“MacGyver” tops Friday ratings


CBS remake scores decent sampling; Church of Tisch dominates the evening

Note: These results are based on adults 18-49 preliminary ratings.

On The Simpsons, Patty and Selma said they’re favorite TV show was MacGvyer, the 1985-92 ABC series featuring Richard Dean Anderson (it was even part of a plot of one 1992 episode where Selma marries Sideshow Bob.)

So you wonder what they would think of the new MacGyver series, airing on CBS this season (we might find out – The Simpsons is still on the air.) But viewers were interested.

MacGyver earned a 1.7 rating and a 7 share and drew 10.9 million viewers, finishing first in its time period, and was the highest-rated show of the night. This despite a 38 Metacritic rating – a complete thrashing by the critics. MacGyver’s strong sampling set the stage for CBS to dominate the evening with the season premieres of Hawaii-Five-O (1.3/5, 10.1 million viewers), and Blue Bloods (1.3/4, 10.4 million.)

Over on Fox, the premiere of The Exorcist drew a 1.0 rating, down slightly from its Hell’s Kitchen lead-in (1.1). The results were about what was expected.

ABC struggled with the season premieres of Last Man Standing (1.1/4) and Dr. Ken (0.9/4), both down from last year. As a reminder, syndicated repeats of Last Man air on WGN-TV weeknights at 8 and 8:30 p.m.

Shark Tank scored a surprisingly low 1.1/4. Generally, the reality series averaged around a 1.7 rating. This lead to a 0.8/3 for the season premiere of 20/20, not exactly a riveting performance.

NBC had special encores of Superstore and The Good Place (0.6/3 each), leading into Dateline NBC, with a 1.0.

The only original to air on CW was Masters of Illusion, which didn’t master the ratings at 0.3.

Finally – like I do every time I write about the sea of mediocrity that is Friday night television, I have to mention the lone standout – WTTW’s Chicago Tonight: The Week In Review. On a night where Dallas, Miami Vice, The X-Files, Family Matters, and Full House used to rule, this longtime public-affairs program (and variously-titled shows with Geoffrey Baer that follow afterward) are the only Friday shows worth watching. And this season, it’s no different. A MacGyver reboot? This night has became a MacJoke.




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Tough night for network TV


“Pitch” (Fox).

Unless you’re CBS

After three nights of momentum, network TV slid off the rails Thursday as two programs’ premieres underwhelmed.

For the record, real-life events had an effect on TV schedules – police protests in Charlotte were covered on cable news networks and spurred pre-emptions on several Charlotte TV stations; and here in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave a speech on Chicago’s violence epidemic, leading into prime-time on several stations.

In a ridiculous move, CBS-owned WBBM-TV cut off the Mayor’s speech in order to carry the network’s NFL pre-game show. Yes, we understand the NFL trumps everything, but it shouldn’t be above an epidemic affecting communities in the city – especially in a place where the Bears aren’t doing shit this season. WBBM could have moved either the speech or the pre-game to its digital 2.2 subchannel, where Decades resides.

On to the shows: remember, all numbers are based on adults 18-49, unless otherwise noted. These are final numbers, provided by the Programming Insider.

Two new dramas debuted last night to lackluster numbers, meaning its going to be a tough road for both: ABC’s Notorious and Fox’s Pitch, both receiving equal amount of hype and the same amount of ratings: The former bowed with a 1.1/4 rating/share, down a whopping 56 percent from its Grey’s Anatomy lead-in (2.5/9). Pitch also bowed with a 1.1/4, but was up 57 percent from Rosewood’s 0.7/3.

Another major difference between the two: while Pitch received decent reviews (69 on Metacritic – though yours truly finds the premise unrealistic and does nothing to advance the cause for women’s sports), Notorious is a critical disaster: the drama only scored a 32 Metacritic score. Tip: never name your show after a Duran Duran song.

Notorious‘ lackluster performance also may have hurt How To Get Away With Murder, which drew a 1.4/5, but did improve from its’ lead-in. Which means:

In other news, NBC had a consistent night with the season premieres of Superstore (1.5/6), the time-period premiere of The Good Place (1.4/5), Chicago Med (1.4/5) and The Blacklist (1.3/4). Sampled during the Olympics, Superstore was recently picked up for the full season. Great move!

Finally, CBS far and away won the night with its Thursday Night Football matchup between the Houston Texans and New England Patriots with a 6.1/22 in adults 18-49, a 7.0/21 in adults 25-54, and 17.5 million viewers (the game was also carried on NFL Network and streamed on Twitter.) Despite a tremendous losing effort by Houston, ratings for TNF were actually up compared to year-ago time period numbers. The results should quiet those who thinks the NFL has peaked or blame the numbers decline on a football player who wouldn’t stand for the National Anthem – the latter coming from a right-leaning business publication, who once gleefully said Chicago was the “most miserable city in the country”.

Leave the “ratings analyzing” to the experts, not a past-its-prime magazine.

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“Designated Survivor” off to strong start


Kiefer Sutherland gets to do something he was never able to do on 24 – become President of The United States.

And he didn’t even battle Dennis Haysbert for the job.

The biggest debut of the night was the premiere of Designated Survivor, the Kiefer Sutherland vehicle where he plays the President Of The United States – getting the position only after his successor is killed in an explosion during the State Of The Union address. The series received strong sampling, earning a 2.2/8 adults 18-49 rating and drawing 10 million viewers. Designated was the night’s second most-watched show, behind the season premiere of Empire.

Designated easily coasted past NBC’s competing Chicago P.D., which ad a 1.6/5.

Reviews of the heavily-promoted Designated were pretty good, achieving a Metacritic score of 71 and a 85 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

As for Empire, the third season premiere featuring the antics of the Lyon family, earned a 4.2/13 – but that was down from the 6.7 rating it earned for last year’s season premiere. Empire improved on its Leathal Weapon premiere, which drew a 2.2/8 – not a bad start.

