1. The spectrum auction. The upcoming – and complicated – spectrum auction the FCC is holding is likely to change the face of television as we know it. Some over-the-air stations could pack it in and call it a career as the FCC plans to buy back spectrum space from TV stations and resell it to telecommunication companies (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) So far no Chicago stations have opted to take the money and run.
2. Chicago on the brink. All eyes will be on Chicago again as the city continues to deal with the fallout of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald and the future of mayor Rahm Emanuel – a huge challenge for the city’s media outlets. Meanwhile, gun violence and financial problems are taking its toll on Chicago’s image as national media outlets continue to talk about the city’s woes with tourism numbers beginning to decline and Chicago’s perception to the world as a hapless loser is becoming more and more prominent. Unfortunately, 2016 for the Windy City is shaping up to be a repeat of 2015.
3. The return of Garry Meier. Beloved radio host Garry Meier is planning to make a comeback with sidekick Leslie Keiling in the first test on whether or not a major show can be sustained online.
4. Can Empire keep it going? After a red-hot start in its first season, can Empire keep up the momentum? While still dominant in the ratings, a sign of an audience mutiny is starting to mount, starting with…that kiss.
5. “Peak TV”. Last year, there were more than 400 scripted TV series alone, leading critics to declare this “Golden Age of TV” has “peaked”. Is it all downhill from here? Unfortunately, we’ll hear more of the term “Peak TV” until critics come up with another term to annoy us.
6. The CW and Tribune. While The CW has signed renewal agreements with Nexstar and Sinclair station groups, the network still hasn’t come to terms with Tribune, who is the largest owner of CW affiliates – and owns them in four of the five largest markets – and the pact expires this year.
7. Reboot fever. The first of the reboot bunch is slated to arrive this winter (The X-Files, Fuller House, etc.) It’s a sure bet nostalgic viewers will tune in, but will they stay?
8. Chicago baseball. The Cubs are moving to WSCR-AM (The Score) this year, and everyone’s watching to see if the team can sustain the same momentum it had in 2015. Meanwhile, former Score occupant Chicago White Sox is relocating to WLS-AM (890).
9. More consolidation? It doesn’t matter if Meredith or Nexstar turns out to be the winner in the Media General sweepstakes… we may see more broadcast companies merge as stations feast on political advertising revenue – and the possibility of Donald Trump being in the White House means lots and lots of deregulation could be on the way.
10. Batman vs. Superman. One of the most anticipated movies of the year, pitting two superhero babyfaces against one another. If this doesn’t work, there’s always Lex Luthor vs. The Joker.