Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Glee", "Modern Family" sold to Oxygen, USA respectively

In a deal that helps set a precedent, NBC Universal's cable networks have acquired exclusive cable off-network rights to Twentieth Television's hour-long drama Glee and half-hour sitcom Modern Family.

USA Network- which hasn't bought a major sitcom for its first cycle since Major Dad and Wings in the early 1990's, gets Modern Family for a reported $1.4 million per episode while female-targeted Oxygen acquired Glee for roughly $500,000 per episode.

And the deal could start paying dividends for Oxygen as soon as 2011 - included is the rights to air a reality show which would focus on finding the next cast member of Glee, which would air beginning next summer (Fox has already renewed Glee for a third season and is likely to renew for a fourth.)

These two shows and NCIS: Los Angeles - which sold for $2.2  million per episode to USA last fall, set a major precedent - marking the first time ever a series has been sold into syndication - broadcast or cable - after only a season on the air (not counting back-end strip deals for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine when those series were launched.)

Usually, shows are sold into syndication when they are in their second or third season on the air. For example, The Big Bang Theory is currently in its third season on the air (heading into its fourth season this fall) and is currently being sold in syndication.

But what makes these deals so unusual is how the bidding process. Usually, syndicators make the decision to bring a show into market and set the floor prices, which has been the standard practice for decades. NBCU made the rather unprecedented move to make Twentieth an offer for the shows outright - forcing rival cable networks to scramble to put together bids. 

The sales also the growing clout cable networks have - thanks to dual revenue streams from both subscriber fees and advertising - over the off-network syndication market these days, something broadcasters used to have. For example,  repeats of 30 Rock were sold to both Comedy Central and WGN America before they were sold to broadcasters.

While Twentieth plans to sell Modern Family as a weekday strip to broadcast syndication later, it is unlikely Glee will be sold in that manner as stations are not interested in airing off-network dramas five days a week. Look for Glee to be offered as a weekend offering for broadcasters instead.

Thought:  These three shows - NCIS: LA, Glee, and Modern Family have re-written the rules when it comes to selling programs in off-network cable syndication. While Modern and NCIS are keepers because they repeat well, the same cannot may not be said for Glee. While the series has been a water-cooler hit for Fox this season, the series' faddish nature - with flavor of the moment guest stars and musicial acts - could date itself when it gets to off-net in 2013, essentially becoming the next Miami Vice.

When Miami Vice came out to market in 1986, stations passed on it because they belived the series' heavy emphasis on fashion and music would date itself by the time it hit syndication - and they were right. After a long delay, the show was finally sold to USA and when they began airing the series in 1990, the show predictably flopped in the ratings.

The same could very well happen to Glee - a program with too many musical numbers wrapped around a very thin plot. Oxygen and NBCU better hope this $500,000-per-episode investment is worth it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Marvel forms TV division

In its first move since being acquired by The Walt Disney Company, Marvel Entertainment announced it is forming a television division in order to create programs to take advantage of the medium.

Jeph Loeb will head the division's effort as the Executive Vice President in charge of Television. He will oversee the production of animated and live-action programs and direct-to-video releases.

Loeb is primarily known as a comic-book writer, but has also worked on several television shows, including Lost, Smallville, and Heroes. During his tenure at Heroes, he was co-executive producer with Jesse Alexander. After the series went into a creative and ratings slump, both were released from their positions. Loeb is also credited with writing the screenplays for Commando and Teen Wolf.

Loeb's comic book credits include creating stories featuring Batman and Spider-Man and has worked for both DC Comics and Marvel.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

T Dog's Six Pack

Yes, T Dog's Four Pack is back! But due to the struggling economy (ha, ha), yours truly is forced to cut one each from the winners' pack and the losers' pack - and merge the rest together to form T Dog's Six Pack - three winners and three losers each in the same post - plus, Six Pack is a catcher name, anyway...

What's Hot:

- World Cup Soccer. The U.S. may have lost to Ghana, but the game was the big winner Saturday afternoon, drawing nearly 15 million viewers for ABC and now ranks as the highest-rated Men's soccer telecast of all time.

- Hot in Cleveland. Yes, there is something hot in Cleveland other than LeBron James! This new sitcom from TV Land featuring Betty White drew an average of 4.1 million viewers in its first two airings, defeating TBS' heavily-hyped Are We There Yet?, a new sitcom in the Everybody Loves To Hate Chris Payne & His House Of Kids mold.

- YouTube wins first round against Viacom in copyright suit. The video-sharing site owned by Google won a round in court against The V of Doom, saying Google is protected from Viacom's copyright-infringement claims. For more information on the ruling, click here.

What's Not:

- Steve Cochran exits WGN Radio. Didn't care much for the guy or his show, but his exit (he said on Facebook he was canned after coming from the bathroom) is just another symbol of the change sweeping the station led by the Court Jester and Pig Virus.

