Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The 2008 T Dog Blog Turkey Awards

Well, it's that time of year again... It's Thanksgiving... and it's time for the third annual T Dog Media Blog Turkey Awards, celebrating the worst in media. Gobble, gobble...

- Media Rights Capital's Sunday lineup on CW. The network leases its Sunday lineup to MRC, and programs it with junk like Valentine and Easy Money. The results? CW's ratings go even lower - lower than even TV preacher shows Paula White Today and Dr. James D. Kennedy. The CW recently took back the night to program, albeit with reruns. Praise the Lord!

- The Detroit Lions. This is history, baby! 0-16!

- NBC. The Ben Silverman era makes me long for the Fred Silverman era. Is a remake of Supertrain on tap?

- Joe Ahern. The WBBM-TV boss was canned for being unable to translate his success at WLS-TV to the beleaguered CBS-owned station - and not to mention making station employees pay for his lunches...

- The FCC. An award for the third year in a row. The agency is more concerned about indecency than the upcoming analog-to-digital TV conversion. Don't worry - the kids will be protected because if they don't have cable or satellite, they won't be able to turn on the TV come February 17.

- The Parents Television Council. It just wouldn't be the T Dog Media Blog Turkey Awards without this group showing up here.

- Nine-FM. This turkey finally flew the coup in October after four non-productive years of "We Play Anything."

- HD-DVD. Tobisha's attempt to compete with Blu-Ray in the race for the next generation of DVDs fell apart with a mighty dud, with Blu-Ray declared the "winner". Or is it the loser? Sales of Blu-Ray players have been quite lackluster since HD-DVD's demise.

- The Cubs. It's gonna happen. Well, it didn't.

- Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The debut of the TV series scored the highest ratings ever for Cartoon Network. So what? The movie - which came out in August - flopped with audiences. Sorry, but a turd is still a turd.

- Jay Mariotti. This jive turkey decided to fly from the Sun-Times coup, beliving "newspapers are dead", but a few days later, he interviews with the Tribune. A gobbling, gobbling liar.

- The return of Mancow and Delilah. You know the statement "You always can't go broke underestimating the tastes of the American public...?" So true.

- Fox News' E.D. Hill. She reported the fist-bump gesture Obama did with his wife was a "terrorist fist-jab." - something Howie Mandel also does on Deal or No Deal because he is a germophobic. Well, Obama is President-Elect, Howie still has his job, and E.D. Hill's career in journalism is over, as Fox declined to renew her contract.

- Randy from Survivor: Gabon. Is this guy a potential Fox News hire or what? This guy made Omorosa and Johnny Fairplay look like Donny & Marie. With Alan Comes gone, now Randy can team up with Sean Hannity for the "Hannity & Randy Hour". Now that's a hour of must-see (or flee) TV!

- The Simpsons' That '90's Show episode. Nothing smells like desperation like a "Jump the Shark" stunt like rewriting the back story of the series because the writers ran out of ideas. You guys are lucky the fans are this forgiving... unlike in the next example...

- Heroes and Tim Kring. The biggest turkey of 2008 is this current season of Heroes and features the worst storytelling I've seen anywhere in recent memory (and I've seen Barbershop 2.) Too many characters, unbelievably dumb plots (Hiro thinks he's ten?), abandoning storylines without closure, and horrible, horrible, writing and acting. The result? Ratings are down by 40 percent this year compared to last.

And then there's Heroes creator Tim Kring, while at a recent screenwriting expo, called his fans "saps" and "dipshits" for watching the series live as it airs and not figuring out how to watch the program in a more superior way, i.e. DVR and DVDs (He has since apologized.) Hey "dipshit", I have one word to call you and your stupid show- retarded. You've lost this viewer. How about a pumpkin pie to the face, you sniveling jackass?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

- Fox O&Os, including WFLD-TV here in Chicago, have renewed Warner Bros.' TMZ on TV nightly strip through the 2010-11 season. So more celebrity paparazzi junk from producer and alleged lawyer Lionel Hutz - I mean, Harvey Levin.

- Check out Battlestar Galactica's new promo for its' fourth-season premiere, coming in January.

- The first broadcast station sale of Twentieth's My Name Is Earl occurred - to independent WPCH-TV in Atlanta for fall 2009, as well as NBC Universal's The Office - and the station's new national ad sales rep is Millennium, taking over for Turner. No word on a Chicago clearance for Earl, but The Office is slated for WPWR-TV (or WFLD) next fall.

- Here's one way to get out of jury duty, albeit a very stupid one: The general manager for ABC-owned KFSN-TV in Fresno, Calif. is out after making some negative comments about Hispanics while under consideration for jury duty. Bob Hall resigned after he said to a court reporter he could not be a fair juror because he had proof Hispanic males commit more violent crimes than any other group in the Fresno area.

Hispanics make up 49 percent of the Fresno-Visalia market, and is ranked the thirteenth largest Hispanic market in the country.

Can we say... oops? This Bob Hall guy makes Joe Ahern look like General Manger of the Year by comparison.

Fox drops Saturday cartoons - for infomercials

Foxhas announced it is trading in Sonic the Hedgehog - for a bunch of people riding around in Hoveround chairs.

In a move that ends children's programming on Fox after 18 years, the network announced it is dropping the 4KidsTV block it had been airing on Saturday mornings. This comes after 4Kids sued Fox for a refund, alleging it owed them money if the clearance levels fell below 90 percent.

The two parties settled out of court, and as a result, the deal between 4Kids and Fox ends on Dec. 27, which will be the last broadcast of Saturday morning cartoons on the network.

As a replacement, Fox instead will be airing infomercials - yes, infomercials - the same ones you see late at night on TV, from Carelton Sheets to Time-Life Music. It is believed this is the first time a major network has opted for long-form commercials outside of President-Elect Barack Obama's time buy before the recent election.

Fox has being leasing the Saturday morning block to 4KidsTv since 2002 - a year after the network ended its' weekday afternoon animated block. 4Kids had been paying Fox $20 million for the privilege per year. According to the suit, 4Kids claims Fox owed them $13 million, due to the failure to keep the clearance level above 90 percent. Fox countered it didn't owe 4Kids any money.

Earlier this year, CW and 4Kids made a deal for the entity to program CW's Saturday morning lineup, replacing the Kids' WB fare it has aired for years (going back to The WB days.) The agreement continues, with some 4Kids fare formerly aired on Fox likely winding up on CW.

Fox's children's lineup began in 1990 as Fox Kids, as a partnership with the network and its' affiliates; any profits derived from the programming would be split between both parties. Its' start however was rocky: 60 or so Fox affiliates was airing The Disney Afternoon two-hour animated block at the time, and Buena Vista Television (now Disney-ABC Domestic Television) sued Fox to keep those time periods (it didn't succeed.)

Fox's afternoon kids block hit its' peak in the mid-1990's, with hits like Animanics, Tiny Toon Adventures, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

But ratings dwindled by the end of the decade, as kids inherited more programming options (like cable and DVDs), and many others decided to be heavily-involved in after-school activities, which meant fewer and fewer kids were at home in early fringe to watch TV.

Also, traditional animated fare has fallen out of favor with today's kids, preferring live-action comedies (think Hannah Montana) and other programming instead.

