T Dog’s Media Notepad: Bears stumble, fumble in the ratings

pencil-and-paper-animation-PPP_CGENE_LT3_Notepad_w_PencilHaven’t done the Notepad in a while – plus, I’ve been busy with other stuff, so let’s play catchup and see  what’s going on:

The Chicago Bears are back – but apparently, someone forgot to tell the fans: September 13’s heavily hyped home opener between the Lakefront’s NFL Team and their long-time nemesis Green Bay Packers drew a surprisingly low (for NFL football) 27.7 household rating, according to Chicago Business Journal, down 9 percent from last year’s home opener (a 30.3 against the Buffalo Bills.)

In Milwaukee, the game fared much better, earning a 46.7 household rating.

Despite the “low” rating, the Bears game was the most-watched program of the week in Chicago.

It’s hard to tell if Bears fans are buying the program new head coach John Fox is selling as this is only one game – even if is the Packers. Dire predictions for the Bears this season (with one publication predicting the Bears finish 3-13) may have kept some fans away. But if the Bears continue to lose and ratings continue to fall, it would tough to win the fans back. But judging by the loss to Arizona Sunday, the team is clearly heading in the wrong direction.

Last Wednesday, David Kaplan changed stations – the longtime host at WGN-AM has returned to WMVP-AM (ESPN 1000) as host of the new Kaplan & Co., airing weekdays from noon to 2 p.m. Joining Kaplan is a rotation of co-hosts and guests. Among them was former Bears coach Mike Ditka, who joined the show on Thursday.

Since joining the Tribune-owned WGN-AM in 1995, the Emmy-award and Silver Dome-award winning Kaplan has hosted Sports Central and most recently, co-hosted Kap & Haugh on the former WGWG-FM and later WGN Plus, simulcasted on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Kaplan’s move to WMVP essentially ended Kap & Haugh, which aired its final episode on WGN Plus and CSN Chicago on September 11. The regional sports channel has replaced it with paid infomercials and reruns of sports news show SportsNet Central.

– Usually, there isn’t much to talk about when it comes to those PPM ratings in August – but there is one notable item in the most recent ratings report. For the first time in recent memory, Hubbard Broadcasting’s Hot AC station WTMX-FM (The Mix) finished first among Chicago’s radio stations in a spot usually reserved for WBBM-AM or WVAZ, or WGN-AM and WGCI in the distant past.

The station also swept key dayparts as well, finishing first in mornings (with Eric & Kathy) and in afternoons.

The big just gets bigger: Meredith Corp. and Media General announced two weeks ago they were merging with each other, making it the third-largest TV station chain in the country, with 88 stations coverage more than forty markets nationwide.

This was followed by another merger announced last Monday of Gray Television and the TV/radio assets of Schurz Communications, owner of WSBT in South Bend, Ind.

Meredith owns stations in markets such as Atlanta, Kansas City, St. Louis, Phoenix, Hartford, and Portland, Ore, while Media General owns stations in San Francisco, Tampa, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and other markets. Meredith nor Media General owns any stations in Illinois, while Gray owns one station in the state, CBS affiliate WIFR in Rockford.

Schurz owns CBS affiliate WDBJ in Ronaoke, Va. where tragedy struck a few weeks ago when two station employees were recently killed live on-camera. WDBJ also has a pending fine with the FCC over a video editing error.

The merger continues a trend of media companies trying to strengthen their portfolio to gain leverage in retransmission content negotiations with cable and satellite providers. The companies are also angling to get their share of political ad dollars, which is expected to hit another record in 2016.

Earlier, Media General split its print and broadcast properties; Meredith, which owns magazines Better Homes And Gardens among others, is likely to be spun-off

Other media news of note:

-Jon Kelley exits WFLD; replaced by George Smith from WOIO in Cleveland.

-Orion Samuelson undergoes surgery; is expected to make a full recovery.

– New syndicated strips FABLife and CrimeWatch Daily got off to strong starts. Of note is FABLife’s strong start in Chicago, where WLS-TV finished first at 1 p.m. with a 2.4/8 household rating/share. Crime Watch grew in the ratings from Tuesday and Wednesday.

– Add Rizoli & Isles to shows coming into syndication this fall. Premieres Saturday from 7-9 p.m. on Fox’s WPWR.