Media Notepad: Despite playoff appearance, Bulls sink in ratings during regular season

Bulls take on the Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. (CSN Chicago)

Also: Bill O’Reilly out at Fox; Sinclair buys a TV station group (but it’s not who you think); WCIU lays groundwork for new morning show; black-ish heads to syndication via multiple outlets

In more bad ratings news for CSN Chicago, the Bulls recorded the lowest regular-season ratings in nearly ten years, according to Nielsen and reported by Crain’s.

The Bulls earned a 2.0 rating for the 2016-17 campaign, down 38 percent from last year when the team had since-departed stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. The ratings decline comes despite the Bulls sneaking into the playoffs and a 41-41 record.

The news couldn’t have come at a worse time for the regional sports network. Chicago Blackhawks regular-season also suffered a ratings decline this season, and the team just got swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Nashville Predators, a loss of potential revenue.

On the bright side, the Bulls did make the playoffs and are now tied 2-2 with the Boston Celtics as of this typing. One positive is nationally, ratings are up involving the team after a few national appearances set record-rating lows for the NBA’s ratings partners. Household ratings for the first three games of the playoffs for CSN Chicago were not available.


In what is likely their final programming purchase as a station group, Tribune Broadcasting announced last week it has acquired ABC sitcom black-ish for a fall 2018 debut. The deal includes WGN-TV, who’ll likely add the show to its prime-time lineup as this fall, the station begins airing Mom and The Goldbergs. Sinclair has been rumored to be interesting in buying Tribune, which would no doubt alter the syndication landscape (Many Sinclair-owned stations also picked up the show.)

Reruns of black-ish were also picked up by cable nets FXX and BET in a joint deal. Hulu has snagged the exclusive SVOD (subscription on-demand) rights to the show.

Terms for each of these deals were not disclosed.

Black-ish centers on a upper-middle class African-American family whose father tries to pass his cultural heritage to his children – with lackluster results. The series has often dealt with social issues such as racism, police brutality, and LGBT. Despite criticism from President Trump over the name (and by other conservatives for everything else), the series is a critical favorite.

The series stars Anthony Anderson, who’s appeared in Barbershop and Law & Order and Tracee Ellis Ross, of Girlfriends. black-ish has won a whopping seventeen NAACP image Awards, a Peabody Award, and Ross won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.


And speaking of Sinclair, the Baltimore-based company did announce a purchase Friday – of the Bonten Group, a chain of stations stretch from Bristol, Va. (DMA rank 98) to San Angelo, Texas (DMA rank 196) for $240 million. The news came a day after the FCC generously restored the UHF discount so companies like Sinclair can buy more stations.

“We look forward to welcoming the Bonten employees into the Sinclair family and are pleased to be growing our regional presence in several states where we already operate,” said Chris Ripley, president-CEO of Sinclair. “We believe our economies of scale help us bring improvements to small market stations, including investments in news, other quality local programming, and multicast opportunities with our emerging networks of Comet, Charge! and TBD.”    

Consider this an appetizer for Sinclair before the main course.


It looks like it’s curtains for the Chicago-shot APB, which is airing its season finale tonight. The series with Justin Kirk (of Animal Practice fame) and Natalie Martinez (not the reporter from NBC 5 of the name same) has not done well in the ratings despite a well-done production, but is saddled often with shoddy and laughable writing. According to Metacritic, the series earned a not-too-impressive score of 45 and has been written off by locals here, including Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.

Yours truly often calls this show Chicago Code: The Next Generation, based on a similar series (without the high-tech gizmo crap), which also ran on Fox in 2011 in the same day and time slot. It was canceled after thirteen episodes and averaged around a 2.0 rating in adults 18-49.

By comparison, APB has averaged around a 0.8 rating in the same demo.

Tonight’s episode deals with a computer hacker who wreaks havoc the city – if only this were the least of our problems…


Our long national nightmare is over: Fox News’ primetime host Bill O’Reilly is out after 21 years after a string of sexual harassment lawsuits filed against him. The latest allegations, unveiled by the New York Times a few weeks ago, led more than 80 advertisers to exit the show. Beginning May 2, Fox News’ 8 p.m. ET slot is being handed over to Tucker Carlson.

Ratings for The O’Reilly Factor had been strong, averaging 4 million viewers a night, even outdrawing most primetime shows on sister Fox broadcast network and ABC. But the median age of The O’Reilly Factor viewer is above 70 – hardly the demo advertisers covet.

O’Reilly has been known for his controversial demeanor, bullying guests and criticizing people who don’t agree with him – not to mention his ridiculous stance on urban issues. Before it became cool for conservative commentars to mock and hate on the city of Chicago, O’Reilly often was a staunch critic of our city and especially the South Side: in a 2010 episode, O’Reilly referred to the area as “Haiti”.

In an item I wrote some years ago, yours truly compared O’Reilly to former Chicago Sun-Times sportswriter Jay Mariotti, who was arrested and later cleared of domestic assault in 2010. And now both men are banished to the world of podcasting.

Birds of a feather flock together, don’t they?

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