As for Saturday mornings, the other networks have regulated children's programming to three-hour educational programming blocks on Saturday or Sunday mornings, pairing them with national and local news shows, a trend started by NBC affiliate KCRA-TV in Sacramento in 1989, which dropped cartoons for local news shows. As a result, ratings - and revenue - skyrocketed and placed KCRA in first place on Saturday mornings.

Then-NBC affiliate KRON-TV in neighboring San Francisco shortly followed suit, as did stations in Atlanta, Minneapolis, and even here in Chicago - WGN-TV programmed news on weekend mornings for a short-time in the mid-'90's. The moves led NBC to add a Saturday Today show in 1992, with CBS adding a Saturday news show four years later, followed by ABC with a Saturday edition of Good Morning, America.

Many Fox stations - including WFLD-TV here in Chicago, dropped the 4Kids block, and either punted it to their sister MyNetworkTV station (in this case, WPWR-TV) or some other station in a given market. In Atlanta and Austin, TX - where Fox owns stations, Fox's 4Kids TV block didn't air at all.

The move signals an end of an era of sorts - an era that saw a daypart dominated by Scooby-Doo, The Smurfs, Garfield, Fat Albert, Bugs Bunny, The Banana Splits, and a whole lot more - not to mention making companies like Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, and Film Roman whole lot of money along the way. But let's face it - it was an era that passed quite a while ago.

Monday, November 24, 2008

John Willams to succede Spike O'Dell

It's official: Radio-info is reporting on its front page right now of the promotion of afternoon host John Willams to mornings on WGN-AM after current host Spike O'Dell retires on December 12. Willams take over the following Monday (December 15.)

No word yet on who will take over Willams' spot in the afternoons.

More from Phil Rosenthal in his Tower Ticker blog.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

B96 thanks Eddie & JoBo & Erica (updated)

WBBM-FM has a note on their website saying "thanks" to Eddie Volkman, Joe Bohannon, and Erica Cobb for their years of hard work and dedication on their morning show. As you all know by now, the trio were let go Friday.

In an interview with Phil Rosenthal of the Tribune, Volkman talked about the harsh realities facing the radio business - admitting the big paydays of years past are in - well, the past.

Cobb posted a goodbye note to her fans on her Facebook page and took a parting shot at her critics (I assume including this blog - which took a shot at her last spring for an on-air incident:)

"I am SO grateful and unbelievably blessed to have been a part of so many of your lives every morning. And I'm even more touched that so many of you feel that there will be a void by me not being there tomorrow. I love you all, I'll miss you all, but this is NOT the end, and I'll see you soon.

"No tears for me... I'm in MEXICO for crying out loud and when I return it's back to the grind. But I'll do so with excitement as I'm a firm believer in one door closing another one opening! AND to the haters ... LOL, it's such a rare opportunity that I actually address people who have so little to do but talk poorly about others who CHOOSE to work hard to achieve their dreams!

"I've NEVER considered my success your failure. And find it QUITE sad that you'd consider my 'failure,' which it's clearly NOT, your success. But if that's the way you want to play it, then I want you to prepare for MANY more failures in YOUR future."

Well, at least she has much more class than a certain creator and producer of a Monday night NBC show, who called fans of his program "saps and dipshits" at a screenwriting expo in Los Angeles last week. So how come Ms. Cobb loses her gig and this "dipshit" keeps his?

Ah, you gotta love this business. But don't worry - this "dipshit" will lose his job soon enough.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Flag on the play. After reading the note from Ms. Cobb a couple of times more, yours truly realized how unprofessional her statement was - coming from a person who pulls bush-league stunts. I guess Cobb can find a job with the Heroes writing staff. She's a diva - just like Tim Kring is. That more than enough qualifies her for the job. Given the show is written by "saps" and "dipshits", Erica would fit right in.

Updated 8:23 pm at 2008-11-24

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"The Tyra Banks Show" moves to CW

In a move that comes as a bit of a surprise, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution announced Thursday the move of The Tyra Banks Show to CW from first-run syndication - giving the network two hours to fill in its daytime lineup starting next September.

CW, home already to Ms. Banks' America's Next Top Model, acquired the program to run in early fringe from 3 to 5 p.m. in all time zones. The move replaces Judge Jeanne Pirro (which is shifting to first-run syndication) and repeats of Jamie Foxx and The Wayans Bros.

The Tyra Banks Show will air a repeat from a previous season at 3 p.m., followed by a new episode at 4 p.m. There are only 130 shows scheduled to be produced next season.

Warner Bros. Media Sales is selling the adtime (commercial spots) during the program.

This is not the first time of course, that a issues-oriented show has appeared on a network's daytime schedule. In 1991, CBS aired The Barbara DeAngelis Show, a short-lived talk show about relationships, while NBC has aired Leeza, Dr. Dean Edell, and The Other Side in its' daytime lineup.

Under terms of the agreement, Tyra remains in first-run syndication throughout the remainder of this current season. Her program is currently under contract with numerous Fox-owned stations, including WPWR-TV here. Recently, all eighteen Fox-owned stations purchased Debmar-Mercury's The Wendy Williams Show for next fall after a successful test run on a few of those stations- though at the time the Fox O&Os bought the show, it wasn't targeted as a replacement for Tyra Banks' talk show.

As for CW stations - many of them Tribune-owned outlets who already air Maury Povich and Jerry Springer, Tyra Banks is a good fit, perhaps better than the new T.D. Jakes show Trib stations picked up for next fall a few weeks ago.

As for Chicago-based Pirro, look for her show to likely wind up on WCIU-TV here - as the station is already home to two such programs from Warner - The People's Court and another Chicago-based courtroom show, Judge Mathis (better off, given CW has barely promoted Pirro's show.)

Eddie & JoBo out at B96

Note: This is a longer version of a story posted yesterday at 7:01 p.m.

Not exactly a shocker (as some would claim), given how the radio business has changed since these two signed a multi-year deal in 2002, but with high-salaries becoming a thing of the past in radio - as well as TV - and so is Eddie & JoBo's radio show on WBBM-FM (B96), who were unceremoniously dumped from the rhythmic/Top 40 outlet after 18 non-consecutive years today.

Also out were co-host Erica Cobb and producer Jeff Owen.

The duo - better known as Ed Volkman and Joe Bohannon - were first paired in 1988 at B96 - at a time when vinyl albums and cassettes were still being sold, the Internet barely existed, and the major chart action came from artists like Steve Winwood, Taylor Dayne, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston - all of which got significant airplay at the station at the time.

The duo were successful during their first run at B96, but a few years later a false story they concocted about a former WMAQ-TV anchorwoman fathering a baby by a Chicago Bull led to their firing in 1994. After two years in Philadelphia, Eddie & JoBo returned to B96 in late 1996, joining Frankie "Hollywood" Rodriguez (he was later dropped.)

While Eddie & JoBo were never really a overall ratings winner (especially in recent years), it has always been a demo hit - the program often topped the ratings in young adult demos and among teens.

In 2006, the duo added Erica Cobb as a third host.

Ratings for the program have eroded over the years, but managed to stay in the Top 10 among key demos. But the decline in those same demos accelerated with the introduction of the Portable People Meter system earlier this year. According to RadioCrunch analysis of PPM ratings, Eddie & JoBo finished eleventh among adults 18-34 in October, while rival WKSC's morning show (DreX) finished third. In female 18-34 demos, Eddie & JoBo finished ninth compared to DreX's third place finish.