As for the rest, the other show named Survivor – the longtime reality competition series – premiered with a 2.3/9 on CBS, with a Millennial vs Gen X version. During one of the challenges, a team blew a huge lead and lost. Already, the White Sox are asking if anyone on the team is available to join their 2017 roster.

Following Survivor was the season finale of Big Brother, earning a 2.0/7. An CBS All-Access version is expected to debut on the streaming service later this fall.

ABC had a consistent debut for all four of their comedies: 2.0 each for Goldbergs, newcomer Speechless, and Black-ish. Modern Family had a 2.6.

NBC tumbled to fourth for the evening with Blindspot (1.3/5), Law And Order: SVU (1.8/6) and Chicago P.D.

And the lone first-run show on CW was Whose Line Is It Anyway, which drew a 0.3/1. The CW’s dramas better hurry back.

All numbers are based on adult 18-49 final ratings and provided by the Programming Insider. To see the complete ratings chart, click here.

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“This Is Us”, ‘Bull” rams through competition

nbc-this-is-us-aboutimage-1920x1080-koNew dramas get strong sampling; The Voice continues to dominate; S.H.I.E.L.D. skids off radar

The first Tuesday of the new season bought more ratings riches for both CBS and ABC while ABC and Fox struggled to remain competitive.

Obviously, the story of the night is the successful debuts of CBS’ Bull and NBC’s This is Us. The latter show benefited from its Voice lead-in, earning a 2.8/10 among adults 18-49 in the last hour of primetime, well ahead of competing NCIS: New Orleans on CBS (1.4/5) and ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1.1/4). NCIS however, won in total viewers, 11.1 million to Us’ 10.0 million.

Shield only pulled in 3.4 million viewers. Given the series’ sliding ratings and its arrival in off-net this year on weekends (WPWR begins airing syndicated reruns next Wednesday night at 10 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. starting October 2), you have to question why ABC renewed the show. Yes, Shield is the Chicago Bears of network dramas.

CBS’ Bull also received ample sampling, earning a 2.2/7, even with its NCIS lead-in (2.2/8) and finishing a strong second in its 9 p.m. (ET) time slot. Among critics however, Bull was less-well reviewed (40 Metacritic score compared to Us’ 76.) Obviously, the critics thought Bull was indeed Bullshit.

In other ratings news, The Voice continues to dominate, with a 3.4 rating/12 share, and 12.3 million viewers, compared to ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, which drew 8.8 million and a 1.5/5. Fox remained out of the game with Brooklyn Nine-Nine (1.1/4), New Girl (1.2/4) and Scream Queens (1/3), with Fox even falling behind The O’Reilly Factor on sister network Fox News in total viewers. Fox is banking on DVR usage to see boosted numbers for all three shows.

Finally, a new Mad TV episode on The CW earned a 0.2/1.

These are final numbers, provided by Nielsen via The Programming Insider. To see the complete chart, click here.



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Bears bomb on field and in ratings


Jay Cutler fumbles again. (USA Today)


If you thought the Chicago White Sox had a bad season…you ain’t seen nothing yet

Maybe we should send Chris Sale to cut up some Bears jerseys in the locker room.

Monday night certainly wasn’t football night for Bears fans as the team put up the worst performance in at least two seasons as the team was blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles 29-14 in a game led by rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.

Using a late-night talk anthology, Wentz indeed looked like Johnny Carson while veteran Bears QB Jay Cutler look like Chevy Chase.

And speaking of stuff lasting only five weeks, Cutler could be out of that long with a thumb injury.

As for the ratings, they looked like those of The Pat Sajak Show (in reality, no – Sajak fared much worse.) The game scored a 8.3 household metered-market rating for ESPN, down 11 percent from last year’s second game of the season.

In final numbers released late Tuesday, the number dropped to a 7.3 household rating, down marking the lowest-rated Week 2 of Monday Night Football of all time. This number was down 10 percent from a year ago.

Facing tough competition from the opening night of the new television season (and the Cubs), the Bears game in Chicago earned a below-average 22.1 rating (11.2 for ESPN; 10.9 for WCIU.) To put this in perspective, a Cubs playoff game against the Cardinals last year on TBS drew a 23.4 local rating. Game three of the NLCS between the Cubs and Mets drew a 25.1, also on TBS.

Game one of the Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning in June 2015 drew a 28 local rating. The sixth game where the Blackhawks clinched their third Stanley Cup championship drew a 41 rating.

The only positive is the Eagles-Bears game still topped all broadcast programming for the night in adults 18-49, earning a 4.5 rating, but was down 7 percent from last year’s week two Monday Night game. As noted here earlier, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory was the night’s top show on broadcast with a 3.6.

Sadly, the Bears outdrawing most prime-time programming has become the norm as the broadcast networks’ outlook for this season isn’t any better than those for the Lakefront’s NFL Team.

This comes as ratings for NFL games have declined so far this season; some are wondering if viewership has peaked. Unfortunately for the NFL, the Bad News Bears have three more primetime games to go, including this Sunday’s matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, then an October 20 contest against Green Bay and a Halloween Night matchup against the Vikings. To say these two October contests could be outdrawn by Cubs playoff games next month is definitely not outside the realm of possibility.

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Welcome to the 11th season of T Dog Media: Monday ratings roundup

kevin-can-wait-cbs-tv-series-key-art-logo-740x416The new 2016-17 season is here

On Sunday, T Dog Media marked its 10th anniversary in the blogosphere and once again, I want to thank you for readership and your support. On Monday, T Dog Media began its 11th season. Feels good being the veteran on the block for a change.

