It is 10 o'clock. Do you know where the viewers are?
As a rule, Buffalo follows many national trends in television and that includes a big drop-off in live viewership at 10 p.m.
During one recent five-day weekday period, the combined local ratings at 10 p.m. on the local affiliates of three broadcast networks hit a low of 6.0 points on a Monday, and a high of 14.2 points on a Friday.
The combined rating for the three network programs used to be what one program would average a few years ago.
Several of the programs received ratings in the 1s and 2s.
And more than half the 14.2 rating on a Friday was the 7.7 rating for the romantic ending involving police partners Jamie Reagan (Will Estes) and Eddie Janko (Vanessa Ray) in the season finale of "Blue Bloods," CBS' popular police family drama with a cast headed by Tom Selleck.
If any fan of the ABC series "Designated Survivor" or "Quantico" wants to know why these former hit series were canceled, all you have to do is look at the live ratings they received locally last week.
The 10 p.m. May 9 episode of "Designated Survivor" had a 2.2 rating on WKBW-TV, the local ABC affiliate. ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey acknowledged in a conference call this week that the show does well in delayed viewing but added the network didn't love the ideas for future episodes.
The 10 p.m. May 10 episode of "Quantico" had a 0.6 live rating on Channel 7. You read that right. It didn't even hit a 1 rating.
ABC did renew the new Shonda Rhimes-produced series "For the People," but that sounds like a business decision. Its 10 p.m. May 8 episode had a 1.1 rating here.
The combined rating here for the five ABC 10 p.m. weekday series was an anemic 8.7, only a point higher than "Blue Bloods."
On many nights, the local 10 p.m. newscasts that Channel 4 produces on its sister station WNLO-TV and Channel 2 produces on Fox affiliate WUTV exceed the ratings for the entertainment series at the hour.
In the middle of the week, Channel 4 was up 52 percent to an average 3.9 on WNLO for the first half hour of its 10 p.m. newscast and Channel 2 was up 19 percent to a 2.9 rating for its 10 p.m. news.
Besides the news and the option to go to sleep, local viewers also are watching the NHL and NBA playoffs in significant numbers at 10 p.m. instead of entertainment programs. The recent games have been getting local ratings in the 4s.
Of course, many other viewers are watching commercial-free shows on streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon or watching shows they have recorded on DVRs so they fast-forward through the commercials.
Naturally, the poor 10 p.m. performance of the entertainment series is providing a weak lead-in for the local 11 p.m. newscasts.
The 11 p.m. newscasts were recently down a combined 11 percent from a year ago, led by a 24 percent drop for Channel 7, which is getting killed by its ABC lead-ins.
Not surprisingly, the schedules announced this week of the two networks with 10 p.m. problems were loaded with new 10 p.m. series hoping to stop the time slot slide.
Fox doesn't program at 10 p.m. CBS plans on using some oldies but goodies at 10 p.m. next season in "Blue Bloods," "NCIS: New Orleans," Madam Secretary" and "48 Hours," along with relatively popular newcomers "Bull" and "S.W.A.T."
NBC is only premiering three new series next fall and two of them are 10 p.m. series.
"Manifest," which airs at 10 p.m. Monday, is about an airplane flight than lands five years after it takes off.
"New Amsterdam," which airs at 10 p.m. Tuesday, is another hospital series.
Of the six new fall series on ABC's schedule, two are 10 p.m. series.
"The Rookie," in which Nathan Fillion plays an older police rookie, airs at 10 p.m. Tuesday.
"The Alec Baldwin Show," in which the actor interviews celebrities, airs at 10 p.m. Sunday.
All the new series at that hour will need some luck to beat the "10 p.m. Time Slot Curse."