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NBA Finals breaks Canadian TV records; Ashley Rowe delivers excellent commentary

This is what I’m thinking:

With the NBA and NHL playoffs over, I had to find some original programming to watch Friday night.

My girlfriend and I landed on “Murder Mystery,” the new Netflix movie starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston about a New York policeman taking his wife on a European vacation he promised her 15 years earlier.

On the trip, they become the focus of a comical Agatha Christie-like murder mystery.

We didn’t last 50 minutes.

Sandler and Aniston owe Agatha an apology. The movie wasn’t funny, the romance was weak, and we didn’t care who killed the billionaire who died.

But the Larry David in me did find one redeeming value in the film.

When Sandler and Aniston were on the plane ride to Europe, she told her husband that he shouldn’t put the seat back because it was “rude” to the person behind him on a six-hour flight.

Bravo. I had to deal with someone doing just that in March on my way home from Italy.

I’m sure Larry David would agree with me that unless there is no one behind you, anyone who puts their seat back should be arrested. OK, that’s a little harsh. But they should at least get a dirty look.

The movie went downhill after that scene. Consider this a warning.

In case you wondered, here is how much Canada loved the NBA Finals won by the Toronto Raptors over the Golden State Warriors.

The Raptors’ clinching victory in Game 6, which was simulcast on four channels, reportedly had an average audience of 8 million viewers in Canada and was the country’s most-watched NBA game ever.

According to the NBA, 56% of the Canadian population of 37 million watched all or part of the NBA Finals and the series accounted for six of the Top 10 most-watched TV programs in Canada.

Toronto TV critic Bill Brioux reported the sixth game was the third most-watched, non-Olympic program over the past decade in Canada. In another comparison, Brioux noted that St. Louis’ win over Boston in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final had an estimated English viewing audience in Canada of 2,559,000. That’s less than a third of the viewership for the Raptors’ clinching win.

Ashley Rowe. (Photo courtesy of Channel 7)

Undoubtedly, the happiest member of the local media about the Raptors’ win was WKBW-TV (Channel 7) anchor Ashley Rowe. She was born to Canadian parents in Los Angeles and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. She worked in Canadian broadcasting for several years before joining Channel 7. Rowe interviewed several Raptors’ fans from Western New York in Toronto during the series. She also delivered an excellent 80-second commentary (available on social networks) about what the Raptors’ win meant to – and about – the diverse community in that city and the unifying power of sport.

The broadcast networks have heavily relied on sports programming this month, when viewing for its prime-time programs falls in late spring.

Gary Woodland’s win in the U.S. Open in primetime Sunday night here didn’t approach the ratings for the NBA Finals on ABC affiliate Channel 7 or the Stanley Cup Final on WGRZ-TV (Channel 2). But it still won the night here with a 5.2 rating on the local Fox affiliate (WUTV), which was the same as the national rating in metered markets. The local rating peaked at 8.0 at 8:30 p.m. The United States’ women’s soccer team’s 3-0 victory over Chile Sunday afternoon had a very strong 4.2 local rating as the lead-in to golf.

George Stephanopoulos’ newsmaking prime-time interview with President Trump had a 3.6 rating at 8 p.m. on Channel 7, barely beating its lead-in “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (3.2). The interview finished third in the time slot here, behind golf and a second hour of “60 Minutes.” In fairness, I bet even the president would have watched the Open over his interview.

I was struck by the decision on NBC’s “Nightly News with Lester Holt” Friday night to highlight the decline in mortgage rates by telling viewers if their budget was $500,000 they can now afford a $550,000 mortgage because of declining rates. Seriously? Does NBC think most Americans can relate to mortgages that high?

CBS is smart to program the first season of “The Good Fight,” the sequel to "The Good Wife" starring Christine Baranski, on Sunday nights two years after subscribers to CBS All Access paid to watch it. The two episodes that ran Sunday night had ratings of 4.4 and 4.3 on WIVB-TV (Channel 4), which gave the program second place in the time slot opposite golf. And the episodes may have convinced some viewers to sign up for CBS All Access.

The numbers for “The Good Fight” here are even more impressive when you consider the first episode ran opposite the second episode of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” and the premiere episode of Showtime’s “City on a Hill.”

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