After taking a break last year, yours truly is resuming nightly ratings reports for the first week of the new season or so, to give you a measure of how the new shows are doing. All ratings are preliminary adult 18-49s, unless otherwise noted.  CW’s ratings are not included since the network is still in repeats.

Ratings for Monday night’s Bears-Eagles game will be addressed in a separate post.

Monday night started with a very competitive first hour of prime-time: CBS’ The Big Bang Theory premiered with a 3.6, down 23 percent from 2015’s premiere, also on Monday. That led into a 2.6 for Kevin’ James new sitcom Kevin Can Wait, a show that received mixed ratings reviews (39 on Metacritic).

NBC scored a tremendous ratings victory with a revamped Voice, with new additions Miley Cyrus and Grammy-award winning artist Alicia Keys. The Emmy-winning reality competition program scored with a 3.3, down 6 percent from last year but decisively beat ABC’s Dancing With The Stars (1.7). One note on Stars were contestants danced to TV theme songs. Very cool!

Meanwhile, NBC’s new sitcom The Good Place received ample sampling out of The Voice with a 2.6 for the first half-hour and a 2.0 the second half-hour.

CBS finished the night with a Jon Benet Ramsey movie special, earning a 1.8, down from a 2.8 the previous night. CBS cut some footage from the special.

Fox had a little bit of good news with Lucifer (1.3) gaining from its lead-in (Gotham, 1.2). Still, Fox finished fourth for the night and both shows were off 46 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

And last, but not least, the season-finale of Match Game earned a 0.9, down 47 percent from its Dancing lead-in.  See you next summer, Alec Baldwin.

Source: Spotted Ratings

Broadcast Networks, Television

T Dog’s Think Tank: T Dog Media at 10


Happy anniversary to T Dog Media! It’s a different media world today than it was when I started this.

As we mark the ten-year anniversary of T Dog Media this weekend, I would like to take a look back – not at dopey posts from the early years such as these (really bad idea)…or getting involved in feuds (Wil Wheaton and Kenya Moore), or just some ill-thought out essays (a critical post I wrote was nuked for being way too mean – even for me.) Instead, I would like to take a look at the issues the media business faced then, now, and throughout the duration of this blog.

To mark ten years writing on this site, here are ten major turning points in the media business in the last ten years. Has it gotten better or worse? You be the judge…

The rise of social media. When this site began, MySpace basically was social media. Since, we’ve seen the rapid rise of Facebook and Twitter (which I joined in 2009), not to mention Instagram, Snapchat, Pintrest, and others whom didn’t exist in 2006.

The rise of Netflix and other streaming services. In 2006, Netflix was just a rent-a-DVD-by-mail service. Now Netflix is a streaming powerhouse, who along with Hulu and Amazon, changed the face of television forever, creating another outlet for high-quality programming.

The fall of Chicago. Since 2007, yours truly has penned several quality of life essays about Chicago – none of them exactly enthusiastic as the city (particularly after losing the Olympic bidcontinues to stumble on the world stage as rising murder rate and gun violence takes its toll. As a result, residents are leaving the area (many of them African-American), resulting in fewer viewers/listeners – and ad revenue.

The rise of the Blackhawks. You want a textbook example of how to turnaround a failing business? Ten years ago, the Blackhawks were a doormat team, with low attendance, television ratings, and win count. When owner Bill Wirtz died in 2007, son Rocky took over and turned the franchise around – by adding home televised games, developing star players, and marketing the hell out of the team. The result? The Hawks won three Stanley Cup in six years and is back among the elite franchise in the NHL and in all of sports.

The fall of radio. While listeners continue to tune in, the industry continues to be run into the ground by out-of-touch radio conglomerates. Listeners have all but accepted voice-tracking, awful content, repetitive music, and increased commercial loads, and that’s a shame.

All you have to do is look at Chicago radio. Has it improved in the last ten years? Like the city itself, hell no. It seems “The Chicago Way” determines who gets gigs (Mancow), which led yours truly to call Chicago radio the worst in the country, and recent evidence proves things have not gotten any better.

And let’s not bring up Nine FM or FM News.

The media business has become more politically polarized. In 2008, a merger between Sirius and XM was approved by the FCC, in a 3-2 party-line vote – a rarity at the time. In the last few years, we’ve seen the FCC hijacked by partisan lobbyists (including current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, himself a former head of the National Cable Television Association), with issues such as station ownership limits and net neutrality ending up in the same divisive pile as abortion, gun control, and gay rights. As Sen. John Thune (R-S.D) pointed out this week, there’s been more partisan-decisive votes during Wheeler’s tenure than there has in the last two decades. Even worse, FCC Commissioners are now nothing but puppets, controlled by partisan legislators (i.e. Rep. Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon).

The FCC has given the Illinois legislature a good run for its money for who can be the most dysfunctional body in government while achieving absolutely nothing in the process. Not good for those who care about communication issues.

Media merger-mania continues unabated. And while the idiots at the FCC aren’t busy playing a partisan game of Survivor, they continue to let big media companies merge with one another – notably the NBCUniversal’s merger with Comcast and Cumulus’ acquisition of Citadel, who acquired ABC Radio. As you’ve probably have noticed, there are fewer TV station and radio groups than they were ten years ago – and we, the public are poorer for it. Look at the shitty coverage of this year’s Presidential elections and tell me I’m wrong…

Network television continues its decline. With the advent of quality programming on streaming services, viewers are tuning away from the same old-same old for fresher, more vibrant programming such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Stranger Things, and Transparent, among others. Meanwhile, Cable continues to create water-cooler programming such as Game of Thrones and You’re The Worst.

There are exceptions – notably The CW, who is also celebrating a ten-year anniversary – who improved its programming by adding well-written and acted shows like Arrow, The Flash, and Jane The Virgin – a vast improvement over Gossip Girl and a 90210 rehash.

