, 52 percent above the average in weekday afternoon, 45 percent above the average in weekend coverage and 30 percent above the average in overnight ratings.

My amazement is because the primary comments I've heard from friends and acquaintances about these Olympics are about how little they've watched and how bored they have been most of the time if they do watch.

I must be hanging around with the wrong crowd.

NBC is being creative in accounting for the national ratings, combining the prime time ratings of the main network and its cable network, NBCSN. That boosts the Buffalo number because NBCSN is carrying hockey and we love hockey more than most areas of the country.

The Channel 2 ratings noticeably and significantly slipped over the holiday weekend from the numbers in Sochi four years earlier, indicating WNYers no longer have been as amazed by what they have been seeing as they were in the first week of the Games. The 14.0 local rating Tuesday night was the highest-rated night in a week.

Early Olympics ratings for Channel 2 are strong

Don't blame new Olympic host Mike Tirico, who has less playing time than the 12th man on a NBA bench. He shows up once in a while to introduce events or introduce Olympic features, including a terrific one involving Olympic skiing legend Lindsey Vonn and her late grandfather.

Vonn is a star to watch, but nothing says change the channel quicker than "training run."

NBC carried live training runs of skiers Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin for two straight nights impressively analyzed by Bode Miller.

As Allen Iverson would say, "We're talking about practice."

Shiffrin dropped out of the real thing Tuesday night, when Vonn won a bronze medal that brought her to tears in a post-race interview.

The showcase event on both nights of the training runs was ice dancing, featuring the inspirational American "Shib Sibs" – brother and sister Maia and Alex Shibutani – who won a bronze medal late Monday night.

And I mean late. They didn't get on the ice until close to 11 p.m. in the Eastern time zone and weren't assured of a bronze medal until around 11:30 p.m. The gold was won by Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who apparently were spectacular. I say apparently because it is hard to understand how these things are judged despite the best efforts of the analysts.

No offense to the sibs or any other lover of ice dancing, but I'd even rather watch a Buffalo Sabres game this awful season than watch ice dancing for more than 30 minutes at 11 p.m.

The 14-hour time difference from South Korea to the Eastern time zone has meant there has been more live coverage than in some past Olympics, but it still has been less than ideal. It means that the live coverage in prime time often occurs around noon the following day in South Korea, which is 10 p.m. on the East Coast.

The do-or-die United States men's hockey game against Slovakia Monday didn't start until 10:10 p.m. on NBCSN. That meant viewers had to stay up until past midnight to see the Americans win, 5-1, over the Slovakian team coached by ex-Sabre Craig Ramsay. They were eliminated Tuesday night in a 3-2 loss to the Czech Republic in a shootout that must have ended around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday on CNBC. I'm not sure when it ended because I didn't stay up to see the disappointing ending.

Naturally, hockey ratings have taken a hit because the NHL regrettably isn't allowing its players to compete for their countries this time around.

On Friday night, I also found myself staying up past midnight to see whether a brilliant free skate by American Nathan Chen would vault him from 17th place into a medal. He came close, but it didn't happen.

Not much good has happened for the Americans, whose medal count has been a disappointment to the team and NBC. Canada, which has about a ninth of the population of the U.S., has a big medal lead over the Americans at this writing, 21-16. In a sense, even the bronze medals won by Vonn and the Shib Sibs were disappointments by American standards and all the NBC hype surrounding them.

Like citizens in every country, Americans like watching Americans win medals, with gold preferable. This morning's surprising cross country gold by Kikkan Randall and Jessica Diggins has been a rare exception of Americans exceeding expectations.

One sport where American gold has happened is in dangerous looking snowboarding events, which many argue became an Olympic sport to attract young American viewers and to give the U.S. a better chance at winning something since we're still behind the international talent level in traditional winter sports.

But even the half pipe win by Shaun White was clouded by details of his settling a sexual harassment law suit in 2017.

America couldn't win even by winning. Amazing.

Guthrie's persistence in Shaun White interview is impressive


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