The Media Notepad: NBC scores with Olympic opening ceremonies

Plus: L.A. Times, San Diego Union-Tribune sold; Mike Flannery gets his own Fox 32 news show; This week in Chicago bashing; White Sox snubbed again

(Editor’s Note: Contains strong language. Reader discretion is advised.)

The opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics from South Korea dominated the ratings as expected for NBC, and even performed stronger than expected.

According to Nielsen (thru Sports Media Watch), the opening ceremonies drew a 14.7 household rating and 27.8 million viewers in primetime Friday night, but down 14 percent and 12 percent respectively from the 2014 Sochi games. The numbers however, were up from 2016 Summer Games from Rio but keep in mind comparing ratings from February with August is like comparing apples and oranges due to differences in seasonal HUT levels. Among adults 18-49, the ceremonies drew a 5.7 rating.

449,000 viewers streamed the Opening Ceremonies through, either live (at 5 a.m. Chicago time) or NBC’s tape-delayed coverage.

In Chicago, the ceremonies drew a low 17.6 household rating, down 20 percent from the Sochi opening ceremonies. This comes as a surprise as the entire metro area on Friday was hit with a major snowstorm, keeping lots of people indoors (local schools were closed for the day.) One possible wrench in the rating here: viewers may have switched to WGN-TV at 9 p.m. to see Tom Skilling update everyone on the storm.

As a result of the Olympics, the major broadcast and cable networks have opted to bench their regular series and go the repeat route until the games conclude on February 25. CBS is airing a celebrity edition of Big Brother, but other than that – if you’re not an Olympics fan, pickings are very slim and its best you make use of those streaming subscriptions.

It looks like Tronc got Tronced itself: the Chicago-based company announced this week it was selling the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune to one of its shareholders, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. The sale brings the paper back under local control – the original Tribune Co. purchased the paper from Times Mirror in 2000. Tribune split its broadcast and publishing assets in 2014, with the latter becoming Tribune Publishing, and later renamed, the much-derided Tronc.

In 2015, Tronc purchased the San-Diego Union Tribune for $85 million.

In recent months, the Times has been rocked by numerous events: newspaper employees recently voted to unionize; former publisher Ross Levinhon was accused of sexual harassment; and under went a management change when former Chicago Tribune honcho Jim Kirk was installed as editor-in-chief.

The sale now leaves Tronc with the Chicago Tribune and other papers in Orlando, Baltimore, and Hartford, along with the recently acquired New York Daily News. The moves could make Tronc an acquisition target – something Chairman Michael Ferro didn’t want as he earlier rejected an overture from Gannett. But with current market conditions suggesting media consolidation, reality is slapping him hard in the face – something no dopey video can explain.

In other newspaper news, the Sun-Times made some cuts by releasing entertainment and gossip columnist Bill Zwecker and arts critic Heidy Weiss. With the latter move, you have to really question the Sun-Times’ committment to arts and culture coverage, something yours truly deeply cares about. It’s the wrong kind of direction for new owner Edwin Eisendrath.

Also shown the door last week at sister publication Chicago Reader was editor Jake Malooley. Recently, Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Konkol took over duties of running the alt paper.

It may not be WGN’s Man Of The People, but at least the title is cool: WFLD political reporter Mike Flannery is getting is own Friday night public affairs show. Titled Flannery Fired Up, Flannery plans to feature newsmakers including political candidates running for office (the March primaries are right around the corner) and a panel discussing issues affecting Chicago such as violent crime, taxes, quality of living issues, and more – something WTTW’s Chicago Tonight: The Week In Review regularly does.

Flannery Fired Up airs Friday at 9:30 p.m. and repeats Sundays at 8:30 a.m.

The first guest on Flannery Fired Up was former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who is mulling a mayoral run to challenge incumbent Rahm Emanuel. McCarthy recently slammed the mayor in a recent interview for the current administration’s handling of a carjacking epidemic plaguing the city.

Mike Flannery was the longtime political reporter for CBS-owned WBBM-TV starting in 1980, covering the administrations of Mayors Jane Byrne, Harold Washington, Eugene Sawyer and Richard M. Daley. He joined Fox-owned WFLD in the same capacity in 2010.

And speaking of Chicago… If you are keeping tabs, yes Chicago is still a national laughingstock despite President Dumbass not tweeting about us for a while. On Friday, The Onion – you know, the fake publication staffed by old According to Jim writers, took a shot at the Windy City combining the two things the city is known for: winter weather and murders.


And while commenting on a Philadelphia police scanner tweets after the Eagles won the Super Bowl, even yours truly was a recipient of abuse from this asshole

While these imbeciles continue to mock our city’s murder victims and their families – the vast majority of them African-American and Hispanic, what they are clearly lacking is solutions to the urban ills we are suffering from. As this carjacking wave grips the city, the jokes and mean comments from the MAGA crowd are not funny – they’re disgusting. If you’re not willing to offer solutions, then shut the fuck up. Keep your racism to yourselves.

On a much lighter note, CBS Television Distribution’s Wheel Of Fortune even took a shot at us – albeit inadvertently and involving only one of our sports teams. Wheel celebrated Great American Cities week and Chicago was celebrated on Tuesday (the show devoted an entire week to the Windy City last May.) In one of the puzzles, the contestant correctly guessed four of Chicago’s teams – Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and Cubs. Guess who they left off?

Even Chicago native Pat Sajak, a noted Cubs fan wondered “Where’s The White Sox“?

Though its understandable why the White Sox were left off (you couldn’t fit all five teams there due to space limitations), news of the “snub” spread on social media as Sox fans weren’t happy (some were even amazed Wheel was still on the air after all these years, its 43rd on television.) Still, a fits a pattern yours truly documented in 2016 when the Cubs went to the World Series – many thought it was the city’s first fall classic appearance since 1945 – nevermind the White Sox went to the World Series in 1959 and won it all in 2005.

But it’s kind of funny about “attention” when Wheel of Fortune – ousted from the top game show spot by Steve Harvey’s Family Feud sometime ago – received the most publicity it had in years. Believe it or not, the White Sox gets actually more ink than Wheel – or most programs in the dying first-run syndication business, with the last program receiving any kind of “attention” was The Dr. Oz Show.

And that came when Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver blasted him for the absolute phoniness of his program.