Comic-Con Notepad: Vol. 1

Long lines are the norm for Comic-Con (this photo is from 2014, but makes no difference.)

– Line here, line there, everywhere a line.

– The CW’s Originals to end

– Zachary Levi passes test in greatly improved SyFy Comic-Con show

– Halle Berry makes a memorable appearance

The 48th annual Comic-Con got underway Thursday in San Diego and early on, it seems the only thing yours truly was getting in his Twitter feed was people standing in long lines and seeing the sight of sparsely-populated ballrooms as some attractions were obviously more popular than others. Certainly, not a good start for something you see every day at the DMV. But many popular panels generally take place on Friday and Saturday, so don’t despair.


Last year, news broke during Comic-Con about the end of CW’s The Vampire Diaries after eight seasons. A year later, the spin-off series (The Originals) is meeting the same fate. Just before its Comic-Con panel was set to take place, showrunner Julie Plec announced the series would be ending after five seasons as it starts shooting on Monday. “It’s both a gift and a burden to be able to control the ending of a series,” said Plec, who posted a statement on Twitter:

The Originals premiered on October 3, 2013. The series finale’ date has yet to be scheduled.


MGM announced Thursday during a panel celebrating the show’s 20th anniversary, it was reviving Stargate as a digital property – as prequels. Titled Stargate: Origins, the series consists of ten minute minisodes with ten installments ordered for the first season exclusively on the Stargate Command website. MGM said the website would be a destination for “everything Stargate“, including episodes of Stargate SG-1 and spinoff Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate Universe, which was abruptly canceled by SyFy in 2011 as the series (which was less successful than the previous two) ended in a cliffhanger. SG1 reruns airs on diginet This TV, which is owned by MGM.

In a statement, MGM president of digital and new platforms Kevin Conroy said: “We’ve been eager to revisit the Stargate franchise and create an all-new story that honors the founding mythos. We view Stargate Origins as a thank you to fans who have been keeping the spirit of the franchise alive for nearly 25 years.”

Based on the 1994 feature film Stargate, SG1 debuted on Showtime on July 27, 1997 featuring Richard Dean Anderson and lasted until 2007. The series also aired in syndication and moved to the Sci Fi channel (now SyFy) in 2002.


SyFy’s Live from Comic-Con returned for its second season Thursday night, with new host Zachary Levi in front of a large crowd outside of the gathering in San Diego. Aside from a meh-like opening sketch (aren’t we all tired of “The Office” parodies yet?), the show proceeded smoothly with Levi holding a roundtable discussing Comic-Con topics;  interviewing Adam Scott and Craig Robinson from Fox’s new comedy Ghosted; a segment featuring John DiMaggio (Bender from Futurama) and a reunion of the most recent version of Battlestar Galactica, who had their own panel at Comic-Con earlier.

Friday’s show featured Con Man’s Alan Tudyk and a few cast members from the The CW’s Arrow.

Zachary Levi is certainly an improvement over last year’s host Will Arnett. And Levi seemed at ease with his guests, proving he could host a talk show one day (if he wanted to.) This year’s edition also featured more correspondents roaming around the happenings at Comic-Con. The first two episodes were major improvements over last year’s uneven edition, which featured way too much NBCUniversal synergy (NBC is part owner of SyFy) and plugs for Sharknado.

Meanwhile, Comic-Con HQ opted not to do any live streaming from Comic-Con this year. No reason was given, but it isn’t a good look for the subscription on-demand service from Lionsgate, which sold part of its premise on streaming some Comic-Con coverage.


The panel for the upcoming release Kingsman: The Golden Circle Thursday was indeed a bizarre one, with Halle Berry drinking quite a bit of Whiskey and falling on her rear. This was alone worth the price of admission – or more likely, the price of standing in line for 500,000 days. “20th Century Fox would like you to drink responsibility,” said the moderator at the panel. As long as you don’t let Rupert Murdoch hold the keys to the liquor cabinet.

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San Diego Comic-Con is ready to roll

The 48th annual gathering in San Diego has something for everyone – especially if you’re a TV fan

San Diego may have lost the Chargers, but they’re keeping the Con.

The city is preparing for the four-day festival known as San Diego Comic-Con, which starts tonight and runs for five days. The gathering began in a hotel basement in 1970 and grown to a huge event attracting people from around the world to see their favorite TV and movie stars, comic book writers, and getting a chance to dress up as their favorite character, known as “cosplaying”. As the San Diego Chargers bolted back to Los Angeles for next season due to a lack of a stadium deal (no pun intended),  the city signed an agreement to keep Comic-Con in town until at least 2021. 

In recent years, television has invaded the Con, and the studios and the major broadcast and cable networks are making it even more of a destination this year, with over 200 television shows holding panels, ranging from longtime favorites such as The Simpsons and Family Guy to newer programs such as Legion and Rick and Morty, and new fall entries, such as Inhumans and Star Trek: Discovery. Many of these shows plans to break news, show new footage, and take questions from the audience.

The most anticipated panels are of course, the most-talked about shows: Game Of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, and Marvel/Netflix’s new The Defenders. (even though it’s San Diego week on Wheel Of Fortune… sorry, no Comic-Con appearances are planned.)

The large number of course, is the reflection of the vast number of TV shows on the air, standing at over 400-plus.

Many of the major players in the comics space – Marvel, DC Comics, Fox, and others are expected to reveal movie trailers and hold panels featuring major movie stars. This marks a reversal from years past when studios (notably Marvel) were skipping Comic-Con entirely.

And the panels at Comic-Con aren’t just for TV and movies – other subjects are being showcased, too. There is a “Fashionably Nerdy” panel being held; one sponsored by Nerd For A Living featuring how one can break into the animation business; and numerous workshops on drawing, writing, and creating. Many of these non-TV/movie panels however, are being held in other venues around town and away from the convention floor. And even a few of the TV ones – such as Mystery Science Theater 3000’s panel, is being held at the off-site Horton Grand Theater.

There are other amenities for people at Comic-Con too – Microsoft is providing a “hololens” experience for Legion; Blade Runner plans to have a virtual reality experience, and numerous autograph sessions are being held.

Plus, you can buy a lot of merchandise at Comic-Con, ranging from your favorite comic books to Snoopy mugs. Think of it as the world’s biggest “nerd flea market” (or purveyor of junk, depending on your point of view.) However, one major comics reseller (Mile High Comics) has decided to skip the convention after 44 years. 

Television/Streaming coverage 

If you can’t make it to San Diego, television and streaming coverage is being planned for the first few days of the gathering. As reported here in May, NBCUniversal-owned SyFy is bringback back Live at Comic-Con for a second year with new host Zachary Levi (Chuck) for three nights, beginning at 7 p.m. Central Time. The format is staying the same from the previous year, with interviews, trailers, Comcast/Xfinity product placement and of course, a lot of Sharknado plugs, with the latest Sharknado movie premiering August 5 on SyFy with Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.

If you can’t stand that, then there’s live streaming coverage being provided by Marvel Live, which plans to be on the air from 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Central Time each day, with Sunday’s edition ending at 5 p.m. Meanwhile, Twitter is teaming with IGN to stream Comic-Con coverage. 

