Bears bumble, stumble, and fumble in the ratings

Dolphins run ripshod over Bears. (AP)

Dolphins run ripshod over Bears. (AP)

Loss to Miami Dolphins cements team as a punchline; ratings plunge 

If you were to compare sitcoms to NFL teams, the Dallas Cowboys would be like The Big Bang Theory (accurate given both are successful and bring out a lot of distractors) and the New England Patriots would resemble Modern Family.

As for the Chicago Bears? The team is looking more like Mulaney. Or more accurately, Me and the Chimp.

The Bears lost Sunday to the Miami Dolphins 27-14 at Soldier Field, dropping them to 0-3 at home for the season. The locker room scene after the game was described as chaotic as Brandon Marshall was doing his best Jeff Garlin imitation, yelling and screaming at anything that moved. Each time Marshall uttered the word “unacceptable” when talking to the press, you can easily slip in a laugh track.

Meanwhile, Marc Trestman looked so lost as a head coach, you wonder if Sheldon Cooper could’ve done a better job.

Tells you how pathetic the Bears have become.

One thing for certain: no one is laughing – especially when it comes to the ratings and attendance.

Sunday’s Dolphins-Bears game hit a season-low 26.9 Nielsen rating according to Lewis Lazare at Chicago Business Journal, and was down 15 percent from last week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, which had an advantage of a late afternoon start time, where HUT levels are higher.

With home losses come apathy – despite a sellout, there were many empty seats scattered throughout Soldier Field Sunday and will likely increase throughout the season.

And the ratings are bound to go lower if the Bears continue to lose as attention shifts to the Bulls and Blackhawks, whose respective seasons will be soon in fullswing.

You might not want to think about this, but despite the ratings decline, Bears games are still the most-watched program in the Chicago area, with more viewers than Modern Family, NCIS, The Voice, and The Big Bang Theory, thanks in part to the team’s huge loyal fanbase. A very depressing thought, given the state of the TV industry is no better than the Bears.

If the Bears continue to be this bad, maybe they should replace the team with the cast of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. You’ll end up with the same mediocre results, but at least the ratings would plunge. Why not? Agent Coluson can outcoach Marc Trestman and the Raina character in the flower dress would make a better quarterback than Jay Cutler.

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T Dog’s Grab Bag: Seattle’s KCPQ to stay with Fox after all


Seattle’s KCPQ is staying with Fox and the Seahawks – but at a price

- Sun-Times reverses decision on endorsements

- Premiere week shows cool off, but Jane The Virgin and Criestla debut to respectable numbers with cancellations coming from other places

- Florida Panthers attendance woes

* Fox announced Friday morning it had a new affiliation deal with Tribune Broadcasting’s KCPQ, but with a few catches – the deal only runs through July 2018 and calls for Tribune to pay higher “reverse compensation” fees for sports and primetime programming.

Traditionally, the major networks paid their affiliates to carry programs, but the scenario changed in the last 15 years, thanks to huge increases in programming costs and sports rights fees.

Fox wanted to continue its strategy of purchasing stations in NFC markets but Tribune stood in the way (KCPQ is home to most Seattle Seahawks games.) Fox even sent a affiliation termination notice to KCPQ and considered buying a Bellingham, Wash. TV station which covered more of neighboring Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., than Seattle and Tacoma. Fox even offered to swap its underperforming WPWR here in Chicago to Tribune for KCPQ.

Contrary to what was reported on the unreliable “blue site” and its accompanying loud-mouthed message board, a deal for Fox to trade or sell WPWR to Tribune is off the table and is no longer being considered.

* The Chicago Sun-Times has decided to make an endorsement after all – after suspending them for several years, the paper decided to pick Republican Bruce Rauner over incumbent Pat Quinn in the race for Governor. But before you praise the paper who at one time thought Kanye West and Kim Kardashian were front-page news, consider this: Rauner, who once ran investment equity firm GTCR – the same GTCR which financed Merlin Media (which launched the ill-fated FM News format) is a former investor in the Sun-Times and its close buddies with Michael Ferro, whose runs the company which owns the paper.

The Sun-Times gave a long winded explanation on its website over the weekend on why it changed course, but their statement is about as believable as a UFO flying over my backyard.

So all this change Rauner has been peddling? Sounds like the game old game we’re used to in Illinois. Yours truly wonders if Rauner would name Randy Michaels to a position in his cabinet if he’s elected.

Meanwhile, both Quinn and Rauner have sunk – or more like wasted- over $21 million dollars in media spending for annoying commercials and sent viewers scurrying to their nearest electronics store to buy DVRs – something I’m certain would come back to haunt the major networks in the long run. While the election spending is good news for local TV and radio stations’ bottom lines, the money mostly goes to the execs’ wallets and a few on-air personnel – and not the low wage hard-working people behind the scenes (ask anyone who works at Clear Channel – oh, I’m sorry, “iHeartMedia”.)

