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.