Comic-Con HQ, which inaugurated live streaming coverage for last year’s Comic-Con, hadn’t announced any live streaming plans for this year’s event at press time.

And, though they won’t likely cover the content at Comic-Con, San Diego’s news stations plans to cover the impact of the convention on the city, including traffic – both foot and vehicle. (keep in mind ex-CW affiliate XETV closed its news operation last spring and became an affiliate of Mexico’s Canal 5 network.)


As for Comic-Con coverage on this blog, there will be at least one or two daily recaps on the festivities and a review of SyFy’s Live At Comic-Con show. But the best way is to follow the blog on Twitter @tdogmedia for pictures, links, and of course, yours truly’s world-famous commentary.

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T Dog Media’s Notepad: ABC 7 leads in social media rankings

Tamron Hall seeking talk show; Hulu strikes deal for Bob’s Burgers, Futurama, and more; DuckTales returns on Aug. 12

 

Now you can add social media to ABC 7’s dominance: according to Share Rocket data over the last thirty days, the ABC-owned station ranks first in social media usage with an overall share of 33.8, followed by Fox 32’s 31.2, and WGN-TV a distant third with a 21.9, as reported by TV Spy.

WLS-TV scored the social media hat trick, ranking first in Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram usage. Weather personality Cheryl Scott – who often drew scorn on a now-defunct message board – is the station’s most popular draw on Instagram, with a 5.29 share.

Share Rocket measured the market’s seven news stations and the rest of the bunch are as follows: NBC’s WMAQ ranked a distant fourth with a 6.6 share and Univision’s WGBO came in fifth with a 3.7. Ranking at the bottom are CBS’ WBBM with a 1.5 share and Telemundo’s WSNS ranked last with a 1.2. Given both WMAQ and WSNS are owned by NBCUniversal, their combined score is a 7.8, but still behind the three front-runners.

WFLD’s big social media presence is a bit of a surprise, given the station lags behind others in the Nielsen ratings.

Among individuals, WFLD’s Jenny Milkowski ranks first; followed by WGBO’s Ericka Pino and Erika Maldonado. WGN’s Marcus LeShock and Paul Konrad round out the top five, respectively. Both are part of the WGN Morning News team, whose show’s sub-page ranked first in the market.

Milwoski also ranked first on Facebook with more than 200,000 engagements.

It goes to show you – yes, social media works and is a must if you are in the news business.


The latest name in to surface in the daytime talk show “wars”? Tamron Hall, who left NBC’s Today Show last year after she was brushed aside for Megyn Kelly, whose new one-hour talk show debuts on September 25 on NBC at 9 a.m. The Weinstein Co. signed Hall to launch a new syndicated talk show, set to launch in September 2018. The company is looking for a distributor to sell the program to stations. As you know, Hall left the Today Show last spring when NBC signed Kelly to do a talk show at 9 a.m. – the same slot Tamron Hall and other Today co-hosts had.

This could be easier said than done: several syndicators (Disney, CBS, Warner Bros.) already have talk shows on the air – and Warner is still considering launch a talker with Drew Barrymore next year.  Given the failure of big-budget talk shows over the years, stations are hesitant to add any to their schedules. Though Megyn Kelly’s Sunday night newsmagazine has gotten off to a slow start (despite the much-ballyhooed Alex Jones interview), Kelly’s show is airing on the NBC, not in syndication and at 9 a.m. almost in every market. Kelly is going up against Live With Kelly (Ripa) and Ryan, whose ratings have dropped since adding Ryan Seacrest to the show back in April.

Also keep in mind at least to Chicago viewers, Hall was “the other woman” when she replaced Marianne Murciano opposite Bob Sirott on Fox-owned WFLD’s Fox Thing In The Morning, whose decline coincided with the rise of WGN’s morning newscast, which now is the market’s top morning show. Whether she (or Megyn Kelly) can sustain a talk show strip in this day and age is questionable at best as daytime viewership continues to fall.


If you are an adult animation fan, you might want to rethink your Netflix subscription: Hulu announced last week it has struck a deal with Twentieth Television for exclusive streaming rights to the complete library of Bob’s Burgers and Futurama episodes, with the former beginning immediately. Burgers had been streaming on Netflix exclusively until last year when the deal expired.

Also included in the deal are back episodes of The Cleveland Show and American Dad, the latter to start streaming on Hulu in a few weeks. Already, Hulu is exclusive streaming home to South Park, The Boondocks, and all past and present adult swim animated shows, including Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

The move comes as Netflix is letting many off-network series’ rights platform expire and is now focusing on movies and it vast number of original television series, including Orange Is The New Black, the upcoming Defenders, Fuller House, and animated wonder Bojack Horseman. However, Netflix continues to stream some off-net fare, including Marvel’s Agents of Shield and the original version of The Twilight Zone.

Recently, Warner Bros.’ launched Boomerang as an over-the-top service to showcase its library of classic animated series content.


The warm-up act for Comic-Con – otherwise known as the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif. took place this past weekend and the major attraction of the Disney/Marvel fanfest was the reboot of 1980s animated series DuckTales, which held a packed panel at the Anaheim Convention Center. At the panel, fans were treated to a sneak peek of the pilot to launch the TV series, which premieres August 12 on Disney XD and launches as a series on Sept. 23 as a weekly Saturday morning series (see the clip below.)

DuckTales premiered in syndication on September 18, 1987 and became the nucleus of The Disney Afternoon, which launched in September 1989 as an hour-block (paired with Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers) and expanded to two hours a year later with the addition of Tale Spin. DuckTales aired in the block until 1992, when it was replaced by Goof Troop.

DuckTales and The Disney Afternoon became a focal point of a war of words and a lawsuit between Disney and Fox, which started in late 1988 when Disney syndicator Buena Vista Television pulled Ducktales from Fox-owned stations in large markets (including WFLD-TV here) and moved it to Tribune stations (including WGN-TV) and others after Fox officials wouldn’t commit to the proposed block as the network planned to launched its own animated series block in September 1990. Roughly 65 Fox affiliates carried The Disney Afternoon – which were broken up and some shows bumped into less-desirable morning time slots. Disney sued Fox, claiming it was trying to undermine its product.

Fox and Disney settled their lawsuit in 1993. As children’s programming became less and less profitable as the ’90s wore on (WGN-TV left the daily children’s TV business in 1994), The Disney Afternoon became repackaged in 1997 and shortened to 90 minutes, and moved to UPN in 1999.

Fortunately, this new version of DuckTales won’t have that problem.

 

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Cubs, White Sox ratings stumble into All-Star break

Lackluster play continues trend of declining sports ratings locally

With the Cubs’ shockingly poor play and the White Sox’s rebuild (there’s that word again), it isn’t any surprise the ratings for both Chicago baseball teams are down from last year as both teams resume play after the All-Star break.