* Despite low debut numbers, things are looking up for new shows Criestla and Jane The Virgin. The ABC Friday night sitcom debuted to a 1.3 in adults 18-49 on October 10, and slid to 1.2 in its most recent outing October 17, but held on to much of its Last Man Standing lead-in. Meanwhile, Jane (starring Chicago native Gina Rodriguez)  debuted with a 1.0 rating last Monday in a tough time slot, but look for the show to stick around since this is a show that finally put CW on the map with critics.

So far this season, there have been no official cancellations on the fall broadcast network primetime schedules – instead, the cancellations have come from outside: CBS has canceled summer series Unforgettable and Reckless; TNT axed its revival of Dallas; Lifetime dropped The Lottery; and locally, WPWR pulled the plug on Mancow’s two-year old talk show.

Where's the fans? (Credit: George Richards)

Where’s the fans? (Credit: George Richards)

* The puck has dropped on the 2014-15 NHL season, but someone forgot to tell fans in South Florida: people haven’t exactly fled into the entrances at Florida Panthers games, with the team drawing fewer than 10,000 per game at their arena in Sunrise, Fla., north of Miami. A recent game against the Ottawa Senators drew only 7,311. It’s a far cry from 1996, when the team made the Stanley Cup Finals and filled the Miami Arena every night. Since then, they’ve made the playoffs only twice.

And you thought the Chicago Bears had problems.

With the 22 year-old franchise reportedly losing money ($100,000 a day according to the Miami Herald), you have to wonder how much value the team is getting from its Fox Sports Florida deal. The ratings can’t be good – assumingly, the numbers must be below a 1, given the lack of attendance and overall fan interest. It just goes to show you sometimes these mega-cable deals aren’t the cash cow for teams they are made out to be.

Chicago Media, Journalism, Local TV (Outside Chicago), Newspapers, Sports, Television , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Let’s go over the top

HBO_LogoHBO, CBS bypass middlemen to provide content to you, the customer

If there was a turning point in the cord-cutting movement, remember this week.

HBO announced it was launching a streaming service on Wednesday, attempting to attract those “cord-nevers”, the term thrown around for those who refuse or can’t afford to subscribe to cable or satellite. It was followed by CBS Corp.’s announcement Thursday morning of “CBS All-Access”, which is a new streaming service letting viewers stream CBS product and even their local CBS station.

Wednesday’s HBO announcement at Time Warner’s Investor Day took a lot of people by surprise. HBO president Richard Plefer said it was time to remove those barriers preventing those who want HBO but unable to do so. Plefer said it would “work with current partners and explore models with new partners”. HBO’s plan would stream over the ISPs who are also MSOs who carry HBO (e.g. Comcast, Cablevision, RCN, etc.)

HBO did not announce what programming would be available to stream when the service launches in 2015, or how much would it cost.

cbsMeanwhile, CBS announced Thursday morning it was launching its own over-the-top subscription video-on-demand service called CBS All-Access, where viewers can access CBS content from current shows or programming from their library -all from any device. For $5.99/month, you can stream fifteen current CBS shows the day after airing; access to over 5,000 hours of classic TV programming in the CBS library including The Andy Griffith Show, Happy Days, Cheers, Fraiser, and The Game, all commercial-free; full past seasons of eight current CBS Shows, including Blue Bloods and Survivor; and live feeds of Big Brother, when the series returns next summer. (The service is now online. To sign up, click here.)

CBS All-Access also allows consumers in fourteen markets to stream their local CBS affiliate; so far, only markets where CBS owns a station can do so (including WBBM-TV in Chicago.) CBS-owned CW affiliates are not part of the deal (for now), and neither are the rights to certain sporting events, including the NFL. CBS plans to continue making recent episodes of current shows available to non-subscribers on and other partner sites.

HBO and CBS are the latest media companies to make their material “over-the-top”, which means the companies can deliver their programming directly to viewers via the Internet – without the need of cable and satellite doing so. Earlier this year, World Wrestling Entertainment launched the WWE Network as an over-the-top Internet-only channel for $9.99 a month.

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T Dog’s Grab Bag: Sunday belonged to Cutler, “Walking Dead”

Bears-falcons game. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Bears-falcons game. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

- Also: other Sunday, weekend rating results

- The Game to stick around, while another The Game ends

- Goodbye, Everybody Loves Mancow

Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears’ winning performance Sunday also translated to a ratings victory – the game against the Atlanta Falcons drew a 31.5 Nielsen household rating according to Lewis Lazare at Chicago Business Journal – up 11 percent from last week’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

The ratings increase was no doubt helped by the contest’s move to a 3:25 p.m. (CT) start time, where HUT levels are higher and more people are home watching television. The Bears-Panthers game had a noon start the previous Sunday.

Fox regional coverage in the late window (including Washington-Arizona and Dallas -Seattle) scored the highest ratings for an NFL afternoon game since 1996, drawing 30 million viewers. 

