The Media Notepad: Fox 32’s Corey McPherrin calls it a career after 46 years

Also: NBCUniversal launches more FAST channels on Roku; Linear TV usage slips below 50 percent for first time as streaming continues to rise 

As first alluded to by Broadcasting & Cable a few weeks ago in a profile about Chicago’s news operations, Fox 32 (WFLD) anchor Corey McPherrin made it official this week, announcing his retirement on social media after 46 years working in television news, with his final newscast tonight.

A native of south suburban Markham and a graduate of Hillcrest High School in Country Club Hills and Butler University in Indianapolis, McPherrin got his start in Davenport, Ia., then landed at NBC affiliate WGEM-TV in Quincy, Ill. among other places before heading to ABC-owned WABC-TV in New York City in 1984 where he was named primary sports anchor two years later, and worked the memorable sixteen-inning affair between the New York Mets and Houston Astros in that year’s National League Championship Series (spoiler alert: the Mets won the game and the series.) McPherrin also called the first-ever Sunday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants for WABC in a separate broadcast as the ESPN feed couldn’t be used due to the station’s union contract at the time.

In 1991, McPherrin became the main sports anchor at CBS-owned WBBM-TV succeeding the retiring Johnny Morris and in 1995, shifted to WFLD in the same capacity, joining other CBS 2 alums at the station including Walter Jacobson, Robin Robinson, and Bob Sirott. McPherrin was tapped to host Good Day Chicago morning show in 2010 and seamlessly transitioned into hard news anchor in 2017, joining Dawn Hasbrouck at the anchor desk at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. 

McPherrin joins other local Chicago news figures who called it a career in recent years, including Mark Suppelsa, Alan Krashesky, Dan Roan, and Mike Flannery

In what should be alarming news for television executives, linear TV usage fell behind below 50 percent for the first time during the month of July, according to a report from Nielsen. 

According to their monthly report The Gauge, streaming accounted for 38.7 percent of all television viewing in July, a traditionally low-HUT viewing month, up 25 percent from July 2022. Linear TV – broadcast and cable/satellite viewing, had a combined 49.6 percent share. Broken down, broadcast had 20 percent (down 5.4 percent year-to-year) and cable had 29.6 percent (down 12.5 percent year-to-year). 

“Other” had a 11.6 percent share. 

Nielsen’s The Gauge, July 2023 snapshot of broadcast, cable and streaming usage via television.

As you can see to your left – or bottom if you are reading on a mobile device, YouTube (the web portal, not the service) had the biggest share at 9.2 percent, followed by Netflix with 8.5 and “other streaming” at 5.1 percent.  

Just two years ago, linear TV had a 63.6 share of audience. 

The news obviously justifies the shift from linear TV to streaming and for the future, does not bode well from those who lack broadband internet, or don’t have an internet connection at all. In a piece I wrote in May 2022, the digital divide could leave residents – especially in lower-income areas – left behind (as of this writing, Verizon and AT&T Fiber are still not available in parts of the South Side and south suburbs of Chicago.) And it also doesn’t bode well for pure-play broadcasters, who are now lobbying the FCC to close a loophole regarding retransmission consent and virtual multiple video programming distributors, or vMVPDs. 

Perhaps the biggest story here is the surprise surge of a former USA Network shows gaining traction – the drama Suits, featuring Meagan Markle (we all know what happened to her.) Believe it or not, it is the most-watched show on Netflix and in all of streaming. Don’t ask me how the system works.

It would be interesting to see what happens when football begins in a few weeks, and linear might move up past 50 percent. But the move is on, and there’s no stopping it  – led by Prince Harry’s wife and a former linear TV show, of all things. 

In the survey above, one sector of growth in streaming is the “FAST” channel – the Free Advertiser Supported model, where Tubi, Pluto, and Roku managed to achieve near or a little above one percent of viewing. Well, NBCUniversal is taking advantage of the trend by launching new FAST channels surrounding some of its library content on Roku.

On Tuesday, the studio launched dedicated channels to several TV shows including Saved By The Bell, Little House on The Prairie and Murder She Wrote. NBCUniversal also launched a TNBC channel, featuring teen-oriented programming that aired on its Saturday Morning lineup in the 1990s and 2000s, including City Guys and Hang Time, and a few former prime time shows including Punky Brewster and laughably Major Dad – which wasn’t a teen show and ran on CBS. 

Another new channel launched Universal Crime, featuring classic crime dramas such as Columbo, Kojak, and The Rockford Files. And coming soon is the Universal Action Channel, featuring Magnum P.I., The A-Team, and more. 

“[NBCUniversal is] excited to expand upon our longstanding relationship with The Roku Channel and dive into the dramatically growing FAST sector by partnering with them to bring our beloved TV shows to their viewers.”, said Bruce Casino, who is EVP of Sales & Distribution for NBCUniversal Global Distribution in the U.S. 

The announcement was made in June as NBCUniversal struck a deal with Roku to create the channels, and in a blog post written by Roku’s Jennifer Vaux, announced they were now streaming news channels from CBS-owned and Fox-owned stations from across the country including CBS 2 and Fox 32 here, in addition to the NBCU channels. 

In July, Roku achieved 1.1 percent of viewing time among FASTs according to Nielsen, ahead of Pluto TV’s 0.9. The Roku Channel is available on smart TVs, through the web, Google TV, Amazon Fire TV, and of course, Roku devices. 

Further reading

Tamron Hall upgraded in three ABC O&O markets including WABC New York as stations add 10 a.m. newscasts (TVNewscheck)

WGN’s new Spotlight Chicago reflects the evolution of Chicago’s local TV programming (Crain’s)






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