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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“Black-ish” off to strong start

"Black-ish".

“Black-ish”.

South Park beats Fox’s entire Wednesday night lineup 

One of the season’s most anticipated – and most controversial sitcoms premiered last night to strong numbers.

ABC’s new Black-ish scored a 3.3 rating among adults 18-49, down from its Modern Family lead-in (3.9), but matched it in total viewers, earning 11.1 million viewers.

The sitcom is about an African-American father of four who is concerned about his children losing their cultural identities.

Reviews of the show has been excellent – the series has a score of 77 on Metacritic and a “certified” fresh label on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 86 percent rating. But audiences didn’t seem to love it as much as reaction was mixed – many said the show’s overall focus in race was off-putting and some has issues with the title of the show (yours truly hasn’t watched the show yet, so judgement is being reserved.)

- In other news, CBS had some decent returns with the season premiere of Survivor (2.7) and the Big Brother finale, which won its overall time period (2.6).

NBC started off with the critically maligned Mysteries Of Laura with a 1.5 demo rating. However, the series drew 10 million viewers, barely topping Survivor and nearly matched its lead-out, Law & Order: SVU, which had a 2.1 demo rating. Chicago PD closed the evening with a 1.9

ABC saw improved rating results on Wednesday in the first hour of primetime with the season premieres of The Middle (2.2) and the increasingly awesome The Goldbergs in color (2.4), up 9% from the lead-in and its best showing since last fall. Switching over to the final hour of primetime, the soapy Nashville was unable to gain traction with a 1.5 rating. Poorly written, poorly acted, and poorly produced, Nashville is more suitable to air at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night on a local My Network TV affiliate.

Pretty much forgotten, Fox finished fourth with Hell’s Kitchen (1.3) and new drama Red Band Society (1.1). Fox is misfiring on all cylinders so far; no doubt the network is looking forward to The Simpsons/Family Guy crossover this Sunday for some ratings relief.

How bad was Fox’s performance Wednesday night? The season premiere of Comedy Central’s South Park, which featured Eric Cartman trying to capitalize on the Washington Redskins expired trademarks, earned a 1.4 rating, beating both Fox prime-time shows in the 18-49 demo.

If Fox’s ratings don’t improve soon, the network itself might expire.

Finally, CW brought up the rear with a pair of Penn And Teller specials; the first one averaged a 0.5; a subsequent repeat earned a 0.4. But with CW’s new fall lineup kicking in two weeks from now, it’ll be another thing for Fox to worry about – to prevent from falling into the Ultimate Basement.

All numbers are based on the adult 18-49 demo in live plus same-day ratings. 

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Tuesday’s ratings wrap: “Forever” stuns “Person Of Interest”

ForeverThe second night  of the 2014-15 television season is in the books and it looks like we have our first upset.

ABC’s new drama Forever – in its regular Tuesday night time slot (9 p.m.CT/10 p.m. ET) pulled a shocker by sneaking by CBS’ Person Of Interest in the adult 18-49 demo. According to Nielsen, Forever earned a 1.8 rating, up – yes, up six percent from its preview episode the previous night – impressive given shows fall in the vicinity of 10 to 20 percent in the second telecast.

Even though Forever finished behind NBC’s Chicago Fire (2.7) and FX’s Sons Of Anarchy (2.2), and was outdrawn by Interest (10.6 million) and Fire (9.1 million) in total viewers (6.9 million), to actually grow in its second telecast – and to beat an established show in adults 18-49 in the process – is amazing. If these numbers hold up (or improve), it could nab Forever a full-season pickup.

– In other ratings news, NBC’s The Voice continues to roll on with a 4.1 adults 18-49 rating in the first hour of prime-time – up five percent from the previous night’s episode, beating the season premiere of NCIS (2.9). However, NCIS had the edge in total viewers, 17.2 million to Voice’s 13.2 million.

Coming in third was Dancing With The Stars results show – the only one of the season – with a 1.7 rating and 10 million viewers. Next Tuesday, ABC debuts comedies Selfie and Manhattan Love Story in this time period. Finishing fourth was Fox’s Utopia with a 0.8 rating and only two million viewers. This number was so bad, that TLC’s 19 Kids And Counting drew a higher rating (1.0).