According to Crain’s Danny Ecker, the Cubs – who were 2016 World Series Champions, were down 14 percent from last year to a average 3.6 household Nielsen rating on NBCUniversal-owned CSN Chicago after 42 telecasts. This comes as the Cubs have gone into a surprising tailspin, with the team two games under .500 at the All-Star break. Last year at this time, the Cubs had the best record in baseball en route to their first World Series championship in 108 years.

The team’s play this year has been bad at times. Last Sunday, the Cubs fell behind 10-0 in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the way to a 14-3 loss.

Still, the number spaces higher than two years ago – and the 3.6 actually ranks better than most entertainment programming in the Chicago market – but this isn’t saying much.

Ratings for Cubs games on the team’s broadcast partners – WLS-TV and WGN-TV, were not available. But the cable number does paint a picture of how viewers are reacting to the team’s suddenly poor play. On June 26, a highly anticipated episode of The Bachelorette was delayed to late-night so WLS could air a games between the Cubs and the Washington Nationals, in a game the World Series champs got plastered in (for the record, The Bachelorette – with an African-American lead for the first time, is itself down from last year.)

The city’s absence from MLB All-Star Game (only two players were selected) was felt in the lackluster ratings for Tuesday night’s mid-summer classic – in the household overnights and in final ratings, it was beaten by NBC’s America’s Got Talent and World of Dance and two cable news networks managed to put up strong numbers opposite the game. As great a baseball market this is, Chicago didn’t even rank in the top-ten most watched. Kansas City ranked first among metered markets.

As for the White Sox, the ratings drop for this team was expected as the team is rebuilding. According to Crain’s, the games are averaging an abysmal 0.8 rating – down slightly from last year. The White Sox are on track once again to have the lowest ratings for any U.S.-based Major League Baseball team this season. Once again, ratings for WGN weren’t available, but you can imagine they’re not any better.

The disappointing ratings for the Cubs and White Sox comes as ratings for other Chicago sports teams suffered declining numbers in the past year, notably the Bulls and Blackhawks. Bears ratings in 2016 were down from 2015 and is not expected to be much of a draw next season. As I noted in a previous piece, Chicago sports fans – especially casual ones – are heading toward the exits for other programming as Chicago teams are planning to rebuild for the long haul. Unless they’re die-hard fans, viewers aren’t likely to stick around to watch a team “tank”. This is going to be a huge challenge for CSN Chicago as it tries to market a Bulls team that is projected to lose more than 50 games next season – something not seen since the immediate Post-Jordan era (and the late 1970’s/early 1980s, when Bulls TV ratings and for the NBA in general were barely visible.)

The numbers are also disappointing for advertisers, who were banking on reaching viewers with live local sports as more and more people are time-shifting non-sports programming via DVR or watching online.

Chicago baseball ratings don’t look as dire as they were in 2014 when both the Cubs and the White Sox ranked in the bottom five among MLB teams – but that’s mostly due to higher numbers from the Cubs now compared to then. With Chicago sports in rebuild mode for the most part, Chicagoans better make sure those Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime subscriptions are up-to date.

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Victory is his: Eisendrath wins bidding for Sun-Times

(Editor’s Note: Updated from an earlier post.)

Meet the man who saved the Sun-times – and perhaps journalism in Chicago.

On Wednesday, former Chicago Alderman Edwin Eisendrath and a group of investors won out over Chicago Tribune owner tronc to buy the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader from Wrapports for a disclosed price.

Among the investors identified include the Chicago Federation Of Labor, several other labor groups, and restructuring expert Bill Brandt. Other investors, revealed Thursday include recently retired news anchor Linda Yu; SEIU, and Eisendrath’s brother John, a TV producer and writer whose credits include Beverly Hills 90210, Alias, and most recently, The Blacklist.

For the Federation Of Labor, this marks their first venture into media ownership since owning WCFL-AM (now WMVP-AM/ESPN 1000.)

More information on the purchase was divulged Thursday afternoon in a press conference. Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez said the unions would not interfere with content, including news reporting and endorsing political candidates. The company is moving to new digs in the West Loop where Answers Media is located – another company recently acquired by Eisendrath. The move is expected to be completed by late fall when the Sun-Times lease at a River North office building is up.

Jim Kirk, who further explained the deal on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight Thursday, is being retained as Editor-In-Chief.

The transaction won the blessing of the Department Of Justice’s Anti-Trust division, who ordered Wrapports to find more buyers for the beleaguered paper as the company proposed to sell it to tronc, owner of the Chicago Tribune. In recent days, Wrapports threatened to shut the paper if the Eisendrath bid didn’t go through and the DOJ would not let tronc purchase the publication. Eisendrath had until July 10 to secure $11 million to cover operating expenses.

Had Wrapports sold the paper to tronc and approved the move, it would have left Chicago with just one owner running two outfits, despite Wrapports’ promises it would keep the papers’ content separate. The deal was opposed by the Chicago News Guild, a union for the Sun-Times and several anti-media consolidation groups.

In addition, tronc will continue to honor the 25-year agreement to print and distribute the Sun-times.

The acquisition of the paper by Eisendrath and his investment group is certainly a victory for the city and the Chicago market in general, at the time when the free press is being scrutinized and curtailed.

Eisendrath is a former Chicago Alderman who headed the 43rd Ward covering the North Side Lincoln Park neighborhood between 1987 and 1993. He made an unsuccessful run for Governor in 2006, when he lost to Rod Blagoveich in the Democratic Primary. Earlier, Eisendrath ran an unsuccessful bid for Congress. Since, Eisendrath has become a successful businessman, as managing partner of an Ohio-based enterprise development company.

On Wednesday, Eisendrath said in a statement: “Our investors include more than half a million hardworking people around Chicago, and you can bet we’ll be talking with a voice that resonates with the working class. We’re going to organize around that to raise circulation.”

There is no doubt the direction of the paper is to appeal to working-class Democrats – appealing to the anti-Trump crowd, which there is plenty to go around in the Chicago area. But in an era where newspapers continue to losing ground to other media and the median age of those reading one continues to grow, the new Sun-Times owners have their work cut out for them if they want to turn a profit.

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Sun-Times’ future hangs in the balance

Things are starting to get desperate at Wrapports.

As reported by Crain’s Friday, the owner of the Sun-Times is giving a group led by former Alderman Edward Eisendath until today to submit a bid to buy the paper. If not, it would pursue a merger with tronc, as planned. If the Justice Department blocks the deal, Wrapports says it would close the paper.

Tronc owns rival the Chicago Tribune, and also owns numerous suburban newspapers it bought from Wrapports several years ago, including the Daily Southtown.

The Justice Department urged Wrapports to seek other bidders other than tronc for the paper. So far, there have been few takers, mainly due to the operating losses the paper has racked up.

Wrapports had been losing money on the paper for years – $4.5 million annually, according to Crain’s.

“If they’re not going to be ready on Monday, we’re moving on,” said Brad Bulkley, an investment banker handling negotiations for Wrapports.

This basically means the Eisendath bid may be the only way to keep Chicago a pure two-paper town. If tronc is allowed to buy its rival, tronc pledged to keep the operations separate. If not, the paper could close – leaving Chicago the largest market in the country with just one newspaper serving the entire metropolitan area.

