T Dog’s Grab Bag: Bulls score in ratings despite slump

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Also: Rentrak signs Tribune stations; Grudge Match eyes return; Shout! launches online TV channel

Despite a lackluster January where the Chicago Bulls went 8-9, the team scored a winning ratings record on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The RSN scored a 4.8 Nielsen household rating in January – up a whopping 65 percent from last year, when the team was without Derrick Rose. In addition, the Bulls were up in key demos – up 113 percent in the adults 18-49 demo and up 116 percent in the 25-54 demo. A game against the Houston Rockets on January 5 scored the second-highest regular season rating in history of CSN Chicago, earning a 7.6 rating.

This is stark contrast to what yours truly said about the Bulls’ ratings on January 27th (oops.)

The strong viewership come despite a slumping Bulls team as of late, with a three-game losing streak and plenty of drama (in fact, the drama may be fueling the ratings.) ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy recently ripped into Bulls management for trying to throw coach Tom Thibodeau under the bus, and rumors of discord- much like another Chicago sports team we know. Let’s hope the Bulls don’t ask Jay Cutler for advice.

Meanwhile, the hot-as-heck Atlanta Hawks also burned up the ratings charts, with household ratings up 73 percent from last year on SportsSouth, one of Fox’s two sports channels serving the Atlanta area. Monday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans – which saw the Hawks’ 19-game winning streak came to an end, set a regular-season record for SportsSouth, earning a 4.7 household rating.

Shout! Factory, which is best known for distributing classic TV series on DVD is getting into the streaming business. On Thursday, Shout! launched Shout Factory TV, which is streaming more than 1,000 hours of programming it has home video rights to, including the original Twilight Zone, Hill Street Blues, The Ernie Kovacs Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, former UPN animated series Home Movies, and movie-mocking series Mystery Science Theater 3000, in addition to numerous B-movies.

The service is free – but also ad-supported, and is available only through a web browser. But Shout! is working on dedicated iOs (Apple) and Android apps for tablets and smartphones. An app is already available for Roku users.

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A 1991 trade ad for “The Grudge Match”.

Remember The Grudge Match, the weekly syndicated game show from the 1991-92 season? The series is looking to make a comeback, via a number of platforms. According to TV Media Insights, plans are underway to relaunch the TV show, as well as create a mobile game and an online streaming platform. Richmel Media & Productions, which produced the original TV series for Genesis Entertainment, is heading the effort along with tech enterupeur Dave Young. Bob Dunphy, a boxing and MMA TV director who worked on the show, is also returning.

Launching at the height of American Gladiators’ popularity, Grudge Match featured two combatants who have a gripe with one another (a la The People’s Court) and settle it in the ring. Combatants used oversized boxing gloves in the first round, then battled each other using weapons such as prop food, water, shaving cream pies, etc.

Grudge Match featured some well-known names: Steve Albert and Jesse “The Body” Ventura on play-by-play commentary, with the late Paula McClure (an Entertainment Tonight vet) as field reporter, Michael Buffer as the ring announcer and the late John Pinette as the referee (Pinette appeared in the Seinfeld finale.)

Genesis scored major O&O deals for Grudge Match, including WMAQ Chicago, WNBC New York, KABC Los Angeles (switching to KCAL-TV in January 1992), and KGO in San Francisco. A bid for a second season fell short when the show could not meet the 70 percent U.S. clearance threshold needed to keep the show on the air.

– Upstart ratings service Rentrak announced Wednesday it has signed a deal with the 42-station Tribune Media group (including WGN-TV locally), to provide local market ratings services. Tribune’s Cleveland (WJW) and Des Moines (WHO) stations have been Rentrak since 2012, and the deal also renews their existing pacts.

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