Eddie & JoBo were contracted through July of next year and will earn a handsome $1 million - for not doing anything. Volkman talked about the firing and its aftermath to a WBBM-TV reporter.

B96 has stated they plan to launch a new morning show in January, but declined to elaborate. For now, midday jock J Nice will fill in on the morning shift, while Rebecca Ortiz takes over the midday shift.

Thought: Yours truly is torn. While I thought it was time for Eddie & JoBo to hang up their tired act - which was cool years ago mind you - the firing by CBS was just dumb headed. What CBS could have - and should have done was let them finish their contract, or let them leave on their own terms. Instead, CBS decided to fire them and incurring a PR nightmare. And the reason tough economic times our country is facing is nothing more than a lousy, convenient excuse.

Another claim is Eddie & JoBo were too old to connect with their younger audience, with Eddie Volkman already 50 years old. While that may be true, they still did well with the station's younger audience. Dick Clark and Casey Kasem still connected with younger listeners (and viewers) back in the day with their respective shows and both were over 50.

One thing that bugged me about Eddie & JoBo was their dissing older musical acts -Prince and Tom Petty performing at the Super Bowl halftime show, for example - just to impress their younger audience who they think aren't interested in those type of acts. The disses came across as contrived and phony, which hurt their own credibility. Another problem were the lame, recycled jokes the two kept using on the air. Adding Erica dragged down the show even further, with her inexperience.

On the other hand, both men should be commended for their community service throughout Chicagoland, from broadcasting from Cabrini-Green for a whole weekend a few weeks after Dantrell Davis was shot to broadcasting live from Dunkin' Dounts a year or so ago to raise money for a Chicago Police officer who was paralyzed from the waist down after getting shot in the line of duty.

With the end of the Eddie & JoBo, one could speculate about the future of B96 - the station has been leaning more pop than hip-hop and rap lately - the biggest shift since 2002 as ratings have softened. While a format change isn't likely, a ratings drop is, and it now puts them squarely behind rival WKSC-FM.

Though Eddie & JoBo often weren' t my cup of hot cocoa, the two should be commended for staying on as long as they did - nearly 20 years - just about as long as Rick Dees lasted at the morning shift on KIIS-FM in Los Angeles (22 years), and becoming a part of Chicago's radio heritage. But what Clear Channel did to Dees in 2004 (for Ryan Seacrest, no less) is the same thing CBS just did to Eddie & JoBo - and with no successor named. We all know it's a business, but come on. CBS could have gave them some options - to stay for a lower salary, to retire, or some other way.

But no... CBS gave them only one option - hitting the door without them saying goodbye to their fans - the ultimate kiss-off. And with just eight months to go on their contract. And if CBS let them renegotiate their contract, it would mean on their terms - meaning they would've been pulled off the air again - just like they were in 2002 - the last time their contract was up for renegotiation.

This proves once again radio conglomerates don't care about their listeners or their on-air personalities - just the bottom line. Ask former B96 jocks Roxanne Steele and Candi Gomez, who were also given similar treatment. Or better yet, ask Howard McGee.

And you wonder why radio - like television and newspapers - is a dying medium.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jonathan Brandmeier returns to TV

Seventeen years after Jonathan Brandmeier's syndicated TV show came - and went - quickly, he's taking another stab at the small screen.

NBC-owned WMAQ-TV is set to air two half-hour specials featuring Brandmeier on Dec. 6 at 1:05 a.m. (that's Saturday morning, not Saturday night) and the other airing a week later on Sunday night, after Sports Sunday. It is titled Almost Live... with Jonathan Brandmeier. WMAQ's current general manager (Larry Wert) was also Brandmeier's boss at WLUP-FM in the 1980's and the early 1990's.

If all goes well, more specials may be ordered.

Brandmeier's last TV gig (Johnny B. on the Loose, a T Dog's TV Hall of Shame inductee), a co-production of NBC and Viacom, debuted on June 24, 1991 in a temporary 6:30 p.m. prime-access time slot on WMAQ (the time slot would be overtaken in the fall by repeats of Married.. With Children.) Ratings for the critically-panned show started off strong, but by the end of its first week, they dropped by half.

Then two weeks later, Brandmeier's show got an jolt from the FCC. Not because of content, but because of the prime-time access rule, which at the time probhited ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates from airing network programming - new or old - in the hour before prime-time. And this would effect Johnny B. because of NBC's involvement in the show .

As a result, WMAQ moved Johnny B. to 12:30 a.m., two months earlier than planned. The ruling by the FCC also affected CBS affiliate KMOV's airing of the show in St. Louis, since it also had it in prime-access. Then-independent KCOP-TV in Los Angeles also yanked it from its 7:30 p.m. slot. The three moves - along with already low national numbers, pretty much sealed its fate. Viacom ended Johnny B. for good four weeks later, becoming one of the shortest first-run syndicated series in television history.

Despite NBC producing the show, WMAQ was the only NBC O&O to ever air it.

Brandmeier's new effort is not expected to go into national syndication.

CW, MRC part ways

It was a idea that was bad as the shows themselves... Independent studio Media Rights capital and The CW have agreed to part ways after the Sunday night lineup the company programmed tanked in the ratings.

The CW has took back the night and plans to program it with reruns of Everybody Hates Chris and The Game, off-network repeats of The Drew Carey Show, former CBS series Jericho, and a movie from MGM.

As for the MRC block, ratings for the shows were so atrocious they were often outdrawn by religious programming airing earlier in the day on some of these same stations - not to mention the MRC block's ratings were down from already-invisible numbers The CW itself put up last year. Some of the MRC shows went into reruns already during the November sweep periods as the studio canceled bombs Valentine and Easy Money.

In addition, the programs were not promoted until the last minute and were practically absent at the TV Critics Press Tour last July.

A form letter from CW's COO John Maatta was sent to every affiliate notifying about the changes, effective Nov. 30. While the letter details the changes occurring, it does not say whether or not The CW will air original programming on the night next year, fueling speculation The CW may give the affiliates Sunday nights back next season for them to program.

If that were to happen, a possible beneficiary could new syndicated action hour Legend of the Seeker, which premiered to strong ratings on Nov. 1. Seeker is already airing on the Tribune station group, where many of its stations (including WGN-TV here in Chicago) are CW affiliates.

"Criminal Minds", "Numb3rs" add up in syndication

CBS Television Distribution's has sold weekend runs of Criminal Minds and Numb3rs into syndication on station groups representing CBS, Gannett, Belo, Meredith, and Cox.

Here in Chicago, CBS-owned WBBM-TV will begin carrying the syndicated weekend runs of both crime drama series, beginning in September 2010. They replace the two current CSI shows in syndication: New York and Miami.

Minds was sold to A&E for $650,000 per episode and to ION for $175,000 per week, beginning next year. Both outlets have the exclusive Monday-Friday rights to air the show.

Criminal Minds has done very well for CBS against tough competition - particularly Lost - in the last few years, while Numb3rs (a weird spelling, I know) has always been a reliable performer for CBS on Friday night.

Criminal Minds features the ultimate rarity - a show produced jointly by two competing networks - Disney's ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television (Minds was co-produced by Touchstone Television before its name changed to ABC Studios in 2006.) CBS owns the home video rights in North America while Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment owns those same rights in Europe.