- Downfall. A new ABC  game show featuring stuff thrown off the side of the building and crashing to the ground. Really, this should happen to the person who green-lighted this idiotic program. In fact, Downfall kind of reminds me the state of network television and WGN Radio...

- Zambrano's meltdown. Another summer of hearing stories about an millionaire idiot from the Cubs acting like a fool dominating the local headlines, while people who are struggling to pay their bills don't get the same attention. Unfortunately, the struggles of the everyday person doesn't boost ratings or newspaper sales like lowest-common denominator assholes like Zambrano and Milton Bradley. I guess the people in Big Media who are "asking the questions" need to ask the right ones for a change.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Another "Bachelor" break up (wow, what a surprise)

Reader discretion is advised.

Two idiots. One's a BP exec, the other runs the Baltimore Orioles.

Another Bachelor couple is kaput: Jake Pavelka and Vienna Giardi split up after becoming engaged on the inane ABC show last spring. Pavelka ended the relationship with Giardi because he believed he was cheating on her - a charge she vehemently denied - and she claims she dumped him. Among the other accusations: Giardi said she and Pavelka weren't intimate in months;  Pavelka claims they had sex; Pavelka claims she was jealous because he was on Dancing With The Stars (are you bored yet?), she slept until 10:30 a.m. every day and being a freeloader, and so on, and so on.

Since the two broke up, ABC quickly took back the engagement ring before Giardi can pawn it. With this breakup, its 0-for-14 in the marriage department for The Bachelor.

While the two will go on The Bachelorette July 5 to face-off with each other, why should they go there? Those two idiots can come right here to Chicago and join Randy "Court Jester" Michaels' circus on Bradley Place - otherwise known as Willie, the new just-sued talk show hosted by Cincinnati conservative radio talk show host Bill Cunningham, which is airing on WGN-TV and other stations this summer as a four-day test. In fact, if they decide to go and air out their differences in front of Cunningham, here's "Slick Willie's" own personal welcome for Jake and Vienna:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Grab Bag: "Entertainers with Garry Meier"

Here's what going on:

- WGN-AM's Garry Meier is starring in his own TV special, set to air on WCIU July 11 at 10:30 p.m, titled The Garry Meier Special. Among the featured interviews: George Wendt (Cheers), Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper, Richard Lewis (Anything But Love), Tim Kazurinsky, and the lady who pick the lottery numbers.

This sounds awfully like the syndicated late-night weekend show Entertainers With Byron Allen - only with local talent.

- Radio host Bill Cunningham's new planned television talk show is already in trouble - he and producer Tribune Broadcasting is being sued by the guests of the program for abuse - and the program isn't even on the air yet!

The guests were mothers of child pagents winners, who claim they were misled about the topic and were subject to abuse by Cunningham and the studio audience.

Tribune is taping the Cunningham shows at WGN-TV for a two-week test which would air on the station, Raycom-owned Fox affiliate WXIX in Cincinnati, and other Tribune stations. The format would be a confrontational-style talk show in the line of Jerry Springer (who has Cincinnati ties), Maury Povich, and Steve Wilkos' talk shows, which airs on several Tribune stations.

And yes, this is the same Bill Cunningham who is a conservative talker at WLW in Cincinnati. I suppose next, Randy Michaels & Co. will try to lure Chad Ochocinco of the Bengals to host a talk show if Cunningham doesn't work out.

- Warner Bros. Big Bang Theory has cleared eight more markets for its September 2011 premiere, on top of the fifteen it has already cleared. The latest clearances are: Tribune's duopolies in Seattle and Indianapolis, WNOL in New Orleans and WTIC in Hartford-New Haven, Conn.; WSBK in Boston; and Fox affiliates KDVR in Denver; and WCCB in Charlotte.This brings the total to 23 markets cleared thus far.

- Also on the syndication beat, Dr. Oz is now cleared in 35 percent of the country for a second cycle, beginning in September 2011. Latest stations to take the doc's prescription include Fox affiliate KTVU in  San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose; ABC affiliate WFAA in Dallas-Fort-Worth; NBC affiliate KPRC Houston; ABC affiliate WTAE in Pittsburgh; and independent KTVK in Phoenix. Two of those stations - WFAA and KTVK - are owned by Belo.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

NBA Finals perform a ratings slam dunk

Viewers fled into the entrances for Game 7 of the NBA Finals between storic rivals the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics and blew the competition out of the water.

The game drew 28.2 million viewers in final ratings released Friday afternoon, marking it as the most-watched NBA game since Game 6 the 1998 NBA Finals, which the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz to win their sixth (and last-to-date) NBA Championship.

The Lakers beat the Celtics to win their sixteenth NBA title, their second straight, and their fifth title in the last eleven years.

Overall, the NBA Finals averaged 18.1 million viewers this year, up 26 percent from last year (when the Lakers' opponent was the Orlando Magic) and the highest-rated Finals since 2001, when the Lakers beat the Philadelphia 76ers for the NBA Championship.