– While The voice continued to lead into the second hour of prime-time, the new CSI: New Orleans NCIS: New Orleans drew a whopping 17.2 million viewers (flat from its lead-in) and a 2.5 demo rating, beating ABC’s Marvel’s Agents Of Shield with a 2.1. However, NCIS: New Orleans dropped 14 percent from its lead-in in the key demo, while Shield was up 24 percent.

Bringing up the rear was Fox’s New Girl (1.3) and The Mindy Project (1.0). Lots of love on social media for these two shows, but it doesn’t translate to ratings.

The CW’s Arrow and Supernatural were in repeats.

All ratings in this article are live plus same day numbers the adult 18-49 demo. 

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Strong returns for opening night

The Big Bang Theory moves back to Mondays and still dominates. (CBS/Warner Bros.)

The Big Bang Theory moves back to Mondays and still dominates. (CBS/Warner Bros.)

Everyone’s a winner in the first night of the TV season!  Well, almost…

The first night of the 2014-15 got underway Monday night and judging by the numbers, DVRs are going to be working overtime this week.

Despite heavy competition, many shows were amply sampled, including heavily-hyped new entries Gotham and Scorpion.

Meanwhile, The Big Bang Theory dominated its competition on its new (temporary) night, while Blacklist continues to roll on.

These results are based on live adults 18-49 numbers, unless noted otherwise.

- In the first hour of prime time, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory dominated with a 5.4 rating for both half-hours. However, the competition also put up solid numbers: NBC’s The Voice had a 3.9, while the critically acclaimed Gotham debuted with a 3.2 rating and 8.2 million viewers. Not a bad start for the Batman prequel, and finally, Fox gets some much needed good rating news.

Dancing With The Stars bought up the rear with a 2.2 rating for the full two hours, but still drew 12.8 million viewers.

- In a surprise, CBS’ new Scorpion – a program described as a Big Bang Theory as a drama – scored a 3.2 rating and 13.8 million viewers, ranking second only behind The Voice in the adult 18-49 demo. Meanwhile, the second season premiere of Sleepy Hollow earned only a 2.0, down 38 percent from its lead-in in the demo – a disappointment given how well the show did in its first season.

Lagging behind was CW’s Top Model, with the long-in-the-tooth modeling competition earning only a 0.3 demo rating. By comparison, VH1’s T.I. and Tiny earned a 1.0 in the same 18-49 demo.

– In the third hour of prime-time, it was no contest: NBC’s Blacklist (3.4) easily rolled over the season finale of CBS’ Under The Dome (1.8) and ABC’s preview of Forever (1.7), which moves to its regular Tuesday night slot tonight. Judging by the premise (or the ratings), Forever won’t live up to its name.

– Also having an impact on ratings last night was the Monday Night Football matchup between the Chicago Bears and the New York Jets. The heavy competition from the broadcast nets may have had an impact: Monday’s game scored the lowest overnight household rating in six years (9.2). Despite this, MNF scored won the night in the 18-49 demo (5.2) and drew 13.3 million viewers.

The Bears won the game, 27-19.

In the Chicago area, the heavy competition had no impact on the local ratings for the Bears, as viewers fled into the entrances en masse: the game earned a combined 33.3 overnight rating on ESPN and WCIU, meaning many in the Windy City will have those DVRs cranking this week as they catch up on their favorite shows.

When it comes to the Bears, not even Sheldon Cooper or Mr. Spader’s Blacklist can stop them. Certainly, the Jets couldn’t.

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Tribune, Fox headed for a Showdown In Seattle

The World Champion Seattle Seahawks generate big bucks for KCPQ and Tribune.

The World Champion Seattle Seahawks generate big bucks for KCPQ and Tribune.

Could have implications for Chicago’s WPWR 

A brewing affiliation fight in Seattle could have implications for a local Chicago TV station.

According to a story in Tuesday’s edition of the New York Post, Fox is expected to yank the affiliation from Tribune Media’s KCPQ in Seattle-Tacoma. As it was reported in local media circles over the last few weeks, Fox is looking to swap KCPQ to Tribune for My Network TV affiliate here in Chicago, WPWR. If the deal goes through, Tribune’s WGN-TV would replace WFLD as WPWR’s duopoly partner – the first time any such instance has happened.

