Saturday, October 31, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack

A week of shock and awe - literally. A Halloween edition of T Dog's Four Pack:


- White Collar. USA had a lot of goodies in its bag - to the tune of 5.3 million viewers for the debut of its new Friday night drama White Collar. With the continued success of Dexter on Showtime, being a criminal has never been more appealing on cable TV.

- The League Championship Series. Whether if its the ALCS or the NLCS (and either way, Los Angeles was sent packing), Fox and TBS have a lot to be happy about, as both playoff series were up in the ratings from a year ago.

- Glee. When a series generates buzz like this - including a Gold single from the cast signing an old Journey tune - not to mention solid ratings - in my book, that's a hit.

- The Vampire Diaries. The vampire craze has been beneficial to The CW, with this show performing well week-to-week and stealing buzz from rival FlashForward - which was supposed to be the hot show of the year. Instead, Forward is going backward by performing only marginally better from Ugly Betty last year in the Thursday 8/7 Central time period - and sliding in the ratings every week.


- The Chicago Bears. Their performance on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday was indeed scary and frightful, getting blown out 45-10 in the process. If the Bears don't make the playoffs, they will be the biggest flop of the fall season - even bigger than The Jay Leno Show.

- So You Think You Can Dance. Much like what happened to the Bears Sunday in Cincinnati , Dance came into Dancing With The Stars' house on Monday and got stomped on in total viewers, households, and adults 18-49. But both shows were out-danced by a Big Bang Theory repeat. So, who's going as Sheldon for Halloween?

- Apple. Once upon a time, Mac vs. Pc ads were hilarious. But since Microsoft has brought it with Windows 7, those ads don't seem so funny anymore, don't they? (Yours truly isn't letting Microsoft off the hook, either - thumbs down for deciding to sponsor - and then later pulling out of - a Family Guy special - without knowing what content the show contains.)

- Steve Rosenbloom returns to print daily in the Chicago Tribune. Who brought this Jay Mariotti-like loser back from the gutter? This cements the fact that Chicago sports media is a complete, utter joke. Thanks again, Sam Zellhead.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Comcast SportsNet cancels "Monsters in the Morning"

Comcast SportsNet's morning show titled Monsters In The Morning is being dropped after one season on the air.

Hosted by former WSCR-AM co-hosts Mike North and Dan Jigeetts, the duo discussed local sports issues of the day, sort of a local version of ESPN's MIke & Mike in the Morning (which features another WSCR alum, Mike Greenberg.)

CSN and Mike North's production company (Licorice Ltd.) split the commercial time to sell between the two and Licorice absorbed production costs - mainly by finding a sponsor to help underwrite those production costs. Yours truly praised the way this entrepreneurial model was set up - one which could be used in the future for first-run syndication and other platforms.

But the program lost its major sponsor in June when the sponsor went out of  business after the owner was arrested and charged in a ponzi scheme. The owner's legal problems also forced the closure of Chicago Sports Webio, an internet-radio sports station and website in which North was a major investor. North was ousted from the venture on June 12.

Ratings for Monsters were very low and with the morning show expensive to produce, a mutual decision was made to end the show was made by Comcast SportsNet and Licorice.

The series ends on December 31, the day the show's contract with Comcast SportsNet expires.

Thought: While this particular experimental model did not work - and it was doomed once we all found the person funding the production was a snake, I still believe this business model still can work -but the risks are higher and you have to watch who you do business with.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag

For the first time in awhile, it's time for T Dog's Groovy Grab Bag:

- Congratulations to legendary Chicago radio personality Herb Kent on a new world record he set: The Guinness Book Of World Records recently honored him for having the longest career by a deejay in radio history - which spans 65 years! His achievement will be celebrated at the South Shore Cultural Center on December 5, where he will officially receive his award.

Herb Kent, 81, got his start at WBEZ-FM in 1944 at the age of 16 and was known as one of "The Good Guys" at WVON-AM in the 1960's and 1970's. He currently spins "dusties" on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons at his current home, WVAZ-FM.

- Recycling, media style: Debbie Carpenter, who flamed out as vice president and general manager of Fox-owned WFLD-TV and WPWR-TV in 2006, is back at the duopoly: she's been hired as vice president and chief sales manager for the two stations.

- MGM has picked up the syndicated rights to Discovery Channel's Cash Cab, marking the latest off-cable program to hit the broadcast syndication market. The game show, which features unsuspecting passengers boarding a taxi and are asked questions by a cabbie for a cash prize. The series debuts in syndication next September.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bears slide in the ratings

But the Bengals rock the ratings in Cincy

No matter how much Ed Sherman of Chicago Business paints a rosy picture of it, the Chicago Bears' ratings on Sunday were an expected disappointment given the rather unexpected 45-10 blowout of the team by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The game, which started at 3:15 p.m. Central and ran until about 6:20 p.m., averaged a 25.9 household Nielsen rating on Fox-owned WFLD-TV, the lowest of the year for the Bears. Moreover, viewership declined 8% from the start of the game to the finish as it became clear the Bears were not going to win. While it isn't much, it's still a decline.

Despite the number, it still ranks as Chicago's most-watched program of the week, outdrawing every prime-time show including Dancing With The Stars (which says a lot about network prime-time programming these days - the Bears getting blown out is more interesting.)