For some great ratings info on the NBA Finals from past years - and how they stack up compared to this year's finals, click here. 

As for Game 7 in major markets (time measured from 8:15p to 11:00p Central Time), Los Angeles' KABC-TV averaged a 40.9 household rating and a 64 household share, with a peak of 52.5/74 at 11:45 p.m.

In Boston, ABC affiliate WCVB-TV earned a 34.7/55 for the entire game, but peaked at 37.1/63 at 11:15 p.m.

Other markets where the game fared: New York City (WABC, 14.2/26); Chicago (WLS, 17.8/31); Philadelphia (WPVI, 12.8/20); San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose (KGO, 19/37); Houston (KTRK, 18.1/29); Detroit (WXYZ, 15.7/26); Minneapolis-St.Paul (KSTP, 14.0/25); and Indianapolis (WRTV,  17.3/30).

- On a side note, if you have watched the NBA Finals this year, you may have noticed a lot of audio drop-outs during most of the games. Many people thought it was a problem with their satellite or cable provider, but it was also prevalent on the over-the-air HD broadcasts as well (the method yours truly watched the games since the money-grubbers at Comcast charges for a HD upgrade.)

Turns out the dropouts were actually from a dump button ABC and ESPN used to prevent profanity from making the airwaves, in which the Parents Television Council praised the networks for doing (but apparently failed to note the rioting and criminal acts that took place in Los Angeles immediately after the Lakers won the championship.)

But this Comedy Central-type move made watching the NBA Finals an unbearable, annoying, and frustrating  experience for yours truly and most other NBA fans.

So I guess its more important for Disney (the parent company of ABC and ESPN) to appease the jack-booted hypocrites at the Parents Television Council and the FCC instead of the NBA fans who watch the games - just like Comedy Central appeasing Muhammad protesters when the network bleeped the dialogue of two South Park episodes and later puled the episodes from circulation.

Don't you just love the cowardly actions of Big Media?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Scripps stations make a deal with "Dr. Oz"

In a two-station deal with Sony Pictures Television, Scripps has acquired The Dr. Oz Show to replace The Oprah Winfrey Show on its ABC stations in Detroit and Cleveland.

In Cleveland, WEWS simply upgrades the show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., while sister station WXYZ-TV snatches the show away  from NBC affiliate WDIV in Detroit. In the Motor City, the program - which now airs at 3 p.m. on WDIV will move to 4 p.m. on WXYZ.

The moves are effective on September 12, 2011 when Oprah ends her long run. The show has been a staple on both WEWS and WXYZ since 1986.

Both WEWS and WXYZ were once dominant stations in their respective markets with Oprah as a news lead-in. In recent years however, their ratings have eroded and the station has  fallen behind key competiors.

In Detroit, WXYZ - once a part of the five original ABC-owned-and-operated stations - has fallen behind WDIV in key news races (including 5 p.m.) and behind WDIV and Fox's WJBK in the morning news races.

In Cleveland, WEWS often places third, behind Fox affiliate WJW and NBC affiliate WKYC-TV. Its 5 p.m. newscast though, is quite competitive.

Earlier this week, Sony made deals to move Dr. Oz. to KABC in Los Angeles and WTXF in Philadelphia while renewing the show on  Fox-owned WNYW in New York and WFLD here in Chicago.

Did you know?

- WJBK and WJW, once crown jewels of the Storer Broadcasting Co., were both CBS affiliates until 1994, when both went to Fox in the New World deal - both stations were owned by New World Communications at the time of the affiliation switch.

- WKYC was once an NBC-owned-and-operated station.. It is now owned by Gannett.

- WXYZ still uses a "Circle 7" logo, a holdover from its ABC O&O days, albeit modified. Scripps acquired the station in 1985 after the merger of Capital Cities and ABC, which forced the network to divest its Detroit outlet.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A high-five for "Big Bang Theory"

Off-net sitcom clears five more markets. Weigel's WDJT/WMLW in Milwaukee gets syndie rights to show.

Warner Bros. red-hot Big Bang Theory has now cleared five more markets a month after the show cleared ten Fox-owned and operated stations, including WFLD-TV and WPWR-TV in Chicago.

Among the five markets cleared is Milwaukee, whose CBS-affiliated WDJT-TV purchased the show to air on the station and on sister independent WMLW. Both stations are owned by Chicago-owned Weigel Broadcasting Co.

The other markets are in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Sacramento.

Warner is selling Big Bang the old-fashioned way: market-by-market in order to get the best price -  in other words, putting competing stations head-to-head in a bidding war - a method which until the last few years, has been standard for selling off-network sitcoms in broadcast syndication.

In Kansas City, Hearst's duopoly of ABC affiliate KMBC and CW affiliate KCWE acquired the show, as did KQCA in Sacramento (also owned by Hearst), and another Hearst station (Tampa's WMOR) grabbed the show as well.

