Grab Bag: CBS in lead to snare Cubs’ radio rights

The Cubs may have a new radio home in 2015.
The Cubs may have a new radio home in 2015.


* As first reported by Ed Sherman in Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune, CBS Corp. is the leading candidate to land the radio rights to the Chicago Cubs in 2015 and beyond. The most likely destination would be WBBM-AM, who already hold rights to the Chicago Bears and whose sports station (WSCR) holds rights to the Chicago White Sox.

Current rights-holder WGN-AM has been losing money on their current contract, with the team losing nearly 200 games over the last two years, and their prospects for this year doesn’t look any better. WGN is entering its 90th year of carrying Cubs baseball.

As for the television side (whose WGN-TV contract is also up this fall), there has been no word on where those 67 games would end up.

* In other local sports media news, the Chicago Bulls are actually performing well on the court without Derrick Rose, but surprisingly, not in the ratings. According to Sports Media Watch, the Bulls once again trailed the Chicago Blackhawks in the ratings on Comcast SportsNet, with a 2.9 rating, compared to a 4.4 for the Hawks. Despite a competitive team without their superstar for the second season in the row, the Bulls are down 9 percent from last year.

The Blackhawks are also down from last year’s numbers, when they were on a red hot-unbeaten streak. The hockey team is down 19 percent from 2013.

While Rose’s absence has a lot to do with the Bulls’ ratings decline, you could also blame the 2014 Winter Olympics, which siphoned off casual viewers. The Olympics also disrupted the Hawks’ season, as the NHL went on a two-and-a-half week break so their players can participate in the games.

* Get ready for more Sheldon in your life… CBS on Wednesday announced a three-year renewal for its Thursday night hit The Big Bang Theory, which takes the sitcom through the 2017 season. The deal however, does not include the actors, who have yet to negotiate with CBS and Warner Bros. on their salaries. Big Bang Theory is one of twenty (!) CBS programs receiving renewals this week. Among those returning for the 2014-15 season include NCIS, Elementary, Blue Bloods, and Survivor.

With Thursday Night Football on the horizon for CBS for the first few weeks of the fall season, look for Sheldon and the gang to temporarily relocate to Mondays, at least until November when TNF shifts exclusively to the NFL Network.

* In a surprise announcement, Graham Holdings (formerly known as Post-Newsweek Stations) sold ABC affilate WPLG-TV in Miami to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. In a cash and swap-stock deal.

Former WLS-TV GM Emily Barr, who now is President/CEO of Graham Holdings’ TV group, said they have no plans to sell any other stations, which is now down to just five stations, including top-rated NBC affilate WDIV in Detroit and ABC affiliate KSAT in San Antonio.

WPLG is the market’s top-rated English-language station in South Florida thanks to its stability and its longtime affiliation with ABC. In 1987, CBS affiliate WTVJ was purchased by NBC and replaced WSVN (now a Fox affiliate) as Miami’s peacock station in January 1989. WTVJ swapped channel positions from 4 to 6 in 1995 with CBS-owned WCIX (now WFOR) as part of a larger deal NBC made with CBS to acquire WCAU in Philadelphia, necessary after CBS merged with Westinghouse in 1995, owners of five TV stations including Philly NBC affiliate KYW.

In 2008, Post-Newsweek tried to purchase WTVJ from NBC to form a duopoly with WPLG as WTVJ dropped to sixth place in total day ratings. The deal was scrapped two days before Christmas due to the nation’s economic crisis and political opposition.

Quick Hits and Bits:

– The state of the TV sitcom: Vulture and TV Guide have their takes.

– Former WGCI nighttime jock Mike Love joins Soul 106.3 (WSRB-FM) as afternoon personality, starting Monday. D.L. Hughley’s syndicated show is out.

– WGN Radio boss Jimmy de Castro gave an interview with the Sun-Times last week – perhaps the most insipid piece of crap I’ve ever read. Looks like de Castro has had too many Gin & Juice lunches with Dave Savini.

– More fallout from The Bachelor controversy and the disaster Juan Pablo created. Hey de Castro, there’s a future hire for you!