Meanwhile, the game in Cincinnati did much better, drawing a 39 rating and a 61 on Raycom-owned WXIX-TV, the largest local audience in four years.

As Sherman points out, there are three prime-time Bears games left this season, including a Sunday Night Football on NBC November 22 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Yours truly is leery of this matchup, since every time the Bears play on NBC (they are 0-2 this season on SNF), they perform like the network does - poorly.

Rant: I have had enough of the idiot commenters trying to turn anything involving Fox into a Fox News vs. Obama thread in the comments section in any story NOT involving the cable news channel. This Mike W. person in Sherman's story is a moron and of course he stuck with the game - let's just say he got what he deserved - losers will watch losers.

Just a reminder, anyone who make a comment not pertaining to the subject matter here will have their comment deleted.  That means if there is a story on the Fox broadcast network and you want to make it into a Fox News vs. Obama discussion in the comments section, I'll shut up that conversation real quick. Thread hijacking for politics will not be tolerated here.

Thanks for your cooperation.

WCIU finally launches "You & Me In The Morning"

After months of planning, WCIU finally debuted its new morning venture on Monday titled You & Me In The Morning.

Hosted by WMAQ-TV and WGCI-FM veteran Jeanne Sparrow, You & Me consists of five segments that run between 6 and 9 a.m. during a block of WCIU's syndicated programming. The shorts are lifestyle-oriented, and targeted mostly to a female audience aged 18 to 49 and 25 to 54.

The segments (which can run anywhere from seven to fifteen minutes consist of movie reviews, relationship advice, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and a daily horoscope. There are also headlines from the Sun-Times and video from CNN, though the program plans to steer clear of the mainly "if it leads, it bleeds" focus of local news shows.

WCIU plans to revamp its website in the next few weeks to better focus the You & Me content online. The station also hopes it can put the content on mobile devices.

The efforts are being led by Weigel Broadcasting President Neal Sabin, who wanted his station to have more of a local programming presence on its weekday schedule - not to mention more dollars from advertisers who usually advertise on traditional newscasts. He has hired more than a dozen people to work on the You & Me project, including Dick Tracy, who was hired this past summer as the director of content (and no, he's not the crime fighter of the same name.)

If any segment is sponsored, it will be identified on-air. 

Here is WCIU's weekday morning schedule (as listed by TitanTV), which includes You & Me In The Morning. Remember, starting times are approximate:

6:00 a.m-6:08 a.m. You & Me In The Morning
6:08 a.m-6:36 a.m. Half & Half
6:36 a.m-6:52 a.m. You & Me In The Morning
6:52 a.m-7:22 a.m. Everybody Hates Chris (this previously ran at 10:30 p.m.)
7:22 a.m-7:37 a.m. You & Me In The Morning
7:37 a.m-8:07 a.m. The Insider (repeat from the previous evening)
8:07 a.m-8:22 a.m. You & Me In The Morning
8:22 a.m-8:52 a.m. Half & Half (this previously ran at 1:00a.m.)
8:52 a.m-9:00 a.m. You & Me In The Morning

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chicago Sun-Times has new owner

The Chicago Sun-Times has a new lease on life, and you can thank Jim Tyree for it.

The paper was sold for just the fourth time in its 60-year history to Tyree and his group of investors, in a deal worth $5 million, while assuming $21 million in liabilities. In order to make the deal work for Tyree (and the bankruptcy court), the unions had to agree to major concessions.

The Sun-Times has been drifting away for years, filing for Chapter 11 last March after seeing ad revenue and circulation plummet - which has been a problem for almost every major newspaper in the country.

But the Sun-Times has been hit the hardest, thanks to several scandals related to the previous ownership of the paper, which was headed by Conrad Black (who went to prison for his role in the scandals.)

Previous owners included Field Communications and News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch.

The paper's circulation had steadily dropped since Murdoch bought the paper in the 1980's and made changes a lot of readers didn't like. When the paper was sold in 1986 due to FCC cross-ownership rules preventing Murdoch from owning the Sun-Times and WFLD-TV (the acquisition was part of a six-station deal from Metromedia to help launch the Fox network), it was bought by Hollinger international, which was controlled indirectly by Black.

The problems of the Sun-Times are illustrated here in a Think Tank I wrote on April 8, 2007 titled "Let's Get Into It."

The paper has made a move to win back readers readers over the past two years by returning its editorial stance to the center and dropping several controversial columnists like Jay Mariotti.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Follow up: Is Leno killing late local news?

Remember back last December when yours truly wrote how stripping The Jay Leno Show was a creative counter-programming idea?

I think I might want to retract that statement.

Since it debuted September 14, The Jay Leno Show has been a hot topic of debate in television circles across the country - especially in newsrooms, where Leno leads in to late local news on NBC affiliates.

In a story yours truly posted two weeks ago, a TV News Check article took a pulse of several NBC affiliates and O&Os in some large markets about their late local news ratings and found some - including WMAQ-TV in Chicago here - satisfied with the results thus far.

But two articles that have come out since have told a completely different story.

Last week, the Los Angeles Times had an article on Leno and how ratings for the affiliates' local news have declined.