More talk on diversity. The first article I wrote on racism in the industry was one on Survivor. Since then, I’ve written more on the diversity issue in Hollywood and in Chicago local media, before “Oscars So White” became a trending topic.

Management….sadly, is still inept. In October 2006, the first critical post I wrote was about Cara Carriveau’s firing from WLUP-FM by a managerial dork for writing a critical piece about Chicago radio to Robert Feder, then-media critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. Since then, bad management has run rampant in the media business from Jeff Zucker and Ben Silverman at NBC to Kevin Metheny, Sam Zell, and Randy Michaels at Tribune, and from Jan Jeffries at Cumulus to any GM or news director WFLD has hired in the last ten years.

Yours truly received a taste of such arrogant and inept management at my former employer, a (supposedly) non-profit where I spent eight years of my life. For the last two years, the people running the place were even bigger buffoons than those I just named in the previous paragraph. They make Dr. Clayton Forrester and TV’s Frank (from MST3K) look like Lee Iacocca by comparison.

Over the years, T Dog Media has evolved from being snarky and rebellious (remember T Dog’s Groovy Grab Bag?) to delivering a more professional presentation and being outspoken on issues in the media industry, such as those listed above. And from time to time, I still have fun here, writing about classic TV, current TV shows, sports, Comic-Con, geeky things, or comedy pieces.

Along the way, I attactred some fans (Feder, Carriveau, Marc Berman, David Kaplan, etc.) and some distractors (see the first paragraph.) It’s been a pleasure to entertain and inform you over the last ten years, and look to do so for another ten. And I am proud of the work I do here.

Thank you for your support!


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Cubs score one for the record books

CSN Chicago is also "flying the W" in the ratings department.

CSN Chicago is also “flying the W” in the ratings department.

Cubs destroy competition off the field, including the once-mighty NFL – setting a cable TV record in the process

Despite loss, Cubs clinch NL Central

Even with a loss last night against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cubs continue to roll with a dominant ratings performance on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

According to a press release, the Brewers-Cubs telecast Thursday night on CSN Chicago was the top-rated program in the Chicago area, defeating all broadcast networks – including an NFL game between AFC East rivals the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills (more on this later.)

The Cub game drew a local 11.2 household rating and a 6.0 adult 25-54 demo – making it the most-watched telecast of any sport on the 12-year old regional sports network (RSN). Ratings peaked at a 13.4 at 10:15 p.m., easily defeating local newscasts on three channels.

Fans tuned in droves to see if the Cubs could make it a Hat and T-shirt Night – a.k.a. clinching the NL Central for the first time in eight years and clinching a division title for the fifth time in 35 years. The Cubs lost, but a loss by the St. Louis Cardinals late in the evening clinched the title for the North Siders anyway.

The success of the Cubs is benefiting its media partners: CSN, ABC-owned WLS-TV, WGN-TV, and WSCR-AM, and is certain to benefit baseball playoff partners Turner Sports, Fox, and FS1 in October as long as the Cubs are playing.

On the other hand, the Cubs’ playoff run is poised to provide headaches of entertainment network presidents – and the NFL.

With the new television season set to launch Monday, the major networks’ entertainment programming face the added distraction of a MLB Playoffs featuring the Cubs as the major marquee – certain to drain live viewership even more. No doubt the networks will emphasize the Live + 3 ratings metric (live viewing plus three-day-DVR/streaming playback) in any press release they put out.

Meanwhile, the NFL took another ratings hammer last night as CBS and NFL Network’s first Thursday Night Football game of the season drew a 9.5 household rating for the CBS and NFL Network telecast, down 26 percent from last year’s comparable telecast between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. The game was also streamed on Twitter, marking the first an NFL telecast was shown on the social media platform. The Twitter stream drew 243,000 viewers, with an average watch time of 22 minutes.

Also of note was a Cincinnati-Houston college football game drawing 2.1 million viewers for ESPN. No matter the platform, both football games were easily beaten in Chicago by the Cubs.

There has been some concern (and debate) whether or not NFL ratings have peaked, with first-week numbers down by double-digits from last year’s season-opening games. A Cubs-fueled MLB playoffs could draw away more viewers from football – yes, the Cubs were in the playoffs last year (where they were swept by the New York Mets in the NLCS), but this year’s team is poised for more success, given the Cubs currently have the best record in baseball.

And next week’s NFL prime-time matchups won’t get any better – two of them features a downtrodden, awful Bears team. Remember them?

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T Dog”s Media Notepad: Introducing MeTV Music

WCIU to air Bears game Monday night

MeTV launches Internet stream

Chi-Town Rising gets another run

Tribune renews Fox affiliations in six markets

metvmusicAs first reported by Robert Feder Monday, Weigel’s MeTV is launching a separate Internet stream of its terrestrial radio station at WRME-LP (87.7 FM). “MeTV Music brings back so many of the artists and songs that terrestrial radio has stopped playing because they ‘skew older’ or are unfamiliar to today’s program directors” said Neal Sabin, Vice Chairman of Weigel Broadcasting Co. “Our Chicago MeTV FM station has proved there is an audience for this music with ‘hipsters, hippies, boomers and beyond.’ Now we are making a similar product available nationally via MeTV.com. The wow factor will hit you hard when you spend time with MeTV Music.”

MeTV FM features music from the 1960’s and 1970’s, with core artists including The Carpenters, Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, and more. Launched in association with Accuradio, listeners to MeTV.com can pause, skip, and rate songs. WRME’s current program director (Rick O’Dell) programmed several of Accuradio’s Internet streams.

WRME has been a tremendous success for Weigel, which programs MeTV FM. In its first month, MeTV FM doubled the rating of its previous occupant, sports radio station The Game (WGWG-FM).

