The Media Notepad: Stanley Cup Game 7 scores for ABC

The Florida Panthers clinch their first-ever Stanley Cup. (Creator: Dave Sandford. Credit: NHLI via Getty Images. Copyright:2024 NHLI.)

Also: Kenya Moore out at Housewives; Fox and Sinclair team up for new syndicated true crime show; Paramount looking to sell assets

Even though the recent NBA Finals naturally drew a larger audience on average, the excitement of the Stanley Cup Final was unparalleled as the series lasted seven games with historic implications.

The Edmonton Oilers – who won four Stanley Cups with Wayne Gretzky in the 1980s and another one in 1990, stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to force a Game 7 against the Florida Panthers Monday night and perhaps pulling off the unthinkable – coming back to win the Stanley Cup by winning four straight – something that hasn’t happened since 1942, before the modern media era.

But despite a strong performance from Oilers star Connor McDavid, it wasn’t to be as the Panthers skated away with the Cup, winning 2-1 and clinching its first title in its 30-year history.

And ABC was a winner, too with Game 7 drawing 7.66 million viewers – the largest draw in five years (since Bruins-Blues in 2019 on NBC) and peaked in the final quarter-hour of primetime with 10.3 million. ABC averaged 4.2 million for all seven games –  up 58 percent from last year’s series on TNT featuring the Panthers and Golden Knights, but down nine percent from 2022’s Lightning-Avalanche series, which went six.

Local numbers for Miami’s WPLG, the Berkshire Hathaway-owned ABC affiliate that carried all seven Panthers, weren’t available.

With a Canadian team in the Final, numbers for SportsNet/CBC/TVA Sports in Canada drew were strong, with a combined 16.3 million viewers – the most watched since 2011 when the Canucks and Bruins played in the Stanley Cup Final, with Boston winning in seven. Overall, the Stanley Cup Playoffs were up 25 percent from the 2023 edition, a huge win for the NHL.

ABC’s coverage received mixed reviews – especially with play-by-play man Sean McDonough, but the lineup of Steve Levy, Mark Messier, and PK Subban was solid. Viewers did complain about the numerous sound drop-offs due to “fleeting expletives” during the Stanley Cup celebration (which also happened during the NBA Finals trophy ceremony) including a long fifteen-second pause after McDavid was announced as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, a “Nipplegate”-era policy dating back to the mid-2000s and praised by the Parents Television Council after the 2010 NBA Finals.

With the Cup win, the NFL’s Miami Dolphins are now the South Florida team with the longest title drought among the area’s four major sports teams, with the last championship in 1974 when they won Super Bowl VIII.

In a last-minute announcement, Trifecta Entertainment is bringing half-hour strip Crime Expose with Nancy O’Dell to market with eleven Fox-owned and 52 Sinclair stations on board in all-barter deals, including Chicago’s Fox 32 and My 50, premiering Sept. 23.

Crime Expose is also cleared on the CBS, Gray, Tegna, Scripps, and Mission station groups, totaling 95 percent of the U.S.

“Finally bringing daily original true crime to first-run syndication always made sense knowing the audience was there,said Scott Sternberg, a longtime syndication veteran whose company is producing the show along with Tornante Productions, headed by former Walt Disney Co. chairman Michael Eisner. “[And] to have our host, Nancy O’Dell, beloved in syndication, and who started as an investigative reporter, completed the puzzle.”

For Nancy O’Dell, this marks a return to daily television for the former Access: Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight co-host.

“What an honor it is to be returning to daily television, especially with this amazing team of true professionals and experts in the crime space,” O’Dell said. “I started my TV career as a crime reporter and investigative journalist, so it is a full circle moment for me to return to my roots with this compelling show.”

Trifecta already produces iCRIME with Elizabeth Vargas, which is renewed for a third season this fall. Crime Expose joins Warner Bros. True Crime News on Fox stations this fall, focusing on one case per episode.

The addition of Crime Expose comes as true crime programming continues to be successful for local stations, networks, and streamers as I examined in an October 2017 article. Six years later, there is room for more.

