No contest: ABC, WLS-TV dominate New Year’s Eve programming

NBC 5, other networks could not compete

Like the New England Patriots bumrushing over everyone in the NFL, the competition was no match for the Mouse House with Ryan Seacrest, Jenny McCarthy, Janet Davies, and Cheryl Scott.

ABC and its owned-and-operated station in Chicago on New Year’s Eve  on Sunday night performed a ratings clinic – a complete total domination of the competition.

As reported by Robert Feder Tuesday, WLS-TV’s (ABC 7) Countdown Chicago posted an eye-popping 16.8 household rating and 39 share, up 36 percent from 2016’s show, which aired on a Saturday night.

By comparison, NBC-owned WMAQ-TV’s (NBC 5) New Year’s Eve special could only draw a 5/8 – down 48 percent from last year, when the now-defunct Chi-Town Rising aired in the slot. NBC 5 decided to continue producing the show despite the absence of the event, co-hosted by WKSC-FM morning personality Christopher Frederick (Brotha Fred), Marley Kayden and  Kalee Dionne (on Twitter, I mistakenly thought Fred’s morning co-host Angi Taylor was also hosting.)

Every other station in town ran their regular Sunday night programming, with the execption of Fox-owned WFLD, airing Steve Harvey’s special on a delayed basis (more on that in a moment.)

On a national basis, ratings for ABC’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve saw a big ratings boost from last year as reported by Deadline and Variety – earning a 3.1/13 in adults 18-49 and 10.5 million viewers for the 8-10 p.m. ET portion, up 63 percent from last year. The tally rose to 15.7 million viewers and a 5.0/20 in the 18-49 demo, up 35 percent and 39 percent, respectively. The 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET segment featuring Mariah Carey’s performance and the ball drop earned a whopping 8.2 rating in adults 18-49. The huge Rockin’ lead-in no doubt helped ABC 7 achieve ratings success for Countdown Chicago.

South Korean boy band BTS performs on “Rockin’ Eve”.

New Year’s Rockin Eve completely swamped Fox’s New Year’s Eve special, replacing Pitbull with Steve Harvey. However, ratings were up from last year in the 8-10 p.m. portion, drawing 8.5 million viewers and a 2.9 adult demo rating, up 85 percent and 71 percent, respectively from 2016. The late-night portion of the special was delayed locally for an hour due to WFLD’s Bears recap programming (really?), but it’s hard to imagine anyone in Chicago tuning in for Harvey regardless if it were live or not.

The other networks were in repeats, including NBC, who saw its Sunday night football game taken away at the last minute as the NFL decided not to schedule a game in primetime.

Since Guy Lombardo’s New Year’s Eve specials went away some time ago, television on the night has become more of the train-wreck variety (as early as 1979), and this year was no different as people on social media rightfully point out. Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy were right at home, with their annoying presence being felt and made the humanoids watching feel right at home. After last year’s disastrous performance, Carey performed admirably. But perhaps the most disgusting aspect of the evening when CNN’s Don Lemon taking a hit from a bong on live TV- why is this man still employed is anyone’s guess.

As for the pre-taped portions of New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, Fergie’s (Stacy Ferguson’s) presence as host was sorely missed as Ciara’s skills as presenter leaves little to be desired.

Locally, the train-wreck aspect was fully on display – especially on Countdown Chicago. Viewers were treated (or tricked) to a dance-off, a performance from The BoDeans (who did the theme from Party Of Five – wow, what a major name!) and way too many people with no rhythm dancing. When the clock struck midnight, NBC 5 showed fireworks from Navy Pier, while ABC 7 had people celebrating from ballrooms across the city.

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn also reviewed the festivities Tuesday in his column, and his reaction was more along the lines of “yes, we can do a worst job than the network guys.”

Despite the usual bashing from on Twitter, viewers still tuned in for the festivities, as both Rockin’ Eve and Countdown Chicago were the most-watched non-sports programs this week in Chicago. It demonstrates the power of television and how the medium still plays an important role in our lives – regardless of how good or bad it is.

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