Fox bought WPWR in 2002 when it was a UPN station, for $425 million, a record for a UHF station in the analog era. KCPQ was purchased by Tribune in August 1998, and has been affiliated with Fox since 1986.

The reason is simple: KCPQ airs the majority of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks games, which is part of the NFC package Fox holds (The Seahawks were an AFC team from 1977 to 2001.) Fox wants KCPQ as an O&O because it would grab huge revenue generated by the team and to gain leverage with cable operators who carry their signal, which KCPQ can receive compensation from.

This was the reasoning behind Fox’s recent swap for KTVU in San Francisco (home of the 49ers), trading WFXT in Boston and WHBQ in Memphis to Cox for the station the company had owned since 1963, and the acquisition of WJZY in Charlotte two years ago (home of the Panthers.)

Tribune also owns Seattle My Network TV affiliate KZJO, though its not known if it is part of any future deal. Tribune also owns another My Network TV affiliate, WPHL in Philadelphia.

KCPQ.

KCPQ.

In a statement released today, Tribune Media officials acknowledged the possible loss of KCPQ, but haven’t signed off on any deal – yet. Tribune owns thirteen other Fox affiliates.

Fox has sent a termination notice to KCPQ, stating the station’s affiliation ends on January 17, 2015. If Fox can’t reach a deal with Tribune, then the network could instead buy or swap for CBS-owned KSTW, which a CW affiliate (KIRO is the market’s CBS affiliate.)

The pressure Fox is putting on Tribune is reminiscent of a deal Westinghouse was forced to make with NBC in 1956, when it swapped its Philadelphia TV and radio properties with the ones NBC owned in Cleveland. Soon after the deal was finalized, Westinghouse filed a complaint with the FCC and the Justice Department over NBC’s coercion and threats – and ordered the swap reversed in 1965 (NBC returned to Philadelphia thirty years later when it acquired WCAU from CBS in a decidedly less-controversial swap deal, necessary after Westinghouse – owner of KYW-TV – purchased CBS.)

As for WPWR, the deal means a programming realignment is likely – Tribune could take over the syndication contracts over several shows on the station, with Fox retaining a few in what is certain to be a complicated and complex process.

For one, Mancow’s ultra low-rated morning TV show would likely come to an end. His radio/TV show is produced at WFLD’s Michigan Ave. studio on the ground floor.

WPWR’s ratings and revenue declined significantly after popular UPN programming (and the network itself) disappeared as the station transitioned itself to My Network TV. Much of its syndicated lineup – especially in daytime and late fringe hours, barely generates a one household rating. In some good news for the beleaguered station, WGN agreed to sub-license six Chicago Bulls games to WPWR, fueling speculation about the swap.

[Updated 9:14 a.m. on 2014-09-24 to add Mancow and WPHL info.]

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Clear Channel changes name to iHeart Media

i heart mediaWhen you think about Clear Channel, what usually comes to mind?

Layoffs. Voice tracking.  Low pay. Heavy commercial loads. The Arby’s of radio (OK, you get the drift.)

Looking for a fresh start, Clear Channel announced on Tuesday it was changing the name of the company to the more audience-friendly iHeart Media, named after the successful iHeart Radio Internet platform.

Technically, Clear Channel dropped the “Communications”part  from its name and added “Radio” after it sold its TV division. In 2012, it dropped “Radio” from its name and became Clear Channel Media + Entertainment, noting it owned properties other than radio stations.

IHeart owns and/or operates about 850 radio stations in the United States with seven in the Chicago area including top-rated WVAZ (V103) and successful outlets WLIT (My 93.9) and WKSC (Kiss 103.5).