Meanwhile, millionaire and restructionist Bill Brandt said he was investing nearly $2 million of his money into Eisendath’s bid to keep the Sun-Times alive. In an interview with Crain’s, Brandt said his purchase was a “civic duty”. Crain’s also note Brandt’s feelings for the rival Chicago Tribune are basically “fit to only line a bird cage”.

Ouch.

What we’re seeing here is another media company using what we call the “doomsday scenario” card – something we know all too well here in Chicago. It was used numerous times in the last decade when the Chicago Transit Authority threatened service cuts if it didn’t get money from the state government. In recent years, Fox and Univision each used the doomsday scenario card – threatening to move its entertainment programming to cable if Aereo – a company specializing in using dime-size antennas to view and record live programming on Internet-connected devices without consent from the broadcast networks or copyright holders. The Supreme Court ruled against the now-defunct company, which subsequently filed for bankruptcy.

The situation comes at a time as the press has come under attack by the White House and President Trump specifically, with the commander-in-chief slamming the Fifth Estate on Twitter every other day, including the New York Times and Washington Post, often labeling them and others “fake news”. Brandt told Crain’s a free press hasn’t been more important in the current political environment.

The dilemma also comes as Sinclair Broadcasting – a company known for its conservative leanings, is set to take over Chicago-based Tribune Media, owner of WGN-TV, WGN-AM, and television stations in 41 other markets. With Sinclair based in suburban Baltimore, the potential loss of the Sun-Times not only closes the door on a newspaper with over 100 years of history – it also would cost Chicago yet another locally-owned media voice at a time it cannot afford to lose more of.

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Wintrust Financial touts local radio

Locally-owned bank gets ad to run on 40-plus stations at the same time 

: 51 p.m.    Chicago radio listeners, another “roadblock” is taking place.

But unlike the last one, this one is much shorter – and probably more enjoyable to listen to.

On Monday, forty members of the Radio Broadcasters of Chicagoland plan to air a single, sixty-second ad for  Rosemont-based Wintrust Financial Co. simultaneously at 4:29 p.m. Central Time, according to Chicago Business Journal. The ad features CEO Ed Wehmer on why the medium of radio is very effective for his business. Wintrust is one of Chicago’s largest locally-owned financial institutions, and is a major sponsor of both the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. Wintrust is also a sponsor of WGN-AM’s Noon business show, The Wintrust Business Lunch.

No money changed hands in the deal.

Werher said: “Wintrust is the second largest bank holding company headquartered in Chicago, and it’s very important for us to connect with the local community. Radio ties it all together for Wintrust, and is the most important asset on the media side to achieve brand awareness.”

The Radio Broadcasters of Chicagoland consists of stations comprising of the iHeartMedia, Cumulus, CBS Radio, and Hubbard groups, plus WGN-AM.

Wintrust officials obviously believe in the power of radio, despite numerous problems hampering the medium as many listeners have abandoned the medium for other alternatives amid the usual complaints (too many commercials, tight playlists, right-wing talk, incompetent executives, etc.) Still, radio has a stronger reach than any platform and is one of the reasons Wintrust continues to believe in it.

As you recall, the Radio Broadcasters of Chicagoland and the Illinois Broadcasters Association sponsored a roadblock last November featuring a half-hour interview with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was interviewed by Bill Kurtis and aired simultaneously on 47 radio stations across the metropolitan area and drew nearly a third of radio listeners, according to Nielsen. The idea and broadcast was praised by many radio insiders, but panned by many listeners, given the Mayor’s current popularity in Chicago, or lack thereof.

Yours truly praised the idea, but found the execution lacking.

(Updated at 9:51 p.m. to add no money was exchanged in deal.)

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T Dog’s Media Notepad: Landecker heads to the Radio Hall Of Fame

John Landecker (Eckhartz Press)

St. Louis, Milwaukee stations may be spun off by Sinclair sale while John Oliver takes on the company
Philadelphia radio station takes a shot a Taylor Swift; changes formats

Chicago radio legend John “Records” Landecker is getting a tremendous honor: an induction into the National Radio Hall Of Fame – on the first ballot. Landecker is being inducted into the shrine at the Museum of Broadcast Communications on November 2. In addition, Landecker is also having his book Records Is Truly My Middle Name updated with a new Hall of Fame edition, with an update on his post-radio life after he left WLS-FM two years ago. The re-release of the four-year old book is scheduled for October 23, and was co-written by his former WJMK morning producer, Rick Kaempfer.

Landecker was one of WLS-AM’s major personalities in its 1970’s heyday, with his nightly “Boogie Checks” heard in Chicago and around the country. His high-energy presentations back then certainly is the stuff of legends and certainly entertaining. Hear for yourself via this clip.

Landecker also was on the air at WCFL, WAGO/WCKG-FM and WJMK-FM. Landecker also has worked for radio stations in Toronto and Cleveland, where he is in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame.

And yes, Records is really his middle name.


Certainly in the spirit of Landecker: in a bizarre – but refreshing way of letting listeners know they are blowing up a radio station, Philadelphia’s WISX-FM (known as Mix 106.1) Thursday morning took a shot at Taylor Swift on-air and tossed its Mix 106.1 format and branding into the trash.

After Green Day’s Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) Played, morning host Chio Ascota (known on-air as Chio) said “We don’t want to be the same like all the others. There’s ten stations playing Taylor Swift. Do we really need another station playing that?” . The iHeartMedia-owned then started taking requests from listeners for any song they wanted to hear – and I mean any. Artists played include Linda Ronstandt, Metallica, and 69 Boyz’s Tootsie Roll. At the same time, WISX wiped its entire mix 106.1 branding from its website.

Then at Noon, WISX flipped to a Classic Hip-Hop/Urban Contemporary hybrid as Real 106.1, with the first song – appropriately enough – was the 1991 smash Summertime by Philly’s own D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. Core artists does include some current Hip-Hop and R&B hitmakers, include Rihanna, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Beyonce, and Eminem (listen to the change here.)

Here’s iHeartMedia Philadelphia Senior VP/Programming Brian Check:“We’re thrilled to launch a station that really represents Philly. We hear from our listeners all the time that this music is fun, infectious and timeless, so we can’t wait to bring these songs back to the airwaves.

Chio remains as morning host while the station is dropping Mario Lopez and Ryan Seacrest’s syndicated shows. Throughout its history, WISX has hosted several formats, including Easy Listening, Adult Contemporary, and most famously under WEGX (The Eagle) as a Contemporary Hits outlet, which helped take down WCAU-FM (now Oldies WOGL.) It is also where former WLUP personality Danny Bonaduce got his start in radio, post-Partridge Family fame.

WISX had been struggling in the ratings in recent years, which likely lead to the format flip, with the latest PPMs showing the station in 18th place. Real 106.1 is available outside Philadelphia thru iHeartRadio’s streaming platforms. And the best part for Philadelphia radio fans besides the elimination of an outlet for Taylor Swift’s “music”… no more Ryan Seacrest.