With the planned merger with Skydance off, executives at Paramount Global are looking for ways to pair down $500 million in debt as the conglomerate has hired bankers to sell off assets. The news was revealed in a town hall meeting with the company’s newly-named CEOs on the Paramount lot in Los Angeles. 

At the meeting, the company revealed its operating income (before depreciation and amortization) fell 61 percent between 2018 and 2023.

“We’re looking at selling certain Paramount-owned assets — in fact, we’ve already hired bankers to assist us in this process — and we’ll use the proceeds to help pay down debt and strengthen our balance sheet”, said co-CEO George Cheeks, who along with fellow CEOs Brian Robbins and Chris McCarthy.

One could be BET, who could fetch about a billion in the open market, and had an offer from Byron Allen last December.

Another could be the non-CBS stations, i.e. Paramount’s thirteen independent stations – with all but three in duopolies, especially in large markets in blue states. While it is easier to sell their three standalone stations in Atlanta, Seattle, and Tampa-St. Petersburg – each with ties to the former UPN Viacom and then CBS Corp. once owned, their duopolies might be harder to unwind. Plus, their Los Angeles station (KCAL) is a strong performer – so strong, the “KCAL News” brand is used for sister station KCBS-TV’s newscasts.

In Chicago, Paramount Global owns CBS 2 (WBBM-TV), its only property in the Windy City.

Paramount is also looking to lay off more workers, utilize efficient resources, and eliminate duplicating functions as a timetable was not determined for when these cuts would take place. This week, Paramount pulled the plug on several websites including its entire archive from MTV News dating back two decades, and shut down its Comedy Central and TV Land portals.

On the upside, Paramount’s revenue drew thirteen percent during the same period as the company is looking to grow its Paramount Plus streamer, which continually lags behind its peers. Though Paramount lost $286 million on Plus, its subscriber base rose from 67.5 million to 71 million, quarter-to-quarter. The company is also looking to form partnerships overseas to “significantly transform the scale and economics of the service, making it profitable and driving long-term value,” co-CEO McCarthy said.

Last, and certainly least, there was another cast shake-up recently in Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta (yes, it’s still on the air) with the recent departure of Kenya Moore after a bizarre incident.

While at an event for one of Moore’s business ventures in Atlanta, sexually explicit pictures of new cast member Brittany Eady were allegedly shown, caught by cameras from the show. The incident was described as “revenge porn” and images were leaked online as Moore denied the allegations.

“I would never engage in revenge porn, I have never distributed private images or footage of anyone, nor solicited images owned by others to use to threaten or blackmail,” said Moore on X/Twitter, via Deadline.

Bravo suspended Moore after the video was made public, but didn’t fire her so we’re guessing her departure was probably mutually agreed upon as the cable network is leaving the door open for a possible return. Moore is reportedly looking to take legal action as Bravo was concerned if she broke any laws given “revenge porn” is illegal in some quarters.

As you recall, this space featured a scathing takedown of Moore on two occasions in 2014 over her behavior on RHOA and the show in general, calling her a “general bullshitter” who should work for then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who blocked my site on Twitter (I recalled this incident recently after I wrote a similar scathing review of new White Sox announcer John Schriffen.) Several cast members have exited RHOA over the years (including Nene Leakes and Kandi Burress) as ratings declined due to the show’s age and the overall shift to streaming (Peacock airs all Real Housewives programming.)

Crowned Miss USA in 1993, Moore was a model and actress before transiting into reality TV. She was most recently featured on Dancing With The Stars and Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test and appeared in a DirecTV Real Housewives ad campaign in 2022. Ironically, Moore appeared on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice who once owned the Miss USA organization, though Moore was crowned years before Trump bought the pageant.

As for Moore’s next move, the “general BSer” position is no longer available given Rahm isn’t mayor anymore. But if her business ventures don’t work out (they’ll go bankrupt sooner or later), maybe there’s a similar gig available in south suburban Dolton Mayor Tiffany Henyard’s administration – you know, before she goes to jail.


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