In separate news, Tribune’s WGN-AM agreed to provide news updates to WRME.

The stream is available at MeTV.com/music.

bears-eagles-624x264While all the news lately is centered on WGN-TV returning to independent status and airing more sporting events, the biggest prize – regular-season ESPN Bears games – still rest with competing indie WCIU. On Monday night, the Weigel-owned station will simulcast ESPN’s feed of the Bears’ home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles at 7:15 p.m.

WCIU begins coverage at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-game show hosted by Jim Blaney and former Chicago Bears players James “Big Cat” Williams and Israel Idonije, who’ll also front WCIU’s post-game show. Hub Arkish will be on-location reporting live from Soldier Field, and in a taped segment, Kerry Sayers interviews former Chicago Bear Dan Hampton on his memories of the recently deceased Buddy Ryan, whose 46 defense helped the Bears win Super Bowl XX.

This is one of two Monday night Bears games WCIU will carry this year; the station will also the Bears-Vikings contest on October 31, Halloween Night.

Since Monday Night Football is an ESPN broadcast, ABC affiliates and O&Os have first right of refusal featuring Monday Night Football games if the home market team is playing. But because of live nature of Dancing With The Stars, ABC-owned stations can’t pre-empt or delay the show, though non-ABC O&Os can (and usually do.) In Philadelphia, ABC-owned WPVI punted the broadcast to Tribune’s WPHL-TV.

Last Monday, ABC-owned KABC in Los Angeles and KGO in San Francisco aired a special live broadcast of Dancing at 5 p.m. to accommodate a Rams-49ers game at 7:15 p.m. local time.

Chi-Town Rising logo_zpsc10o2uhhGiven the strong ratings the special achieved, it comes as no surprise the principals behind Chi-Town Rising are bringing back the special for another season, airing on NBC-owned WMAQ-TV and WSNS-TV (Telemundo Chicago.) Despite being critically panned (to be fair, so were all the other NYE specials – let’s face it, it’s not a bastion of quality TV), the special beat Countdown Chicago on WLS-TV, which had the field all to itself. Both specials nearly drew two million viewers combined locally – a number NFL games generally achieve outside of primetime.

Originally billed as a free event, organizers decided to charge people to join in on the festivities outside of the Hyatt hotel, but many thought it was a ruse to keep out protesters upset about the LaQuan McDonald shooting, whose video was released a month prior to the New Year’s Eve event. Televised in 40 markets and on Cozi nationwide, a situation like that wouldn’t look good for Chicago, whose image on the international stage has been tarnished for years due to the city’s escalating homicide rate.

Still, the problems haven’t keep tourists away as Mayor Rahm Emanuel pointed out in the PR release: “Major cultural events like this one are a key reason Chicago is breaking tourism records and attracted more than 52 million visitors in 2015. I look forward to an even bigger and better event this year.”

No word if Mario Lopez, who hosted last year’s festivities, would return as host.

TribBroadcastingFeaturedTribune Broadcasting has renewed its affiliation agreements with Fox in six markets: KSWB in San Diego; WXIN in Indianapolis; KTXL in Sacramento; WTIC in Hartford; WXMI in Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek; and WPMT in Harrisburg-Lancaster-York-Hershey Pa.

Tribune took over some four of these stations in an acquisition of Renaissance Broadcasting in 1996. Former Tribune CEO Sam Zell announced at a seminar that KSWB would take over the Fox affiliation from former affiliate XETV in 2008, citing Fox’s concern over the latter being based in Tijuana, Mexico (over the border from San Diego) due to transmission issues. As the call letters indicate, KSWB was a former WB (and later CW) affiliate.

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Ratings roundup: “Harry” off to decent start

24345918319_ffa8698f08Cubs score; NFL slides a bit

With the new season a week away, new programming is already popping up – and getting decent sampling.

The launch of Harry Connick Jr.’s daytime talk show Monday met ratings expectations, drawing a 1.4 household rating/4 share in 56 metered markets, according to Nielsen. Among females 25-54. Harry scored a 40 percent increase from year-ago time slots.

Harry scored a 60 percent ratings increase in New York City, where Fox-owned WNYW scored a 1.6/5 in households. Harry is shot at CBS Broadcast Center in the Big Apple.

Here in Chicago, Harry airs at 4 p.m. on Fox-owned WFLD and 9 p.m. on Fox-owned CW affiliate WPWR. Chicago ratings were not available.

Harry’s first guest was Sandra Bullock, who co-starred with him in 1998 theatrical Hope Floats. Then, he aired a filmed segment taking over an Atlanta-area nail salon for the day, with often hilarious results. To close the show, Connick performed a song from his latest album.

On Twitter, yours truly gave harry a grade of A: superb production, a great set in HD, and Connick’s charm, wit, and strong personality fit the program well.

Of course, I said the same thing about Dr. Oz when his show debuted in 2009, and…well, look how that turned out.

But the difference is – at least Harry Connick Jr. is very talented. Here’s to a long run. Just please avoid getting skewered on Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.

Three other shows made their debuts yesterday: T.D. Jakes’ new talker premiered in 26 metered markets with a 0.8/3 and The CW’s Robert Irvine Show fared even worse, with a 0.6. According to Twitter, viewers think Irvine should go back to the Food Network.

In other season premiere news, Dancing With The Stars started its new season strong with a 2.6 rating in adults 18-49, despite competition from an NFL game on ESPN and locally a Cubs-Cardinals game on CSN. Because of a Rams-49ers game airing on ABC-owned KABC in Los Angeles and KGO in San Francisco, Dancing aired earlier in those markets live at 5 p.m. PT (The 18-49 rating only reflects time period data. Dancing’s L.A. and S.F. numbers were not included in the total.)

