The Grab Bag: No more outside media appearances for Bears

Jay Cutler fumbles again. (USA Today)

Wheel, Jeopardy hosts stay another two years; LAFF increases reach with Cox deal

– Don’t look for any members of the Chicago Bears current roster to make any media appearances this upcoming season: according to CSN Chicago’s John Mullin, the new regime at Halas Hall is not allowing any more outside radio and TV gigs for the 2015 season, with the exception of Bears-produced programming. This comes as new head coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace do not want any distractions to interfere with the team after last season’s train-wreck debacle, which saw the team become national laughingstocks.

It was no secret Halas Hall was not happy with Brandon Marshall’s (who was traded to the New York Jets) appearances on Showtime’s Inside the NFL. Both he and QB Jay Cutler have been frequent no-shows on their local gigs, angering management of those outlets. When they did find time to show up, their personalities had the feel of a wet cloth.

– In a move signaling the game shows will be around through 2018, the contracts for Wheel of Fortune’s Pat Sajak and Vanna White and Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek have been picked up for two more years, according to the shows’ syndicator, CBS Television Distribution. The hosts’ contracts were set to expire next year.

Wheel drew 11.4 million viewers a day, while Jeopardy has drawn 10.7 million.

During a panel at NATPE two months ago, a Scripps executive noted despite the big ratings, he pointed out the ROI on the shows weren’t very good and due to its older skew, was not that attractive to advertisers. Those issues caused Scripps to drop Wheel and Jeopardy from their stations in 2012.

Still, both programs ranked as television’s most watched syndicated shows and there’s no shortage of stations who are glad to have them on their schedules. Station deals through 2018 have yet to be announced.

– On the other side of the coin, things are not so rosy for Meredith Vieira and her talk show. According to Media Life, the daytime talk show has averaged a 0.6 rating among women 25-54 during the February 2015 sweeps, finishing only ahead of The Doctors and the canceled Queen Latifah Show, and earns the same rating season-to-date, finishing eleventh. Meredith had already been picked up for a second season in 80 percent of the country, but ratings must grow or her show is likely done.

The ratings for Chicago are no different, with Meredith regularly finishing behind Maury, The People’s Court, and Rachael Ray at 1 p.m.

– In a shocker, CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil scored a ratings victory for CBS-owned WBBM-TV Wednesday, thanks to a highly publicized episode featuring Bobbi Kristina Brown’s love interest, Nick Gordon. According to TV Media Insights, Phil earned a 3.9 overnight household rating nationally- the highest this season and the highest overall since November 2013. WBBM scored a victory over regular time periods victors Inside Edition and Jeopardy! (both also syndicated by CBS.) Dr. Phil also won its time periods for CBS-owned stations in New York and Los Angeles, and in 25 of the top 30 markets.

The one-on-one interview was very emotional as Gordon threatened suicide and his girlfriend – the late Whitney Houston’s daughter – was found unconscious in a bathtub at her suburban Atlanta home and has been in a coma ever since.

– Cox has become the latest group to sign up for Katz Broadcasting’s new diginet, LAFF, joining the ABC-owned stations (including WLS-TV) and the Scripps broadcasting groups (excluding the Journal Broadcasting stations, which is still pending.) Cox stations carrying LAFF on their digital tier include WSB/Atlanta, KIRO/Seattle, WPXI/Pittsburgh, and WFXT/Boston, which Cox acquired from Fox last year. LAFF recently struck deals with various syndicators to air off-network episodes of The Drew Carey Show, Grace Under Fire, Empty Nest, Ellen, and Night Court.