It looks like Sinclair Broadcasting may have to divest itself of a few stations as the company’s deal to buy Tribune Media moves forward as the merger gives the new union outright ownership of three stations in some markets. According to sources, the cities affected include Seattle, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, and the “triad” area surrounding Greensboro, among others.

For example, Tribune owns WITI in Milwaukee, but Sinclair owns the duopoly of WVTV and WCGV (though the latter station was sold in the incentive auction.) In St. Louis, Tribune owns KTVI and KPLR but Sinclair owns ABC affiliate KDNL.

The moves are being proposed as some parts of the transaction may violate the FCC’s station ownership rules with companies limited to owning two stations per market and as long as one of the stations isn’t among the four most-watched. But the moves may be made in order to avoid intervention by the Department of Justice, who frowned on Gannett (now Tegna) owning CBS affiliate KMOV and NBC affiliate KSDK in St. Louis after Gannett owner KSDK bought Belo, owner of KMOV and proposed the latter station sold to a shell company, as there were concerns over one company controlling too much ad revenue.

KMOV was later sold to Meredith Corp.


And speaking of Sinclair, Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver had some thoughts on the “company you never heard of…” overtaking local news around the country. Oliver has some solid points about their “must run” pieces and their “two political commentators”. And of course, the “Terrorism Alert Desk”. Yes, this is the same kind of stuff coming to “Chicago’s Very Own”, WGN-TV and other Tribune stations this fall. You can watch the video below – and please do:

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Get to know ION

Secrets of the company success: reruns, reruns and more reruns – oh, and the occasional original show

There is a network that often draw more viewers than The CW and Telemundo in any given week – and yet, it has the lowest profile of any major network.

And Ion likes it that way.

Ion Media is one of the beneficiaries of the recent FCC action of raising the national cap from 39 percent to 78 percent, by restoring the UHF discount. The network’s strategy? Purchasing reruns of procedural dramas (such as Blue Bloods, Law & Order, Criminal Minds, etc.) for little cost and “checkerboard” them (a different show each day) in a “binge” format (airing episodes continuously.) Given its large number of UHF stations it owns (if you count originally from the analog era), Ion was a big proponent of having the UHF discount reinstated after it was yanked by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler last year.

Ion rose from the ashes of the unsuccessful PAX network, which launched in 1998 under Lowell W. “Bud” Paxson, a former West Palm Beach television and radio station owner and born-again Christian in order to launch a family-friendly and religious-based network consisting mainly of off-network shows. Pax quickly bought up stations across the country, including former religious outlet WCFC-TV Channel 38 here (now WCPX, whose calls were once held by the CBS affiliate in Orlando, now WKMG.) The ministry moved its programming to cable via the newly-launched Total Living Network.

After being sued by NBC over its investment in the network, Pax went under some tumultuous years, resulting in the departure of Paxson as CEO in 2006 and replaced by Brandon Burgess, who remains there today. Pax became Ion Media Networks a year later, and changed its programming format in 2008, dropping the family-friendly fare for more mainstream programming while rebranding the network as Ion (the first rebrand was known as “i”, from 2005-07.) Ion’s been through bankruptcy twice, the last time in 2009.

Ion is unusual in a way it operates – like Pax, it doesn’t air syndicated programming in a traditional manner – instead, it operates under a 126-hour weekly schedule filled with mostly procedural dramas while scheduling infomercials and religious programming overnight, a holdover from the Pax days (you haven’t lived if you’ve never seen “Camp Meeting”.) While Ion stations air very little local fare and virtually no news, the station does air some original shows, such as Canadian import Saving Hope and has aired off-cable fare not seen on other broadcast stations, such as Men Of A Certain Age and Psych. I guess you can say Ion is a “cable network on a broadcast channel.”

“Law & Order” is one of the shows Ion offers on a binge-watch basis.

With a straightened out balance sheet, Ion is financially healthy again, and is seeking more stations. In an interview with Broadcasting & Cable this week, Burgess talked about how his station is planning to expand under the new rules.

“We like the broadcast business, that much is pretty obvious”, Burgress told B&C. “And we are buyers, not sellers, so I think you’ll see us do more of that.”

Ion currently owns 60 stations and reaches 93 million homes, through other affiliate agreements. Ion also has Eastern and Pacific network feeds available on DirecTV and Dish, in addition to the local affiliate (oddly, WCPX is not available in HD over DirecTV while the Eastern feed is.)

There are some holes in Ion’s distribution lineup – as noted by Wikipedia, Ion doesn’t have affiliates in San Diego (former CW station XETV opted to become an affiliate of Mexico’s Canal 5 instead), Cincinnati, Toledo, Baltimore, and doesn’t own its affiliate in Charlotte, instead opting for a position on a digital subchannel on the market’s Fox-owned station. Recently, Ion purchased a St. Louis station out of a bankruptcy trust and also made acquisitions in Boise and Columbia, S.C.

Its O&Os operates several in-house digital subchannels: Qubo, Ion Life, Ion Shop, and the over-the-air feeds of QVC and HSN (Paxson once operated numerous home shopping channels.)

While you can say Ion doesn’t really contribute anything to broadcasting given its rerun schedule (Ion isn’t exactly a destination for genre TV fans or people who care for quality TV), it does draw viewers – during a week in March, Ion tied UniMas in the 18-49 demo and came within a point of beating The CW. It also drew more viewers than The CW in households. In the past, Ion fare drew household ratings around 1.5 for WCPX, and the station draws decent advertising despite its low profile.

But don’t look for Ion to toot its own horn as the network continues to stay on the down low. And that’s fine with Ion.

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T Dog’s Think Tank: The “R” word

Chicago sports teams now have something in common with media companies – rebuilding when the good times end 

Chicagoans better get used to a word they’ve been hearing a lot: rebuild.

Last week, two of Chicago’s sports franchises – the Bulls and Blackhawks announced changes that dramatically overhauled their lineups for next season.

On the day of the NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls traded franchise player Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for several players and draft picks. On Friday, the Blackhawks – winners of three Stanley Cups in the last eight years – decided to part ways with one of their utility players by trading Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes – though they did bring back Brandon Saad from the Columbus Blue Jackets, who was on two of their three Stanley Cup teams. And this was on top of shocking news earlier in the week of Marian Hossa being forced out for the entire 2017-18 season due to a skin condition.

As you can imagine, the news of the Bulls trade angered the fanbase – to the point they were calling for the firing of general managers Gar Forman and John Paxson, the latter who was on several winning teams in the Bulls’ heyday. One person was reportedly even trying to buy a billboard to post a “FirePax” message (how odd there seems to be more anger over this than the Illinois budget stalemate – which affects peoples’ livelihoods than any sports team – should we ask for Governor Rauner and House Speaker Madigan to be fired instead?)

The recent moves by both teams will likely give fans more of a reason not to tune in – regular season ratings for the Bulls and Blackhawks were already down from the previous season. And in an era with are so many programming choices, many Chicagoans will spend their winter nights finding something else to watch.

