Media Beat: June 21, 2019

By David Farrell

High time for Prime Time: Bob McCown leaves Prime Time Sports today

The Canadian Press, citing a Sportsnet press release, reported yesterday that longtime sports talk radio host Bob McCown will leave his position as host of Prime Time Sports on Friday.

McCown has hosted the show, which airs on Sportsnet 590 The Fan AM in Toronto and nationally on television on Sportsnet 360, since its inception in 1989.

His sudden departure is big news, but what he will do next is the big question.  Toronto Sports Media columnist Mike Boston speculates that Sportsnet is preparing for a wave of layoffs. His salary, estimated at between $700K and $800K annually by The Globe and Mail, certainly made him an easy target if belt-tightening is the reason for his departure. Fascination with the man, the voice, and his deadpan interview style has intrigued, riled, and held audiences captive–and the span of interviews he has done is almost breathtaking. Kevin Shea posted McCown’s tweet post announcement that strongly suggests he has definite plans to return to the mic. You can read the tweet and reader comments here.


Kristina Rutherford interviewed this shy and unwilling interviewee some time back for It’s a fascinating read. In it, McCown describes how he came to create his gruff persona: “I decided the character would be the obnoxious know-it-all: “I’m smarter than you, you’re too dumb to even engage me in conversation.” I figured this out on the weekend. Monday night I went on, I was a completely different guy. I was yelling and screaming, I had opinions on everything, and the phones started to ring. Then I started yelling at callers, and I would hang up on them. “I just wanna ask you one question before I hang up on you: How did you manage to dial the telephone while in a straitjacket?” Click.


I had a whole slew of lines for all these people, so I became the obnoxious asshole. And guess what? Ratings went way up. Over the next few days, this evolved, and I started writing down the characteristics of On-air Bob. This is who he is: He’s got an opinion on everything, he tolerates nothing, he’ll say anything any time. On a daily basis, I would add things to the list that I would do on air. I created this persona, and it worked. The dilemma that I discovered that I never anticipated is that now all the sudden I’m like Sybil. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie, Sybil…”

Deepfakes of Canadian politicians emerge on YouTube

A video on YouTube used deepfake technology to paste the face of Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer onto the body of Pee-wee Herman and Doug Ford onto the body of Donald Trump. Though clearly meant to be humorous, videos demonstrate Canadian politicians may be a target. – Kaleigh Rogers, CBC News

As Facebook launches cryptocurrency, should Canadians be worried?

If it does take off, it will pose a problem for the government. Right now, paying with cryptocurrency is technically subject to slightly arcane rules for GST/HST, but the anonymity and obscurity of the platforms tend to make enforcement difficult. Facebook has committed to keeping one’s identity separate from financial transactions, so the problem will only grow if Libra does in fact succeed. – Navneet Alang, The Star


Slack stock closes at $38.62 on first day of trading

The messaging startup was reportedly valued at $7 billion in 2018, according to CNBC, and has more than 10 million daily active users. The chat platform, which filed confidential plans to go public with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in February, expects its annual revenue for this year to be $500 million. – Steven Musil, CNet

Judge Judy is still judging you

If you’re usually at work all day, you might not know this, but “Judge Judy” is almost certainly on TV right now. The show has aired consistently since 1996, and it has been the highest-rated program in first-run syndication for the last 10 years. Two years after its debut, “Judge Judy” started to beat “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in the ratings, and it continued to crush Winfrey for 13 years straight. While many people watched Winfrey famously give out hundreds of cars or sit next to Tom Cruise while he was jumping on her couch, more people were watching Sheindlin, even in Winfrey’s last season. Now that “Judge Judy” is in its 23rd season, nearly 10 million Americans watch her each day. By comparison, “Ellen” averages about 2.9 million viewers; “Dr. Phil,” about 3.9 million viewers. – Jazmine Hughes, The New York Times Magazine


Ikea is now the world’s 6th largest food chain, and it’s testing delivery to your door

Amid all of this change at Ikea, online food delivery is poised to become a $161 billion market by 2023, with companies like GrubHub, Doordash, Postmates, and Uber all racing to take a slice. No doubt, some number cruncher inside Ikea saw this network of small urban stores filled with cafes in one column, and all of the potential revenue from delivery in the other. And perhaps delivery is not a bad idea, even if it doesn’t create massive profits for Ikea. The more Ikea can stay at the center of your mind at all times—whether you’re hungry for furnishings or just lunch—the less likely you are to buy that next chair at Target. – Mark Wilson, Fast Company

Top 50 most viewed U.S. YouTube channels • Week Of 6/17/2019

It’s another weekly installment of the Tubefilter Chart of the Top 50 Most Viewed YouTube Channels Worldwide and an animation studio out of California is in the top spot. By a lot.

Chart Toppers

Cocomelon – Nursery Rhymes (neé ABCkidTV) is at the top of the US charts by a few hundred million views. The children’s animation studio brought home more than 600 million views in the week. That’s 284 or so million more than this week’s second-place channel – Kids Diana Show. The Russian-originated and now US-residing family vlog featuring – you guessed it! – a kid named Diana scored more than 316.1 million views throughout the week.


In the #3 spot is another American family vlog channel by way of Russia. Vlad and Nikita ended the week down 10%, but with a still-very-impressive 299.3 million views. Next up in fourth place is Movieclips. The Fandango-owned destination for – you guessed it again! – your favorite clips from movies also say a double-digit dip in its weekly view count to bottom out at a still-massive 235 million views in the week.

And rounding out the Top 5 is WWE. The professional wrestling organization’s outpost on YouTube closed out the week with over 208.6 million views. – Joshua Cohen, Tubefilter

Congratulations to Slack, the now-public company that keeps thousands of newsrooms humming

Who said there’s no money in journalism? Sure, maybe the old ad model is decaying, and maybe hundreds of newspapers are on death watch — but the work-chat app Slack has been able to build a multi-billion-dollar business at least in some tiny part based on its remarkable uptake in newsrooms around the world. – Joshua Benton, Nieman Lab


The House of Representatives voted to increase funding for public broadcasting by $50M

“The $495 million in funding, which was not only full funding but an additional $50 million, is for 2022. [The Corporation for Public Broadcasting] is forward-funded in an attempt to depoliticize the process. The President has proposed phasing out the federal government’s contribution of about 15% of noncoms’ annual budgets, but Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate have signaled that isn’t happening.” The Senate might not be into the increase, though. – John Eggerton, Broadcasting +Cable

The Black Keys
Jim Herrington

The Black Keys

Music News

The Black Keys Cancel North American Leg of International Players Tour

The rock duo's 31-date arena trek was scheduled to launch in September and included a date at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena on Oct. 11, 2024.

The Black Keys have abruptly canceled their upcoming North American tour.

The 31-date arena trek — which was scheduled to launch Sept. 17 in Tulsa, Okla., and wrap Nov. 12 in Detroit — quietly disappeared from Ticketmaster’s website without explanation on Friday (May 24).

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