T Dog’s Grab Bag: McConnell heads for the exits; “Katie” likely to follow

So long and thanks for the fish.

– Tech difficulties or something else behind the scenes? Mike McConnell’s new online venture at WGN Radio doesn’t seem to be going well. McConnell’s online show and subsequent podcast has been offline for a week due to “tech issues”. But it looks like McConnell may be headed back to Cincinnati: it appears a tentative agreement has been reached on the remaining two years of his contract. McConnell was moved off WGN Radio and onto a live streaming and podcasting platform in August after three low-rated years in midday.

The Big Bang Theory is still powerful on CBS but it look like its syndication ratings are waning a bit – thanks to Modern Family? To make room for Twentieth’s off-net debut in the highly-prized prime access time of 7-8 p.m., Fox moved Warner Bros.’ Big Bang to its lower-rated co-owned My Network TV outlets in New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Houston and as a result, national ratings dropped from a 6.1 to a 5.8 in the most recent syndication ratings report from Nielsen. (Big Bang has been double-run on WPWR-TV in access for the past year.) Family is being double-run in access on WNYW in New York, KTTV in Los Angeles, and KRIV in Houston in time slots formerly held by Bang (Sheldon & Co. did retain its 11 p.m. airing on WNYW.)

Big Bang is not the only high-priced off-net sitcom being shoved onto five Fox-owned My Net stations – longtime stalwart The Simpsons received basically the same treatment – including Chicago, where WPWR double-runs the show from 9-10 p.m. in addition to a 6 p.m. airing on sister station WFLD, leading into Family. So far, ratings for The Simpsons on Fox’s My Network TV stations haven’t been good with household shares in the 1 to 3 range. Ay Carumba!

– Last one turn out the lights: it finally looks like its curtains for Katie, the second-year talk show which airs in over 200 markets, on ABC-owned stations and most ABC affiliates. Despite a report Monday from TV Newscheck about Disney/ABC being pleased with the direction of the show and seeking renewals, a story from The Hollywood Reporter painted a much different picture with unhappy stations, a high cost (ABC’s owned stations are paying through the nose for Katie), and a very low “Q” score – 10 percent of women view Couric favourably, far lower than the score Oprah Winfrey had in her heyday.

Locally, Katie finished first in its 3 p.m. time slot for WLS-TV during the week of Sept. 23, but was only three-tenths of a rating point ahead of competing talker Dr. Phil. Ratings are flat from last year.

– While ABC’s Lucky 7 and CBS’ We Are Men were the first casualties of the fall season of a bleak fall TV season, there are some full-season pickups to report: Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, NBC’s Blacklist, and ABC’s Agents Of Shield, which received its full-season pickup Thursday. While S.H.I.E.L.D’s back nine was expected, the early success of Hollow and Blacklist took media analysts and critics by surprise.