The Media Notepad: NHL Draft Lottery yields strong rating numbers for NHL (and the number one pick for the Blackhawks)


Also: WTMX defamation suit ends; The CW likely to move again in San Diego; Bubble Bustin’ Week is underway as CBS axes two shows; 

The much ballyhooed and ridiculous attempt to turn a bunch of lottery balls into a TV show paid off for the NHL: Monday’s televised draft lottery aired by ESPN and produced by the NHL Network scored a total of 658,000 viewers, up 200,000 or so from last year’s show, making it the most-watched ever. The lottery was won by the Chicago Blackhawks, who would use it to draft the year’s top prospect, Connor Bedard.

The Blackhawks already are reaping benefits – $5.2 million worth of season ticket sales were sold within twelve hours after the announcement. Bedard’s arrival would certainly be a boon for NBC Sports Chicago, who’ll televise every non-network produced Blackhawks game in the form of increased ratings.

Viewers on social media weren’t happy on several fronts. For one, there was a technical snafu going to commercial break, which accidentally revealed the number three pick (for the Columbus Blue Jackets.)

On another, fans outside of the Chicago area were pissed the Blackhawks got the first pick. Similar to what we saw after Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential Election, accusations were branded around saying the process was “rigged”, undermining the credibility of the lottery. This of course, was tied to the scandal the Blackhawks were involved in, which also saw Kyle Beach’s name trend on Twitter Monday night along with “rigged” (save your jokes about Chicago and the words “rigged” in the same sentence.)

Tying the current organization (outside of the owner) to the scandal is unfair to the coaching staff, players, Bedard, and others who had nothing to do with those disgraceful acts as the reaction from non-fans and non-Chicagoans were way over the top. As I pointed out on Twitter Monday, the last few years have been a nightmare for Chicago (technically, it was just as bad during the time the Hawks were dominating the sports landscape), with an international reputation tarnished due to high crime rates, shootings, murders, store closings, Fortune 500 departures, and the disastrous reign of Mayor Lightfoot’s run in office – not to mention continued slams from right-wing politicians and former President Donald Trump.

Surprised we didn’t see any “Bedard is going to get carjacked in Chicago” or “I’m so sorry he’s going to play in a city full of thugs” tweets among the usual anti-Chicago racist crap I see on Elon Musk’s bird poop app on a daily basis. Please, let us have this moment.

Interesting to note, not one Chicago media outlet mentioned the scandal Monday night when the Blackhawks won the pick. But it doesn’t mean others have forgotten. And the world let us know Monday night in no uncertain terms.

The battle between former WTMX producer Cynthia DeNicolo and owner Hubbard Broadcasting has ended. 

The producer of the station’s former Eric And Kathy In The Morning withdrew her appeal recently of a judge’s ruling last November, throwing out her $10 million lawsuit against the company, according to Inside Radio.

The suit came after it was revealed Eric Ferguson made lewd comments and made unreasonable demands to staffers, including Melissa McGurren and DeNicolo. A producer of the show for two decades, DeNicolo sued Ferguson and Hubbard after the company’s investigation of the matter turned up no evidence. Hubbard moved to dismiss the complaint, and a year later was granted by Judge Franklin Valderrama with prejudice. DeNicolo filed a appeal but it was withdrawn in March. 

This comes after a similar $10 million lawsuit against Hubbard from McGurren was dismissed in March 2022 as her attorney said at the time they were seeking arbitration. Ferguson was pulled from the airwaves in October 2021 and subsequently stepped down from his position. During his time on the air Ferguson – paired with Kathy Hart, dominated female demos in Chicago’s morning radio race. Hart abruptly left the show in 2017 after finding Ferguson difficult to work with – so much to the point they weren’t speaking to each other off-air. Hart has since retired from radio. 

Once again, another affiliation change is about to happen in San Diego as Nexstar announced the purchase of independent KUSI from locally held McKinnon Broadcasting for $35 million. Nexstar already owns Fox affiliate KSWB, who they acquired through the acquisition of Tribune Broadcasting in 2019, home to WGN-TV in Chicago. 

“It’s getting tough for independent stations that are locally owned to compete in today’s world,” said CEO Mike McKinnon in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday, noting the difficulty of running a local station in today’s fragmented atmosphere. “You have streaming going on, you’ve got a lot of different things you get media on besides TV. And so being part of a big group makes it financially easier to get done.”

Linear TV’s decline has made it much harder for independent group owners such as McKinnon to operate. KUSI launched in 1982, and has a news operation who features former Chicago reporter Rafer Weigel and was once home to former Chicago meteorologist John Coleman, best known for his stints at WLS-TV and WMAQ-TV. The news operation is likely to merge with KSWB’s, who launched in 1984 as KTTY. 

Even though they have yet to announce it, it’s widely believed The CW is expected to move to KUSI as Nexstar purchased the network last year. Currently, The CW is currently on a digital subchannel of CBS affiliate KFMB-TV, who acquired the affiliation in 2017 after it was pulled from XETV, who became a CW affiliate in 2008 after it lost its Fox affiliation after 22 years to KSWB. Sitting across the Mexican border from San Diego, XETV is now an affiliate of Grupo Televisa’s Canal 5. Other San Diego affiliation swaps saw XETV losing ABC to KCST (now NBC-owned KNSD) in 1973 after 20 years due to an FCC ruling stating networks can not affiliate with stations in another country, and then went to NBC after losing the ABC affiliation to KGTV in 1977.

Ironically, KUSI sued Fox in 1995 over XETV’s Fox affiliation, claiming they had no rights to transmit live sporting events as Fox successfully bid in 1993 and 1994 respectively, to win the rights for NFL and NHL games. The lawsuit was unsuccessful. 

KFMB is one of the stations who turned down LIV Golf, which was cleared on KUSI. Just last week, CBS announced it was dropping the CW in eight markets, and also declined to carry LIV. 

With the Writer’s Strike now in its second week, it isn’t stopping the major broadcast networks from dumping “bubble” shows before they rollout their fall schedules – though with the strike, no one knows what they’ll look like. And the bubble has already burst for several shows, not waiting for the “Bubble Bustin’ Thursday” or Friday as it has been the case for several years. 

Last week, Blossom’s Cat Cafe closed for good as Fox canceled the Mayim Bialik comedy vehicle Call Me Kat after three unproductive seasons. One of the show’s stars (Lesile Jordan) died last year in a car accident. Fox also announced it wasn’t renewing 9-1-1 but picked up another season of its spin-off, 9-1-1 Lonestar instead. However, 9-1-1 is moving to ABC next season as off-network reruns were already airing weekends on ABC-owned stations, including WLS-TV here. 9-1-1 is produced by Twentieth Television, now owned by Disney – who is the parent of ABC. 

In an more unusual action, CBS canceled S.W.A.T after six seasons last Friday despite ratings growth and being one of the most-watched shows on the network. After outcry (and not wanting to repeat the Jericho debacle from sixteen years ago), CBS reversed its decision and renewed the cop drama for a seventh season – which would be its final. At the same time however, CBS sacrificed East New York and mid-season replacement True Lies instead. CBS announced its 2023-24 lineup Wednesday, though it isn’t really set in stone as scripted shows will be delayed due to the strike. 

The CW is expected to ax most of its high-priced dramas as it transitions to more unscripted and import fare under new owner Nexstar. But it did renew two shows: All American (without Taye Diggs, who was dropped from the show) and Walker – but it did drop spinoff Walker: Independence

We’ll have more in this space and on Twitter in the coming days ahead. 


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