Meanwhile, an article written by Lewis Lazare in the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday pointed out WMAQ is not being helped with its Leno lead-in - in fact, the station has tumbled to third place in the 10 p.m. news race in households (Lazare, for some strange reason, does not use 25-54 adult demo numbers.) This runs somewhat contradictory to what a WMAQ official said in the TV News Check article, saying the station was happy with its late news performance - at least in the 25-54 demos.

Oh, really? Even though WMAQ has a decent adult 25-54 demo and drew a larger number than its sister stations in New York (WNBC) and Los Angeles (KNBC) is doing, its newscasts still trail those of ABC O&O WLS-TV in the same time period. Is WMAQ really happy with where they are at in the ratings here?

Of course, it depends on the strength of the station and the market it is in. In Detroit - WDIV finished first at 11 p.m. over rivals WXYZ-TV (ABC) and WJBK (Fox O&O). WDIV often wins in most local news time periods - not to mention the market's CBS O&O (WWJ-TV) does not have a local news operation.

During Leno's second week on the air, KSL-TV's 10 p.m. newscast tripled his lead-in rating and share. KSL, an NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City owned by Bonneville, has dominated the ratings for the last 40 years - whether if it was affiliated with CBS (prior to 1995) or NBC.

Of course, the effect of the prime-time lead-in can be debatable. Back in the 2003-04 season, ABC was in fourth place in prime-time - but WLS was still ranked number one at 10 p.m. and the rest of the day. In fact, when ABC's prime-time lineup regularly finished in third place in 1986, WLS moved to first place at 10 p.m., defeating market leader WBBM-TV and its been there ever since (locally, ABC's prime-time lineup in 1986 was a strong second place, thanks to the popularity of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Jeopardy!, and Wheel of Fortune - three shows who have audiences still tuning in to WLS to this very day.)

When CBS was in third place in prime-time in the late 1980's, its affiliates in Minneapolis (WCCO-TV) and New Orleans (WWL-TV) still ranked number one at 10 p.m. and the rest of the broadcast day - including prime-time.

The Tribune's Eric Zorn tackled the lead-in issue this past week.On his blog, he had two polls: First off, he asked whether or not viewers are staying tuned to the channel they are watching at 10 p.m. for news. 86 percent of those said "no" - which is bad news for WBBM-TV, which had trouble holding on to strong CBS 9 p.m. lead-ins.

The second poll asked was "What program do they watch at 10 p.m.?" 42 percent of those said The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - more than three times the response of WLS-TV's newscasts, which were 14 percent. WMAQ had 10 percent of the total; WBBM had only 2 percent.

Late local newscasts' shares have dwindled for years - as viewers have moved away from "the newscasts of record" and finding their news online or on the cable news channels - not to mention the ongoing focus on "it bleeds, it leads" philosophy of local news without any analysis or substance, which has been on display in Chicago television news for years.

As for the Leno experiment, more evidence is piling up that there is some dissatisfaction in the industry regarding this move. NBC said it would actually make more money, even with lower ratings because the production costs of the show would be lower than what five scripted hour-long dramas would. This relied a lot of people in Hollywood, as NBC seems to be more concerned about counting beans than putting quality product on its airwaves (which it hasn't done much of lately.) And as far as The Jay Leno Show is concerned, it is the same shtick he did on The Tonight Show - nothing groundbreaking, nothing creative. The only difference is there is no desk and a couple of segments were moved around - not to mention monologues that are much, much worse. NBC said "some elements" of his the old Tonight Show would be incorporated - it looked like all of them were.  Is this NBC's idea of a "variety" show? If it is, they are sorely mistaken.

So yours truly was wrong on Leno working for NBC as creative counter-programing. But a concern I had about NBC delivering numbers to its late news was indeed valid (but a prediction that KSHB-TV's newscasts would improve in Kansas City was also way off-base.)

Is it time to declare the Leno strip a failure? I'd say not yet - we do have the November ratings period ahead of us, and yours truly has to be fair. But with the February period being hampered by the Winter Olympics - in which Leno will not air for two weeks - and the next available period to measure his performance won't be until the May sweeps - the pressure on Leno to improve his numbers will be extraordinary. And if he doesn't show any ratings improvement, yours truly will declare this a failure on December 1.

Interesting to note Leno used Chicago's baseball teams as punchlines after they didn't make the playoffs and when Chicago didn't win the Olympic bid. It will so satisfying to use him as a punchline since his show is being declared a bigger failure than anything Chicago has done - or didn't do this year. Karma is a bitch, isn't it?

I can't wait for December 1.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Robert Feder returns

The longtime media columinst of the Chicago Sun-Times is back with a new gig.

Robert Feder, who took a buyout from the Chicago Sun-Times last year after 28 years with the newspaper, is returning to the Chicago media beat as a blogger/columnist for Vocalo, a news and information website run by Chicago Public Radio.

Feder made the announcement on the website today, saying he is eager to return to the media beat he covered at the Sun-Times for so long. In addition to covering traditional media in Chicago, he'll also cover new media, including the Internet.

Feder's addition to Vocalo comes as the website is expanding its reach and adding other bloggers and columnists to better serve Chicago.