The Bulls and to a lesser extent, the Blackhawks join the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bears  in a word many Chicagoans have been hearing about a lot lately – “rebuild”. But conceding defeat and being upfront about your team’ chances is used quite a bit in television and radio.  With so much hate toward Forman and Paxson, yours truly was thinking about the history of bad management in the industry and the “rebuilding” efforts that followed. And if you’ve read this blog for the last eleven years, then you know what I mean.

In television, we’ve seen rebuilding efforts at NBC after the disastrous reigns of Fred Silverman and Jeff Zucker/Ben Silverman (no relation to Fred.) Part of the “rebuild” in the early ’80’s was bringing in Grant Tinker and Brandon Tarikoff and investing in quality programming – and the rest is history as NBC took the top spot in 1985 and didn’t surrender the title until 1992. When NBC faltered again under Zucker, the network’s respectability was restored under Bob Greenblatt.

John Paxson (l.) and Gar Forman. (CSN Chicago)

ABC was in a similar position in the mid-1980’s, unable to recapture its top-rated late 1970’s heyday (who, previous to 1976, was stuck in “rebuild” mode.) Rebuilding effort took years, but struck gold with several hits such as Roseanne, Full House, and Home Improvement. After Who Wants To Be A Millionaire sent the network back to the top in 2000 only to hit bottom again in 2004, the network invested in quality dramas such as Lost and Desperate Housewives and bounced back.

Even CBS had to do a rebuild at one point. After so such success, the network was taken over by Larry Tisch in 1986 as his cost-cutting hurt program development at the network. By 1988, CBS fell into third place for the first time ever and struggled through much of the 1990’s after losing the NFL to Fox (though the network did finish first from 1992-94 thanks in part to the Winter Olympics.) Les Moonves finally righted the ship, with hits Everybody Loves Raymond and Survivor and creating a global franchise with CSI, while holding on to its older-skewing audience. Today, CBS proudly proclaims itself as “America’s Most Watched Network.”

Right now, you can say Fox is the network most defined in being in “rebuild” mode, as admitted at a TCA upfront presentation by network presidents Gary Newman and Dana Walden, the Gar and Pax of the television business. After pulling the plug on a declining American Idol after fourteen years – and seeing ABC make the Kevin Durant free-agent steal of the century, Fox – like the Bulls, may not be competitive for quite some time as the duo made numerous bizarre business decisions that don’t make sense as owner 21st Century Fox has made Fox News and FS1 their priorities.

In terms of Chicago television, WLS-TV is known as the New England Patriots of local news – the top-rated operation doesn’t rebuild – they reload. Recently, the ABC-owned station snared former WFLD-TV political reporter Craig Wall to replace retired Charles Thomas while another successful local news station (WGN-TV) added former WMAQ weekend anchor Lauren Jiggetts to their morning team. But with Sinclair taking over WGN and the rest of Tribune Media, they could suffer though a Tisch-like cost-cutting move.

And of course, it seems CBS-owned WBBM-TV and Fox’s WFLD are always rebuilding, struggling for years. But the news product both stations are producing is better than it was in the past, even though the effort so far hasn’t been evident in the ratings. Then there’s CBS affiliate WGCL in Atlanta, where they seemingly push the reset button every week.

In terms of Chicago radio, there is always one station always in rebuilding mode: WLS-FM and their 1,536 format changes over the last 40 years, with the current rebuild taking place after the authoritarian reign of Jan Jeffries, who wouldn’t let the station’s personalities talk on-air for no more than five seconds. And who could forget WGN-AM’s reign in the Kevin Metheny era? WGN radio had to bring the station back to respectability again only to blow it by hiring Jimmy deCastro to run the place.

But the biggest rebuild effort – which itself turned into a disaster is the reign of the Tribune Company under Sam Zell and Randy Michaels. After Zell bought the company in 2007, Tribune went into bankruptcy a year later, which would take years to exit. And when they did, the company split into two – Tribune Media (now being sold to Sinclair) and Tribune Publishing – who later renamed itself “tronc” in a move which drew scorn and mockery. Judging by the state of the Chicago Tribune (and the continued employment of numerous lousy “columnists” – including one editorial board member who wrote this inane piece), the “rebuild” efforts are still ongoing.

So in essence, “rebuilding” happens all the time as both sports and media are cynical businesses. But you wonder if Forman and Paxson attended the same kind of management school those who ruined media companies did. There is literally no difference between the two men running the Bulls’ front office and Zell and Michaels running the Tribune – or those running currently running tronc, 21st Century Fox, iHeartMedia, Cumulus, or Sinclair.

And that’s the most troubling aspect.

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“Family Feud” returns to Hollywood

Game show returns to Los Angeles.

If Los Angeles is seeing a boost in production recently, city leaders ought to send a thank you note to Steve Harvey.

As first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Rodney Ho, Family Feud is leaving Atlanta to return to Los Angeles, where it left eight years ago when Steve Harvey became host of the now top-rated syndicated game show.

The last time the syndicated version of Feud taped in Los Angeles was during the 2009-10 season, when John O’Hurley was host. When Steve Harvey assumed hosting duties in 2010, the series shifted production to Orlando, then to Atlanta shortly thereafter.

Set to take place in August, the move is a boon to the Los Angeles area, which it and California in recent years has seen “runaway production” to Canada and to other states, specifically Georgia, lured by tax credits.

Several years ago in an odd move at the time, now-defunct courtroom show Swift Justice switched locales from Atlanta to Los Angeles after Nancy Grace departed the series. The series relocated because the new judge wanted an easier commute to L.A. from her home in Las Vegas.

Before relocating to Orlando and Atlanta, and excluding a short period in 1993 where it was taped in Nashville at OprylandUSA, Feud has always taped in L.A., from ABC Television Center to Tribune Studios and other places. Feud is returning to CBS Television City in Hollywood, where it was taped during the Ray Combs era. Already, ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud tapes there, at the Bob Barker Studios.

Meanwhile, the facility Feud tapes in Atlanta is expected to be either redeveloped or torn down.

The move wasn’t unexpected as Steve Harvey is consolidating his projects in one metro area. Currently, he’s starring in four TV shows shot in Los Angeles: in addition to Celebrity Feud, he stars in ABC’s Steve Harvey’s Funerdome , NBC’s Little Big Shots, and spin-off Little Big Shots: Forever Young, and of course, his daily talk show. The only exception is Fox’s Showtime At The Apollo revival, which is being shot at the Apollo Theater in New York, of course.

Harvey recently relocated his syndicated morning radio show, heard locally on WVAZ-FM, from Atlanta to L.A., and lobbied hard to move his daytime talk show to the same place after five seasons in Chicago.

Despite Feud’s departure, many television projects continue to shoot in Georgia and in the Atlanta area, including daily strip Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court, FX’s Atlanta, AMC’s The Walking Dead, and The Real Housewives of Atlanta. But the number is starting to dwindle a bit, with the recent cancellations of Teen Wolf and Devious Maids, which ironically, was set in Los Angeles.

