2015: A look ahead


With 2014 now behind us, here’s what to expect in 2015:

1. The Cubs’ new media homes. This year, the Cubs enter a new era: a new over-the-air TV home (WLS-TV/ABC 7) and WBBM-AM, after 90 years with WGN-AM. What’s left unresolved is a package of 45 games, whose TV home is yet to be determined.

2. As the WGN Radio turns. You think the Bears soap opera is something? Believe it or not, it has nothing on the one taking place at WGN-AM, and expect more of the same in 2015 as there is already speculation centering on Roe Conn replacing Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder in afternoons, due to GM Jimmy DeCastro’s ties with him. Unfortunately, look for WGN Radio talk to dominate the Chicago media scene for another year.

3. Net neutrality. With President Obama stating he wants the Internet classified as a Title II carrier (as a utility – similar to People’s Gas, ComEd, Nicor, etc.), a partisan fight is likely on Capitol Hill and the FCC as Chairman Tom  Wheeler decides what to do. Either way, look for a lengthy legal challenge – one that could wind up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

4. Mergermania. In addition, the FCC is expected to deal with the pending mergers of Comcast-Time Warner and AT&T-DirecTV. If approved, will it lead to more media marriages? Or perhaps a hostile takeover? (Dish Network, I’m looking at you.)

5. VOD’s continued growth. Video-on-demand grew a lot in 2014 and is poised for more growth in 2015 as cord-cutting (a.k.a dropping cable) increases. Look for an increase in OTT (over-the-top) services as more and more viewers use Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, and other streaming services.

6. Empire. The based-in-New York but shot-in-Chicago series about a record company debuts Wednesday night with a strong diverse cast – a rarity outside of a Shonda Rhimes series. Will Empire become a major hit? Or another Platinum, a failed UPN drama from 2003 with a similar premise?

7. The state of the sitcom. The comedy once again is on deathwatch, with only two sitcoms in the top twenty-rated series and five sitcoms axed before the calendar’s year changed. The dearth of sitcoms are having an adverse effect on the syndication business, as station groups led by Fox and Tribune are eschewing such fare for local news expansion and existing first-run programming. Speaking of syndication…

8. Can syndication survive? How lackluster the syndication business has been? So far, only two new first-run series have been announced and only 2 Broke Girls have been sold into off-net for this fall. As studios turn their attention to other platforms, traditional syndication is quickly becoming an afterthought.

9. Can Marvel keep up with DC? With DC already in the lead in the quality and quantity department (Gotham, Flash, Arrow), Marvel has an opportunity to catch up with the launch of Agent Carter on ABC Tuesday night and new drama Daredevil on Netflix later this year – the first of four Marvel series planned for the streaming service. 

10. Will T Dog Media let up on enemies Wil Wheaton, Kenya Moore, and Larz from Chicagoland Radio and Media? Let’s see…. no.