What to look for and who to watch in 2021

Bill Leff and Toony The Tuna (left) are the ones to watch in 2021. (MeTV)

New year, new administration brings changes

When 2021 started, we had hope in a new year.

But it looks like we’re going to spending a lot of time cleaning up the messes of 2020. 

For one, we had an insurrection in Washington D.C.  just six days in the new year, as white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups descended on the Capitol to protest the Presidential election results. Not to mention we’re still dealing with a deadly coronavirus pandemic which has claimed 300,000+ lives. 

Happy new year. 

But there is hope on the horizon, such as a vaccine being rolled out (slowly) and (thankfully) and a new administration in D.C., after four hellscape years under the buffoon-in-chief. So let’s see what in tap in media for 2021 and as always, we’ll check back at the end of the year to see how we did

1. MeTV’s Toon In With Me. So far, the new Bill Leff-hosted retro cartoon show on MeTV – reminiscent of such fare in the 1960s and 1970s, has gotten off to a surprisingly  good start with the January 4 premiere drawing 500,000 viewers nationally. And think about this…it drew more viewers at 6 a.m. (CT) than WGN America’s NewsNation did in prime-time.

2. Who will be the new FCC chair? After four years of suffering from Ajit Pai’s arrogance, maybe we’ll have an FCC Chairman who works for consumers, not big telecommunication companies.

3. How will businesses bounce back from the pandemic? Assuming most people get vaccinated, we’ll see how quickly the business community – locally and nationally – and media included – can bounce back.

4. Chicago’s Hip-Hop stations. 2020 was a forgettable year for media, perhaps more so for Hip-Hop stations who are losing steam – especially Power 92/WPWX and WGCI, as the formerly top-rated station sunk to new ratings lows not seen in nearly four-and-a-half decades. Are there going to be changes?

5. How will the Chicago Tribune look under the new Alden regime. The hedge-fund managers are expected to take over the storied paper this year and departures are already taking place – notably architecture critic Blair Kamin.

6. The Tokyo Olympics – one year later. The Summer Games were postponed last year due to the pandemic, so will viewers tune in to an event not usually seen in odd-number years?

7. What impact will former President Donald Trump have. After last week’s sh**show at the Capitol and being stripped of his social media credentials, it remains to be seen what impact he’ll have on the Republican Party, who not only lost the White House, but also both houses of Congress. 

8. The Supreme Court decides the FCC’s media ownership rules. A lasting impact of Pai’s legacy is being heard at the court later this month and a decision is due in July. There is a lot at stake as the Justices’ ruling will determine how media proceeds in the future. 

9. How will gambling impact sports telecasts. Bally’s takeover of the former Fox Sports regional channels would be interesting, if to see how they can integrate gambling information into the broadcasts. Even more so, if these channels can get back onto the streaming services (Hulu + Live TV, Fubo, YouTube TV) who dropped them.

10. More streaming services are on the way. With the successful launch of HBO Max and Peacock, 2021 should see some more streaming services go online, including the recent launch of Discovery Plus and the rebranding of CBS All Access as Paramount Plus. Is a shakeout coming?

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