Media notepad: The Mix surges back to the top

Plus: WGN replaces This with Court; Bears slide in the ratings; PlaystationVue to close

Hubbard-owned WTMX-FM (101.9 The Mix) bounce back from sixth place back into first place is certain to raise more question than answers.

After falling out of the top five last month, the hot AC station “miraculously” surged back to the top spot in the last survey, ahead of previous winner WVAZ-FM (V103) and sister station WDRV-FM (The Drive) according to Nielsen’s PPM numbers.

I cannot recall any instance where a top-rated radio station fell out of first place, low enough to bounce back to the top spot again. Is there a flaw in Nielsen’s PPM meteorology? I’m not taking anything away from the station’s success, but the results here are very questionable.

Meanwhile, another Hubbard station – WSHE-FM – has surged into a tie with WRME-FM (MeTV-FM) for tenth place as WSHE may have taken listeners from Top 40 stalwarts WKSC-FM (Kiss 103.5) and WBBM-FM (B96) as their ratings slumped – not to mention recently launching a television ad campaign, something radio stations rarely do these days.

WSHE recently added a lot of late 1990s-early 2000s era pop music to their rotation (Britney Spears, NSYNC, Matchbox 20, etc.), appealing to women ages 35-44.

Hubbard swept every daypart (with the exception of evenings, which went to V103’s Chris Michaels), with WTMX’s winning mornings (with Eric Ferguson & Co.) and afternoon drive, and The Drive tying WLS-FM for the midday lead.

With the Bears losing to the Los Angeles Chargers (a.k.a. South L.A.’s NFL team, at least for this season) in the most asinine way possible, their game Sunday dropped to a season-low 22.9 household live-plus-same day rating on Fox-owned WFLD-TV according to the Chicago Tribune.

It’s also the smallest audience for a Bears game in nearly two years. Ratings did spike to a 27 in the final quarter-hour of the game, when kicker Eddy Pineiro missed a chip-shot field goal. The ratings decline comes as the Bears continues to unravel due to quarterback’s Mitch Trubisky’s poor play and the head-scratching coaching decisions made by Matt Nagy.

Numbers from Los Angeles market were not available as the Chargers have their own ratings problems as they were playing at the same time the cross-town rival Los Angeles Rams were playing the Cincinnati Bengals in London. On October 13, a “home” game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Carson, Calif. drew the smallest ratings for NBC’s Sunday Night Football in years with the stadium filled with mostly fans of the gold and black and those terrible towels, of course. The game earned a weak 9.3 rating for NBC’s KNBC in Los Angeles.

Both the Rams and Chargers will move into their new $5 billion digs in Inglewood, Calif. next year.

Back to the Bears, you have to wonder if their poor play is starting to affect the confidence the major NFL’s rightsholders have in the team. This Sunday’s game between Chicago’s Lakefront Team and the Philadelphia Eagles is being seen in around only 12 percent of the country, according to The Bears have two prime-time SNF games on the schedule – one against the Rams on November 17 and another against the Kansas City Chiefs at home December 22. Don’t be surprised if one or both of these games (especially if Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes doesn’t return from injury) are flexed out of the NFL’s biggest stage.

After a nearly six-month wait, CourtTV finally arrived Monday to Chicago’s WGN digital subchannel universe and to eighteen other former Tribune stations, locally broadcast channel 9.3 and on cable providers Comcast and RCN.

Announced last December, CourtTV returned to the airwaves on May 8 as a diginet, but had to sit on the sidelines as Tribune had to wait out an expiring contract with This TV, a network the company had a 50 percent stake in. Since that time, Nexstar took over Tribune’s stations in a $4.1 billion merger deal. Local viewers weren’t completely shut out of CourtTV; since its debut, the channel is available online and to stream on numerous platforms including Roku and Apple TV.

Despite Nexstar’s co-ownership in the channel, CourtTV’s arrival has forced This to find new homes in former Tribune markets. In Chicago, the channel has relocated to low-power WRJK Channel 22.3, a station most area viewers can’t pick up and most cable operators doesn’t carry. This has re-located to CBS-owned stations in New York and Dallas (see below), but hasn’t had much luck in other former Tribune markets such as Indianapolis, where This has vanished completely.

With no Nexstar stations carrying the channel, look for the company to unload its ownership share, likely back to MGM as they would assume full ownership. This launched in 2008 as a partnership between MGM and Weigel Broadcasting; Tribune replaced Weigel as a partner in 2013. 

Say so long to Playstation Vue: Sony announced Monday it is shutting down the streaming service at the end of January. Reports have surfaced the streamer was being put up for sale, as Vue failed to achieve its subscriber goals.

In a blog post, Sony explained the reason why they were pulling the plug: “Unfortunately, the highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected. Because of this, we have decided to remain focused on our core gaming business.”

Vue debuted in March 2015 as one of the first skinny-bundle over-the-top services to appeal to cord-cutters who felt cable subscriptions were too expensive. But in recent years, other services flooded the market with the arrival of Hulu, YouTube TV, Fubo, and others offering similar services. Sony never released subscription numbers for Vue, but was understood it was anywhere between 500,000 and 800,000 subscribers. Vue was available on Playstation devices, but also available on other streaming platforms without owning a PS3 or Ps4 game system.

Vue ran into trouble in late 2016 as it dropped all Viacom-owned cable networks due to a carriage dispute and never returned. Sinclair’s 190-plus stations were also pulled from the service for several months last year.

Worse, Vue was unable to carry any CW programming on its service, even though it carried local affiliates from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and My Network TV. Vue had to black out CW programming on former affiliate WPWR as a result, though the rest of the station’s lineup wasn’t affected.


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