IHeart also owns the top-billing stations in New York (WLTW-FM) and Los Angeles (KIIS-FM).

iHeart Music was launched as a website in 2008 and soon after became iHeartRadio, which was also available as an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch and later for Android, BlackBerry, iPad, and ROKu devices. iHeartRadio not only featured 750+ Clear Channel-owned radio stations, but also those owned by Cumulus and Tribune Media, owner of WGN-AM. Listeners could also watch concert and music videos, listen to podcasts, play music on-demand, and get news, weather, and traffic information.

iHeartRadio has branched out into live concerts, holding the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, which grows in popularity each year and is featured as CW specials. Earlier this year, the iHeartRadio music awards was launched in Los Angeles.

iHeart Media CEO Bob Pittman – a former Chicago radio executive who was also one of the founders of MTV and discovered radio and TV talk show host Morton Downey Jr., said in this lengthy statement:

“iHeartMedia reflects our commitment to being the media company that provides the most entertainment to the most engaged audiences wherever they go, with more content and more events in more places on more devices,” said Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, Inc. “We have massive consumer reach and influence across our platforms because we know how to program the live content people want to hear, see and share right now, we are the largest mobile media company in existence — more than 60 percent of our broadcast usage is out of home, compared to just 30 percent for other mobile devices – and we deliver more live programming than any other media company today, built on the national and local on-air personalities who are the heart of our powerful broadcast radio franchises. Combined with Clear Channel Outdoor’s reach of over half a billion people worldwide across 30 countries and five continents, it’s clear that no other company can match our reach or broad spectrum of media platforms.”

Not affected by the change is Clear Channel Outdoor, Premiere Radio Networks, and Total Traffic, all of whom are keeping their names for now.

Under the Clear Channel name, the company was under fire for questionable business practices and employment moves. Recently, V103 released Ramonski Luv (Wade) despite finishing first in evenings with his on-air Joe Soto. In 2007, WGCI (another local CC station) fired morning host Howard McGee despite finishing in the top ten.

The most infamous example occurred when during President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, the company announced coast-to-coast layoffs, with reports of employees being escorted to the exits by security.

Clear Channel/iHeart also pioneered numerous industry staples including voicetracking (which every radio station now uses in one form or another), and also is known for running stations on the cheap and mismanaging them (which sadly, the industry has adopted as a whole – look at WGN Radio and WLS AM/FM… )

Last fall, WGCI (and Crawford WPWX-FM) were targeted by activists for playing salacious hip-hop and rap music aimed at children and teenagers in Chicago’s African-American community.

Some Twitter reaction :

 

Everyone knows Clear Channel can’t change their history despite changing their name. While iHeartRadio is one of the best internet radio products to come out in years, unless they change the way they do business and how they treat their personnel – and their audience (not to mention their coziness to Wall Street), then this change from Clear Channel to iHeart Media is pointless. It’ll only give distractors a new name to call it the next time a major layoff or questionable employment move takes place:

No heart.

[Editor's note: All Clear Channel tags from this point forward are transitioning to iHeart Media. To find old Clear Channel stories without i Heart Media, use "Clear Channel" in the search box. - T.H.]

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Welcome to the ninth season

[This piece was originally published on September 15, 2014 on the T Dog Media Facebook and Google Plus pages.]

When yours truly launched T Dog Media on September 18, 2006, I started with a puny blog on Google. Eight years later, the operation has grown leaps and bounds, thanks to social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus – not to mention a website yours truly has called home for the last three years.

Back when T Dog Media started, Netflix didn’t exist – and look at the monster it is now, as is other video-on-demand services Hulu and Amazon. New catchphrases were entered our vocabulary such as “binge-watching”. We witnessed Big Media getting bigger and bigger while executives got stupider and stupider.

In an era where the media business – in Chicago and around the world – seems to be getting worse every day, someone needed to analyze and comment on the craziness of the business, from local radio to Kim Kardashian.

And that person is yours truly (among a thousand other people, of course.)

Despite the never-ending changes in this business, T Dog Media continues to analyze, praise, comment, and criticize, using my 30 year knowledge of the industry.

While some local “dark blue” website is more focused on traffic reports and dopey music internet stations while its creator (who is known as the Jar Jar Binks of Chicago media) hides his opinions behind a message board he can control, T Dog Media focuses on today’s media issues with yours truly’s thoughts on the business – upfront and on the page, without the annoying gimmicks and stupid Powerpoint slideshows.

And even though a lot has changed in the eight years, one thing hasn’t changed: Jim Belushi is still the whipping boy around here.