But it wasn't a clean sweep for Hearst, though: in Pittsburgh (where Hearst owns ABC affiliate WTAE), Sinclair won the rights for its WPMY-TV.

Hearst also owns WISN-TV in Milwaukee, where Weigel's duopoly won the rights.

The bidding wars comes as big-ticket sitcoms are scarce and the cable window is now simultaneous with broadcast (TBS recently snatched Big Bang for more than $1 million per episode.)

CBS is shifting Big Bang out of its longtime Monday night time slot to anchor Thursday evenings this fall.

Monday, June 14, 2010

WCIU gets Sept. 27 Packers-Bears game

ESPN have come to agreement with WCIU to air a Monday Night Football game featuring the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on September 27, according to Phil Rosenthal's Tower Ticker blog.

This marks the sixth local outlet to carry a Bears game this upcoming season. Aside from the regular home of the Bears (WFLD, whose parent network Fox holds the NFC rights and WBBM-TV, who will carry the two CBS games when an AFC opponent visits Soldier Field), games are scheduled for WMAQ-TV, WGN-TV and WLS-TV, which will carry ESPN's feed of the Bears-Minnesota Vikings game on Dec.20 (WLS and ESPN are both owned by The Walt Disney Co.)

The reason for the deal in the first place is because WLS will be carrying a live edition of Dancing With The Stars on Sept. 27. Otherwise, the show would have been forced to air in the wee-hours of the morning. Another reason is Chicago is one of Dancing's strongest markets, where the show is the top-rated program in primetime. Delaying the program until 2 a.m. in the nation's third-largest market would certainly the show's national rating.

On October 5, a Vikings-Packers game - which featured the return of Brett Farve to Lambeau Field in a Vikings uniform - forced Dancing With The Stars to air at 2 a.m. on ABC affiliates WISN-TV in Milwaukee and KSTP in Minneapolis-St. Paul, two markets where Dancing also does well. There was no way those two stations were going to give up a game that big for an edition of Dancing.

WISN is expected to air the Packers-Bears game on Sept. 27, and they can with a major difference - Milwaukee is the 35th-largest market in the U.S., so delaying the show might not have such a major effect on Dancing's national rating as it would if the show had been delayed in third-ranked Chicago.

As for WCIU, the station is expected to produce a pre-game show with possible assistance from sister station WDJT in Milwaukee, as noted by Tower Ticker (WDJT announced last week it was expanding its HD offerings outside of the CBS lineup, including airing Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! in HD for the first time.)

This is not the first time WCIU has carried a Bears game - the station carried a Bears-Vikings game from ESPN a few years ago and a  pre-season contest when then-pre-season rights holder WMAQ was carrying the Olympics.

WFLD, WNYW to continue Living In "Oz"

But Fox loses show to KABC in Los Angeles

In moves that come off somewhat surprising, Fox Television Stations has renewed Sony's Dr. Oz through the 2013-14 season on WNYW New York and WFLD Chicago, which keeps the show from jumping to competing stations. In addition, it secured Oz for WTXF in Philadelphia, stealing the show from CBS-owned KYW-TV in the process, beginning in 2011.

But in Los Angeles, Fox lost the show to KABC-TV, the market's ABC-owned station. KABC is scheduled to air Oz at 3 p.m. weekdays, beginning September 12. 2011 replacing The Oprah Winfrey Show. The program now airs at 5 p.m. on KTTV in Los Angeles.

So far, KABC is the only ABC O&O to acquire Oz (no ABC O&Os currently air the show.) With the Los Angeles deal, it is unlikely ABC will pursue a group deal to replace Oprah, which airs on seven of its stations - six as news lead-ins (with WLS-TV in Chicago the lone exception of course.)

But with Oz renewed on Fox stations in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, it keeps the show away from ABC-owned stations in those markets.

On WFLD, Dr. Oz has been averaging a rather unimpressive 1.0 household rating and a 3 share (with a 0.6/3 in females 25-54) in its 4 p.m. weekday time slot, while the show has fared better in the other three large markets.

Sony sells the show on a cash/barter basis, with four minutes of commercial time set aside for national advertising sales and the rest of the commercial time for stations to sell locally.

Did You Know? What was the last program to occupy Oprah Winfrey's 3 p.m. time slot on KABC in Los Angeles before her show began? It was a local talk show hosted by Tom Snyder, which ran during the 1985-86 season and was beaten in the ratings by Phil Donahue's talk show on KNBC. Snyder died in 2007.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

T Dog's Four Pack: The Stanley Cup Edition

What a ride it was.

The 2010 Stanley Cup Final goes down as one Chicago fans will never forget as the Blackhawks win their first championship since 1961.  Here are the winners - and losers - of the Stanley Cup Final, noting the biggest winner of them all are of course, the Chicago Blackhawks.


Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. They delivered when it mattered most. Patrick "The Big Red Machine" Kane scored the winning goal in OT to clinch the cup and Toews was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner and named Playoff MVP.

