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.