Vocalo can be found on-air at WBEW-FM (89.5 FM). Vocalo was created two years ago by Chicago Public Radio as an interactive gathering place where individuals can share thoughts and ideas.

In other words - its a place where user-generated content rules. Much of the user-generated content is found on the radio station.

Even though Vocalo is run by Chicago Public Radio, it is not marketed as such and does not solicit funding from its audience, a.k.a "pledge drives".

Bears-Falcons game beats the NLCS - in Los Angeles

While it was a given the Chicago Bears-Atlanta Falcons game would win Sunday Night's local rating race, one place where it also wound up winning in the ratings was unexpected - in Los Angeles opposite a National League Championship Series playoff game - involving the Dodgers.

The Bears-Falcons game on KNBC-TV in Los Angeles from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. local time outdrew Game 3 ofthe Los Angeles Dodgers-Philadelphia Phillies playoff game by 15 percent

The Bears-Falcons game had a 8.4 Nielsen household rating; the baseball game had a 7.3. The rating is remarkable, given Los Angeles hasn't had a NFL team since 1994 when both the Rams and Raiders left.

Okay, the Dodgers-Phillies game was over early - with the Dodgers getting blanked 11-0 by the Phillies - and the NLCS was on TBS this year - with reaches fewer homes since it is on basic cable.

The playoff ratings in Los Angeles for the Dodgers - as well as the Angels - have been a concern for Major League Baseball as numbers for the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies have been much higher in their respective home markets.

And those ratings might get worse in L.A., since both the Angels and Dodgers are down 3-1 in their respective playoff series against the Yankees and the Phillies.

The last time the Angels were in the ALCS, they played the Chicago White Sox, which drew a 15.8 rating in Los Angeles - but did a 26.4 rating here in Chicago. The Dodgers' appearance in last year's series against the Phillies drew a weaker 10.7 in L.A., but a 25.9 in Philadelphia.

As for the Bears telecast locally, it did a 33.9 household rating and a 50 share, meaning half of the TV sets were tuned to the game in the Chicago area.

But the Bears are 0-and 2 in Sunday Night Football games on NBC this year, with a Sept. 13 loss to Green Bay. The next SNF appearance for the Bears will  be on Novemebr 22, a home game against the Eagles.

I guess NBC's bad luck is rubbing off on the Bears. The team's offense Sunday was about as disastrous as The Jay Leno Show.

Flashback: Remember last year when a reporter for TV Weak Week wrote that last year's World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies was a small-market matchup? Even though Philadelphia is the fourth-largest market with over 2 million people? Well... he's gone and so is TV Weak Week for the most part, now only a website with very little original content.

Sad. But it pays to get your facts straight.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Upon further review... the Cubs-White Sox TV ratings post

A post I wrote last Tuesday received some negative feedback, as yours truly painted a too-rosy picture of Comcast SportsNet's ratings regarding the Cubs and White Sox - particularly the latter team.

According to an article appearing in Sports Business Journal ranking Major League Baseball's thirty teams in terms of television ratings on games aired by their regional sports networks during the 2009 season, ratings for the Chicago White Sox for the 2009 season on Comcast SportsNet were up 8 percent from a year ago with a 2.2 Nielsen rating.

But those ratings still trailed those of the Cubs, which had a 4.1 rating, but down 16 percent from a year ago.

Some thought my post was too easy on the White Sox.

Give me a break.

My point was to mention Chicago's continued support of its baseball teams, even though both were out of contention by late August and the fact that two contending teams in Los Angeles who made the playoffs - the Angels and the Dodgers - were lower than those for Chicago. However, a few pointed out the Cubs beat the White Sox in the ratings once again and some have accused yours truly of ignoring this particular angle.

Well, big deal. Doesn't everybody know that already? Why should I tell something that's been told before?

Yours truly has addressed the situation regarding the White Sox before in previous posts over the years, here and here. Unfortunately for the team, they have no one to blame for but themselves, thanks to poor decisions made by management  and continued inept marketing of the team.  Four years removed from a World Series Championship, the White Sox have become nothing but a punchline for late-night jokes, similar to another second-banana team in the vain of the Los Angeles Clippers.

But the spinsters are always looking for something to blame for low ratings - Hawk Harrelson, the poor production of the broadcasts, etc.  

What I pointed out is the ratings for White Sox games - and Cubs games for that matter - still outdrew most first-run and off-network syndicated programming in the Chicago market - which says more about the ailing broadcast syndication business than two second-rate baseball teams. I know its comparing apples to oranges, but still... after all, can anyone explain to me why Comics Unleashed, Martha Stewart and Steve Wilkos are still on the air with their bottom-basement ratings? I've seen rating sheets. White Sox baseball have outdrawn Everybody Loves to be a Friend of Earl, or whatever outdated dopey third-rate sitcom junk is airing on Fox-owned WPWR-TV or TBS nowadays.

Sure, Dr. Oz launched successfully this year. as did The Doctors last year. But most new syndicated fare since 2002 - the years hit shows Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Dr. Phil debuted in syndication - have flopped and flopped badly. The syndication business seems to be stuck in 1972 - with no original ideas or creatively whatsoever, with Oz and The Doctors lone exceptions (then again, the Cubs and White Sox seems to be stuck there as well given their recent decisions.) Yeah, we need more court, game, and talk shows like the White Sox needs another mediocre relief pitcher.