Another example of split-ownership of a series by two networks is Little House on the Prairie. Though NBC Universal owns the underlying rights to the 1974-83 series (including home video), the program's syndication rights are owned by CBS in the United States - a result of Viacom's purchase of Worldvision Enterprises in 1999, Little House's former distributor. Worldvision acquired the syndicated rights from NBC in the late 1970's, as the major networks weren't allowed to sell shows to syndication at the time because of fin-syn.

Worldvision was spun-off from ABC Films in 1973.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Syndication Update

Here's a look at some of the new syndicated programs and how they are faring thus far, based on info culled from Broadcasting & Cable and TV Week:

Legend of the Seeker. Disney-ABC's first syndicated scripted hour in a decade has made a strong impression in the ratings, with a 2.9 Nielsen household rating and 4.2 million viewers for its premiere on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 , up 53 percent from the last syndicated first-run hour premiere, She Spies in 2002.

The Bonnie Hunt Show. Hometown girl Bonnie Hunt is struggling with an 0.8 household rating, but here in Chicago on NBC-owned WMAQ-TV at 2 p.m., the talk show is showing ratings growth - nearly double from what Merv Griffin's Crosswords earned last year.

Deal or No Deal. While the network version of the game show hit has seen a downturn in the ratings, the newly-launched syndicated version is thriving - including hitting a high of 1.8 household for the week ending Nov. 9. and earning a Gross Average Audience of 2.1.

The Doctors. Another show growing in the ratings. The program hit an average overnight metered-market household rating of 2.1 on Monday. The CBS Television Distribution program is growing in New York, where WCBS-TV has already jumped to second place at 9 a.m. in households, only behind WABC-TV's Live With Regis & Kelly.

Judge Karen. The latest entrant in the courtroom race from Sony Pictures Television averaged a 1.4 GAA rating, thanks to strong performances from WCIU-TV here in Chicago and CBS affilaite WIAT-TV in Birmingham, which airs the program in early fringe.

Tyler Perry's House of Payne. This off-TBS sitcom from Debmar-Mercury is surpringly doing well, averaging a 2.1 national rating, thanks to strong performances in large markets such as New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and of course TBS.

Trouble Ahead. No, it' not the name of a new syndicated strip, but you can use the title for Program Partners' Family Court with Judge Penny and Debmar's game show Trivial Pursuit: America Plays. Both are under a one rating and not showing any growth, though Family Court has added a few more metered markets in recent weeks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fox dumps BCS; heads for ESPN

Chalk up another victory for The Worldwide Leader in B.S. And the coup involves an organization that put the B.S. in BCS.

After Fox Sports rejected to match an offer, the Bowl Championship Series - or BCS - is headed for ESPN beginning in 2011 in a four-year, $500 million deal.

The deal means the Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and the BCS Championship Game head for cable TV after decades on broadcast. The deal also raises the likelyhood the Rose Bowl will head to ESPN as well.

Despite the fact ESPN-produced games appear on sister network ABC, the BCS games won't appear on ABC.

The move is the latest of major sporting events moving to cable, due to shrinking ratings on broadcast and the fragmenting of the audience. Recently, the NBA and Major League Baseball have shifted the majority of their playoff games to cable, while the NHL makes only one playoff game available for broadcast per week to NBC.

Meanwhile, the British Open is also shifting to ESPN, from its longtime ABC home.

ESPN officials say they would not add a subcharge to cable distributors to carry the NCAA Bowl games. Recently, the FCC and Congress had been pushing for a la carte cable - as a result of high per-subscriber rates to carry major cable networks like ESPN - who charges cable operators the highest per-subscriber fee.

As for Fox, the BCS games looked out of place on Fox Sports' schedule, as the network never carried regular-season college football games, and it was hard to cross-promote the BCS with other sports.

Despite the criticism regarding ESPN (its commentators were the most vocal about having a playoff system), it seems college football fans are happy with the move, even if it means moving the games off broadcast TV.

The last time Fox passed on renewing a sports contract was in 1999, when it let the NHL package move to ABC after a five-year, unprofitable run.

Thought: This is more proof that if you are a sports fan, cable or satellite is a must. Want to know why more sporting events are moving to cable? 1. Dual revenue streams - from the cable network AND subscriber fees. 2. Major sporting events (outside of the NFL) don't get huge ratings anymore because its now all about the size of the team's fan base. It's ridiculous when the Boston Red Sox (market #7) has a larger fan base than the Philadelphia Phillies (market #4) - and it showed in this year's World Series, which were the lowest-rated ever. Networks would actually make more money airing regularly-scheduled programming (more Lipstick Jungle, anyone?), as sporting events attract male, older-skewing demos - something the major broadcast networks have mostly abandoned in prime-time. 3. Cable/satellite penetration is now nearly 90 percent in the U.S., rendering any cry about these events moving to cable moot.

So the BCS moves to cable. The World Series will likely be next, followed by the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup (which already has the first two games on Versus.) It's a hard, sobering fact of life broadcasters, advertisers, and the public must face.

Monday, November 17, 2008

V103 celebrates 20th anniversary

Back in 1988, a black radio station targeting adult demos was practically unheard of - but it took a radio consultant named Barry Mayo to change all that.

He took an under-performing WBMX-FM - a station languishing behind its arch-rival WGCI-FM - and flipped it to Urban Adult Contemporary WVAZ-FM, or V103 -and turned it into a adult demo powerhouse. Shortly thereafter, the success of V103 help spur the format in other markets such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis.

In Monday's edition of the Tribune, those who reguarly contributed to V103's success: radio personalities Troi Tyler, Ramonski Luv (who was formerly at WGCI), Radio Hall of Famer Herb Kent, and PD Derrick Brown look back at how it all came to be - including the rivalry between the outlet and WGCI before they became co-owned sister stations - and how V103 became a Chicago radio success story and how the station is preparing for the future.

V103 carries daily syndicated shows featuring Tom Joyner in the morning and Doug Banks in the afternoon - both of which have done time in local Chicago radio before hitting the big time.

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

- With all the high-price radio personality deals a thing of the past (especially in this economy) Don and Roma Wade have signed a new deal with Citadel-owned WLS-AM to keep their morning show on the air for the next four years. Don and Roma have been on WLS since 1985 (when the station still had a CHR/Top 40 format!)

- Are they going to live long and prosper?: It appears NBC has done a role reversal on the fate of Lipstick Jungle. Brooke Shields (one of the stars of the show) now says the series is not canceled, despite an announcement made by the network last week stating it was canceled along with My Own Worst Enemy. Ratings for the program actually went up after the announcement was made.

As James Hibberd notes, few NBC programs have received positive fan support, as in this case when fans are sending tubes of lipstick to the network to support the show. For the network, this may be a case of Deva Vu: Back in September 1968, Star Trek lost its Monday night time slot and was moved by NBC to Fridays at 9 p.m. (CT) for its third and final season - the same slot Lipstick Jungle currently holds. Read more in the comments section in the above linked article where yours truly is certain to be flamed for being a geek...

- Selectavision. Beta. Divx. HD-DVD. Blu-Ray? Meet the next generation of consumer electronics which may be headed for the trash can...

Carol Fowler out at Channel 2

Yeah, we knew this was coming: News director Carol Fowler of CBS-owned WBBM-TV was fired today after six years. She was brought in as a stooge of former general manager Joe Ahern, who was fired last month.

