The episode of “The Simpsons” Sunday that took some shots at Western New York led to some snarky comments on social media from sensitive viewers.
My favorite snark? Does anyone still watch “The Simpsons”? Is “The Simpsons” still on TV?
It's true the animated series that premiered 30 years ago on Fox doesn’t have a big following in Western New York anymore. Sunday’s episode had a 2 rating on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate. That represents about 12,000 households.
But believe it or not, that isn’t terrible for a Fox series in these days of declining network TV ratings in Buffalo. And “The Simpsons” generally attracts a healthy number of viewers in the age 18-49 demographic that advertisers seek.
During the November sweeps, “The Simpsons” averaged a 3.1 household rating live and seven days after it aired. It had a strong 3.8 rating in the age 25-54 demographic important to local advertisers and a 3.3 rating in the age 18-49 demographic important to national advertisers.
Its rating declined during the February sweeps when it competed with big events on rival channels. In that period, “The Simpsons” averaged a 2.8 household rating live and seven days after it aired. It had a 2.4 rating in the age 25-54 demographic and a 1.6 in the age 18-49 demographic.
As of today, Sunday’s episode of “The Simpsons” wasn’t available On Demand at Spectrum Cable but it could be streamed for free at Fox.com.
While most of the attention here on the episode was on the minute or so lampooning upstate New York, more of it dealt in “Saturday Night Live” style with disturbing issues and policies in America that caused Lisa to seek asylum in Canada.
The episode didn’t name President Trump or the Republican party, but it addressed voter suppression, environmental policies and the family separation policy at the southern border associated with the president and his party.
“You can’t separate our child,” Homer tells a Canadian official. “That is America’s thing.”
The closest the episode came to naming Trump was calling America’s president a bad name without actually using his name.
You might have thought as many Trump supporters would have been more upset at the politics of the episode than at the predictable – and in my view, funny – shots at Buffalo and upstate New York.
“The James Holzhauer Show,” which host Alex Trebek called “Jeopardy!” before Monday’s show, remains a runaway hit in Western New York. Monday night’s suspenseful episode in which the Las Vegas professional sports bettor held off a Massachusetts sports information director by $18 had a 16.5 rating on WIVB-TV (Channel 4). That’s about 75 percent higher than “Jeopardy!” averaged before Holzhauer started on the program.
To put the viewership in further perspective, the highest-rated regular entertainment program in WNY during the February sweeps was CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” which averaged a 16.4 rating for three episodes seven days after it aired.
The dark, extended battle at Winterfell on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” Sunday night had a 5.6 local rating. However, that’s a deceptively low number since HBO plays “GOT” several times during the week and the rating doesn’t include streaming viewership locally.
Nationally, two airings of Sunday’s episode hit a series-high 17.8 million viewers on the pay-cable channel and through streaming. The season opener two weeks earlier had 17.4 million viewers on the day it aired. However, its audience has since grown to 38 million. In other words, it is a good idea to avoid giving out spoilers for at least a week.