And to those of you who say I'm too soft on the teams, you should have read my Twitter page, where yours truly have been bashing the teams all summer long.

Look, this city's baseball fans are quite loyal - on both sides of town - and would rather watch bad baseball than bad television programming anytime (yes, even we have standards!)

But even the White Sox doesn't get credit for that - thanks to those who wants to turn this into another tired Cubs vs. White Sox story - even with both of their seasons over.

In other words, I stand by my story.

And to all of you who complain about the White Sox television broadcasts - there's always Big Brother or reruns of Everybody Loves to Hate Chris Payne & His House of Kids to watch on another channel.

Monday, October 19, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack

This week's Four Pack contains the baseball playoffs, some dancing, and Rachael Ray - oh my!


- Postseason baseball. Ratings for the divisional baseball  playoffs on TBS were up from last year.... maybe because the Cubs and White Sox weren't in it?

- Rachael Ray. Her talk show is renewed until 2011-12 in 90 percent of the country, including WGN-TV here in Chicago. She's a winner, but for the rest of us....

- No more Jon & Kate. At least on TLC - it looks like society's most hated couple will get a little less exposure, with TLC mercifully pulling the plug on this inane program.

- Chicago radio. Yes, you read right! Many Chicago-area scored ratings increases in September in Arbitron's PPM survey, as schoolkids return from vacation and adults wind down summer activities.


- Dancing With The Stars. With a less-than-exciting cast (except for Mya and Donny Osmond) and ratings down by double-digits - not to mention negative press coverage, Dancing is this year's Heroes... and speaking of which...

- Heroes. Claire involved in a lesbian kiss. Wow, that'll boost ratings. No, not really.

- Secret Girlfriend. ... and speaking of lesbian kisses, this Comedy Central farce features a point-of-view angle where the viewer is friends with two guys - who are obsessed with boobs, liquor, and sniffing paint thinner all day. Then, their female "friends" comes to you, the viewer - and whine, whine, and whine .It makes the viewer go grab a shot gun and put all these idiots out of their misery. Secret Girlfriend by far, is the worst sitcom of the fall season - and in all of television history, even topping My Mother, The Car and Homeboys in Outer Space for this dubious honor.

- Wednesdays, 8 Eastern/ 7 Central. With all the programs airing on the broadcast networks down tremendously from year-ago time period ratings and shares, the real winners in this time slot are... Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week 6 NFL distribution maps

Can't get into Twitter, so yours truly is posting Week Six NFL TV Distribution Maps here on the blog:

Fox: Single Game

CBS: Doubleheader: Game 1, Game 2

Home games involving the Oakland Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars are blacked out in their respective markets.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NATPE moves to Miami for 2011

After eight years at the Mandalay Bay Hotel And Report in Las Vegas, NATPE is packing up and headed to South Beach.

The National Association of Television and Programming Executive convention is moving to Miami and the 2011 convention will be held at the Fountainebleu and Eden Rock Hotels. The move is being made to accommodate more foreign buyers and of course, serve domestic buyers as well. The contract with the hotels is for 2011, with an option for 2012.

This year's convention in Las Vegas was not much of a success, with declining attendance - though the lackluster economy was partly to blame. There were also complaints about long walks from the hotel rooms to convention suites.

The 2010 convention is being held in Las Vegas from January 25-27, in a span of three days - as opposed to four in years past.

Thought: While the move to Miami is meant to revitalize the convention and make it more convenient for international buyers to come, NATPE is missing a real opportunity to connect with Hollywood power brokers by not holding the convention in the Los Angeles area.

NBC local stations on Leno: Flat is the new up

It appears Jay Leno's new 9 p.m. (Central) show isn't having the drag many affiliates feared it would have on their late local newscasts.

While ratings in the key 25-54 audience were down 12 percent from NBC affiliates and O&Os, ratings declines were also clocked in at ABC and CBS stations as well. To sum it up - ratings for late newscasts are down across the board.

According to 25-54 demo information obtained by TVNewsCheck (and not by the Sun-Times' Lewis Lazare - who should obtain this demo information while analyzing Chicago's 10 p.m. news race), ratings for NBC owned-and-operated WMAQ-TV in Chicago were actually decent - so decent, that the key demo ratings outperformed its sister stations in New York and Los Angeles.

WMAQ's late news averaged a 3.6 rating in the 25-54 key demo in the first three weeks with Jay Leno as a lead-in. Those numbers dropped to a 3.1 rating the week of October 4. Last year, the 10 p.m. news number averaged a 3.2 - down only 3%.

By comparison, WNBC in New York City had a 1.5 rating in the first three weeks and a1.4 the week of October 4. KNBC in Los Angeles had a 1.9 demo rating for the first three weeks and a 1.6 demo rating the week of October 4.

WMAQ officials appear to be pretty happy with the numbers so far - and this despite the bad publicity the station has suffered over the past year, including the departures of Bob Sirott and Anna Devlantes and Warner Saunders (whose now retired) off-camera antics at an AFTRA meeting earlier this year.While WMAQ ahead of CBS-owned WBBM-TV at 10 p.m., it still trails ABC-owned WLS-TV at 10 p.m. in the 25-54 demo and in households.