During her tenure news ratings failed to move upward and still placed behind most of their rivals, including ABC-owned WLS-TV and CW affiliate WGN-TV. Despite CBS' standing as the number one network for the last couple of years, WBBM has failed to capitalize on their success.

No word on a replacement, though WBBM GM Bruno Cohen will likely take his time on a candidate.

T Dog's Think Tank: So what happens if "Oprah" exits?

With Oprah Winfrey scheduled to run her new cable network in a joint venture with Discovery beginning next year, there is increasing speculation she may discontinue her daily talk show strip when her contract with CBS Television Distribution expires in 2011.

The speculation increased when Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav revealed in an earnings report a few days ago that Ms. Winfrey is discontinuing her talk show in three years, and focus on her joint venture with Discovery. Harpo Productions immediately debunked the notion, stating no decision has been made regarding The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2011.

But the controversy has forced stations who carry the number one talk show in syndication to tackle the inedible: What to do when Oprah Winfrey walks away.

For years, stations carrying the popular Oprah as a news lead-in received a bucketload of revenue - particularly the seven out of ten ABC O&Os who carry her (ABC stations in Houston, Flint, and Toledo don't carry the show), while her presence has devoured the competition. And for stations who let Oprah go to a rival, the ratings went with it. This was the case in Baltimore, where ABC affiliate WMAR-TV let Oprah go to rival NBC affiliate WBAL-TV in 1995. The result: WBAL is the market's number one station, while WMAR's ratings have cratered and never recovered.

Closer to home in Milwaukee, ABC affiliate WISN-TV acquied Oprah in 1993 from NBC affiliate WTMJ, after the station refused to pay then-syndicator King World a price increase. Though WTMJ's news leads at 10 p.m., and does respectively well in other news time periods, WISN leads at 5 and 6 p.m. - time slots WTMJ used to dominate.

Those two cases alone tell you how powerful Oprah Winfrey is.

For six ABC O&Os, the decision on what to do post-Oprah in early fringe may be simple - the station group is considering expanding its newscasts to 3 or 4 p.m. to fill the time slot Oprah may leave vacant. This way, the station group won't have to pay a syndicator to air programming. That's bad news for them, who had been eying Oprah's time slot on those stations. But the changing economic conditions and the growing appetite for local news may have changed those plans, though there's no telling how the market will be three years from now.

Another option is fare from ABC's own syndication unit, Disney-ABC Domestic Television - and the option could come into play in this next example.

WLS-TV here in Chicago - the home base for Oprah since 1984 - has aired her show at 9 a.m. for more than twenty years, back to the days she hosted A.M. Chicago. With local news not likely an option, the station could go after Regis & Kelly on WGN-TV - given the morning talk show is distributed by Disney-ABC - whose parent company also owns WLS. Regis & Kelly has had two previous stints in overnight time slots at WLS - from 1990-92 (when it was known as Regis & Kathie Lee) and again from 1999-2002, when it underwent three name changes. Regis Phillbin recently signed a contract extension with Disney-ABC to continue his show, which he co-hosts with Kelly Ripa (who joined the show in 2001, shortly after former co-host Kathie Lee Gifford departed.) Currently, WLS is the only ABC O&O that doesn't carry the show because of Oprah's presence at 9 a.m.

More importantly, Oprah sets WLS' dominance in news and programming throughout the day. But since WLS does so well in this arena - and its' competitors are nowhere remotely close - Oprah's departure from the station might not effect the ABC-owned station as dramatically as it could others. While ABC O&Os dominate in New York and Philadelphia, the ratings race is closer in other ABC O&O markets such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. In Raleigh-Durham, N.C., ABC's WTVD actually finishes second with Oprah - behind CBS soap The Young and the Restless, which market leader WRAL-TV delays until 4 p.m.

Oprah's possible departure would also effect station group clients such as Scripps, Belo, Allbritton, Hearst-Argyle, and Gannett. Some stations in those groups carry Oprah - many of them ABC affiliates. There is no doubt they will be targeted by syndicators for replacement fare.

The challenge for syndicators is to create a replacement for Oprah, as they believe younger viewers are the key in early fringe and can draw them to news at 4 or 5 p.m. Many of them feel expansion of local news could alienate younger viewers and skew stations' ratings older than they are now. But what they're forgetting is local news draws the most lucrative demo in television outside of prime-time - the 25-54 demo - as news draws the most ad dollars for local stations, even if it has no lead-in from a syndicated program.

Already, many stations are airing local news against Oprah in early fringe with some success - in Milwaukee, WTMJ airs news at 4 p.m. opposite Oprah on WISN and it does well. In Philadelphia, both CBS-owned KYW-TV and NBC-owned WCAU-TV also air news at 4 opposite Oprah on ABC-owned WPVI-TV, and in Detroit, NBC affiliate WDIV airs news opposite Oprah on ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV also at 4 p.m., and believe it or not, WDIV often beats WXYZ at 5 p.m, when their newscasts goes head-to-head (keep in mind though, these shows feature the same slop -fires, murders, etc. - you usually see in local news.)

And another reason for the news expansion is because stations are tired of launching new shows in early fringe only to see them fail. Since Oprah launched in syndication in 1986, more than fifty challengers have come and gone, with many of them spectacular flops. Others have done decently well - such as Geraldo, who once featured topless donut-shop operators as a response of his show being up against Oprah in more than 100 markets in 1989 and 1990 (and it proved to be his downfall, as he pledged to clean up his show years later.) Another competitor with a salacious format (Jerry Springer) beat Oprah in one book in 1998, but his ratings slid and is now barely flickering.

But those are expectations to the rule. Usually, new first-run syndicated programs have a 90 percent failure rate - though it recent years, the number has dropped as syndicators are having a little more patience and aren't spending as much to make the programs as they have done previously. This is why you see 298 courtroom shows on TV - they are economical to produce.

But launching projects like Judge Ozzy Osbourne and The Stephen A. Smith Show isn't going to be enough to replace the queen of talk. If syndicators are going to nab these time periods should Ms. Winfrey hang it up, they are going to have to develop better programming - not the standard cheapo courtroom and talk show fare they have been launching recently. And it's not going to be easy, with daytime audiences fragmenting faster than a hard drive. Shows featuring topless Dunkin' Donut clerks and couples boasting they had sex on the John Deere showroom floor aren't going to cut it.

Otherwise, we'll see more local newscasts featuring stories about fires, murders, and celebrity fluff earlier in a lot more markets on a lot more stations. In other words, it's a choice between syndicated show dysfunction and street dysfunction. And as usual, the viewers - especially those without cable or satellite - lose.

Friday, November 14, 2008

NBC, Fox to pool news services

Yes, the tough economic times has yielded another unexpected result - competitors working with each other.

NBC-owned and Fox-owned decided to pool their news-gathering sources with the title Local News Service, or LNS.

This affects only markets where NBC and Fox O&Os are competing with each other. Chicago is included, along with New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Washington D.C. The plan is expected to roll out next year.

The LNS concept involves cameramen from both stations shooting news footage around in their markets, with a LNS editor determining which events the news pools cover. The footage then will be sent to both stations in the market where news executives will decide what footage can be used.