If you haven’t already, please follow T Dog Media on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and coming soon on Instagram. Also, please visit T Dog Media’s YouTube page for some nostalgic (and weird) videos.

I want to thank you loyal readers for the support over the years and I’ll keep you informed and entertained as much as I can.

Thanks for the support, and God Bless America.

Sincerely,

Terence Henderson

T Dog Media

Various

Rihanna rips into The Church Of Tisch

RihannaIt looks like Rihanna has run afoul of The Church Of Tisch.

The award-winning singer wasn’t happy about CBS pulling her cover of Jay-Z’s Run This Town from the intro of Thursday Night Football telecast last week, a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens due to the toned-down atmosphere after the Ray Rice scandal. And so she sent this not-so-nice tweet, summarizing her feelings about the matter:

The tweet obviously didn’t sit well with Black Rock and Pastor Les Moonves. Later, CBS announced the network was not using her song at all on any future Thursday Night Football telecasts.

Somewhere in hell, former CBS owner Larry Tisch is smiling with glee.

For those of not familiar with the phrase “The Church Of Tisch”, I coined it back in 2008 when then-WBBM-TV GM Joe Ahern tried to hit up employees to pay for his lunch tab when he couldn’t cover the bill – much like when ushers pass around a collection plate at church. Laurence “Larry” Tisch was a buffoonish penny-penching cheapskate who cut back spending at CBS back in the ’80’s and ’90’s, leading the network to lose NFL rights to Fox back in 1993.

CBS removed Rihanna’s song from the opening in part due to the continuing Ray Rice saga, with the now-former Raven player caught on tape hitting his fiancee (now wife) in an elevator in an Atlantic City casino earlier this year. Rice was cut from the team after a second version of the video was obtained by TMZ and released and showed a clearer view of the attack.

A CBS spokesperson admitted the Rice saga played a role in removing Rihanna’s song from the telecast – not to mention Rihanna’s own controversy stemming from a domestic violence incident in 2009 with then-boyfriend Chris Brown.

Perhaps Rihanna should’ve asked someone about crossing Pastor Les, such as Amy Jacobson or Ahern.

Or WISH in Indianapolis. When the LIN Media-owned station refused to put more money in Pastor Moonves’ collection plate (in the form of increased reverse compensation), and got kicked out of The Church, with Tribune Media’s WTTV to take its place. Other CBS affiliates owned by LIN and Media General had to agree to Pastor Les’ shakedown demands to stay in The Church.

Ol’ Larry The Cheapskate would be proud. Nice to see things haven’t changed much at CBS since 1986 with the same ineptness and greed running rampant.

There is a silver lining in all of this for Rihanna: if her song was used every week, CBS would’ve made her foot the bill for the Entertainment President’s lunch.

 

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WGN-TV, Tribune adds “Crime” to daytime

CWlogoTribune Broadcasting wants to make Crime pay in daytime.

In what looks like a first step in making over its daytime schedule, Tribune has purchased a new first-run strip titled Crime Watch Daily, scheduled to debut next fall from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.

The program is being targeted not only for daytime, but also for early fringe (late afternoon) time periods.

According to the distributor, Crime Watch would go after “the bad guys”, blow the lid off scandals and seek justice for victims. Crime Watch would use its network of “local newsrooms” carrying the show to report on stories all across the country.

The menu includes unsolved murders, undercover investigations, missing persons, and videos of caught-on-camera crimes.

While there has been shows of this type of genre in syndication before (remember Crimewatch Tonight and Crime Stoppers 800, two failed entries from 1989?), nothing has been done on this type of scale.

Straight from the press release, here’s Warner’s Ken Warner on the show’s potential: “There is a terrific opportunity in early fringe leading into local news as well as in daytime to capture an audience who are longing for distinctive, addictive and real life storytelling. As we’ve seen on cable and in other dayparts, audiences have an insatiable appetite for real life investigations and crime stories, which by their nature are filled with mystery, intrigue and human drama. We believe both affiliate and independent stations will embrace this unique opportunity.”

Crime Watch cleared 29 markets in the Tribune Broadcasting Group, covering 42 percent of the country, including WGN-TV in Chicago and in markets as large as New York (WPIX) and as small as Ft. Smith, Ark. (KFSM). Two months ago, Tribune indicated it may move away from trash TV shows such as Jerry Springer and Maury, which have spent more than a decade on most of Tribune’s stations.

