The Media Notepad: Summer vacation starts early for NBA, NHL


Short series ends basketball and hockey seasons early. Also: updates on “Springer”, “CrimeWatch”

Even without the Chicago Blackhawks and other big-market original six teams, the NHL Stanley Cup Final was a big hit for NBC. According to Nielsen, Game 5 of the Final with the Washington Capitals clinching their first-ever title over the first-ever Las Vegas Golden Knights drew a 5.0 Nielsen overnight live same-day household rating, up 61 percent from last year’s Game 5 Penguins-Predators series. It was the highest-rated Game 5 in eighteen years, dating back to New Jersey Stars playing against the then-defending Dallas Stars Final on ABC. Finals pegged the game at 3.9.

Among adults 18-49, the Capitals-Golden Knights game mowed down the competition, including Fox’s heavily hyped season Premiere of inane music competition series The Four, which has to be one of the worst shows currently on TV.

In Las Vegas, Game 5 drew a 27.6 leading all markets. In Washington where NBC owns WRC-TV, the game drew a record-breaking 25.2 Nielsen rating. Baltimore – who shares a few southern suburbs with the D.C. market, came in with a 12.5 rating for Hearst’s WBAL. Richmond finished fourth with an 11.4 for Raycom’s WWBT – a record for an NHL game in the market.

Overall, the Final drew a 2.7 rating for the five games, flat from last year’s matchups and up 3 percent in viewership and drew an average of 117,000 viewers on NBC Sports’ digital platforms, including streaming.

The Final hit a three-year high in ratings – the most since the Blackhawks’ 2015 Stanley Cup win.

The Capitals and the Warriors each held their victory parades on Tuesday, June 12. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Also done for the year early is the NBA Finals – though this year’s edition was about as exciting as watching grass grow. The matchup featured the Cleveland Cavaliers and the defending champion Golden State Warriors for the fourth straight year and despite some ridiculous fawning from the press about what a “ratings success” it was, the Finals were actually down from last year.

The game four clincher seeing the Warriors win their fourth title – three of them in the last four years – saw a metered-market live-same day household rating of 11.2, the lowest rated NBA Finals game in three years and the lowest finals clincher in thirty years. The last time there was a four-game NBA Finals sweep was in 2007 when the San Antonio Spurs swept Cleveland, who also had Lebron James. The entire series drew 17.7 million viewers, down 14 percent from last year and for the second year in a row, failed to outdraw the World Series (18.9 million for Dodgers-Astros.)

On the bright side, the NBA Finals dominated the competition every night it was on the air, but that was expected. And the 17.7 million was more than double the 9 million Spurs-Cavs had in 2007, the lowest NBA Finals on record. The Finals drew a 6.3 rating in the key 18-49 demo, down 12 percent from last year but easily topped everything else on TV for the week.

It appears viewers were fatigued from seeing the same two teams for the last few years – although it isn’t likely you’ll see Cleveland in the Finals mix next year as James weighs his options on who he’ll be playing for next season as Cleveland was a number four seed this year, playing in a lackluster conference, seeing both the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors implode in classic fashion during the playoffs.

The NBA and NHL seasons are now officially in the books for 2017-18, ending earlier than expected. But fear not sports fans – the FIFA World Cup begins today on Fox and Telemundo.

As first reported by Broadcasting & Cable, NBCUniversal Television Distribution announced it is bringing back Jerry Springer, Steve Wilkos, and Maury for two more seasons – but there is a twist involved. Springer is going into production hiatus next season as reruns of the show were purchased by The CW to replace the hour now occupied by the now-canceled Robert Irvine Show. But The CW has an option to bring Springer back into original production if they choose to.

Springer is expected to remain in broadcast syndication, also in reruns. (Editor’s note: Cincinnati media blogger John Kiesewetter said the show is being pulled from broadcast syndication, which means it would exit WCIU, “Springer’s” current Chicago rights holder.)

The deal is perfect for many large-market Tribune stations since many are CW affiliates and most air all three shows in a programming block. But in Chicago, only Maury airs on Tribune-owned WGN-TV at 1 p.m. weekdays, while Springer and Wilkos air on Weigel’s WCIU. Wilkos airs at 10 a.m. on WCIU and 5 p.m. on The U Too; Springer at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the same channels, with an additional Saturday 7 p.m. airing on U Too. All three shows are produced in Stamford, Conn; both Wilkos and Springer were produced in Chicago at the NBC Tower until 2009.

Fox’s WPWR-TV is Chicago’s CW affiliate; Springer aired on the station for a few years until 2010 when it moved to WCIU.

In the past, all three shows were traditionally renewed for two-year deals near the time NATPE takes place; but the impending Tribune-Sinclair sale threw those plans out of whack.

The new programming arrangement was announced on the same day NBCUniversal parent Comcast made a $65 billion bid to buy most of 21st Century Fox, topping an earlier $52 billion offer from Disney. Comcast made the move after a judge rejected the Justice Department’s complaint about the AT&T-TimeWarner deal and approved the merger. Should Comcast prevail, the Philadelphia-based company would have the world’s biggest programming TV library consisting of product from NBCUniversal and Twentieth Television.

With a pink slip handed to it by Sinclair and Tribune groups for another show, it’s likely curtains for Warner Bros.’ CrimeWatch Daily With Chris Hansen after three seasons. Both groups announced in January they were dropping the show this September for True Crime Files, featuring repackaged episodes originally aired on Investigation Discovery (also known as Discovery ID) under different titles. In lieu of striking a deal with a third-party to handle station sales, Discovery is distributing the show itself.

CrimeWatch airs weekdays at 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. on WGN and has picked up the new True Crime Files up for this fall. (Editor’s Note: WCIU bought the show instead, even though numerous trade publications reported a Tribune deal.)  CrimeWatch earned a 0.9 household rating during May – a number good enough for renewal, but the decision was already made. Warner was hoping to shop the show to other station groups, but reportedly found no takers.

CrimeWatch Daily originally featured day-and-date stories about numerous crimes committed around the country, plus undercover investigation segments. But the tone of the series changed drastically in the show’s second season when former Dateline NBC host Chris Hansen came on board, focusing more on true crime stories. Ironically, reruns of Hansen’s former series popped in syndication this past year and became a surprise ratings hit, surpassing CrimeWatch.

Syndication, cable, and digital networks are cluttered with programs in the true crime genre, as this blog reported last fall. Current entries include Corrupt Crimes, Forensic Files, and American Greed.

In other syndication news, Fox-owned WPWR upgraded Twentieth TV’s Top 30 from midnight to 4 p.m. last week.

Updated on 2018-09-03.