Dustin Byfugulien. A physical player scoring eleven goals in the post-season? Yep, he came though offensively and defensively. Dustin Byfugulien (produced Bufferin) delivered a headache to opposing players so big...

Rocky Wirtz. Give credit to the man who turned around this one-flailing franchise which went from one of the worst franchises in all of professional sports (as rated by ESPN in 2004) to one of the best - all in three years' time.

NBC, Versus, CBC, and the NHL. With the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup drought draped in the background, their quest to end it created a storyline that had viewers hooked and attracted even more of them as each game was played, similar to the New York Rangers' 1994 Cup run, which ended a 54-year drought. On NBC, ratings for the Cup Final were up from last year, with Game 6 the highest-rated hockey telecast in 36 years. In addition, the CBC and Versus also saw increased viewership for their coverage and the NHL clearly benefited with the nation's third and fourth-ranked markets in the Final.

And just important, the profile of the sport of hockey has been raised significantly in Chicago.


Chicago Tribune. For their rather tasteless photoshopped poster in their paper last week featuring the Philadelphia Flyers' Chris Pronger in a skirt and calling him "Chrissy Pronger". Only this would come from the infertile mind of Tribune CEO Randy "The Court Jester" Michaels.

Chris Pronger. And speaking of Pronger, he sure defined sportsmanship in this series by depositing the pucks from the first two games (in which the Hawks won) into the garbage. And he was still talking smack on Friday, when responding to the Hawks' Adam Burrish, he replied: "I could care less what somebody on another team says about me. I don't play this game to make friends. I play to win." While this is basically true of any competing player in sports, the way he said it was pretty crass. It's people like him is the reason what's wrong with professional sports, and personally, I don't give a damn what he's won the past.

Pronger the Prick sounds like a reality show contestant with his comments. During the summer, maybe he should appear on one - The Biggest Loser, perhaps?

Philly fans. Not sure if the fans were booing NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman or the Stanley Cup Trophy presentation, but either way, it was classless. But what you expect from a city whose fans boo Santa Claus, boo Density's Child performances, cheers injuries, vomit on kids, let kids suck on beer bottles, and run out on the field and get tasered?

Billy Bush. And just why did the Access: Hollywood host appear on one of WMAQ-TV's pre-game shows, which actually pre-empted an episode of Access: Hollywood? I guess the station figured Billy Bush fans needed their fix - all eleven of them.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Blackhawks a winner - on the ice and on the tube

Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Toews hoists the Cup, the Blackhawks' first since 1961.  (Photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune)

For the first time in 49 years, the Chicago Blackhawks hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup.

And viewers fled into the entrances to see the history making event.

Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers drew a local household rating of 32.8 and a share of 50, from 7 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. Wednesday night. The 10-10:15 p.m window, which saw Patrick Kane clinch the Cup-winning goal, peaked at an outstanding 46.0/66 household rating and share. Aside from the Olympics, the game is the highest-rated hockey telecast in the history of the Chicago market with records dating back to 1976, when Chicago started receiving metered market "overnight" reports.

Nationally, the Blackhawks-Flyers matchup drew a 5.8 overnight rating, its best in 36 years and drew a 3.2 adults 18-49 rating, topping all competing programming for the night. The game also drew 8.3 total million viewers, the largest for a Stanley Cup Final since 1974's Flyers-Boston Bruins matchup. Game 6 also drew more viewers than last year's Game 7 matchup between Pittsburgh and Detroit, with a 4 percent advantage.

Among individual overnight markets, Chicago rated the highest of course, followed by Philadelphia. But the game drew strong ratings in one place where you least expected it: Fort Myers, Fla., where NBC affiliate WBBH-TV drew a 6.1/10.

Other markets who drew well include Buffalo (WGRZ, 13.5/20), Pittsburgh (WPXI, 9.7/14 ), Detroit (WDIV, 6.3/10), Indianapolis (WTHR, 6.3/10), Minneapolis-St. Paul (KARE, 5.9/11) and Boston (WHDH, 5.1/9).

Apparently, the Blackhawks quest to end one of the longest championship droughts in sports drew lots of viewers, much like what happened in 1994 when the New York Rangers ended their 54-year drought when they beat the Vancouver Canucks to win the Cup.

The four NBC Stanley Cup games this year averaged 6.1 million viewers - the most in the thirteen years the Stanley Cup Finals have aired on broadcast network television (Fox had rights from 1995-99, then ABC from 2000-04, and NBC from 2006 on. The 2004-05 lockout prevented a Stanley Cup Final from taking place.)

Geek alert: As Phil Rosenthal's Tower Ticker blog points out, eight of the nine championship clinchers in Chicago in the TV era all took place over NBC's owned outlet here, WMAQ. Fox-owned WFLD aired the 2005 World Series clincher between the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros.

So, what was media consumption like when the Blackhawks last won the Cup on April 16, 1961? Well...

- The top-rated freshman series was CBS' The Andy Griffith Show, which finished fourth for the season.