A likely slot for Crime Watch in Chicago would either be at 10 a.m. or at 3 p.m., where either way, it would lead-in to local news. (WGN recently launched a 4 p.m. newscast.)

Crime Watch is being produced in Los Angeles by Telepictures Productions, and is the first series officially announced for the fall 2015 syndication season.

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WLUP-FM makes major changes

mqdefaultTim Virgin is back in; Patrick Capone, Maxwell are out

Everyone knew changes were inevitable when Cumulus hired Wade Linder as WLUP-FM’s (The Loop) new operations manager/program director. Over the weekend, those changes began.

On Friday, WLUP released Patrick Capone after nine years at the classic rock station. Capone broke the news on his Facebook page, thanking Chicago audiences for their support.

On the same day, WLUP fired Maxwell (a.k.a. Benjamin Bornstein) after just two years in morning drive. Also out was co-host and news anchor John Czahor, a holdover from station owner Merlin Media’s failed FM News format. Poor ratings were clearly to blame as Maxwell was never able to gain traction in Chicago as he did in other markets, where he was known as a “shock jock”.

Replacing Capone in the afternoons is Chicago radio veteran Tim Virgin, as reported Monday by Robert Feder. Virgin was at The Loop in the mid-1990’s and had two stints with the original Q101 (WKQX.) Virgin’s last position was at an alternative radio station (KEGY) in the San Diego market, where he moved to months after the original Q101 closed its doors.

In addition, WLUP has hired Lyndsey Marie Combs for middays, coming from a rock station (WNNX) in Atlanta, and former Q101 personality Pyke, who comes over from WIOT-FM in Toledo.

So far, no morning host for WLUP has been announced, with WLUP saying they are conducting a “nationwide search” (whatever that means.)

Cumulus and Linder hope the change boost declining ratings in hopes of attracting a younger audience – most who weren’t around when “The Loop” was launched in March 1977 as an AOR (album-oriented rock) station, and became home to some of Chicago’s most beloved radio personalities such as Jonathan Brandmeier, Steve Dahl & Garry Meier, and Kevin Matthews. Despite still ranking in the top ten among its key demo of males 25-54, The Loop’s glory days are long gone.

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The Grab Bag: Football scores in Chicago despite Bears, NFL troubles

TNF- Meredith Vieira off to so-so ratings start

- Utopia falls out of the gate

- Bulls release 2014-15 TV schedule

- Despite the troubles of the Chicago Bears and the NFL in general, ratings for pro football continue strong. The season’s first game featuring the Bears and the Buffalo Bills drew a 30.3 household rating locally for Fox, with viewers sticking with the game due to a close contest (the Bears lost.)

As another tape was released in the never-ending Ray Rice saga, the fallout hasn’t had an impact on the ratings – so far. CBS’ inaugural Thursday Night Football telecast involving Rice’s former team (Baltimore Ravens) and the Pittsburgh Steelers drew a 7.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 20.8 million viewers, up tremendously from last year’s comparable matchup on NFL Network. It was the highest rating for CBS on Thursday since May 2006 – quite a feat considering CBS’ recent dominance on Thursday nights.

Despite being down slightly in some cases, the NFL is still a powerful draw on Sundays for Fox, CBS, and NBC. This Sunday, the Bears travel to Santa Clara, Calif. to play the San Francisco 49ers in the brand new Levi’s Stadium on Sunday Night Football.

- The Chicago Bulls released their 2014-15 TV schedule Thursday with CSN Chicago carrying 42 games, with ESPN and TNT carrying ten games each, and NBA TV and ABC carrying five games each. Locally, WGN is only carrying 22 games this upcoming season – mostly on Saturday nights to avoid pre-empting CW programming. In a surprise, WGN sublicensed six Bulls games to rival Fox-owned My Network TV affiliate WPWR, instead of independent WCIU, when has been WGN’s alternative outlet since 1999.

The Bulls and Chicago White Sox at one time had a deal with Fox-owned WFLD in the late 1980’s, but Fox sued owner Jerry Reinsdorf to get out of its White Sox contract. WGN has been the over-the-air home for his teams since 1989.

