“Countdown Chicago” wins out over “Chi-Town Rising”

But Mariah Carey, Don Lemon steal New Year’s Eve spotlight (what else is new)

After getting butt-whipped last year by Chi-Town Rising, WLS-TV’s Countdown Chicago reclaimed the top-spot on New Year’s Eve.

According to Robert Feder – and running from 11:08 p.m. to 12:08 a.m., Countdown Chicago drew a 12.1/17 household rating/share, beating WMAQ-TV’s 6/14 for Chi-Town Rising, running from 11:09 p.m. to 12:28 a.m.

During the time frame when the clock struck midnight, WLS had a 12.3/21 to WMAQ’s 9.7/25.

According to numbers obtained from another site, Countdown also beat Rising handily, 9.9 to 7.7, among adults 25-54. In the adults 18-49 demo, Countdown also dominated, with a 10.1 to a 6.1.

Ratings were down for both Countdown Chicago and Chi-Town Rising this year, but you could chalk it up to New Year’s Eve falling on a Saturday night in 2016, as opposed to Thursday in 2015 as many church goers opted not to stay up late. Still, the numbers put up by both shows are still far better than you usually see on a Saturday night.

As a reminder, New Year’s Eve broadcasts are generally train wreck television – not really suitable for the crowd who usually feasts on Netflix and Amazon. And this year was no exception.

Before viewers lashed out at Countdown Chicago and Chi-Town Rising on social media, viewers got a head start with the inane antics of CNN’s Don Lemon, who appeared drunk on the air, got his ear pierced, said rather unintelligible things, and even had to be pulled off at one point. Meanwhile, Mariah Carey gave a forgettable performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. At times, Ms. Carey seemed choreographically off and poorly lip-synched her material. Not surprisingly, both sides – Ms. Carey’s team and Dick Clark Productions – blamed each other for the fiasco.

Both Lemon and Carey’s viral antics hit social media quickly and reaction was quite negative.

While not as negatively received as Carey’s performance, both Chicago Countdown shows did leave a poor taste in viewers’ mouths (though not as bad as WBBM-TV’s 1979 New Year’s Eve show, with then-mayor Jane Byrne looking bewildered in a fur coat.) Chi-Town Rising’s countdown clock (on a star) to ring in the New Year was off about 25 seconds as opposed to Countdown Chicago’s clock. There were also reported technical glitches throughout the show for the second year in  a row – completely inexcusable. And while last year’s show had the band Chicago perform, this year’s show had several no-name acts you couldn’t identify in a police lineup. This year’s hosts also were less recognizable, with second-tier talent from NBC’s local and national news programs.

Like last year, Chi-Town Rising was carried by NBC affiliates in several Central Time Zone markets, including Dallas, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Memphis, and Green Bay, Wis. Dallas’ KXAS and Chicago’s WMAQ are both owned by NBC.

Countdown Chicago meanwhile, did have remotes throughout the Chicago area including a suburban Oak Brook hotel where Cheryl Scott showed up in a fabulous red dress (enough reason to tune in.) NeNe Leakes of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame and in town for a show, also appeared and gave a nice interview to Val Warner. A house band named The New Rat Pack performed – but you can guess viewers under the age of 30 had no idea who they were.

In a surprise move, WLS pre-empted an hour of New Year’s Rockin’ Eve to show Countdown Chicago – meaning local viewers did not see some musical acts (such as Panic! At The Disco and Jason Derulo), nor did they see New Orleans (in the same CT zone Chicago is in) celebrate the New Year, with Rockin’ Eve signing off earlier (at 1:11 a.m.) than in previous years. Generally, WLS interrupted for Countdown Chicago and picked up Rockin’ Eve right where they left off.

Trading in Jason Derulo and Panic! At The Disco for a crappy Rat Pack band? Maybe Dick Clark Productions should buy Chi-Town Rising and add it s a segment to next New Year’s Eve show – it would eliminate these two embarrassing  specials.

Then again, you know Ryan Seacrest and Co. would try to exile Mariah Carey to Chicago to perform. But it beats next year’s musical act on either one of these local shows – The Def Leppard Tribute band.

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