- If you thought the 1960-61 season was overrun with Westerns, you're right: of the ten highest-rated shows on televison that season, four were Westerns, including the top three in respective order: CBS' Gunsmoke, followed by NBC's Wagon Train and  CBS' Have Gun, Will Travel. (CBS' Rawhide was sixth.) Rounding out the top five were Griffith, and ABC's The Real McCoys.

- Walt Disney Presents, a show which was instrumental in getting ABC off the ground, jumped to NBC in 1961 with the lure of producing and airing the series in color and changing the title of the series to what else? Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. NBC ditched the show in 1981 after 20 seasons because of declining ratings and an increasing reliance on reruns. (35 years later, Disney would wind up buying ABC.)

- Other popular television series at the time included Dennis The Menace, The Untouchables, Naked City, Maverick, Lassie, and The Ed Sullivan Show
- WLS-AM entered its second year as a Top 40 radio station. With personalities like Gene Taylor and Dick Biondi, the station quickly ascended to the top of the ratings.

- The number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 the day the Hawks won the Cup was "Blue Moon" by the The Marcels, which spent three weeks at the top spot. 

- Just weeks after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, FCC Chairman Newton Minow dismissed television as a "vast wasteland" in a speech at the National Association of Broadcasters convention. Don't ask him what he thinks about television today.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Blackhawks continue to roll in the ratings

The ultimate showdown in marquee events took place Sunday when the Game 2 of the NBA Finals took on ABC and Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers took place on NBC.

While it was no surprise the NBA finals rolled over the Stanley Cup by the wide margin, in Chicago the Blackhawks easily rolled over the Lakers-Celtics matchup with a 26.0 household rating. However, the basketball game did produce a rather decent 7.3 HH rating locally, a strong number against the Blackhawks.

Nationally, it was a different story. The NBA game drew a 10.9/18 share in household overnight ratings, while the Stanley Cup Final drew only a 4.0/7 (final ratings for both were not available at the time this was posted.)

Chicago led the nation with the 26 rating, followed by Philadelphia (WCAU) with a 19.7 rating and a 28 share. Other markets HH rating/share scores' were: Buffalo (WGRZ, 10.6/15 - Patrick Kane's home market); Pittsburgh (WPXI, 5.8/9); Detroit (WDIV, 4.2/6); Minneapolis-St. Paul (KARE, 3.8/7) and Milwaukee (WTMJ, 3.6/6).

In Minneapolis-St. Paul market however, the NBA Finals easily outdrew the hockey game with a 6.5/12. Ironically, the market's NHL team (Wild) outdrew the NBA team (Timberwolves) in the ratings this recent season by a wide margin (both teams appear on FSN North and Twin Cities independent KSTC. Neither made the playoffs this year in their respective sport.)

Despite going up against basketball, the Stanley Cup game drew the largest audience for an non-overtime Game 5 since 2002, when the Detroit Red Wings beat the Carolina Hurricanes to win the Stanley Cup.

The Stanley Cup Final returned to NBC after Games 3 and 4 were on cable channel Versus. In Chicago, ratings were markedly lower. However, the two contests were the highest-rated programming on the respective nights they aired (For example, Game 4 last Friday night averaged a 14.7 household rating.) Game 6 and Game 7 (if necessary) are both airing on NBC.

The Blackhawks did win the game 7-4 over the Flyers and now are one win away from the Stanley Cup, which would  blow the ratings door right off the joint. The last time the Blackhawks won the Cup was in 1961.

For the record, the last time any major league won hardware was the Chicago White Sox's 2005 World Series Championship. The Chicago Bears played in Super Bowl XLII on February 4, 2007, but lost to the Indianapolis Colts 29-15.

Dr. Demento ends long radio run

The Doctor is no longer in as far as radio is concerned.

In a move that doesn't really come as a surprise, Dr. Demento has pulled the terrestrial radio plug on his show after 40 years on the air and just a month short of his anniversary of airing his first show over a Pasadena, Calif. radio station, Chicagoland Radio and Media reported on Saturday. Dr. Demento's show will live online -  but with a paid subscription model. And if you want to download the show as a podcast, it'll cost you $3 - and is only available in mono.

The move came after WLUP-FM in Chicago dropped the show three weeks ago, after deciding not to renew its contract. With the exception between 1995 and 1998, WLUP has carried the show on Sunday nights since the station's inception. 

Chicago was Demento's largest market, with the show not airing in New York or Los Angeles, where the show is produced.

Dr. Demento - whose real name is Barry Hansen - specializes in novelty music, featuring mostly offbeat songs, comedy music, and weird material you wouldn't hear anywhere else. One of the more notable artists to come from the show was one Weird Al Yankovic, who came to prominence in the 1980's with his parody of  Michael Jackson's Beat It called Eat It, which went to #14 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1984.