And viewers who watched live saw a bizarre incident when hoodlums rushed the stage attempting to attack Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, who drew headlines for lying and cover-up a robbery incident in Rio while competing in the Olympic Games.

Fortunately, no one was hurt. The two hoodlums were tackled by security and was hauled away by police. Four other Lochte protesters were also escorted out of the venue.

Meanwhile, CSN was on the competitive map at 9 p.m. with more than 390,000 households tuning in to see Hendricks’ bid for a no-hitter against the Cardinals fall short. But the Cubs won, and their magic number as of this writing is three. The next two Cubs-cardinals tilts (Tuesday, 7 p.m., Wednesday 12:30 p.m.) are on WLS-TV.

And finally, the new NFL season opened on a slightly down note in the ratings department, with Sunday games and Thursday night’s opener down from year-ago time periods. Ratings for the Bears-Texans opener Sunday were not available, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the Monsters Of The Midway’s ratings were also down, given their gameplay. But here’s an observation to take away from this weekend’s NFL action: the security team on Dancing With The Stars sacked more people Monday night than the Rams did.

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Can “Harry” saved the syndicated talk show?

Harry Connick Jr. on the set of "Harry". (NBCUniversal/Heidi Gutman)

Harry Connick Jr. on the set of “Harry”. (NBCUniversal/Heidi Gutman)











Your 2016 syndication fall preview 

Harry Connick Jr.s’ new syndicated talk show debuts today, and with it comes a question: could this really be the end of the big-budget daytime syndicated show?

This year, Connick’s show is the only new syndicated daytime talk shows being rolled out on a full national basis, as opposed to five new talkers in 2012 – the most since 1995. Of those four, only Steve Harvey is still on the air today.

Notably, stations and syndicators are shunning new programming for more local news and renewing existing syndicated programming – for instance, Dr. Oz was recently renewed through 2019, despite fall-out from endorsing a faulty weight-loss program and getting skewered (or schooled) by John Oliver. In Chicago, NBC-owned WMAQ and Fox-owned WFLD recently added newscasts in early fringe (afternoon.)

In a unusual (but refreshing) move, NBCUniversal sold Harry to the Fox-owned stations in mostly early fringe timeslots, though Harry still cleared a few NBC O&Os in markets where Fox doesn’t own a station. In Chicago, WFLD is airing Harry at 4 p.m. hoping viewers who aren’t interested in news at that time tune in (Harry is airing opposite three newscasts) – and more importantly, stick around for its newscast at 5.

Harry is also airing at 9 p.m. on WFLD’s sister station WPWR, as a bridge between CW programming and My Network TV fare. WPWR became a CW affiliate September 1.

Even though Harry  is basically the “only syndicated show premiering this fall”, there are actually two more programs also premiering this Monday, though not as widely cleared: T.D. Jakes’ new talk show and the return of Glenda Hatchett in The Verdict With Glenda Hatchett.

T.D. Jakes' show starts today.

T.D. Jakes’ show starts today.

Jakes is going the slow rollout route, airing on WCIU weekdays at 9 a.m. and is airing on Tegna-owned stations across the country, with no New York and Los Angeles clearances thus far. Meanwhile, The Verdict brings Hatchett back to TV, who previously starred in Judge Hatchett from 2000-08. Hatchett airs on WCIU weekdays at 12:30 p.m. and sister station WCUU (The U Too) at 10:30 a.m. starting Monday.

Two series with previous syndicated runs are also returning: reruns of Judge Alex (WCIU, 11 a.m.) and CSI: Miami (WBBM, Sat. 11 p.m.) CBS Television Distribution decided to replace Good Wife with Miami in weekend syndication, due to poor ratings.

And two more shows are returning to Chicago airwaves: Access Hollywood Live (1 p.m.,WMAQ, premiered Sept. 6) and Right This Minute (1:40 a.m. on WLS-TV.) In wonderful news for CBS Television Distribution, occupant Rachael Ray was able to get out of her overnight slot at WLS and return to daytime, moving to The U Too at 1 p.m.

As mentioned earlier, newly-independent WGN is rolling out off-network repeats of Last Man Standing weeknights at 8 starting Sept. 19. It faces off against How I Met Your Mother on fellow indie WCIU, which moved from WPWR last week. Both shows are produced and distributed by Twentieth Television.

New weekend syndicated programming includes off-net airings of  X-Files and Major Crimes (replacing The Closer, the show it spun-off from.), both airing on WPWR. Marvel’s Agents of Shield is also expected to air in weekend syndication this fall, but a Chicago clearance wasn’t announced as of press time.

Outside of what was previously announced (FAB Life, Crazy Talk, etc.), other shows bidding adieu in broadcast syndication include Everybody Loves Raymond (already gone as of Sept. 1), Republic Of Doyle, Are We There Yet?, Eco Company, and Bridezillas.

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Dish, Tribune reach retrans agreement

unnamedTribuneMedia_CMYK_pri_LrgTypeThe long national nightmare is over – for Dish viewers who couldn’t get Tribune stations.

On Saturday, Tribune and Dish finally came to an agreement on retransmission consent, three months after a dispute over the matter knocked 42 Tribune stations off the air in 33 markets.

The stations off Dish include newly independent WGN-TV here in Chicago, and CW affiliates WPIX in New York and KTLA in Los Angeles. The deal also includes WGN America.

Tribune also owns Big Four network affiliates in smaller markets. For example, Dish viewers couldn’t watch Big Brother in Indianapolis, America’s Got Talent in Oklahoma City, the NBA Finals in New Orleans, and the MLB Game Of The Week in Seattle.