It is not known how much the shift from Atlanta to Los Angeles would increase the budget for the syndicated Feud, but when a host like Steve Harvey has this much clout, even tax credits don’t seem to have an impact.

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WCIU to “Jam” up your mornings

From left to right: Jordan Cornette, Danielle Robay, Felicia Lawrence

 

Replacement for You & Me finally announced

At first glance, when you look in your TV listings and see something called The Jam, your first thought would be some kind of dance-music show.

But in all actuality, it is the name of WCIU’s new 6-to-8 a.m. morning show, debuting in a few weeks. As described on WCIU’s website, The Jam is “a combination of local and national news, unique weather, and an explosion of pop culture. It’s a showcase of everyday Chicagoans who make the city great.” The program features local and national headlines, weather, and features on people in the city.

No debut date has been announced, but it should be later this summer. The announcement coincides with a recent revamp of the station’s on-air look, graphics, internet, and social media presence. The new show seems to go for a younger audience than You & Me did, which was canceled after seven years last spring and features hosts Melissa Forman and Jeanne Sparrow.

Steve Bailey, who is head of local programming and creative for the Weigel-owned independent said: “The Jam will wake you up, feed you the news of the day and drop an explosion of pop culture in your coffee. We’re going to move you and shake up your day in ways no one else is doing in Chicago.”

The cast features three new fresh faces to Chicago TV:

Jordan Cornette, who currently serves as co-host of WMVP-AM’s (ESPN 1000’s) Kap & Co. with David Kaplan, and is a college basketball commentator for CBS Sports and Fox Sports 1. Cornette is continuing in his ESPN 1000 role.

Felicia Lawrence, a South Side native who interned at WCIU and later served as an anchor and reporter for Fox-owned WJZY in Charlotte, which the network bought in 2013. She is a graduate of Morgan Park High School and earned a degree in communications at North Carolina A&T University.

Danielle Robay, another Chicago native who spent several years in Los Angeles as an entertainment reporter, working for KNBC and was a host and producer on CBS Television Distribution’s online version of Entertainment Tonight. She also appeared on HLN’s Dr. Drew and ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

Former Windy City Live executive producer David Plummer is the showrunner for The Jam.

When it debuts later this summer, WCIU’s The Jam will compete with the last hour of the local morning news shows on the ABC, CBS, and NBC O&Os and first hour of the network morning news shows – not to mention WGN’s popular morning news show and WFLD’s Good Day Chicago as You & Me never resonated in the ratings, despite a loyal following. Still, the concept of The Jam looks promising and provides a fresh alternative to other morning fare.

The move comes as WCIU owner Weigel Broadcasting is set to become Chicago’s last locally-owned broadcaster in the nation’s third-largest media market with Hunt Valley Md.’s Sinclair Broadcasting set to purchase Chicago-based Tribune Media, owners of WGN-TV and WGN-AM.

[Official press release]

 

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NBA Finals score highest ratings in nineteen years

The Golden State Warriors win their second NBA title in three years. (Getty Images)

Third straight Warriors-Cavs matchup sends viewers through the entrances

Despite a few games in boring blowout territory, the 2017 NBA Finals matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers drew the highest ratings for a NBA Finals matchup in nineteen years.

According to Nielsen, the series drew  20.4 million viewers – the most on average since 1998 when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won their sixth NBA title against the Utah Jazz in a series averaging 29 million viewers. In the adult 18-49 demo, the series averaged a 7.1.

The game five clincher for the Golden State Warriors drew 24.5 million viewers and a 9.0 rating in adults 18-49, The numbers however, were far below the 40 million and the 12.6 demo rating the Chicago Cubs had with their game-clinching, history-making game seven World Series win against the Cleveland Indians last November. In overnights, gave five drew a 16.0 household rating – easily making the game the most watched program of the evening.

In Golden State home market San Francisco, also containing Oakland and San Jose, the clincher drew a 39.6 household rating on ABC-owned KGO-TV, down slightly from their 2015 game six clincher (40.7). In Cleveland, ABC affiliate WEWS earned a 37.1 rating for game five.

LeBron James of the Cavs dribbles against his opponent.

The Warriors, who won their first NBA title in forty years back in 2015, defeated LeBron James-led Cleveland for the honor. In 2016 however, Cleveland turned the tables and beat Golden State for the city’s first major sports title in 52 years. Embarrassed, Golden State didn’t rebuild – they reloaded by acquiring Kevin Durant from Oklahoma City, adding to a team already stocked with superstars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green – and successfully avenged their Finals loss last year to Cleveland. It marked the first time in NBA history two teams met in the Finals three times straight.

Among local markets for the entire NBA Finals, Cleveland (WEWS) led with a 34.7, followed by KGO-TV’s 33.3. Nearby Sacramento (KXTV) ranked seventh while Los Angeles’ KABC-TV came in tenth. Both KABC and KGO are owned by ABC.

In years past, Chicago generally made the ten-most watched NBA Final markets, but did not make it this time around. Similar to what happened with the Blackhawks and the NHL locally, Chicago viewers simply tuned out after the Bulls were eliminated in the first round by Boston (then again, many viewers didn’t tune in to begin with.) Ratings for regular-season Bulls games hit a ten-year low this season.

Among the ten least watched markets came some surprises – Knoxville’s (WATE) 9.0 average was actually lower than the game six number the Stanley Cup Final drew, featuring the nearby Nashville Predators. The lower rated market? Pittsburgh (WTAE – not to be confused with the Knoxville ABC affiliate), who was too busy partying with the Penguins to notice.

With many predicting the Golden State Warriors running the table again for the next few years, we may have a dynasty in the making. In other words, if you’re a Bulls fan looking to make a deposit on season tickets for next year…put your money to better use.

 

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2017 Stanley Cup Final surges in ratings

Pittsburgh repeats but smaller market as opponent actually drew more viewers than last year’s matchup

Who needs those Blackhawks anyway?

The 2017 Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators had something last year’s matchup did not: country music stars, lively crowds, and catfish being thrown on the ice.

And that’s just in Nashville.

The series between the Penguins and the upstart Predators saw an increase in ratings from last year’s series between Pittsburgh and the San Jose Sharks – revealing just how dull a place San Jose is in the process.

According to Nielsen, the six-game series drew an average of 4.7 million viewers, up 19 percent from last year. The game six clincher for Pittsburgh drew 7 million viewers and a 2.3 adults 18-49 demo rating – up 21 percent from last year.

However, measured against the 2015 Stanley Cup Final between the Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, ratings are down double-digits in all categories.

In Pittsburgh, WPXI drew a whopping 40 rating for game six, the second-highest rated NHL game in market history, only behind the 42.2 rating earned by the Penguins-Red Wings game seven Stanley Cup Final matchup, taking place on June 12, 2009, the same day analog TV receivers shut down for good.

Meanwhile, Nashville NBC affiliate WSMV drew a 28.3 rating for game six, and in a surprise, Knoxville NBC affiliate WBIR drew a 10.7 rating ranking third among all markets. Tying for ninth was Memphis’ WMC-TV with a 5.4 – notable, given WMC and other Southern NBC affiliates often pre-empted NHL games in the 1970’s.