At its peak, Demento was syndicated to over 100 radio stations in the U.S. When Westwood One stopped distributing the show in 1992, Demento took over syndication himself. But the number of affiliates carrying the show declined throughout the 1990's, which impacted barter ad sales (where stations gave up some commercial time to the syndicator to sell to national advertisers in exchange for airing the show for free - basically the same manner many television shows are sold in the syndication business.)

In a rather unusual move for radio - and for a bid to keep the show on the air, Demento switched his show's terms from an all-barter format to an all-cash basis without barter, where stations had to pay for the show - something unheard of for a first-run weekly radio program, and is extremely rare these days for a first-run show in the TV syndication business, where deals are made either on a cash/barter or all-barter basis.

Because of the online paid subscription model, Demento forbid stations from streaming the show, which reduced the affiliate count even more - to the point where as of June 1, 2010, only six terrestrial stations remained.

This marks the second time a major name with a long-running radio show decided to depart from terrestrial radio over the last year. In July 2009, Casey Kasem retired from doing his American Top 10 and American Top 20 Adult Contemporary-based countdown shows, five years after he stepped down from hosting American Top 40.  While Demento and AT 40 both began in 1970, Demento would not enter national syndication until 1974 (Both shows would actually interconnect in 1975, when an AT40 staffer was nearly fired after a controversy erupted over who was the lead singer on Shaving Cream, a 1946 song regularly played on Demento's show, whose re-release hit #30 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975. AT 40 was duped by Benny Bell, who claimed he sang the song on the re-released version, but turned out it was recorded by Paul Winn and was mistakenly credited to Bell when the record was re-released - something Bell really did not fess up to at first.)

Like Demento's show, AT 10 and 20 - and AT40 late into the Shadoe Stevens-hosted era of the show in the early to mid-1990s, each had their fates decided in part due to affiliate defections and dwindling station counts.

Dr. Demento's achievements include induction into the Comedy Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Radio Hall of Fame in 2009.  .

Sunday, June 06, 2010

T Dog's Think Tank: Poker face

Welcome to the Tribune Company stag party with poker, liquor, and smokes galore.

The only things missing were the hookers, drugs, and Lady GaGa performing.

Yes, this what took place at Col. Robert McCormick's old office (now used as a conference room) at the Tribune Tower in spring 2009 with Court Jester Randy Michaels - who hasn't found a company he can ruin in the last ten years - partying and getting his groove on. Other Trib execs from the new regime were there as well, including CIO Lee Abrams sitting there gambling the company's money away while hundreds of people who worked for the company lost their jobs and their pensions over the years.

During the party, detectors were covered with plastic wrap so they can smoke, which is a violation of the city's fire code (and this being Chicago, they'll get away with it too, because those "meddling kids" - a.k.a. investigators - are probably going to get paid off.)

And yes, this is the same fools who are getting bonuses from a bankruptcy judge while hundreds of people were laid off from Tribune since Sam Zell took over.

The photos first surfaced on Facebook and later on Robert Feder's blog Thursday at Vocalo.org. Phil Rosenthal also mentioned the party on his Tower Ticker blog at Chicago Tribune's website.

Comments on Feder's blog were mixed, from outrage to who cares (yours truly's is #86 - nice for Sam - commenter #92 - to equate my take on the matter to the downfall of civilization.)

But what bothers yours truly is the "who cares' reaction to all this from some - the pictures clearly show what's wrong with Corporate America. But you wonder if these are the same humanoids who usually turn a blind eye to corruption in Chicago and in state government - which has made Illinois a national laughingstock. And the media business in Chicago is no different - it too is a national laughingstock.

It's this same indifference that's made this Comcast-NBC merger go from a impossibility just a few months ago to a near slam-dunk (with a little help from those who have been successful turning the villain from Big Media to Big Government.)

And for those of us who care about stuff like this, we are being dismissed as "whiners".

Look, we're not whining. We just want accountability from our media outlets and from the companies who pipe content out to the airwaves, whether its through television, radio, or the internet - the same kind of accountability we expect from our politicians - and for those who work for these companies to be treated fairly - from the camera operators working at a TV station to the writers of a hit network show - and for our communities and the people who live in them to be treated with respect - something our local media outlets (like the Tribune) don't even bother to do.

For example, Fox-owned WFLD was hit with a lawsuit by a Cook County Judge Friday for defaming him by claiming he was home on a weekday afternoon with his vehicle parking in his driveway. The only problem was, it wasn't his vehicle and wasn't even his house! (and you see why they are in last place in the ratings.)

This is one of the reasons why people should care about what goes on in the back offices of those who are in charge of distributing content such as news and information into our homes.

How odd that the Tribune - whose paper constantly talks about how much we should get rid of corruption in Chicago and in Cook County and in Illinois - is corrupt itself? The media tells us about how sleazy politicians are and how we should vote them out of office because of their ethical lapses and yet these same people who run media companies engage in the same sleazy conduct they do. 