Editorial and voice content of each station aren't affected, and all employees involved in the service are staying with their respective companies.

Philadelphia's WCAU (NBC) and WTXF (Fox) will get the ball rolling in January, with other markets coming on line in a few months.

TV Newsday interviews the individuals behind the new news service: Fox's Jack Abernethy and NBC's John Wallace.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like...

WLIT-FM is expected to switch to an all-Christmas format beginning tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.

The date this year is later than it was in 2007 (Nov. 2) and 2006 (Nov.3).

A countdown clock on the station's website stated it would flip to Xmas tunes on November 21, but the start date had been "floating".

So get ready for a month of Bing Crosby, sixteen different versions of "Jingle Bell Rock", and more importantly - inflated PPM numbers.

A look inside WBBM-TV's new studios

Arthur Greenwald of TVNewsday reviews CBS-owned WBBM-TV's new digs in the Loop, which brings the station into the 21st century and a long way from its decrepit McClurg Court headquarters.

The new building at 22 W. Washington Blvd. lets the station broadcast its news and local programming in HD and new high-tech equipment - such as Apple's Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Server software (which the station's art department uses), and a lot more I can't explain here.

To read the article, click here (subscription may be required - but it's free.) If you're a tech geek (such as myself), you'll enjoy the article - despite the fact the technically challenged can give less than a darn and rightfully point out this won't do a thing to raise their anemic ratings.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's official: Sirius and XM are now one

No, you're not seeing double: When I posted the new XM lineups Tuesday, I forgot to post the Sirius one! My apologizes and here are the new Sirius and XM lineups - both went into effect at 11 p.m. Tuesday night.

The madness ends here, Part 2

MAD TV got the ax today (see post below); now NBC cancels Lipstick Jungle and My Own Worst Enemy. Ratings troubles are to blame for the demise of both dramas, with Jungle recently being relocated to the Friday Night Death Slot.

The madness ends here

In the "Wait.. this show was still on the air?" department, Fox's long-running Saturday night late-fringe comedy Mad TV was canceled today after fourteen seasons. Oddly enough, of all the late-night shows Fox launched (The Late Show with Joan Rivers, The Wilton-North Report, and The Chevy Chase Show), this program ran the longest.

The sketch comedy show debuted in 1995 during a time Saturday Night Live was struggling in the ratings and was often critically dubbed. But SNL has had a resurgence this year in the ratings and among critics, thanks to the recent Presidential race. SNL once again became the talk around the water-cooler the following Monday morning, while Mad TV became an afterthought.

Alumni from MAD TV include Nicole Sullivan, Alex Borstein, and Frank Caliendo.

No word on a replacement once MAD departs in September, but the program following it - Talk Show with Spike Feresten - is expected to fill the Saturday 10 p.m. time slot. MAD TV's producers are now discussing the possibility of shopping the program to several cable networks.

But it's likely Comedy Central isn't one of them - the cable netork recently decided against renewing its' option on airing reruns of the series. The contract expires at the end of this year.

MAD TV of course, is based on the long-running humor magazine.

Don't forget: Chicago DTV tests today

Just a friendly remainder from The T Dog Media Blog: All local TV stations are conducting a test today to see if you are ready for the digital TV transition. Between 6:53 a.m. and 6:58 a.m. and again from 5:23 p.m. to 5:28 p.m., they will shut off their analog signals and replace it with a message stating "This TV is Not Ready".

This means you need to get a converter box to convert you analog signals to digital. You can pick up a box at your local electronics store, and you can also get a coupon from the government to help defray the purchase.

Viewers with traditional over-the-air (no cable) televisions with old-fashioned rabbit ears are only affected; viewers who receive their signal via cable, over-the-air digital, or satellite won't be.

WGN-TV meanwhile, plans to go the creative route and haul out Bozo the Clown during those five minutes to lecture us on the DTV transition.

For more information on the digital switchover, scroll down to the "DTV Transition Center" on The Sidebar of this blog.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's official: Sirius and XM are one

Click here for the new Sirius/XM combined channel lineup. It went into effect at 11 p.m. Central tonight.

Updated 7:31 a.m. on 2008-11-12 (changed link)

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

- WLIT has added a new afternoon guy: His name is Kevin Gossett, and he takes over the 2-7 p.m. time slot beginning yesterday at the Clear Channel-owned Adult Contemporary station. One problem, though: he's being voiced tracked from Phoenix, where he works as PD and afternoon personality at KEZ-FM. So if you hear him talk about how nice and sunny it is - but it's snowing outside, now you know.

Gossett should be a name familiar to Chicago radio listeners - he was morning personality on WNND-FM from 1998-2002.

- Heroes hits an another low: Monday's episode of the battered drama drew its lowest audience yet - just 7.8 million viewers, down tremendously from this time last year, and even losing to CBS' Worst Week. And the ending to last night's episode was just utterly disgusting. Is this Heroes or Friday the 13th? The show is just desperate now, and the ratings prove it.

- The Simpsons will have a crossword crossover: This Sunday's episode features a crossover between the show and the New York Times world-famous crossword puzzle. In the episode, Lisa enters a crossword competition. On the same day, The Times features a "Simpsons" themed crossword puzzle. Puzzlemaker Merl Reagle and New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz.

And no, the competition isn't the now-on hiatus (but probably canceled) Merv Griffin's Crosswords - so Lisa won't be bored to death listening to Ty Treadway stumble though questions in front of only 44 viewers.

- Drew or Judge Milan? On Monday, Drew Peterson - the person suspected in the disappearance of his wife Stacy, appeared on Dr. Phil, telling the quack on the CBS Television Distribution program how he can't find love (how about trying to find your missing wife, you jagbag...)

Anyway, the episode on WBBM-TV drew a 2.5 household rating and 6 share - but among adults 25-54, it was Warner Bros.' People's Court on WCIU-TV that drew more viewers in the 4 p.m. time period - 1.1 to Phil's 0.6. Both trailed WLS-TV, which usually leads in households and key demos during the time period.

- Additions: The T Dog Media Blog is proud to add two new links to The Sidebar: a new blog from Chicago Tribune media columnist Phil Rosenthal titled Tower Ticker and Lewis Lazare's Sun-Times column, which now features local TV and radio items, somewhat taking over from Robert Feder, who retired last month.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

"Help us CNN. You're our only hope."

On Tuesday night, CNN introduced a new way of interviewing people, via "hologram". Yes, hologram.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer spoke with both Jessica Yellin and Anderson Cooper spoke with Will I Am from The Black-Eyed Peas using the technology which looked something out of Star Wars:

Here's how it was created: Yellin was shot in a tent filled with green screens in Chicago using 35 high-def cameras, or so. A screen with Blitzer and Yellin was constructed, a bunch of computers created Yellin's image and made it ready for the camera with infrared technology - and volia! You see an image of Yellin at CNN election headquarters, but she's not really there.

Yes, it's like Princess Lela speaking with Luke Skywalker.

And the tent was meant from the crowd from taking over the shot in Chicago (or in sci-fi speak, the "stormtroopers") so that's another reason why they put her in the specially constructed tent.

No word on how much the holographic fun cost CNN, but it's believed to be quite expensive - in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. You think Blitzer will end up with the bill?

Use the force, Wolf Blitzer. Use the force.

No word on when the "hologram" will be used again, but I hear it might be used later this year in The CNN Clone Wars Christmas Special.