NBC-owned WRC-TV in Washington D.C. continues its domination of late news in the nation's capital, despite the Leno lead-in, which came in fourth at 10 p.m. local time. 25-54 demo ratings show the station making a 4% gain from last year.

Other markets whose late news ratings increased from last year include San Francisco (KNTV) and Atlanta (WXIA).

But not all stations are benefiting - in Baltimore, Hearst-Argyle-owned NBC affiliate WBAL-TV lost its late news ratings crown in households to CBS-owned WJZ-TV (demo information was not available.)

Overall, affiliates continue to support NBC over Leno, and appear to be satisfied so far with the results with their late news - despite minor ratings declines in several markets.

So while the Leno prime-time experiment looks quite bad on paper - it has ranked a distant third behind ABC and CBS so far this season - as far as NBC affiliates are concerned,  he's doing the job he was set out to do.

The NBC follies

If you think Nothing But Crap is being run badly these days... boy, oh boy - take a look at this clip from 1978 - NBC aired Part 2 of a mini-series I'm sure nobody watched titled Loose Change - but mistakenly ran the start of Part 3! And the suits at NBC didn't notice until 17 minutes into the show!

Even though mini-series are a thing of the past, don't be surprised if this happens again - NBC might run an episode of Heroes out of order - though like Loose Change, nobody will probably notice.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chicago's baseball teams did better on the tube than on the field

While Chicago' baseball teams did not have a successful season on the field, they had some success on the tube.

Sports Business Journal ranked the 2009 regular season of thirty teams, and the Chicago Cubs finished ninth among regional sports networks, with a 4.1 household rating - but this number was down 16% from 2008 numbers. Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox finished a lowly 28th among RSNs with a 2.2 household rating,  but was up 8% from last year.

Both Cubs and White Sox games air on Comcast SportsNet. Ratings from WGN-TV and WCIU-TV were not available, as this story did not report on over-the-air broadcast stations' ratings.

While results of Chicago's teams were decidely mixed, both teams did better than both Los Angeles teams - Dodgers' telecasts finished 29th for Prime Ticket, while the Angels finished 30th for FSN West (Both FSN West and Prime are owned by News Corp.) The Dodgers and Angels are both in the League Championship Series.

Also, both the Cubs and White Sox outperformed most first-run syndicated fare in the Chicago market.

As for the rest of the list, the Boston Red Sox on NESN finished first with a 9.5 household rating, followed by the Cardinals on FSN Midwest with a 8.0, and the Phillies on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia with a 7.1. The New York Yankees came in tenth with a 4.7 rating on its YES network.

Finishing dead last (which is quite typical for this team in anything it does) were the Washington Nationals, with a measly 0.6 rating on the barely-distributed MASN network.

Two teams - the Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta Braves - were carried on two regional sports networks and ranked twice on the chart. The Toronto Blue Jays' regional carrier (Rogers SportsNet) was not included.

As for national telecasts, most were down from a year ago as Fox and ESPN suffered rating declines, thanks to a lack of drama in this year's pennant races.

But if there is a winner in all of this - it's TBS. Not only the basic cable net showed an small ratings increase for its weekly Sunday afternoon game - but also scored huge increases for its coverage of the Divisional Playoff Series.

TBS is carrying the National League Championship Series this year as the Los Angeles Dodgers face off against the Philadelphia Phillies in a rematch of last year's NLCS, which bombed on Fox. Speaking of Fox, they will carry the New York Yankees-Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ALCS series starting on Friday.

Monday, October 12, 2009

T Dog's Four Pack

A long delayed edition of T Dog's Four Pack, gouging the winners and losers of the past two weeks. You're either doing the job right - or doing the job wrong. Get to work!

Did the job right

- The Cleveland Show. The Family Guy spin-off performed pretty well in its first three episodes, fitting in like a glove between the show it spun-off of and The Simpsons. Last night's episode was the funniest yet, better than the first two - and better yet, only two cutaway gags.

-The Chicago Sun-Times sold. Let's hope Jim Tyree can restore the respectability of the newspaper after several of decline. First step: rehire Robert Feder and dump Lewis Lazare!

- Roxanne Steele. The former WBBM-FM midday personality lands on her feet with a new gig at WCFS/Fresh 105.9 FM. Welcome back!

-  ABC picks up new shows for full season. Modern Family, Cougar Town, Middle, and FlashForward all receive full season pickups. Somebody is having a good fall season thus far...

Did the job wrong

- Chicago loses Olympic bid. I saw this coming.

- The Detroit Tigers. A stunning collapse at the end with a loss to the Minnesota Twins to hand them the AL Central Title.

-David Letterman. Because of an extortion attempt by a fellow CBS employee, the gap-toothed one revealed on October 2nd's show he went out on a booty call with his some of female employees - in front of his audience in which many LAUGHED and APPLAUDED (yeah, I stole it from a TV Week headline.) He apologized - sort of - and had to "apologize" again on the October 5 show to his wife.

Given the fact Letterman - or his show - hasn't been funny in thirteen years, he sure picked an inopportune time to be funny - or so he thinks.