For the entire series, Pittsburgh led with a 32 rating followed by Nashville’s 22 rating. Not surprisingly, Chicago did not rank in the top ten on either chart, given the Blackhawks were eliminated in the first round by Nashville. And once again, Chicago also ranked very low in terms of ratings for the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs, led by Pittsburgh and Nashville. Locally, ratings for Blackhawks games declined significantly this season even as the team remained in first place.

Digitally, game six of the Stanley Cup Final drew an average of 101,000 viewers – the highest ever for a NHL game, up 47 percent from last year’s game six.

The feisty spiritedness of both teams not seen since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks (one game alone had 100 penalty minutes) may have contributed to the ratings spike. Also, the rivalry between the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and the Predators’ P.K. Subban (who was traded to Nashville from Montreal last season) had people talking.

Also notable (and a good selling point for the NHL) was the raucous atmosphere in Nashville for games three and four and the presence of celebrities. The fans chanting (“You Suck” and “It’s All Your Fault” chants directed at the Pittsburgh goalie), annoying as it was even made this Hawks fan jealous. It proves Nashville really knows how to party.

But even as the Penguins skated away with their second consecutive Stanley Cup title, the Predators are also winners – around now for nearly twenty years, they should how hockey can work in a non-traditional pucks market. With a young, exciting team led by Subban and captain Mike Fisher, at least they don’t have to worry about Blackhawks or St. Louis Blues fans taking up seats at Bridgestone Arena in the future. 

 

 

 

 

 

[Info obtained from NBC Sports Press Box PR]

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T Dog Media’s Notepad: “24: Legacy canceled”

And… other news of note 

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Fox has pulled the plug on 24: Legacy after one season. The series was left off the fall schedule when it was announced last month, increasing speculation its days would be numbered.

In addition, Fox said it was putting the brakes on more episodes of its Prison Break revival after a few episodes. It also didn’t make next season’s schedule despite a decent ratings performance and respectable delayed audience numbers. The show may be brought back at a later date.

As for 24: Legacy, the series received the plum post-Super Bowl slot back in February, but floundered on Monday nights, paired with another struggling drama, APB. The Walking Dead’s Corey Hawkins stepped into the Kiefer Sutherland role (who of course, is now on ABC’s Designated Survivor.), but the new version of the series never caught on with viewers and was panned by critics.

The cancellation of 24: Legacy doesn’t mean the franchise is toast: According to insiders, Fox is currently in discussions with the creators to launch a new 24 show, one that would be more “anthological”, while keeping its real-time format.

The original version of 24 ran on Fox for eight seasons as it was told in real-time – one hour in a single day, for 24 episodes (24 hours in a day.) A sequel (24: Live Another Day) was launched in May 2014 with Sutherland and did decently well in the ratings.


Once again, The CW has a new home in San Diego. On May 31, KFMB-DT2 (a digital subchannel of CBS affiliate KFMB) launched The CW San Diego, featuring CW programming in primetime and newscasts from mothership KFMB from 7-9 a.m. and at 10 p.m. As mentioned here a few months ago, previous CW affiliate XETV was unable to come to terms on a new contract with The CW, so the network left for Midwest-owned KFMB, formerly based in Champaign and were former owners of the city’s WCIA and Peoria’s WMBD before selling the stations to Nexstar in 1999. Before XETV, The CW was on Tribune’s KSWB-TV from 2006-08, before wresting away the Fox affiliation from XETV.

To fill the time not occupied by CW programming or local news, KFMB purchased the syndicated programming rights to XETV’s programs, including The King Of Queens, Seinfeld, and the soon-to-be defunct The Insider. CW San diego also took over all of XETV’s dial positions on cable systems and is available in 720p HD. A new website for The CW San Diego was also launched, at thecwsandiego.com.

Days before the switch, previous KFMB-DT2 occupant MeTV shifted over to KGTV-DT2. KGTV’s main channel is an ABC affiliate.

Logo for Canal 5.

As for XETV, the Televisa-owned station ended its 64-year English-language run quietly at 12:01 a.m. May 31, as the station said most of their goodbyes in March when the news operation and owner Bay City Television closed. XETV then switched to a feed of Canal 5, one of Televisa’s Spanish-language networks in Mexico (to see the transition, click here.) From this point forward, XETV is no longer available on San Diego’s cable and satellite systems as a planned switch to Televisa’s Gala TV was scrapped soon after it was announced. Much of XETV’s equipment was auctioned off.

This isn’t the last change San Diego TV viewers will see this year – Telemundo programming is expected to move to NBC-owned KNSD-DT2 on July 1, replacing XHAS-TV as an affiliate. Both NBC and Telemundo are owned by parent company Comcast. Azteca America programming is scheduled to replace Telemundo July 1 on XHAS, which like XETV, is based in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.

Dating back to the 1970’s, there is no market in the country that’s been through many affiliation changes and shifts as San Diego has. Oddly enough, when Rupert Murdoch shook the world in 1994 by convincing New World Communications’ stations to switch to Fox, San Diego, whose KNSD at the time was owned by New World went unscathed – mainly because Fox already was on a VHF outlet at XETV – the same station it would break up with in 2008. New World sold KNSD to NBC in 1997.


If you watched the Stanley Cup Finals recently, you’ve probably noticed a huge number of country music stars making appearances in Nashville as the Predators took on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Among the sightings included Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood (who is married to the Predators’ Mike Fisher), and others. With Nashville being the center of the country music world, you’d think a country station would top the ratings in the nation’s 44th largest radio market, right?

Believe it or not, the top-rated music station in Music City is…  an Adult Contemporary format who features Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake. According to recent PPM rankings from Nielsen, Midwest Communications’ WJXA-FM (Mix 92.9) is the top choice for listeners in Nashville, followed by Hip-Hop/Urban WUBT-FM (1011 The Beat), which topped the list the previous month. In fact, the top-rated country station iHeartMedia’s WSIX-FM – ranks seventh overall, behind stations with formats consisting of Adult Hits (Jack FM); CHR (The River, WRVW-FM); Urban AC (WQQK-FM) and Classic Rock (WNRQ).

WSIX does tops country competitors WSM-FM, WKDF-FM, and WSM-AM. WSIX also has an rated HD2 channel, with a “New Country” format.

Despite the varied choices, country music still has a significant presence in Tennessee’s largest media market. Though Cumulus has a huge NASH-FM Campus in town, its WSM-FM and WKDF-FM (and competitor WSIX) are located in the city’s Music Row district instead. The legendary WSM-AM is owned by Ryman Hospitality, formerly known as Gaylord Entertainment.


Further reading:

Marissa Bailey and Erin Kennedy team up to anchor mornings at CBS-owned WBBM-TV in a great move.

Bachelor in Paradise production shut down. And this may be the reason why.

Sun-Times bidders continue to sumbit bids for the paper to avoid getting “tronced”

Robbie Rist not to blame for Brady Bunch’s downfall? You don’t say.

For more goofiness from yours truly, follow me on Twitter @tdogmedia.

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