T Dog's 4 Pack

It's another edition (and another new name) of the weekly winners and losers list, now called The T Dog's 4 pack. Let's hope this one sticks, as the last two titles were quite clunky. There are two 4-packs: one Fab, another Flop. Simple for you? I know it is for me...

- T Dog's Fab Four-Pack:

President-Elect Barack Obama. Yes, he can and he did. The first African-American elected to the White House. And change is coming. You hear that, Big Media?

Adult Swim picks up King of the Hill. Well, only repeats of the long-running Fox show. Beginning in January, AS will double-run the show every night from 9 to 10 p.m. This deal is separate from the current deals it has with FX and in broadcast syndication. The pickup comes as another Twentieth product (Futurama) shifted to Comedy Central last January.

The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror: The nineteenth edition of The Simpsons' annual Halloween show drew a 6.5 rating in the 18-49 demo, and 12.5 million viewers, the highest in several years. As for the episode itself, great job, especially the hilarious "It's the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse".

Heroes. For not airing this past week and not making us sit through another mind-numbing episode!

T Dog's Flop Four-pack:

Deal or No Deal (network version). For the second week in a row, no less. At the beginning of last Monday's show, the producers promised to show The Banker's face as part of the show's 200th episode celebration. Instead, we get Howie Mandel falling into a cake, thus coining the phrase "Jump the Cake". At least he didn't put try to blow up a plastic glove over his head.

South Park vs. Family Guy. Personally, I'm tired of this inane rivalry. Not to defend Family Guy, but can Trey Parker shut up about how much the show sucks? Look, this isn't WLS-WCFL in 1973 or Tampa-St. Pete's Q105 and The Power Pig (WFLZ) in 1989 and 1990, as those Top 40 wars were more compelling - and interesting. In this DVR age we live in, TV show rivalries are quite outdated. And yes, this also includes Lost vs. Heroes. Let's keep the rivalries to Cubs vs. White Sox, Yankees vs. Red Sox, and Bears vs. Packers (when the teams are good) - you know, the ones people actually care about.

NBC picks up Kath & Kim and Life for full season. Man, does this network ever cancel anything? With Ben "partying while sniffing white powder up my nose" Silverman and Marc "I'm Dick Cheney, the real Dick Cheney" Graboff in charge, no wonder the network is still in fourth place. Must-Flee TV, indeed.

ESPN. For those Presidential Candidate interviews during halftime on Monday Night Football with Chris Berman lobbing softie questions about sports to Barack Obama and John McCain. Talk about pointless, which pretty much describes Chris Berman...

Toss Up

DeAnna Pappas breaks up with Jesse. Yep, another Bachelor/Bachelorette breakup. But the cute DeAnna is now available... Woo Hoo!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

WKTI kicked to curb

A poignant part of Milwaukee's call letters is history. WKTI-FM dropped its Hot AC format today and flipped to adult hits "The New 94.5 The Lake", an obvious reference to Milwaukee's proximity to Lake Michigan (as is our city.)

Also gone is the WKTI call letters, which have been used at the frequency for 34 years. Pending approval by the FCC, the station's new call letters are WLWK-FM.

The Journal Communications-owned station says the station was created by listener feedback: "Over the last several months, thousands of Milwaukee radio listeners were interviewed, and their feedback helped craft this new radio station, designed to meet their changing tastes," according to Operations Manager Tom Land.

In other words, they used a lot - and I mean a lot - of "market research".

One could wonder why WKTI was eager to make a change - the station tied for twelveth place, in the summer book (no PPMs in Milwaukee yet), which is quite respectable ranking, even for Milwaukee.

The adults hits format is similar to what Nine FM had the last four years - We play anything. However, it has struggled here, as Jack FM (WJMK-FM in Chicago) isn't doing as well as hoped, and Newsweb pulled the plug on Nine FM a few weeks ago. Whatever the case, the switch made by Journal Communications is a very huge risk.

Trivia: Of course, this isn't the first time "Lake" has been used as a moniker of as part of a station's call letters or its' slogan. Remember the old WLAK-FM, 93.9? It was a "beautiful music" station, then switched to a soft AC format around 1983. The call letters switched to WLIT-FM in 1989, a.k.a "Lite FM", which it still uses today.

Updated at 7:23 a.m. on 2008-11-07

WLS-TV, ABC dominate Election Night

ABC and its O&O in Chicago (WLS-TV) took home the ratings crown on Election Night, a night where Barack Obama was elected the nation's first African-American president.

ABC led all networks on a national basis with 13.6 million viewers. Locally, ABC's coverage led with WLS-TV leading the 10 p.m. hour (when Obama gave his victory speech) with a 17.6 household rating and 25 share, with NBC-owned WMAQ a second, with an 11.7/17.

In all, more than 71.5 million viewers tuned in nationwide to election coverage across all platforms.

CNN also scored well with 12.3 million viewers, ahead of Fox News' 9 million.

In Chicago, CNN pulled off a bit of an upset with the all news channel beating CBS-owned WBBM-TV, Tribune's CW affiliate WGN-TV, and Fox-owned WFLD-TV. WBBM only averaged a 4.3 household rating and a 6 share, finishing even behind WGN and WFLD (ouch!)

WFLD outperformed WGN in early fringe at 5 p.m. with their special newscast (WGN ran Millionaire and its 5:30 p.m. news.) WFLD is considering launching a newscast in this time period as soon as next fall, to pair up with the newly acquired Dr. Oz.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Chicago DTV test scheduled for November 12

All of Chicago's TV stations are planning two digital TV tests for November 12 - from 6:53 a.m. to 6:58 a.m. and again from 5:23 p.m. to 5:28 p.m. This is to see if viewers are ready for the digital transition happening on February 17, 2009, when all analog broadcasts are shut off for good.

Viewers who are watching television with the ol' rabbit ears (analog) will see information on how to switch to digital TV by February. Viewers watching via digital tuners, digital converters, cable, and satellite will see a message noting they are prepared for the switchover.

Nielsen estimates 10 percent of Chicago's households watch their television exclusively over-the-air from analog sets, without converter boxes.

For more info on the digital switchover, scroll down to the "DTV Transition Center" on the Sidebar of this blog.

Chicago PPM numbers for October

Click here to see the PPM numbers for 6+ and here for adults 25-54 for the month of October.



Honorable Mention:

The Mix (WTMX), WLS-FM, WLUP-FM (The Loop), US 99 (WUSN-FM)


Fresh 105.9 FM (WCFS-FM), Love FM (WILV-FM), WNUA-FM, Power 92 (WPWX), Jack FM (WJMK), Nine FM

Among 6+:

WBBM-AM surged past WGN to finish first, with WDRV down a bit to tie for fourth. WOJO and WKSC just keeps on rising, while WGCI went up a tick, keeping it off the loser's list. The Score (WSCR) smoked ESPN 1000 (WMVP), though the key male demos will proabably show them a lot closer.

Despite an uptick for one of Nine-FM's signals (WRZA-FM), the ax swung and Nine-FM is in radio heaven - or hell. Another station that can't get arrested (Power 92) finished a pathetic 30th, the lowest-rated powerful stick on the dial.