- Survivor: Samoa. The immunity challenge in the second episode was the dumbest, stupidest one yours truly has ever seen ever on this show - not to mention a racist contestant (Ben), and an"evil villain" Russell, whose is closer to Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation than he is to Lex Luthor - or hell, even J.R. Ewing from Dallas - and gets more face time on CBS than Katie Couric does. Russell is to Survivor as Cousin Oliver is to The Brady Bunch and Scrappy-Doo is to Scooby-Doo. This season is the worst ever, brought to you by the overrated douchebag who wants to remake Fantasy Island into a reality show and wants to bring Blago to The Apprentice.

Burnett should keep the Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh wannabes off his programming. But it 's not going to happen since he thinks racism isn't a problem.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Chicago PPM September results

Back to school, fool! Last month's radio PPM results from Arbitron:

(Remember, these are based only on 6+ numbers:)



Honorable Mention:


Shocking Big Drop:

The Mix (WTMX)


WLS-AM, WLIT-FM (The Lite)


WPWX-FM (Power 92), WSRB-FM (Soul 106.3), WPPN-FM, WKQX-FM (Q101)


- A strong month for local radio as kids head back to school and people return from summer vacation. Many stations showed healthy increases, while others took it on the chin - notably WTMX:...

- In a shocking development, Bonneville's WTMX-FM had a stunning 26% drop, falling into a tie for ninth place. Meanwhile, sister station WILV-FM scored the frequency's highest rating in years, finishing 11th, up 18% from last month. Do you think WILV is cannibalizing off WTMX?

- Meanwhile, WGCI scored its highest number in the PPM era, surging all the way to 12th place with a 19% increase, while its rival (WPWX, Power 92) continues to lose steam with an 11% drop. Just a few months ago, the two urban music rivals were actually neck and neck.

- Crawford's Soul 106.3 did not benefit from having Tom Joyner in its lineup, with the Urban AC station posting its lowest numbers ever in the PPM era. Whatever momentum Crawford had in this market is now gone and maybe gone for good.

- Mirroring a national trend, it was a good month for top 40 radio as both B96 and Kiss grew month-to-month.

- Remarkable! WLFM, which took on the Smooth Jazz format after WNUA-FM dropped it, had a surprisingly good survey, finishing ahead of Soul 106.3, WGRB, WFMT, and WCPT despite its status as a low-powered FM station. 

- Although contingent  on the key male 25-54 demo, it looks good for WMVP, which went up 25% from last month.

KPRC changes doctors

Your station has a ratings problem. So if the person in charge of the time period isn't doing the job of tending to it, what would you do?

Change doctors. That's what KPRC did.

KPRC-TV, Post-Newsweek's NBC affiliate in Houston, has replaced CBS Television Distribution's Dr. Phil, with Sony Television's new hotcomer Dr. Oz at 3 p.m., which was effective last Sept. 14. Oz has gotten off to an impressive start in the ratings, increasing its year-ago time period rating and share and building from the lead-in average in 56 metered markets.

Locally, Dr. Oz runs at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Fox-owned WFLD-TV.

Ratings for Dr. Phil have steadily declined at KPRC, which faces stiff competition in the 3 p.m. time period from The Doctors on CBS affiliate KHOU-TV; Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Inside Edition on ABC-owned KTRK-TV; and Judge Joe Brown on Fox-owned KRIV.  In addition, the station claims content problems, as Dr. Phil has dabbled in more tabloid-like topics in the last few years.

Usually when a station downgrades a program, it moves to a lesser time period - or basically, the wee hours of the morning. KPRC however, has opted it to dump it all together.  While the station is continuing to pay license fees for the program, it isn't airing the national barter spots, in which they are seven per episode (not counting fee and promotional consideration.)

KPRC is contracted to carry Dr. Phil until 2011.

While CBS Television Distribution defends the quality of the show, it might have to find another home for Dr. Phil in Houston.

Thought: This is a truly bizarre move by KPRC. While it is claiming content problems with Dr. Phil, it didn't stop them from airing Jerry Springer and the now-defunct Jenny Jones in the past - two talk shows known for salacious content, even more so than Dr. Phil. The station even delayed Late Night with Conan O'Brien until 2:40 a.m. to air Jenny Jones, and later Jerry Springer at 11:35 p.m. in the late 1990's-early 2000's (from 1994-96, Late Night did not air at all.) KPRC has lagged behind its competitors in Houston - the station has often placed fourth or fifth in various time periods, especially when it is airing news. It is banking on Dr. Oz to help turn the situation around - it leads into a newscast at 4 p.m.

But one thing is certain - the loss of the tenth-largest market for Dr. Phil - in his home state no less - may not bode well for the future of this show. With ratings down nationally - and locally (CBS-owned WBBM-TV no longer airs the series as a news lead-in) stations are not likely to ante up the same license fees as they did before. Cutting production costs (have you seen how big the stage is for this show?) may be a start.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

T Dog's Think Tank: Chicago's lament

WARNING: This Think Tank contains material not suitable for more sensible readers (but of course, so has every item on this blog for the last three years!) Reader discretion is advised. This piece is rated B – for brutal.

