The Media Notepad: Dish drops NBC Sports Chicago

They’re home but as far as Dish is concerned, the satellite provider is slamming the door shut in their face.

Also: Fox32/My50 goes up Schitt’s Creek; stunning fall from the top for The Mix; ABC closes Grand Hotel

As expected, Dish has pulled the plug on NBC Sports Chicago October 1 as the satellite carrier continues to make life miserable for content providers – and subscribers.

With the Cubs leaving the partnership effective October 1 for new upstart Marquee, new carriage deals had to be negotiated with cable and satellite carriers to continue carrying the channel, now with all White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks games (except those carried by each league’s respective network TV carriers.) Most carriers re-upped with the exception of Dish, DirecTV, and Mediacom.

In a taunting shot at the RSN, Dish made note NBC Sports Chicago was losing the Cubs, pointing out the team drew more viewers on than the other teams combined. But the message seems misguided, given Dish has yet to strike their own deal for the Cubs and Sinclair and as I pointed out earlier, unlikely to carry the channel given this message they keep repeating: “The regional sports model has been broken for years”… and such.

Meanwhile, DirecTV has reached a short-term extension with NBC Sports Chicago to continue carrying the channel, but when it expires is anyone’s guess. The status of the channel’s negotiations with Mediacom is unknown.

Already, Fox Corp.’s channels – Fox, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network have been off Dish for a week, while the carrier continues to battle with Sinclair over the Fox Sports RSNs and Colorado’s Altitude, who are also involved with carriage disputes with DirecTV and Comcast, leaving practically the entire state without access to Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets games. You can imagine each team’s fans – and Altitude’s advertisers – are extremely pissed.

Moreover, Dish’s statement saying the three Chicago teams’ fan base doesn’t matter because they haven’t had success in recent years is totally repugnant. You have to wonder what kind of business playbook Dish has been using lately – it certainly isn’t a consumer-friendly one despite their odious claim they are “looking out for the consumer”.

The latest PPM numbers were released this week, and it showed quite a shakeup in Chicago’s radio ratings as iHeartMedia’s V103 (WVAZ-FM) returned to the top for the first time in about a year, knocking Hubbard’s The Mix (WTMX) down to sixth place. It is a stunning drop to be sure, with the hot AC station falling 26 percent month-to-month. The Mix’s Eric in The Morning Show also fell out of first place to second, behind WBBM’s Felicia Middlebrooks and Pat Cassidy.

Not all was lost for Hubbard, The Drive (WDRV-FM) still finished second overall with midday radio personality Bob Stroud finishing first.

Finishing third was Cumulus’ WLS-FM; WBBM-AM/WCFS-FM fourth; and Cubs-inflated The Score (WSCR-AM) finishing fifth – and the station everyone loves to talk about (but not listen to) – WGN-AM – finished in a tie for twelfth with Entercom’s WBMX-FM, whose Classic Hip-Hop format is more successful than anyone thought.

And of note, WLS-FM’s Ron Parker finished third in afternoons. So what did WLS do to celebrate? They fired him, of course.

The recently Emmy-nominated Schitt’s Creek has scored its first syndication deal with the Fox-owned television stations’ duopoly markets for a syndication debut starting next fall.

Debmar-Mercury struck the deal to carry the Canadian-based sitcom starring SCTV veterans Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara and features a wealthy video store magnate and his family who relocate to a small town called Schitt’s Creek after being defrauded by their business manger. The town is the family’s only asset – bought by the magnate for his son for his birthday as a joke birthday gift (yep, that’s the plot.)

The series airs on the CBC in Canada and the Pop cable network here in the U.S. The series is currently is in its sixth and final season.

Schitt’s Creek will enter syndication on Fox and other television stations throughout the country next fall with one of the most loyal and passionate fan bases on television,” said Ira Bernstein and Mort Marcus, co-presidents of Debmar-Mercury in a joint statement. “It is so rare to have a show like this that appeals equally to viewers, Emmy voters and critics — a testament to its extraordinary gifted cast and writing. We are excited to be working alongside [producer] ITVS GE to bring this outstanding program to the world.”

Fox owns WFLD-TV (Fox 32) and WPWR-TV (My 50) and will air Schitt’s Creek in 2020 and is expected to be paired with off-net sitcoms The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, and The Simpsons. The program was also sold to other Fox-owned duopolies in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Houston on an all-barter basis, meaning stations pay no cash for the show but give up half of their ad inventory to Dembar-Mercury so its national advertising representative (CBS Television Distribution) can sell to national advertisers.

CBC’s programming has aired in U.S. syndication over the years with dramas Davinci’s Inquest, Stone Undercover (a.k.a. Tom Stone), and most recently, Republic Of Doyle. The last CBC sitcom to be sold as an off-network strip in the United States was the very short-lived Hangin’ In from Orbis Communications in 1986.

Schitt’s Creek is produced by Not a Real Company Productions, which by the way, is a real production company.

Checking out: ABC has opted not to renew summer drama Grand Hotel after one low-rated summer season. The series was about a family who ran a upscale hotel in Miami and their staff in an “Upstairs/Downstairs” type of show, similar in vain to OWN’s The Haves And Have Not and the former Lifetime drama Devious Maids.

According to Nielsen, the series drew only a 0.5 rating in the key 18-49 demo and averaged 2.7 million viewers in its lone season.

Original summer scripted series have struggled in recent years, although a few have done decently well, notably Fox’s revival of BH 90210. But others have completely bombed as the broadcast networks are trying to keep up with cable and streaming services, who release original scripted programming year-round. Grand Hotel has been praised for having a mostly Latino cast, a rarity in English-language television.

The series was executive produced by former Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria, who said the inspiration for the show came from the Spanish drama Gran Hotel, set in 1900s Spain and ran on Spain’s Antena 3 from 2011-13. In the U.S., episodes ran on PBS’ former V-Me digital subchannel after its original run in Spain concluded.

Longoria also directed a few episodes.

Of note is the pilot for the series and the exterior shots were filmed at Miami’s Fountainebleau Hotel, where NATPE is held every year.


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