2014: A look ahead

2014While 2013 is over and done with, its time to focus on what’s going to happen in 2014. Here are the top ten things to look for, in Chicago and beyond:

1. Aereo. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide this month whether or not they would hear the lawsuit brought by the major broadcast networks against the two-year old tech company founded by Barry Diller, which allows viewers to watch and record/timeshift programs on their devices, including storing programming “in the cloud”. The nets contend Aereo violate their copyrights.

2. Life without the Court Jester. On Friday, Cumulus Media took over operations of Merlin Media’s radio properties, essentially ending the company’s three-year run. Cumulus plans to move the alternative rock format back to the 101.1 frequency Merlin Media abandoned 2 1/2 years ago to launch its ill-fated FM News format.  Will it stick around this time? Or wind up being replaced with Cumulus’ national country brand, NASH-FM in six months?

3. What’s going to replace Katie? The industry will be watching to see what the ABC-owned stations – including WLS-TV in Chicago – do to replace failed early fringe talk show Katie. While returning Inside Edition and Jeopardy to their respective 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. time slots seem logical, you never know what might come up.

4. Retans wars to continue. You think 2014 is going to be without squabbles between broadcasters and cable/satellite operators? Think again. Unfortunately, get used to the words “blackout” “pulled signal”, and “negotiations”, especially outside the Chicago area.

5. The new look Gannett and Tribune Co. With their acquisitions of Belo and Local TV acquired and closed respectively, how will they use their newfound leverage on the syndication business and in retransmission consent negotiations?

6. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. If you notice, Agents was absent from the Excellent 10 as the highly-anticipated Marvel series proved to be a ratings and critical disappointment. But an interesting story arc coming up involving Agent Phil Coluson (he died in the Avengers movie) coming be the tonic to boost the show’s sagging profile.

7. Can American Idol rebound? After last season’s disastrous run, the 13th edition of this series is looking toward returning judge Jennifer Lopez and newcomer Harry Connick Jr. to boost ratings and steer the show back to being known as a singing competition and away from the tabloidish crap.

8. As The Cubs Turns. While much isn’t expected from next year’s team (again), the focus will be on whether or not the longtime relationship between the Cubs and WGN-TV and WGN-AM would continue after 2014.

9. Who will make the next big VOD hit? After last year’s breakthrough with Arrested Development and House Of Cards, look for more original programming from video-on-demand services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. More alternatives is always a great thing.

10. Chicago’s revenge. Aside from the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup victory, 2013 was a year to forget for Chicago as the city – thanks to its high murder rate – continued to be a national laughingstock as the city’s critics last year ranged from late-night comedians to Internet humor sites to college professors to hip-hop artists to has-been shock jocks. Maybe Chicago can become a model city so we can shut these clowns up. Or better yet, maybe these clowns should just shut up.