On Friday, the International Olympic Committee told Chicago to get lost as the organization picked Rio as the site of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Of course, the city became the fodder of comedians' jokes, as Leno said on his show Friday: “Chicago never wins anything in October.” (he should talk – so far, his new, nightly prime-time "comedy" strip hasn't won anything in the 9 p.m. time period since opening week. If anything sucks as much as Chicago's baseball teams, it's Leno's low-rated show... at least they will be back in the spring... as for Leno...)

As I stated in this blog before, Chicago is not exactly a model city when it comes to – well, anything. Before the beating of a Fenger high school student was videotaped and later shown around the world, we were known for the murders of Dantrell Davis and Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, and “Beirut on the Lake”  - thanks to “Council Wars”, the racially divisive battles of Chicago City Council in the 1980's. Anyone who thought the Olympic defeat was the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to Chicago, you weren't around after the death of Mayor Harold Washington in 1987 and the chaos that ensued the night aldermen installed Eugene Sawyer as his replacement. Somewhere along the line, the South Side of Chicago has become a punching bag for any right-wing pundit you can think of.

The media coverage of this Olympic bid was an outright embarrassment. The cheerleading by local media was to the point where it was nauseating. A promo produced by WMAQ-TV in support of the bid was so contrived and hokey, it was laughable (they could've hired Ellen DeGeneres to partake in the "dancing".) And when we lost, the media were trotting out stupid sports analogies comparing the Olympic loss to Bartman and the Cubs. Excuse me, didn't the Bulls and the White Sox win championships over in the last 20 years? What bullshit. The local media loves connect this to the Cubs because the media are losers themselves. Hell, why bother inspiring kids in the ghetto to be the best they can be? I guess being a winner in Chicago is overrated – no wonder the murder rate is so high.

And not only that, the media refused to give equal time to distractors of the bid – except for a few minutes Tuesday night when Olympic protesters were arrested for damaging an Olympic banner in Daley Plaza. Yeah, that's your “equal time”.

But what do you expect when your local media cheerleaders are owned by big conglomerates? This is what Big Media passes off as “localism”. Look at your local news races – one strong news station, one sort-of-strong one, and three weak sisters. ABC-owned WLS-TV is so far ahead of the local news competition, it isn't funny. It's that bad. Remember when these races were exciting?

Don't forget, this is a market where a news reporter went swimming in a suspect's pool, hired a trash-talk TV host to do commentaries on the nightly news, employ slanderous sports columnists,  make employees pay for their expensive lunches and parties, have idiot radio personalities who wear out their welcome and somehow get another job, and bankrupt newspapers who feel its important to give an editorial to trivial matters than other pressing issues. I mean, what other city has a newspaper who talks about Dancing With The Stars ON ITS EDITORIAL PAGE? No wonder we didn't win an Olympic bid. Chicago is run by too many morons, in politics and in the executive suites. And your local media outlets reflect that. How many snafus have occurred on Chicago newscasts this year?

I know I've said it before, but the people who run Chicago media are lazy, greedy, corrupt, and stupid – much like the city itself. Chicago media is nothing more than a freak show, and now the world knows it.

It was reported the prime-time ratings for the broadcast networks last week – after years of decline – have improved from a year ago. Even network television had a better week than Chicago did.

T Dog Media Blog Archive: The joke's on us

Friday, October 02, 2009

We lose

 No, it didn't.

Even though yours truly provided lukewarm support for the Chicago 2016 effort, I am just as shocked and stunned as everyone else in our inability to land the Olympic games. It kind of reminds me of a rather laugh-free Simpsons episode where Bart did an offensive stand-up routine at Springfield's Olympic Presentation where International Olympic Committee  members were present and as a result, the city lost its chance to host the games.

Perhaps if Chicago's delegation watched that episode, it never would have let Jim Belushi performed before the IOC before the vote...

On paper, it looked like it couldn't miss - you had the mayor, you had Oprah, you had President Obama, and at least one hundred other people who pitched the games to the IOC.

But like Scott Norwood kicking a field goal in Super Bowl XXV, the effort went far right.You wonder if Bart Simpson "showed up" to do his "stand-up" routine. I think we were better off.

Chicago received the least number of votes - just eighteen, which knocked the Windy City out in the first round.

Already, they were theories on why Chicago didn't win... the violent beating video that surfaced last week... the city's outdated - and unreliable - public transpiration system... The rampant corruption in the city... lingering anti-American sentiment around the globe... Chicago still being one of the most segregated cities in the nation among race... Daley... those stupid Cubs fans bringing those inane "W" and "it's gonna happen" signs (it didn't work for the Cubs last year...)... Ozzie Guillen (from Jay Mariotti's perspective)...

And Chicago isn't just a loser in all of this... so are the major television networks, advertisers, and marketers in the United States. The networks are now likely to pay less for an Olympics in 2016 since it will not be based here. While paying less for the games looks good on paper, unless there's another Michael Phelps on the horizon, viewers - especially those not into the Olympics -  would be less likely to tune in.

But the big kicker here is... Chicago's media outlets will miss out on millions and millions of dollars of ad money pouring in. It would have created jobs and created revenue for Chicago's television, and radio stations - all of which struggling from a downturn in the economy amid hundreds of job layoffs - not to mention the bankruptcy of the Tribune and Sun-Times.

And this what hurts the most.