T Dog’s Media Notepad: “All In” special on Chicago violence draws decent numbers

Discussion on Chicago violence draws over a million viewers; also, news on CBS, The Bulls, and Big Bang

As gun violence continues to plague Chicago, the national spotlight on the city isn’t dimming anytime soon with MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes the latest television program to come here to discuss the issue. Despite a last-minute scheduling change (originally scheduled for last Thursday at 8 p.m. local time but switched to 7 p.m. last Friday), All In still drew 1.359 million viewers with 275,000 of them in the covered 25-54 adult demo (MacGyver topped the ratings overall and in the 18-49 demo, while A Charlie Brown Valentine’s Day special on ABC finished second, despite a three-year low.) Notably, All In outdrew the soon-to-be departing Vampire Diaries on The CW.

Last year, ESPN held a similar “town hall” meeting for two days on Chicago violence. The MSNBC special took place less than a mile (at the South Shore Cultural Center) from where the ESPN town hall was held (The Stony Island YMCA.)

As for All In, the one-hour discussion didn’t break any new ground and provided nothing new in the way Chicago violence was addressed – and neither did the two ESPN shows last August (a Thursday night special and the next day’s episode of First Take, which yours truly finally got around to watching after viewing All In Friday) – all three featured a lot of talking heads and a lot of finger-pointing and blame. As dead bodies continue to pile up, solutions need to be found – activists and politicians feigning outrage for the TV cameras aren’t going to help. With the problem happening in inner cities around the country, yours truly is sick and tired of our city being singled out by Big Media and President Trump.

And quite frankly, me – and a lot of Chicagoans – could care less what Stephen A. Smith thinks about our situation.

Even though the struggling Bulls continue to sellout the United Center, their local ratings continue to decline. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, the Bulls are averaging a 2.1 household live-plus-same day rating on CSN Chicago this season, down 28 percent from last year. This comes despite the addition of NBA All-Star (and Chicago native) Dwyane Wade to the team. As of this writing, the Bulls are 27-29, two games under .500. You can blame a combination of factors: tough competition (The Cubs’ World Series run early in the season, Monday Night Football, etc.); the team’s off-court drama (Wade and Jimmy Butler not getting along with other players), the team’s low expectations; and the overall crapiness of the NBA product – an issue back in the late 1970’s when ratings for NBA on CBS stunk and playoff games were routinely on tape-delay in late-night (and the Chicago Stadium was a ghost town for Bulls games.)

Also, Chicago fans just dealt with a bad 3-13 Bears season, and decided putting up with one crappy losing team was enough.

More notably, Bulls’ ratings have slipped behind those of its co-tenants at the UC, the Blackhawks. Despite being on top of the NHL’s Western Conference, local ratings for the team have also slipped. The decreases come at a time as more and more viewers are turning away from watching linear (or live TV) broadcasts.

Despite low local ratings and a bad record, the league’s national TV partners continue to feature the team in prime slots – TNT featured the Bulls Thursday against the Boston Celtics and ABC has two prime-time Saturday games in the next few weeks against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Bulls have 33 national TV appearances this season – thanks in part to the acquisition of Wade (and the fact the word “Chicago” sells these days – positively or negatively.)

After finally unloading their radio division to Entercom, WBBM-TV owner CBS Corporation has its eye back on TV – in acquiring more TV stations. After the release of fourth-quarter results, CBS CEO Les Moonves said he hopes new FCC Commissioner Ajti Pai raises the ownership cap because CBS would “strategically want to buy some more stations”. And due to strong political advertising climate and retransmission consent revenue, Moonves points out the local TV business is “extremely good for us.”

Currently, the ownership cap is at 39 percent – CBS’ stations cover 37.7 percent of the country. Some companies (such as Tribune) are over the cap, but is grandfathered in.

Moonves pointed out he would buy stations in markets with an NFL team – in CBS’ case, it would be AFC markets. One potential target would be Ohio – notably WOIO-TV Cleveland and WKRC-TV in Cincinnati – both home to the Browns and Bengals, respectively – and is also a political swing state, which would mean a revenue windfall to The Church Of Tisch. However, both stations are owned by powerhouse station owners Raycom and Sinclair respectively, and have duopolies in each market.

Plus, Cincinnati is out of the top 25 – the market is ranked (DMA 36). But having an NFL team and in a political swing state makes it an exception to the rule.

In other words, this is going to easier said than done, regardless of what percentage the cap is. AFC markets where CBS currently owns a station (or stations) are New York City (WCBS/WLNY), Los Angeles (KCBS/KCAL…thanks to the recent arrival of the Chargers from San Diego), Oakland (KPIX/KBCW…assuming the Raiders stay there), Boston (WBZ/WSBK), Miami (WFOR/WBFS), Pittsburgh (KDKA/WPCW), Denver (KCNC), and Baltimore (WJZ). By comparison, Fox has O&O in fourteen NFC markets, including WFLD-TV in Chicago.

Despite an uneven season creatively, it looks like Sheldon & Co. are going to be around for a while – a really loooong while: various media outlets reported Thursday CBS is close to a two-year renewal for The Big Bang Theory, which would bring the series back for its eleventh and twelfth season. If a deal is struck, Big Bang – now in its tenth season, would tie fellow Chuck Lorre sitcom Two And A Half Men as the long-running sitcom in CBS history and be put in a tie for second for the longest live-action sitcom in TV history with Men and My Three Sons and, only behind The Adventures Of Ozzie and Harriet which lasted fourteen seasons (The Simpsons remains the all-time champ at 28 and counting.)

Despite tougher competition from Superstore and the even-longer running Grey’s Anatomy (both were recently renewed for next season), Big Bang is still TV’s top-rated show in adults 18-49 and in off-network syndication. And CBS needs the show to continue to launch sitcoms – and so far, none of them launched by the Church Of Tisch have been as popular as Big Bang.

But the mess this sitcom has become can’t compare to the real-life sitcom going on in The White House, with President Trump being just as much as a dick as the characters on Big Bang are.