In other Sunday ratings news:

* AMC’s The Walking Dead set a cable ratings record Sunday night, with the season premiere earning a 8.8 rating among adults 18-49 and 17.3 million viewers. Dead has outdrawn every non-sports program on television so far this season by far in the 18-49 demo. The closest? The Big Bang Theory’s 4.7.

* The Simpsons were up 62 percent from the previous week, when they didn’t have an NFL lead-in. Much like Cutler, Homer Simpson’s performance can be described in one word: inconsistent.

* After debuting to rock-bottom ratings on Oct. 3, Fox’s new Mulaney sitcom actually went up 10 percent week-to-week. I’m disappointed in you America…

– BET has decided to end the run of The Game, a sitcom about football players in San Diego after the upcoming eighth and ninth seasons. After the series moved from CW to BET in 2011, ratings went through the roof, with the program’s first few episodes averaging 7 million viewers per airing. The momentum did not last after several key cast members departed and the show’s format changed from a multi-cam to a single cam show (perhaps this is one of the reasons why The Game was never offered in broadcast syndication.) Despite this, the series still managed to draw an average of three million viewers per episode, pretty good by cable standards.

BET did not set an end date for The Game, and its not known if any of the departed cast members would return in the finale. BET also canceled another sitcom (Let’s Stay Together) last week.

– While one “Game” is over, another “Game” is living on… for now. Tribune/Venture Technologies’ all-sports talker WGWG-LP (87.7 FM) recently and other stations on the frequency received a stay of execution as the FCC announced last week it was indefinitely postponing a deadline that would have forced analog LPTV channel 6 – which shares a frequency with 87.7 – to convert to digital in September 2015, forcing several radio stations off the air, including WGWG. The move comes as the FCC is placing more emphasis on its upcoming spectrum auction. A proposal is floating around to keep the analog audio portion of the signal after the channel 6 portion converts to digital.

In the last PPM period, The Game placed a distant third behind established sports talkers WSCR-AM and WMVP-AM. In hopes to draw more listeners to the station, Tribune has moved the bulk of Chicago Blackhawks games this season from sister station WGN-AM.

Other stations broadcasting on the 87.7 frequency include Spanish-language stations in Cleveland and Washington D.C., a sports station in Memphis; and a country station in Lafayette, La.

- The cancellation of Mancow’s TV show last week also brings Everybody Loves Mancow to an end. It was a real-life sitcom where the anointed one often bumbles and stumbles, making a pathetic attempt to convince people he’s still relevant in Chicago media, providing laughs (or not) along the way. Mancow said he was “taking a break” after WPWR dropped his TV show after recently scoring a landmark zero rating and share. With no TV or radio gig in the works, let’s hope this “break” is permanent.

So for the final time, yours truly will display this wonderful (mock) photo featuring Mancow and his “family”. Nice to know he’ll spend more time babysitting Brad Garrett.

Here's that photo again.

Here’s that photo again.

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“Monopoly Millionaires’ Club” comes to TV – but not in Chicago?

Billy Gardell to host "Monopoly Millionaires' Club". (

Billy Gardell to host “Monopoly Millionaires’ Club”. (

Illinois residents may not be able to join the Monopoly Millionaires’ Club 

A new Monopoly-themed TV show is coming to a market near you this winter.

But if you live in Chicago or in the state of Illinois, you are likely frozen out of the cold.

A new syndicated game show titled Monopoly Millionaires’ Club is scheduled to debut in midseason – February 2015, which is quite unusual, given most first-run syndicated programs debut in either September or October in recent years.

Another unusual thing about this show is this game show is not being stripped, i.e. airing five or more days a week, but is airing as a weekend hour-long offering – airing in prime access or in primetime.

The show is being produced in junction with several state lotteries across the station, with a few of them offering the game starting on October 19 and then expanding throughout the country in the next few months. To have a chance to get on the show, you must buy a Monopoly Millionaire Club ticket from your state lottery agent. If selected, the person wins a trip for two to sit in the studio audience for a chance to be chosen to play several Monopoly-related games on stage. Up to $2.5 million is up for grabs in every episode (of course, if you buy a ticket and win a lot of money, then the hell with the TV show.)

That is, if you can buy a ticket. The state of Illinois has decided not to participate in the national game at this time, fearing it would cut into the sales of existing games according to the Springfield State-Journal. The decision was actually made by Northfield Lottery Group, whose contract to run the state lottery was canceled back in August. It could be a while for a Monopoly Millionaire Club game to appear in the Land Of Lincoln.

But if you’re lucky enough to live near Indiana (like yours truly does), you can buy a Monopoly ticket. The Hoosier Lottery is one of 22 state lotteries participating and is launching the game on October 19. Thirteen others, including Wisconsin, are considering joining the fun for 2015.

