The Media Notepad: Bears draw big ratings for SNF

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) runs against Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Plus… HBO Boxing swan song a bust; Judge Joe Brown returns to TV

The Monsters Of The Midway are back!

Sunday Night Football scored a significant ratings victory with the matchup between two first-place teams: the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears. Being played at a frigid Soldier Field in Chicago, the Bears beat the Rams 15-6, thanks to the team’s dominant defense, who sacked Rams QB Jason Goff several times.

The game dominated Sunday night viewing for NBC, with the game drawing 19.4 million viewers and a 5.9 rating in the key adults 18-49 demo, up 9 percent from last year. In households, the game drew a 11.2 rating.

In Chicago, the Bears were a smash hit, continuing a ratings resurgence to go along with their improved record. The game drew a 33.7 household rating and 52 share for NBC’s WMAQ. By comparison, sister NBC O&O KNBC in Los Angeles only drew a 15.3 household rating, but it is above average for a Rams game in the market. The Rams returned to Los Angeles in 2016 after 22 years in St. Louis.

Despite dominating prime-time, the Bears-Rams game wasn’t the highest-rated game of the day – this belonged to the matchup between the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, who drew a whopping 25.1 million viewers and a 14.2 household rating for Fox, making it the highest-rated game of the NFL season. The game drew a 7.0 rating in the 18-49 demo.

This Sunday, the Bears host division rival Green Bay at noon on Fox. If the Bears win, they could clinch their first NFC North division title since 2010.

HBO closed out 45 years of boxing telecasts Saturday night with a card from the Stub Hub Center in Carson, Calif. in a facility adjacent to the stadium where the Los Angeles Chargers play. Unfortunately for HBO, few viewers tuned in.

According to Nielsen, HBO finished with an average of a 0.10 rating among adults 18-49 and around 300,000 viewers (ratings were broken out by hour), down significantly from the 1.092 million viewers earned by the television¬† premiere of movie Ready Player One. The finale was stomped by ESPN’s Top Rank card, who drew 1.9 million viewers and a 0.6 rating in the demo, aided by a strong Heisman Trophy lead-in with 2.9 million. Top Rank – who once had a partnership with HBO, finished with the second highest-rated boxing telecast this year.

Ratings for HBO’s final telecast were indeed disappointing, but was expected given their lackluster card of minor-league fighters. Attendance at Stub Hub – home to some of HBO’s most memorable bouts, was also small. Originally, the last boxing telecast was set for October 27th, but in an odd move, added two last-minute cards for November 24 and December 8, respectively.

HBO announced earlier this year it was exiting the boxing business as the sport was no longer a key element in attracting subscribers. HBO parent Time Warner was recently acquired by AT&T, and conceded it can’t compete with ESPN, Showtime, and several streaming options, including new streaming service DAZN, who recently launched an advertising campaign featuring former HBO personalities Michael Buffer and boxer Canelo Alvarez. Given the declining ratings over the years, you can’t blame HBO for cutting the sport loose. Then again, it was their neglect which put them in this situation to begin with.

Fox-owned CW affiliate WPWR has picked up a new show from former television judge Joe Brown – but it’s not in a courtroom. As first reported by Marc Berman, Brown is returning next month in a weekly show titled Hot Topics With Judge Joe, a half-hour program from Pacific Life Entertainment. The program plans to focus on hot-button issues (of course) with a panel of guests.

In addition to WPWR, Hot Topics has also been sold to CBS’ WLNY in New York, where it is airing Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. (WPWR has yet to announce a day or a time period.)¬† Also aboard is WGN America and Impact Network.

A former Memphis judge, Brown was signed to a new courtroom show from the producers of Judge Judy and debuted in 1998. Judge Joe Brown was one of the last projects created by Worldvision Enterprises (whose roots lie with the original American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., known as ABC Films until 1973) before parent company Spelling Entertainment was bought out by Viacom, who transferred the series to Paramount Domestic Television. In 2006, Paramount TV became CBS Television Distribution after Viacom split into two separate companies. Despite ranking as the second highest-rated courtroom show in syndication, CBS canceled Judge Joe Brown in 2013 over a contract dispute – the syndicator wanted to renew his contract but at a lower salary.

Of note, Judge Joe Brown began its run on WPWR before moving to WFLD after parent company Fox Television Stations purchased WPWR. After WFLD added Wendy Williams and The Real to its schedule, Judge Joe Brown shifted back to WPWR.