Among retrans disputes, the spat between Dish and Tribune ranks as one of the longest – and it was nasty at times, often approaching the rancor of the state budget impasse between Governor Bruce Rauner and House speaker Michael Madigan. Just Friday night, WGN ran an ad urging Cubs (and White Sox) fans to contact Dish as viewers are missing out on the North Siders’ historic run to the playoffs. As noted here three days ago, WGN has six weeknight primetime games with three of them Cubs telecasts.

The impasse also took a strange turn as the Rev. Jesse Jackson got involved, slamming Dish for eliminating WGN America from its lineup – leaving viewers unable to watch Underground, a critically-acclaimed drama series the superstation-turned-cable network aired chronicling slaves who escaped through the Underground Railroad.

The move was also important as college football season starts this weekend and the NFL season the following week. Plus, the new television season is around the corner, beginning on September 19.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Until the next dispute….

Broadcast Networks, Cable, Television

T Dog’s Media Notepad: Tribune Tower sold to L.A. developer

The Tribune Tower.

The Tribune Tower.

Tribune Media announced Tuesday the historic building housing the company and the Chicago Tribune has been sold to Los Angeles-based developer CIM Inc, for $280 million. The developer is planning to add retail space to the building through a complete renovation. The sale likely forces out the Tribune, which it and parent company Tronc has a lease until 2018.

Last year, Tribune split is media empire into two – Tribune Media, who owns WGN-TV, WGN Radio, and 41 other TV stations, and Tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing), owner of the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers.

As for WGN-AM, station officials have hinted it plans to stay at the new Tribune Tower and negotiate a new lease as much of the station’s operations is located on the seventh floor. Unknown is the fate of the ground-level studio sponsored by an insurance company on Michigan Avenue. WGN-AM has been based in the Tribune Tower from 1924 to 1961 and returned in 1986. Also unknown is the fate of “WGN Radio Walk Of Fame” outside the studio, honoring the station’s past personalities.

mtv-video-music-awards-logo-825x580No one wants their MTV…on TV, at least: The Viacom awards…err, I mean the MTV Video Music Awards had trouble drawing a crowd Sunday night despite being simulcast by ten of MTV’s sister stations, all owned by Viacom.

Airing live in the Eastern and Central time zones (but delayed everywhere else), the VMAs drew 6.5 million viewers, down from 9.8 million from last year’s presentation. On the other hand, live streaming of the event went up from a year ago, serving up 61.8 million views, up 70 percent from 2015. Facebook streaming grew tremendously, growing 938 percent to 45.8 million streams.

Despite the declining numbers, the VMAs were a hit with advertisers. Clients with huge buys include Verizon, Samsung, Taco Bell, and Patene. Adidas stood out with a spot featuring Cleveland Cavaliers player Iman Shumpert.

The most-talked about moment of the evening was Beyonce’s five-minute performance, which included taking out a video camera with a baseball bat (I dare you to send the bill to her.)

While simulcasting the event over a few Viacom nets made sense who target the same MTV demo (MTV 2, MTV Classic, Spike, BET), it didn’t make sense on others – can anyone explain to yours truly why the VMAs were on older-skewing channel TV Land?

The numbers comes as Viacom is undergoing a major management change – Tom Dooley took over CEO duties from Phillippe Dauman on an interim basis as ratings for its cable networks slipped over the last few years and revenue has eroded – not to mention a nasty battle for control of the company with an ailing Sumner Redstone and his family. Wall Street has been less than satisfied with Viacom’s performance, with some analysts calling for the company to re-merge with CBS, which it did in 1999.

Viacom and CBS split up into two companies on December 31, 2005. CBS spun-off Viacom in 1971 after the FCC implemented the financial interest and syndication rules.

WGN-TV logo Sept 2016_zpsmlfjotk3It’s official: WGN-TV is an independent station again after a little over two decades as a network affiliate. CW programming officially moved to Fox-owned WPWR today with The Bill Cunningham Show at 2 p.m. (soon to be replaced by The Robert Irvine Show.) WPWR was also rebranded “CW 50 Chicago”.

On wednesday night, Fox 32 anchors Jeff herndon and Dawn Hasbrouck welcomed the CW to their sister station during WFLD’s 9 p.m. newscast. WGN’s final CW show Wednesday night was a rerun of Whose Line Is It Anyway?

WGN isn’t the only station joining the ranks of the independents these days. In January, Boston’s WHDH is set to become one after losing its NBC affiliation to WNEU, a Telemundo station NBC is turning into an O&O.

Other affiliation switches and/or realignments took place this year in Raleigh/Durham, Peoria, and South Bend.

For complete coverage of the CW’s move, click here, here, and here.

As the site winds down its tenth year, yours truly is mulling some changes to the site – T Dog Media has not made any since 2011 and is considering “a refresh”, including getting rid of the blue color scheme and improving social media links (as you notice, there is no Reddit or Instagram links.) One thing I am considering is eliminating the comments section altogether though for right now, comments are closed for stories more than three years old.

More and more publications have eliminated comment sections – Chicago Business Journal, the Chicago Sun-Times, NWI.com, MMQB, Sports Illustrated, Re/Code, CBSChicago.com, Fox and Tribune Media-owned stations’ sites, and others more. They don’t want to deal with the nasty, racist, ignorant, and sexist comments that comes along with them.

This has not been a problem on T Dog Media – in fact, lack of comments are. When they do come, incoming comments have a 98 percent approval rate. But I have received some spam, had to edit one comment, and rejected another outright for being anti-gay. Other times I simply forget to look at and approve comments, including one poor soul who had to wait for three weeks.

Due to my schedule, it’s hard to say exactly when these changes would be implemented – might not be until the first of the year. Hopefully, a new and improved site will launch soon, bringing T Dog Media into 2017 and not remaining stuck in 2011.