Among 25-54 (6 a.m. to midnight only):

WDRV-FM finished first in the key demo, but second in the cume, behind all-news WBBM. With The Mix and WLS-FM dropping a bit in the demo, it knocked them from the winner's list to honorable mention, but still a good performance. The Loop did well, finishing sixth. V103 also had a good month, leaping three notches to #5.

On the flipside, Fresh 105.9 dropped from 13th to 16th place, Jack dropped from 18th to 20th, Love FM slid from 14th to 17th, while WNUA didn't show up in the top 20.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"Legend of the Seeker" improves time periods (updated)

More rating upswing news: The new syndicated action hour from Disney-ABC titled Legend of the Seeker improved time periods by 15 percent from October 2008, including an 80 percent jump in the ratings at WGN-TV here in Chicago, which aired the premiere Saturday at 4 p.m.

Among demos, Seeker sook and got big rating increases among men 25-54, women 18-49, and men 18-49.

This is the first syndicated first-run action hour to air in many years, with WGN and other stations airing Xena and Hercules and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the 1990's. The syndicated scripted action show actually had its roots in the early 1970's, when the FCC's Prime Time Access Rule created opportunities for syndicators and filled time periods with (cheap) fare such as The Protectors (with Robert Vaughn), UFO, The Starlost (and you thought this season of Heroes was bad), and Space: 1999.

After first-run sitcoms dominated time periods in the mid to late 1980's, it shifted back to action hours by the early '90's with the success of Star Trek: The Next Generation, whose production was budgeted at $1 million per episode.

Beginning Nov. 8, Legend of the Seeker airs every Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. on WGN.

Update: Disney-ABC has now made Seeker available for download via iTunes for $1.99 for standard definition and $2.99 for high definition. The program becomes the first first-run syndicated series to be made available on iTunes.

Seeker is also available on XBox Live marketplace.

Blackhawks big winners - in ratings

The Chicago Blackhawks may have a so-so record in the standings, but their ratings were soaring through the roof.

During the month of October on Comcast SportsNet, the hockey team saw its ratings grow 150 percent - from a 0.4 Nielsen Media Research household rating in October 2007 to an 1.0 rating in 2008.

More importantly, the Hawks ratings among its core demo - men 25-54, were up a whopping 333 percent from October 2007 and up 300 percent in the adults 18-49 demo.

This comes as the Hawks - for the first time, air all 82 regular-season games - home and away, with WGN-TV carrying 20 of those contests.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Your election night guide

So how local TV and radio plan to cover tomorrow night's historic election? Like the Super Bowl, of course.

Here's how the Chicago media plan to cover the big night on both the television and radio sides. One interest of note is WGN-TV's decision to pre-empt new episodes of The CW's 90210 and Privileged for expanded election coverage. Ouch!

WFLD is also discarding regular programming to air expanded election coverage, beginning at 5 p.m.

Allison Payne sidelined

Allison Payne, the co-anchor of WGN-TV's 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. newscasts, is being sidelined again for the third time this year due to complications from "mini-strokes" she has been having for quite sometime now.

Ms. Payne made the decision to take some time off so she can "fully rehabilitate".

Micah Materre will fill in alongside Mark Suppelsa on the station's 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. newscasts, while medical reporter Dana Blair replaces Materre on the midday newscast.

The T Dog Media Blog wishes Allison Payne a speedy recovery, and a quick return to the news set.

"Heroes" producers get canned

The Oakland Raiders of primetime just made a shakeup: Jesse Alexander and Jeph Loeb were fired as co-executive producers of Heroes, a program that's been slumping in both the creative and ratings department this season.

NBC Universal exces has been pretty frustrated with the creative direction of the program, which was cited as the main reason why the duo were shown the door. The program has also experienced cost over-runs this season, which has gone over the $4 million budget this season. Budget over-runs + low ratings = deficit.

It doesn't take a genius to realize it's going to be Heroes shown the door if the ratings - which hit record lows recently - don't improve.

I'll have a Think Tank on the plight of Heroes coming up soon.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

WLS celebrates 10 years with "190"

At a time when stations across the country are slashing local non-news related programming, one station's local magazine show is still going strong.

Tonight, ABC-owned WLS-TV is celebrating 10 years of 190 North tonight with a 30-minute retrospective of the show's run. Hosted by Janet Davies (who is also the show's executive producer), the special takes a look back at the people, places, and things the program has talked about and/or visited the last ten years.

For example, 190 North would visit a restaurant, a concert, or something else cool in the city. In a few cases, the program would devote an entire program to a single subject, such as 9/11 and the death of John Drury.

Airing at 10:35 p.m. Sunday nights, 190 North constantly wins its time period and households and key demos.

North has two correspondents, Doug Banks and Michelle Alegria. The third (Lou Canellis) left the show earlier this year to join WFLD-TV's Bears-related programming. An announcement on his replacement is coming shortly.

190 North, of course, is the address of WLS-TV's studios in the Loop - 190 North State Street.

T Dog's Four on the Floors - Edition 10

This week's winners and losers:

T Dog's Fab Four

- Obama's campaign infomercial. Great marketing ploy to get your message out by buying time on three major broadcast networks and a few cable outlets simultaneously, as the move scored 30 million viewers across all platforms Wednesday night. But will this translate to votes?

- 'Til Death goes on hiatus. Hopefully for good.

- Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror. All this series has to do is sneeze and it picks up a three-year renewal (though it hasn't happened yet. But it will.) But those Treehouse of Horror specials are always a hoot to watch.

- WTXF's big score. The Fox-owned station in Philadelphia notched one of the highest ratings in the station's history (besides the Eagles-Patriots matchup in Super Bowl XXIX) with a ratings peak of a 54.5 household rating and a 73 share when the Phillies clinched the World Series win, which they won for the first time since 1980. But that's the only good news the Series has scored (see below.)

T Dog's Flopulous Four:

- The 2008 World Series. Commenter "c.r." called this one. Suspended games, bad weather, deplorable conditions, and an unappealing matchup. Mix all of this together, and you have the lowest World Series ever. And guess what? Next year, Game 7 of the fall classic could be played on November 7. Swell. If they play the game in a northern city, have the snow plows on standby.

- Disrespecting Philly. All right, we know Philly fans are about as lovable as Dennis Franz, but all the crap from the New York and Los Angeles based-media outlets regarding Philadelphia is uncalled for. From Michael Wilbon of PTI (and being from the Midwest, he should know better) to TV Week dismissing Philadelphia as a "small market", it's more proof the press' obvious bias against anything not from the three largest markets, Boston, and D.C. But the city that gave us American Bandstand, Cheesesteaks, and Rocky has a championship for the first time in 28 years. So check your feelings at the door, and show Philly some damn respect! (But only for the next month or so...)

- Deal or No Deal (network version). Around the same time the Phillies clinched the World Series championship Wednesday, a woman named Tomorrow (yes, Tomorrow - presumably without Tom Snyder) won a million dollars. And nobody watched. Guess in this faltering economy, a million doesn't go as far as it used to.

- William Shatner. Let me start off by saying this: You are a great actor and made great contributions to the medium of television, especially in your roles on Star Trek, T.J. Hooker, and as host of Rescue 911. But your whining about not being invited to your former Trek co-star's wedding (George Takei) is absolutely pathetic. Who do you think you are, Terell Owens? You're 78 years old. Grow up.

In the words of Boers and Bernstein, William Shanter, "Who Ya Crappin?"