The lottery is being run by Scientific Games and the sales effort is being spearheaded by syndication sales veteran Barry Wallach, who worked at Genesis Entertainment and NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution.

Monopoly has cleared “95% of U.S. lottery TV Homes”, including stations belonging to the Tribune, CBS, Sinclair, Graham, and LIN/Media General station groups. Is it not known if Chicago is included in the mix with Illinois not participating, but the Northwest Indiana portion of market is (not helping is a lack of a “markets sold” list.)

Six states without state lotteries – Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, and Utah are not in the game, so Millionaires Club won’t air in Birmingham, Mobile, Salt Lake City, Jackson, Tupelo, and Las Vegas, naturally. In fact, the show is taping in Las Vegas but won’t be shown on TV in the market.

The program is hosted by Billy Gardell of Mike & Molly fame.

This is not the first time a Monopoly-based show has aired. In 1990, ABC tried a prime-time version of the famous board game, hosted by Mike Reilly. The deal came after King World failed to sell a daily version of the show with the late Peter Tomarken as host. Merv Griffin Productions (Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!) produced the show.

You can watch the premiere of the ABC version from June 16, 1990 below.

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NBA re-ups with ESPN, Turner

Bulls-Pacers game. (Getty)

Bulls-Pacers game. (Getty)

Fox shut out of rights

The NBA maintained the status quo when it came to the league’s television rights as both Turner Sports and ESPN renewed their respective deals for a whopping nine years, bringing in a total of $24 billion, with yearly payments increasing from $930 million to just over $2.6 billion a year, according to the New York Times.

When the deal expires in 2024, Turner would have carried the NBA for 40 consecutive years – dating back to the WTBS years in the 1980’s, which also saw a huge number of Atlanta Hawks games (Turner owned the team at the time.) ESPN, which carried a package of games in the early 1980’s, has been with the league since 2002.

For Turner, the deal gives them twelve more regular-season games , up to 64 a year; increased digital rights for TNT games and more digital content for Bleacher Report, a Turner-owned sports website. Turner retains exclusive rights to Thursday doubleheaders and opening night; All-Star Weekend; exclusive rights to one conference final; and managing the NBA’s digital properties, NBA TV, and NBA League Pass.

For ESPN, the deal gives them and the NBA the rights to create a digital TV package to be sold over-the-top (directly to consumers); develop new studio programming to run on ESPN’s family of networks; and is adding ten more games to the package, giving them a total of 100 regular-season contests. ESPN retains rights to one conference final; the NBA Finals (which it will continue to air on ABC); the NBA Draft; the NBA Draft Lottery; and extends rights to WNBA games until 2025.

ESPN also gains additional rights, including the increased use of NBA footage across all of ESPN’s linear and digital properties; Spanish-language audio rights through ESPN Deportes; and others.

More importantly, the deal extensions keeps rival broadcast and cable channels out of the picture – notably Fox Sports 1, who hoped it would get a piece of the NBA pie to add to its baseball, soccer, and college basketball coverage. Indeed, that was the reason both ESPN and Turner wanted to renew their contracts well ahead of the 2016 expiration date of the current deal, according to ESPN President John Skipper.

Both parties were satisfied with the ratings, so it wasn’t an issue. And live sports programming is must-have programming these days in the DVR era.

As for Fox, it would have to wait a least nearly another decade for another crack at pro hoops. But it does have college hoops from the Big East, Pac-12, Big 12, and Conference USA – with a handful of those games winding up on parent network Fox.

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“Jerry Springer”, “Maury”, “Steve” to stick around

J Springer

Jerry Springer and Co. to remain on the air through 2018.


It looks like there’s going to be more dysfunctional family fun for years to come.

After reports saying Tribune was considering removing NBC Universal Domestic Television’s trio of “conflict talk” showsJerry Springer, Maury, and The Steve Wilkos Show at the end of the 2015-16 season comes word the station group has renewed all three shows through the 2017-18 season. Other station groups renewing include Hearst, Sinclair, Sunbeam, and Weigel, covering 65 percent of the country.

In Chicago, Maury stays on Tribune’s WGN-TV, where its been since January 1993, while Weigel retains Springer and Wilkos; both have aired on the station since September 2009. Other renewals for all three include WPIX in New York; KTLA in Los Angeles; WPHL in Philadelphia; and WLVI in Boston.

The deals only involve incumbent stations currently carrying the shows.

During the week of September 22, Maury on WGN dominated the 1 p.m. time slot with a 2.2 household rating and 8 share, easily topping WLS’ Rachael Ray (1.3/4), CBS’ The Talk (1.3/5), and WMAQ’s Meredith Vieira (0.8/3).

In the same time frame, Springer’s 1.4/5 in its 11 a.m. time slot on WCIU trounced WFLD’s rookie talk show The Real (0.7/2). At 10 a.m. Wilkos (1.0/4) is nearly tied with WFLD’s Wendy Williams (1.1/4).