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The CW shifts to WPWR from WGN this week

WPWR-TV_CW_50Affiliation move takes low-key approach

Chicago’s first affiliation change in over 20 years takes place this week as CW moves from Tribune-owned WGN-TV to Fox-owned WPWR-TV.

The change marks WGN’s return to independent status for the first time since 1995, when the station joined the then-new WB network (which merged with UPN in 2006 to form The CW.)

Meanwhile, WPWR becomes the first-ever Fox-owned CW affiliate. This is significant given Fox created My Network TV as a response to ten of its stations (including WPWR) losing UPN.

Unlike previous affiliations switches taking place on a weekend day or the start of the week (as was the case during the Fox-New World affiliation swaps in 1994 and 1995), this change takes place on Thursday at 12:01 a.m. (September 1) – the time WGN’s CW contract officially expires.

Back in May, Tribune Broadcasting signed a new five-year deal with CW, renewing the network on all of its stations except in Chicago.

Also unlike switches in the past – when stations were staffing phone lines to take calls from confused viewers, this affiliation change is taking more of a low-key approach: much of CWs programming doesn’t premiere until October. One daytime CW program – The Robert Irvine Show – premieres on Sept. 12., replacing The Bill Cunningham Show.

Just today, CW released key art for three of its new shows: Frequency, No Tomorrow, and the highly anticipated Supergirl, which has moved from CBS.

With two hours freed from CW programming, WGN plans to air various programs in primetime between Thursday and Sept. 19, when off-network sitcom Last Man Standing takes over the 8-to-9 p.m. time slot. Among them include a special celebrating the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field (Sept. 2), a WGN Morning News primetime special (Sept. 14) and special versions of SportsFeed, borrowed from sister local cable news station CLTV.

WGN also has six weeknight baseball games in September – three games apiece for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.


Talk about racking up a lot of frequent flyer miles: when Supergirl arrives on WPWR-Ch. 50 on Oct. 10, it would be the third station she’s been on in the Chicago area in a little over a year.

As for WPWR, the station has already aired promotions for CW’s fall programming, on its station and WFLD. On Friday, Mario Lopez (of Extra) will be handing out school supplies featuring the new WPWR branding, “Chicago’s CW 50” on them (Extra is shifting to WFLD on Sept.5, after 22 years at WMAQ.)

My Network TV programming (featuring off-network shows) will air on WPWR from 10 p.m. to midnight starting Thursday, with Harry Connick Jr.’s talk show bridging the gap between CW and My Network TV programming at 9 p.m. starting Sept. 12 according to the show’s website (Harry is also airing on WFLD at 4 p.m. starting on the same date.)

“CW 50” social media components have yet to be announced. A link on WFLD’s website to “My50 Chicago” – the station’s previous brand, only shows TV listings for WPWR and related subchannels and an ad for My Network TV programming for the week of… December 7, 2015.

The last affiliation change to happen in Chicago took place on Saturday December 31, 1994 when Univision moved its Spanish-language programming to WGBO-TV from WCIU, leaving the latter as a full-time independent station. WGN’s move now gives Chicago two independent stations, a rarity among large markets.

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Think Tank Express: Cumulus needs a lesson in customer relations


Once again, Cumulus is clueless on customer service

Usually on this blog, yours truly often laments the state of Chicago radio, with some of the stations run by clueless idiots who make managers at your local Arby’s more competent by comparison.

But when it involves Cumulus… no market – large or small – is safe.

Take what happened last week at a active rock station Cumulus owns in Saginaw, Mich. WKQZ-FM (branded as Z93) let twenty-year veteran Joe Volk of The Joe And The Poorboy Morning Show go on Friday without any explanation, according to mlive.com. On Monday and Tuesday of this week, the “Poorboy” (Adam Schilling) hosted solo, saying Monday the departure of Volk “were beyond circumstances beyond his control”. Volk declined to comment.

Saginaw is part of the overall Flint-Saginaw-Bay City DMA, with Cumulus tied with Alpha Media for the most radio stations in the market at four each.

Understandably, fans of the show were upset and wanted an explanation on what went down. WKQZ didn’t comment on the matter, but someone from the station did respond to listeners’ questions on Facebook – in the most perhaps asinine way possible. As documented by Radio Insight, this is what transpired:

Z93 -01











Z 93 -02








Z 93 - 03









As you can see, one of those who asked was reportedly a station advertiser.

Who’s controlling the Facebook account? A 13-year old? While the station does have a right to reserve comment on personnel matters, acting like an ass toward those asking what’s going on isn’t beneficial. If the social media manager of my station pulled such crap, they would be unemployed faster than former Bears coach Marc Trestman (who would actually be an improvement over current Cumulus management.)

But then again, this is Cumulus we’re talking about – a company run into the ground by former CEOs John and Lew Dickey and continues to be by new management. This is the same company who rigged a morning show contest last year so past-his-prime jackass Mancow Mueller can be employed again this time via The Loop (WLUP-FM), a shitty, irrelevant past-its-prime classic rock station. Other past-their-prime acts employed by Cumulus locally include Steve Dahl and Jonathan Brandmeier.

Recently, the Cumulus cluster moved into state-of-the-art, renovated studios at NBC Tower in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Interesting how a near-bankrupt company with NO MONEY can pull off such an effort. Are taxpayers footing the bill?

And speaking of efforts, how about Cumulus attempt to consolidate country music stations under NASH-FM? They should really drop the FM part of its name and just add the letters IT.

And let’s not forget their employment of the biggest asshole of them all, former WLS boss Jan Jeffries, a moron who wouldn’t know how to treat people even if his life depended on it.

So no wonder Cumulus employs a jackass to handle customer service in Saginaw. Their executives and much of their on-air personnel are ones. Being “rude and unprofessional” is the Cumulus way.

And you wonder why their stock is worth less than a Mars bar.


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