Despite reports of WGN America dropping Chicago sports teams from its schedule, a WGN spokesperson told Crain’s the Bulls’ schedule for WGN America is “pending approval by the NBA”. This likely means if any actions were to happen, it won’t be until after the 2014-15 NBA regular season concludes.

- So, how did Meredith Vieira do in her first three days on the air as a new daytime talk show host? Not badly. Meredith averaged a 1.4 overnight rating and a 5 household share, and in 23 local people meter markets, averaged a 0.6 rating in the key female 25-54 demographic.

While the program hit overnight highs recently in Tampa Bay, Denver, San Diego, Nashville, and Hartford, Meredith took a tumble in Chicago: airing at 1 p.m. on WMAQ, Meredith’s household rating dropped from 1.6 from its premiere to 1.1. the next day.

Meredith also won its overnight (2 a.m.) time slot at Atlanta’s WSB.

The first episode of Meredith was pretty good and quite fun. Vieira isn’t over patronizing like Katie Couric was, and many segments were enjoyable to watch. If Vieira can deliver this type of show every day, then she should have no problem staying on the air. Paired with Steve Harvey and Ellen, NBC’s owned stations have extended their reliable afternoon programming block.

- On the opposite side of the success spectrum is Fox’s hory Utopia. After posting a 1.9 adult demo rating on September 7, the program bottomed out the following Tuesday with a 0.7 rating in the key 18-49 demo and a 0.5 demo on Friday. So have the people in Utopia working to build a better society? According to the show’s online feeds, there’s been nothing but non-stop fighting, drinking, and nudity among the participants.

In other words, it’s nothing different than you see on Rush Street on a normal Friday night.

 

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Meredith Vieira kicks off 2014-15 syndie season

Meredith Vieira. (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/NBCU)

Meredith Vieira. (Photo by: Heidi Gutman/NBCU)

After a season which saw several syndicated talk shows (The Test, Bethenny, Arsenio Hall, Katie, and Trisha) get canceled, this season boasts only two new shows – one of them debuted Monday.

NBCUniversal Television Distribution’s The Meredith Vieira Show is the first one out of the gate in syndication, premiered today at 1 p.m. on WMAQ-TV in a ten-station NBC O&O deal. In addition, several ABC affiliates who previously aired Katie replaced her with Meredith, such as WCVB in Boston, KSTP in Minneapolis-St.Paul, and WISN in Milwaukee.

The former View and Millionaire host and 60 Minutes correspondent has her own band, and the set is modeled just like her house (audience members must wipe their feet before coming in.)

Next Monday (Sept. 15) is the debut of another new talker, Warner Bros.’ The Real, airing at 11 a.m. on Fox-owned WFLD in a eighteen-station Fox deal. Tested on a few Fox O&Os last year, The Real features five women of ethnic backgrounds discussing numerous topics.

Here’s what else you will see in syndication this fall. All shows start September 15 unless otherwise noted:

- Court, Court and More Court. Despite the departure of Judge Alex and We The People With Gloria Allred, courtroom shows are stronger than ever, with the premieres of three new shows. From the producers of Judge Judy is Hot Bench (WCIU, 5 a.m.; U Too, 11 a.m.), which uses three judges to determine cases. Three! Debuting on Sept. 22 is Trifecta Entertainment’s Judge Faith (U Too, 11:30 a.m., 9 p.m., 9:30 p.m.), featuring former New York City prosecutor and attorney Faith Jenkins.

And look who’s back… after being disposed by Divorce Court years ago is Judge Mablean, who back with a courtroom show for Entertainment Studios (U Too, Noon.)

- Game show junction. In addition to Debmar-Mercury with Celebrity Name Game (debuts Sept. 22 on WGN-TV at 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 10 p.m.), is the debut of Let’s Ask America with host Bill Bellamy (U Too, 12:30 p.m., 2:00 a.m.), which aired last season on several Scripps-owned stations.

In addition, Name Game landed a key prime access time slot in New York (WPIX, 7:30 p.m.)