And some people don't have a problem with that?
I guess ethics isn't important to these people. I guess the real problem of corruption and lack of ethics in Chicago media is not only coming from the politicians - it's also coming from the humanoids who are calling us "whiners" whenever Comcast or Tribune or Fox does something unethical.

Well, I have one word for them - and it also describes the people currently running the Tribune into the ground:


Thursday, June 03, 2010

WGN-TV gets Nov. 18 Chicago Bears game

For the first time since being affiliated with the DuMont network way back in the 1950's, WGN-TV will be airing a regular-season NFL football game.

Thanks to a deal made with eight of Tribune's stations, the NFL network will make those games available to those over-the-air outlets involving their home market's teams. 

For Tribune-owned WGN-TV, the station is airing the Chicago Bears-Miami Dolphins game from the NFL Network on Novemeber 18 (but not WGN America.). The game is also airing on sister station WSFL-TV, which is also owned by Tribune (assuming they can sell out Sun Landshark Robbie Memorial Stadium - or whatever the stadium's name is these days - on game day in Miami.)

The following week (Thanksgiving night), Tribune's WPIX in New York City plans to carry the Cincinnati Bengals-New York Jets game. And the week after that, Houston Texans-Philadelphia Eagles game will be shown on Tribune's Houston outlet (KIAH) and Philadelphia station (WPHL), respectively.

The Thursday night airing of the Bears game is no doubt going to cause headaches for fans of CW's Vampire Diaries, which has become a popular hit among young audiences. The program will likely be delayed until 11 p.m., or delayed to another night. Fans in other cities where a Tribune station is a CW affiliate will face the same problem.

For the past three seasons, NFL Network games featuring the Bears were simulcast over WPWR-TV.

This marks the first regular-season Bears telecast on WGN. Even though they carried NFL games when they were a DuMont network affiliate from 1951-55, DuMont never carried any Bears games.

Rue McClanahan dies

I guess celebrity deaths come in threes. Just a week after Gary Coleman and Dennis Hopper passed away, now comes word on the death of Rue McClanahan, who died this morning after complications from a stroke. She was 76.

McClanahan's TV credits include Maude, Apple Pie (a two-episode ABC sitcom clunker from 1978), and Mama's Family, but McClanahan is best known for playing Blanche on the top-rated NBC sitcom Golden Girls, which ran from 1985-92. She also appeared on the short-lived spin-off Golden Palace, which ran on CBS in the 1992-93 season.

Before hitting it big on the small screen, McClanahan regularly appeared on Broadway.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Blackhawks rock the Stanley Cup house

Who would've thought the Chicago Blackhawks would be this hot? They're so hot, they're melting the ice!

Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers, set an all-time ratings record for a Blackhawks game, with local ratings reaching a zenith not seen since at least the Bears' 2006 Super Bowl run.

Locally, the game earned a 25.1 household rating and a 39  household share for the entire game , up tremoundously from Game 1's 16.8/35, which took place on lower HUT-level Saturday night.

Courtesy of Phil Rosenthal's Tower Ticker blog, here's how Game 2 fared in key demos in Chicago:

- 20.8/46 in adults 18-49
- 21.4/45 in adults 25-54
- 17.3/40 in women 18-49
- 17.7/39 in women 25-54
- 24.3/52 in men 18-49
- 25.2/51 in men 25-54 (the target audience)

Between 9:45 p.m. and 10 p.m, the game peaked locally with a 32.7/49.

In Philadelphia, the game did a HH 18.5/28.
Nationally, the game earned a 4.1/7 HH rating in 56 metered markets, marking it as the most-watched Stanley Cup Final game ever. Among adults 18-49, the matchup earned a 2.4 adults 18-49 rating and 5.9 million viewers.

Meanwhile in Canada, CBC drew 2.8 million viewers for Game 2, also up from last year. But year-to-year comaprisons are difficult because of a new ratings system implemented in Canada at the start of the most recent television season.

Not bad for a team who was all but written off for dead just four years ago, but experienced a rapid resurgence in the last two years.

Games 3 an 4 now shift to Versus, which could hurt the ratings a bit, given its limited reach and many cable systems offer it as a subscription-only in a sports tier (Comcast subscribers in Chicago can find Versus on Channel 48 on their cable system.) If there are any Games 5, 6, or 7, they will air on NBC.

Thought: Quick take on the controversy at the end of Game 2 last night between the Flyers' Chris Pronger and the Hawks' Ben Eager. Bad call on NBC's part for not showing the arguement the players had each with each other when Pronger picked up and stole the puck - intended for winning goalie Antti Niemi  - and Eager gave him plenty grief (Pronger later the the puck in the garbage!)NBC didn't show this, but CBC did- and you can watch how it unfolded by clicking here.

As for Pronger, what he did was clearly a bush-league act for an veteran player. If this were baseball, the next time he'd come up to the plate - he would be drilled. Let's hope Pronger gets drilled repeatedly into the boards tomorrow night in Game 3. The asshole better keep his head up!