What’s on tap in media and more
As we do at the start of every year, these are the issues local, national, and political media types will be talking about in the year ahead. At the end of 2023, we’ll re-visit this list and see how all of this fared.
1. Will the Writer’s Guild of America strike? This would be the top issue to look at this year as the WGA West is concerned about the decline of earnings for its writers, plus eroding residual payments and shorter episode seasons among other issues as Hollywood continues its transition to streaming. If there is a strike after their contract expires May 1, it would be the first since 2007 – one that took years for Hollywood to recover from. SAG-AFTRA and the Director’s Guild also have contracts expiring this year (June 30) and they could strike too.
2. The Chicago mayoral race. Local media outlets are already benefitting from the increase of political ads, as more candidates have money to spend. Can incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot hold on to her job?
3. Will Twitter still be around? Since Elon Musk bought Twitter last year, he’s cut the workforce by as much as 75 percent while restoring previously banned accounts. As the social media platform’s credibility continues to sink, will it be around by the end of the year?
4. Who will be the Bears’ official new home? With Fox 32 reportedly not renewing their agreement with the team (don’t panic, their games will continues to air on Fox through the network’s contract with the NFL), who will land the pre/post-game shows, Inside The Bears, preseason contests, and other team programming? Nexstar’s WGN-TV and the Cubs/Sinclair’s Marquee Sports Network are strong contenders.
5. The financial saga of Bally Sports. And you can expand this to all regional sports networks as cable cord-cutting continues to decimate this once lucrative business.
6. Potential media mergers. Despite losing billions, media companies remain committed to streaming and are willing to do anything to make it work – even if it means ruffling a few feathers in Washington. Could Comcast spinoff NBCU and sell it to Warner Bros. Discovery or Paramount Global to build up scale? Is Paramount going to be put up for sale? And what about smaller studios such as Lionsgate and Sony?
7. Will DirecTV and Dish merge? And speaking of mergers…with NFL Sunday Ticket exiting and plummeting subscriber counts, how long can DirecTV hold on? Will rival Dish buy them? Moreover, will the government allow it?
8. What will The CW look like. With Nexstar now in full control of the network, will youth-oriented scripted dramas continue to dominate, or will more older-skewing fare arrive? Moreover, will The CW return “home” to WGN-TV after seven years away given both are now under common ownership?
9. Chicago in crisis. Despite a declining homicide count, the city continues to lose businesses both big and small as crime is still seemingly out of control, as it has been for years. Can Chicago turn it around?
10. The future of Audacy. With the company’s stock price sinking amid lackluster ratings and revenue performance of its big-market radio stations, is Audacy ripe for a hostile takeover?