Two months ago, a report in TVNewsCheck suggested Tribune could possibly move away from conflict talk and develop its own programming, after conflict talkers Trisha and The Test (which was cleared on Tribune stations) were canceled last season. A proposed Tribune conflict show (Serch) was sacked after three weeks of poor test results in a few selected markets.

Also, it appeared viewers were shifting away from conflict talk to conflict reality shows, such as Real HousewivesBad Girls Club, and Basketball Wives.

But in the end, it turned out there’s plenty of room in dysfunction junction for everyone, and ratings were still strong for stations carrying the conflict talkers.

With the renewal of NBCU’s three talk shows, the development of alternate programming for daytime on Tribune stations is now in question. So far, only one such project has been announced (CrimeWatch Daily) from Warner Bros. has been announced, and has cleared the entire Tribune group, covering 42 percent of the country.



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Bears commit Epic Fail on field – and ratings take hit

C vs CBears may be losing grip of city again

After yet another agonizing baseball season which saw disinterest from Chicago sports fans, a lot of them hoped the Bears would cure what ailed them.

Well, keep looking.

Sunday’s game featured yet another disastrous performance by Jay Cutler and numerous miscues by the team as the Bears fumbled away a victory and lost to the Carolina Panthers 31-24.

While the game over Fox-owned WFLD scored a 28.5 household rating and is expected to be the highest-rated program of the week (how sad), it’s a ten percent decrease from the previous week’s game against the Packers, where the Bears also lost.

And to make matters worse, one of the Bears’ players took to Twitter Monday to blast the fanbase for not supporting them and to rally the meathead portion of the fanbase. Not surprisingly, many fired back.

The tensions between the Bears and their fans comes at a time when the NFL is still recovering from many PR embarrassments, including inept handling of Ray Rice’s assault of his then-finance in an elevator, and several players being arrested this season for domestic violence incidents, and Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of these issues.

Then came the Bears’ own inept handling of these issues when the organization let Brandon Marshall address the media a few weeks ago about his own domestic violence incidents, brought up during an ESPN investigation. Marshall has also been no-shows at his ESPN 1000 and WMAQ-TV’s Sports Sunday gigs (money well spent, Disney and Comcast.)

It’s not to say the relationship between the NFL and fans have hit a low point; ratings are still solid for the league’s partners and sponsors continue to stick with the league. On the other hand, the NFL’s arrogance is starting to catch up with them.

As for the Bears, this mess is reminiscent of those bad Bears teams from the 1990’s in the Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron eras. At one point, the Bears nearly came close to getting blacked out on home TV a few times because fans weren’t buying enough tickets. It took years for the Bears to return to the top of the sports chain in Chicago (until, of course, they were knocked off by the Blackhawks.)

And it doesn’t get easier: next week, the Bears play in Atlanta against old teammate Devin Hester; and play Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Oct. 26., and a prime-time rematch against Green Bay on Nov. 9. And with each loss, ratings – and possibly home attendance – are sure to decline.

So far, the 2014 Chicago Bears season is playing out like a bad network sitcom. The only thing missing is the canned laugh track.

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The Grab Bag: St. Louis Cardinals win on the field, on TV, in life.

1-St.-Louis-Cardinals-wallpaperDon’t discount Cardinal Nation: The St. Louis Cardinals finished the just-concluded 2014 season with the highest-rated regular season average in Major League Baseball: according to Nielsen,  the team drew a 7.76 average on FS Midwest. Despite the playoff-bound team’s success, this year’s rating is down 12 percent from a year ago. Finishing behind the Cardinals are the Detroit Tigers,  Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, and the Cleveland Indians. With the exception of the Indians (of course), all of them made the playoffs.

On the other side of the ledger, both the underperforming Cubs and White Sox languished at the bottom as usual. Out of 27 U.S. teams (excluding the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers, who’ve had cable carriage disputes), the Cubs finished 25th with a 1.5 household rating, and the White Sox finished dead last with a 1.2, which is up 4 percent from 2013, but still disappointing nevertheless. This comes as the 2013-14 Chicago Blackhawks outdrew the White Sox at the gate for the first time.

The White Sox franchise is in need of a dire overhaul.

- Is Dionne Miller headed to WLS-TV? Reports are circulating that Miller, late of WFLD-TV, is being considered to fill the now-vacant fourth sports reporter position once held by Rafer Weigel, who is leaving the ABC-owned station after this weekend to become an anchor at Tribune-owned Fox affiliate KTVI in St. Louis. Nothing has been confirmed as of yet.

– TNT has pulled the plug on the revival of Dallas after three seasons on Friday. The remake of the 1978-91 series, which featured the return of Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray, and Larry Hagman, premiered to seven million viewers on June 13, 2012. The revival featured guest appearances from Dallas sports icons, such as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Viewership steadily declined throughout its run and despite gimmicks on the show (recycling the Southfork fire cliffhanger from 1983) and off (a “Ewing Oil” gas station promotion in New York City the day of its third-season premiere), it wasn’t enough to boost ratings, which sank to 1.72 million viewers for its season finale on September 22, opposite heavy competition during the first night of the TV season. Also, the series skewed toward older audiences, and didn’t receive the same buzz other hong-long series on cable had.