- More off-net comedies. Yes, there are more off-network sitcoms (or actually coming off a broadcast network) than in recent years, with four shows debuting this fall – but none of the “A-list” like The Big Bang Theory. WCIU has landed three of them: Twentieth’s Raising Hope (9:30 p.m.); off-TVLand Hot In Cleveland (5:30 p.m. and midnight), and Disney-ABC’s Cougar Town (starts Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. on U Too and 2:30 a.m. on WCIU.)

Also making its debut on Sept. 22 is FX’s Anger Management, airing locally on WPWR (yours truly was unable to obtain showtimes at press time.)

- More drama on the weekend. WBBM is adding CBS Television Distribution’s Good Wife and Blue Bloods to its Saturday and Sunday late night schedule respectively (11pm-1am), replacing Criminal Minds and CSI: Miami.  Meanwhile, WLS-TV is moving Castle to Saturday nights and adding Scandal to its late night Sunday lineup. Scandal replaces Private Practice in syndication.

WCIU is adding a pair of first-run dramas to its schedule: CBC/City TV crime drama Murdoch Mysteries (U Too, Saturdays and Sundays at 6 p.m.) and The Pinkertons, which is scheduled for a 2 a.m. Sunday morning slot on WCIU. Put on the coffee!

- Other schedule changes. In addition to WLS re-establishing its core 2-4 p.m. lineup (which also included acquiring Rachael Ray to air at 1 p.m.), WCIU is adding an extra hour to You & Me This Morning; syndicated weekly sports gabfest In Depth With Graham Bensinger shifted on Sept. 7 from WMAQ to WFLD/WPWR; WGN-TV adding a 4 p.m. weekday newscast, and WPWR adding another hour to its Family Feud block, meaning four episodes back-to-back-to-back-to-back from 5 to 7 every weeknight!

Perhaps the biggest change is yet another episode reduction of The Simpsons from the local schedule, which at one point aired three times a day on WFLD to now airing only at 9:30 p.m. on WPWR (at this point, the best way to watch Simpsons reruns on FXX.)

- And the rest. Other new shows on local schedules include blooper show What Went Down (Saturdays at 3 p.m and 3:30 p.m. on WGN-TV); and The Conspiracy Show With Richard Syrett (Sunday morning, 1:30 a.m. on U Too.) Folks, you can’t make shows like this up.)

What’s Out:

Aside from what’s already been mentioned, other shows not returning this fall include Access Hollywood Live, pushed out by Meredith Vieira’s talk show on the NBC O&Os (Access Hollywood continues in production) and Trifecta’s newsmagazine America Now. Both ended their runs on Friday.

Locally, WCIU has dropped The Queen Latifah Show, but remains at 2 p.m. on CBS-owned WBBM-TV.

Other series not returning to syndication this fall includes That ’70’s Show, ‘Til Death, Cash Cab, Cold Case Files, Bloopers, and Beer Geeks.

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Remembering Roy Leonard

Roy-Leonard-studioWGN Television and Radio personality left lasting impact

Just 24 hours after Joan Rivers passed away, another well-known radio and TV personality has left us.

Roy Leonard died quietly surrounded by family and friends last Thursday night in an Evanston Hospital, where he was admitted recently. He was 83.

Leonard arrived to WGN from Boston in 1967, and remained with the station until his retirement in 1998. Throughout most of this duration, Leonard hosted a top-rated midday radio show where he interviewed people from all walks of life: politicians, entertainers, celebrities, athletes, and others. Leonard scaled back his work schedule in 1995; he appeared on the radio station on a weekend-only basis until 1998.

Leonard was also a staunch supporter of the arts, reviewing theater productions on his website, and was also a movie reviewer for both WGN Radio and Television. Leonard succeeded the late Frazier Thomas as host of WGN-TV’s Family Classics from 1985 to 2000 when by that time, it became a series of quarterly specials. He also regularly appeared on WGN-TV’s newscasts in the role of movie and theater critic.

After retiring from WGN Radio in 1998, Leonard hardly slowed down: in addition to writing reviews of local theater productions on his website, Leonard also appeared via phone on Nick Digillo’s weekend show, where the duo would discuss movies (Digillo credited Leonard for helping him break into the radio business.)

Funeral arrangements have been made, with services being held on September 13.

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