The Media Notepad: Cubs, White Sox regular season prime-time ratings fall


Also: Bears renew local deal with Fox; My Network TV also renews; “MeToo’s” odd connection to Chicago TV

Despite defending their World Series title from last year, ratings for prime-time Cubs games declined last year, according to a report in Forbes. The Cubs earned a 4.4 Nielsen household rating, down 9 percent from last year. Forbes did not specify what network received credit as Cubs games aired this season on WLS-TV, WGN-TV, Fox, FS1, and NBC Sports Chicago. The Cubs ranked seventh overall.

On the other side of town, the Chicago White Sox’s rebuilding effort is not paying off in primetime as expected. The White Sox finished 28th out of 29 teams with a 0.88 rating, down 8 percent from last year – only ahead of the Oakland A’s. The White Sox’s number puts it on par with most syndicated programming in the Chicago market.

Last year’s AL champion Cleveland Indians finished first with a 9.2, surging 30 percent from last year while the Kansas City Royals ranked second with an 8.4. The Yankees success paid off nicely with a huge 56 percent jump year-to-year, landing in ninth place. The biggest decline? The Miami Marlins, finishing 26th with a 1.3 rating, down 30 percent.

As for the National League Championship series between the Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Game 1 Saturday did an 18.1 locally on TBS; game 2 did a 19.3. Both however, were down from last year when the Cubs faced the same team. Nationally, Game 2 the game drew 6.8 million viewers. [link]

As of this writing, the Cubs are down 3-0 in the series.

The Chicago Bears announced this week an extension of their relationship with the Fox duopoly of WFLD-TV and CW affiliate WPWR-TV for another five years. The new deal continues non-nationally televised pre-season games for the team and the renewal of Bears GameDay Live and Bears Gamenight Live on WFLD. The deal also renews weekly magazine show Inside The Bears, which airs on both stations year-around.

In addition to the above, the Bears are adding a new postgame show and a half-hour weekly Friday night program next season, plus draft-related specials, a season-preview show, and a season wrap-up show.

The team produces all of their product for the Fox duopoly, with the exception of Fox 32 kickoff, which is produced by the station. Most regular-season Bears games airs on WFLD as its parent network has rights to the National Football Conference games, but in recent years, more of those telecasts have been flexed to and/or scheduled for CBS, including this Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

Even though several Fox O&Os have dropped the branding, My Network TV has been reupped by the station group through 2020. The programming service currently is cleared in 97 percent of the country, with 181 stations on board.

My Network TV “checkerboards” five off-network series: Law & Order: SVU on Mondays; The X Files on Tuesday; Dateline on Wednesday; Law & Order: Criminal Intent on Thursday; and American Ninja Warrior on Friday. Four of the five series on My Network TV’s lineup are from NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution, with X-Files the lone Twentieth show on the schedule.

As reported by Broadcasting & Cable this week, Dateline has improved the time period rating and share of the previous Wednesday occupant, the now-canceled (at least in syndication) Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.

Even though the block is fed in pattern to stations from 8 to 10 p.m. ET, many stations delay or break up the block for newscasts (the case with WDCA in Washington D.C.) or other syndicated programming (Los Angeles’ KCOP and Philadelphia’s WPHL.) Since WPWR became a CW affiliate last year, the start of My Network TV’s programming block has been delayed until 9 p.m.

As”MeToo” became a hashtag for women to discuss sexual harassment on social media, the phrase has an uncanny connection to Chicago TV. A few years ago, there was a local digital subchannel called MeToo – as a spin-off of classic TV diginet MeTV. Launched by Weigel Broadcasting in March 2008, MeToo – like MeTV, was a classic TV destination available on WCIU digital channel 26.4 and low-power WMEU-CA. Weigel closed the channel in December 2014 so the frequency could become an affiliate of Weigel’s new Heroes & Icons diginet.

The odd part about this is MeToo once aired reruns of The Cosby Show – and continued to do so after allegations of Bill Cosby’s treatment toward women came to light. The show was dropped in the format change.

The MeToo hashtag was created by Tarana Burke to encourage women to share stories on sexual harassment in light of allegations made by several women against film mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was fired from his own company and was expelled by his peers at the Academy. The controversy has shook Hollywood to its core, with many people – both women AND men – sharing stories of sexual harassment, sexual assault, unwanted advances, and even rape. Last Friday, many women took part in a Twitter boycott staying off the social media platform for the day after actress Rose McGowan’s account was suspended after she tweeted out a private phone number.

In a jaw-dropping piece posted Wednesday, former Chicago Tribune and current Variety TV critic Maureen Ryan shared her own story of sexual assault in the industry.

For the record, this post is not meant to trivialize the subject, but to point out the strange coincidence the MeToo campaign has to Chicago TV. As for the hashtag, this is a good conversation to have and is long overdue. It’s too bad it took a scumbag like Harvey Weinstein for this discussion to take place. This type of behavior should not be tolerated at anyplace, anywhere, or anytime.

[An earlier post incorrectly credited the founding of the MeToo movement to Alyssa Milano. – T.H.]