The death of one of the series’ icons (Larry Hagman, who played villain J.R. Ewing) in November 2012 also didn’t help matters.

- The Jimmy DeCastro patronage system at work: Real Housewives of Atlanta cast member Porsha Williams has been “demoted” from the show from a full-time to a part-time cast member – meaning she won’t be in every show. The move comes as the show has added two more cast members – former Deal or No Deal and Price is Right model Claudia Jordan and former House Of Payne star Demetria McKinney, according to Rodney Ho at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

As you recall, Williams was involved in a fight last year with Kenya Moore at the RHOA reunion, which made industry headlines, but it’s unlikely the fight led to her “demotion”.

In an odd circumstance, Williams and Jordan are both associated with the Atlanta-based The Rickey Smiley Show – after Ebonie Smith was dropped from the show last spring, her duties were divided between both ladies – Jordan doing the radio portion of the show with Williams taping the Dish Nation segments, which is not heard on the national radio show. The transition seems to have worked since Dish’s ratings have grown and the Twentieth Television strip knocked NBC Universal’s Access: Hollywood out of access in Atlanta, where it aired at 7 p.m. on Fox’s WAGA-TV.

A source told Ho both Jordan and Williams do not interact with each other.

The new season of Real Housewives Of Atlanta begins on November 9.

– Yours truly fell behind on the nightly recaps because of exhaustion, but here are the final numbers for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Quick observations:

* Marvel’s Agents Of Shield needs to pick up the pace – a huge drop in its second week in its second season isn’t good, even with a DVR lift.

* Despite all the critical hate, CBS’ Stalker still debuted first in its Wednesday night time slot.

* John Rocker is making Survivor fun to watch.

* The Goldbergs to Wednesday is the smartest move in television history (OK, maybe not – but still good.)

* Fox reducing Utopia to one night a week (Friday) is a good idea. Reducing it to zero nights a week would be even better.

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Kevin Metheny dies

Kevin Metheny

Kevin Metheny

Though his career in Chicago radio was brief, Kevin Metheny made a notable impact on the medium.

As reported by Rich Liberman’s 415 Media blog in San Francisco, Metheny was found slumped over his desk Friday afternoon at Cumulus’ KGO/KSFO-AM, suffering from a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital, but died a short time later.

Cumulus Executive Vice President, Programming, and Content John Dickey said in a statement (via Radio Insight:)

“Kevin Metheny’s sudden passing this afternoon is a devastating personal and professional loss for his broadcasting family at Cumulus, and for the entire radio industry. Kevin was a legendary broadcasting talent who touched many lives in his remarkable 44-year career, and whose successes made an indelible mark on radio. His reputation and accomplishments are simply unparalleled and we are grateful for having had the opportunity to work with him as PD of WJR in Detroit and most recently, as Operations Manager of KGO and KSFO in San Francisco. His Cumulus family extends our deepest sympathies to Kevin’s loved ones. We will miss him profoundly.”

Known in industry circles by some as “Pig Virus”, Metheny called the radio industry home for 44 years, starting at KWHP in Edmond, Okla. His best known stint came in the early 1980’s, where he was program director of NBC-owned WNBC-AM (now CBS-owned WFAN) for four years and often clashed with an afternoon host named Howard Stern, who would later rise to national fame. In fact, it was Stern who coined the term “Pig Virus” to describe his boss (the phrase was later changed to “Pig Vomit” in Stern’s autobiographical movie Private Parts, with Paul Giamatti playing Metheny.)

After a long stint at Jacor and Clear Channel, Metheny was hired by then-Tribune CEO Randy Michaels (who he used to work with at CC) to become program director of WGN-AM in December 2008, but his time here was a disaster. Metheny made numerous changes, which included some questionable hires, such as former city clerk Jim Laski and midday host Mike McConnell, who was at WLW-AM in Cincinnati (a Clear Channel-owned station.) There was also an attempt by Metheny to hire polarizing host Bill Cunningham, also of WLW, but never materialized. Metheny was not popular at WGN or throughout Chicago as he was a polarizing figure who alienated a lot of people. He was a participant in the infamous “poker party” held in Colonel McCormick’s offices, photographed along with Michaels and others.

A local media website (which I endorsed at the time) even had a long list of “sins” Metheny committed while running WGN. 

When Michaels exited Tribune in October 2010, the clock was ticking on Metheny and he was let go three weeks later. Michaels joined Cumulus in 2013, where he was program director of WJR-AM Detroit, and was named operations manager of KGO/KSFO in San Francisco in June.

Metheny is survived by a wife and two teenage daughters.

Chicago Media, Radio

Dahl: WGN Radio “the worst”

4799521Dahl calls out Tribune Media station in a rant. Too bad its something Chicago radio listeners already know.

A T Dog Media Think Tank

[Editor's Note: contains strong language. Reader discretion is advised.]

Last week, viewers flocked back to their television sets as the new fall season began, with new high-profile programs and a strong lineup of above-quality shows which has audiences buzzing.

Chicago radio wishes it were that lucky. The only attention it attracts is when someone opens their big month.

This time its pay-to-play podcaster Steve Dahl, who on Friday ripped on Tribune Media’s WGN-AM, calling it “the worst station ever now” and is guilty of “heinous broadcast crimes”. As reported by Robert Feder, Dahl unleashed a tirade after reacting to a photo on WGN midday co-host Marianne Murciano’s Facebook page, posing with general manager Jimmy DeCastro (calling him a “fucking glory hog”) and others outside WGN’s self-promoting Walk Of Fame in a ceremony honoring Cubs play-by play radio voice Pat Hughes.

He continued his rant, ripping into afternoon hosts Bill and Wendy (“the world’s worst afternoon show”), and morning host Steve Cochran (who he called a “fucking dipshit”.)

On Sunday, Cochran responded via Feder’s website, calling Dahl “bitter” and notes his station is “winning” while Dahl is “whining”.

Let me see here….two fat millionaires are fighting over what pose DeCastro made in his photo? Since when this became the Illinois Governor’s race?

Let’s take a step back here.

First of all, WGN is the “worst station”? It’s hard to compare every radio station in the U.S., but at least WGN’s radio personalities didn’t mock tsunami victims (like New York’s Hot 97 did in 2004) or hold a “Hold Your Water For A Wii” contest like Sacramento’s KDND-FM did in 2007, resulting in a death of a contestant. Calling WGN “the worst” is a little extreme. WGN may be bad, but it hasn’t killed anybody on record (Dahl still follows the local radio scene after all these years? Wow, who knew?)

But Dahl did make some solid points, such as the way DeCastro has ran WGN into the ground, and his hires seem “patronage like”, meaning his “buddies” get the jobs (how else you explain Cochran’s and John Williams’ return), while the station’s quality suffers. The way DeCastro runs WGN is no different from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration. You wonder if WGN Radio is run out of the fifth floor of City Hall instead of the Tribune Tower these days.

And if DeCastro is doing this kind of hiring, should we trust WGN when covering local politics? If Mayor Emanuel or any other politician comes to WGN and is interviewed by Cochran, Williams, Bob Sirott, or Bill and Wendy, will he/she be asked tough questions or softball ones? Will they ask why Emanuel’s administration closed fifty schools in predominantly black neighborhoods or ask him what he thinks about George Clooney’s nuptials? Emanuel is known to strong arm the media to become a press outlet for him – ask CNN.

The plot thickens as WGN Radio’s audiences continue to flee for the exits. According to Nielsen ratings released Monday, Cochran’s morning show dropped to fourth place (behind WVAZ’s Steve Harvey) and had the biggest month-to-month decline of anyone in the top ten. In the key 25-54 and 35-64 demos, Cochran isn’t even the top twenty. This makes his “response” to Dahl look stupid.

And let’s not even talk about generic sports radio station “The Game”, which earned a 0.4 rating in the recent ratings survey and is completely awful from top to bottom, doing idiotic pieces such as “The List” and giving “talents” like David Haugh and Alex Quigley shows (Alex Quigley? Seriously?) Again, remind me why DeCastro thinks he can brag about so much when he’s accomplished so little?

The worst part about stuff like this is it takes away from the real issues facing the radio industry, as more and more jobs are being eliminated and consolidation continues at a rapid pace. Listeners – especially younger ones – continue to flee for the exits and into the doors of Pandora, Sirius/XM, free podcasts and other alternatives where they won’t have to be bothered by this nonsense.

And when these dinosaurs attempt to use the new media platforms, they usually screw it up. For one, Dahl’s podcasts uses a greedy and outdated pay-for-play model. Some podcasts (such as Tom Merritt’s Daily Tech News Show) uses Patreon where listeners voluntarily donate to keep the show afloat – a value-for-value model.

And as yours truly said before, putting Garry Meier and Jonathan Brandmeier won’t revolutionize Internet radio. DeCastro stuck them there because he doesn’t know what to do with them.

Personally, yours truly hates writing about Dahl and Meier, given no one under the age of 45 cares about what they say or what they do. The same goes with Cochran, who happened to luck into his job, thanks to DeCastro’s patronage hiring.

It’s frightening that Chicago radio has become like Chicago politics, given Jim Laski was employed at WGN at one time and Rep. Joe Walsh continues to be at WIND-AM. This is what happens when DeCastro, WGN management, and other radio stations in town continue to buy in into a flawed concept called “The Chicago Way”.

Can’t wait for the Dahl and Cochran campaign commercials. Then you really know Chicago radio has sunk below the abyss.

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Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin save Fox

This.Crossover classic, death of “Simpsons” character fuel Fox

After a week where many of Fox’s new and returning shows tanked, the network received some much-needed adrenaline shots from two reliable standbys.

The 26th season premiere of The Simpsons and the 14th season premiere of Family Guy – which featured a crossover episode between the two – scored their highest ratings in years.

Aided by a football overrun (9.0), Simpsons scored a 3.9 adults 18-49 rating, up a whopping 144 percent from what the series earned for its season finale in May. In addition to a “major” character dying in the season opener, the series was helped by the twelve-day marathon, which drew tons of viewers to FXX and rejuvenated interest in the long-running series.  In other words, The Simpsons are far from dead, even at age 26.

Fox followed with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which scored a series-high 2.6 rating, up 18 percent from what Bob’s Burgers earned in the slot last year.

But the night’s biggest standout was The Simpsons – real voices and all – appearing on Family Guy. The crossover earned a whopping 4.5 rating – the highest rated Family Guy in four years and was up 125 percent from last May’s season finale. The hour-long episode was Fox’s highest-rated entertainment show of the week and finished as the second highest-rated series of the week in the adult 18-49 demo, only behind The Big Bang Theory. Reviews of the crossover episode have mostly been positive; we may see another one of these down the road.

Meanwhile, ABC was no slouch either – the net scored with its Frozen-themed Once Upon A Time season premiere, finishing with a 3.4 demo rating and 10.2 million viewers, proving the Disney flick still has some punch. From there, it was all downhill with Resurrection earning a not-too shabby 2.5 rating and 8.4 million viewers, and Revenge scoring even lower, with a 1.5 rating, down nearly a full point from its lead-in.

CBS drew a lot of viewers to its Sunday lineup, but was unable to gain any traction demographically. A heavily hyped interview with President Obama on 60 Minutes drew 9.6 million viewers but only a 1.1 among adults 18-49. That was followed by Madam Secretary, which drew 12.7 million viewers, but only a 1.4 demo rating, still that’s up from its lead-in.

The Good Wife followed with a 1.3 rating (11.1 million viewers) and CSI posting an identical demo numbers, with 9.3 million viewers.

Last but not least, NBC dominated all comers with its Sunday Night Football matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys. Despite being a blowout victory by the Cowboys, the game earned a 8.7 rating and drew 22.6 million viewers.

All numbers are final; these are based on live plus same day figures. 

Broadcast Networks, Television

How to get away with a hit show

OK, then.

OK, then.

Viola Davis and her students murder the competition

The good news continued to roll on for the broadcast networks (except Fox) in the young television season thus far with ABC scoring a hat trick victory last night among entertainment fare, led by the successful premiere of How To Get Away With Murder.

The debut of the Shonda Rhimes-produced show drew 14.3 million viewers at 9 p.m. CT/10 p.m. ET – even beating the New York Giants-Washington Redskins game on CBS, drawing 13.4 million.

Among adults 18-49, Murder earned a 3.9 rating among adults 18-49, matching its Scandal lead-in, which also had a 3.9. In the first hour of prime time, the tenth season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy notched a 3.1 rating – the highest mark in the time slot in eight years.

In fact, all three Shonda Rhimes-related shows provided a boon for ABC – which could give the network its most dominant Thursday night schedule since the 1978-79 season when Mork & Mindy and Barney Miller were on the schedule.

Despite what an over-opinionated, Jay Mariotti-like “TV critic” said last week, ABC is lucky to have the University Park native in their corner on Thursday nights.

In other news, CBS’ Thursday Night Football drew 16.3 million viewers and a 6.0 rating in adults 18-49, up tremendously from last week game – but it was mostly due to the two East Coast teams’ national apparel more than anything else. Given it was another blowout – this time with the Giants doing the scoring, maybe the Redskins should’ve did what their cartoon counterparts did on South Park the previous night and not take the field.

In New York, the Giants went up against retiring Deter Jeter’s final home game in Yankee Stadium on YES and drew 1.25 million viewers opposite football, and peaked at nearly 2 million viewers when Jeter won the game against the Orioles with a dramatic walk-off. It was the highest-rated baseball game of all time for any regional sports network in the New York area.

As for the rest:

– NBC’s two-hour Biggest Loser lived up to its name, earning only a 1.4 rating for the two hours, followed by the season premiere of Parenthood, which had a 1.3.

Grey’s Anatomy wasn’t the only drama kicking off its tenth season last night: Bones did likewise, earning a 1.6 for Fox in the first hour of primetime. A repeat airing of Sleepy Hollow followed with a 0.6.

– CW was in repeats with The Vampire Diaries and Originals each earning a 0.2 rating.

All ratings are based on adults 18-49, live plus same day numbers. 


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