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The following lists final national Nielsen ratings for the '00 NFL season on ABC, CBS, ESPN and Fox, compared to the nets' final '99 and '98 NFL ratings. All HHs are in thousands (THE DAILY):
ABC12.7/2213.7/23-713.9/22-9 CBS9.5/2110.5/24-1010.3/24-8 Fox10.6/2411.0/25-410.8/25-2 ESPN7.05 (5,613)8.15 (6,104)-148.12 (6,279)-13
"The NFL Today" CBS2.7/73.0/82.9/8-10-7 "Fox NFL Sunday" Fox3.9/113.9/113.7/1105 "NFL Sunday Countdown" ESPN1.982.242.21-12-10 "NFL Prime Time" ESPN3.724.084.25-9-12
GAMES OF SEASON
GAMES OF SEASON
ABC 9/4 Broncos-Rams15.3/26 12/4 Chiefs-Patriots9.9/16 CBS 11/26 Dolphins-Colts14.4/25 9/24 (regional)5.8/13 Fox 12/10 Vikings-Rams16.2/30 9/10 (regional)6.9/17 ESPN 12/17 Giants-Cowboys8.99 12/23 Bills-Seahawks5.08(7,195 HH)(4,065 HH)
Fox Sports West launched its "Regional Sports Report" ("RSR"), the half-hour, 11:00pm local news show, on June 28. The nightly program is now available in 4,888,810 HHs in the L.A. area. Today, THE DAILY continues its series on Fox Sports' "RSR" by speaking with Larry Stewart of the L.A. Times, Tom Hoffarth of the L.A. Daily News and Evan Tuchinsky of the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
FROM THE WEST COAST: Tuchinsky called the "RSR" "kind of disappointing to me because I thought the premise was really good. The execution just hasn't been as good as it should have been considering all the resources that Fox could put into this program. It kind of reminds me of a small paper trying to cover a big market. It does little quick hits on a lot of things, but it doesn't really go into too much detail. The concept of it is great, and there are times that they execute it well when they're talking about local stories. But more often than not, they don't bother to do detailed-oriented, interesting pieces. ... You don't really get too many surprises when you watch their show. ... It just seems too much like a second-rate version of the 'National Sports Report.'" Stewart said the show is "getting better," and should "continue to improve." Stewart: "Certainly the effort is there on Fox's part, but I don't think it's reached the point where it's compelling viewing yet. Eventually, it's going to be a pretty good news show. The features are getting better" (THE DAILY).
IN SEARCH OF PERSONALITY: Stewart adds, "It did not start out very sophisticated for the L.A. market. A little too homerish and rah-rah-rah for the home team. They've made strides in improving that, because that might work in the smaller markets, but it was kind of jolting to most sports fans in L.A." Hoffarth said, "The more I talk to people about this, this thing is too over-the-top." Hoffarth adds that there is "no personality to" the "RSR," saying, "It's just very much of a facade, you could just see right through it, and you could see how Fox was being a homer for the local team. Maybe it works in other markets, but in L.A., I thought it was embarrassing almost." He called the production "very good," and the show "has reporters who go out and get stories. But the anchors have no local identity. Personality-wise, the show is having a hard time grabbing onto something here in L.A." Stewart agrees, adding, "They might have been better served bringing in anchors that were more familiar with the L.A. market than in bringing in out-of-towners that nobody's ever seen before." Tuchinsky, on the show's anchors: "Unfortunately, too many of them come across as homers. The main thing is these people just aren't very good. ... You get too many cringe factors from the show" (THE DAILY).
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE? Hoffarth said Fox Sports should "position the 'RSR' right after a local game, but unfortunately, I think they still have it backwards where they put the local newscast on at 11:00pm instead of 10:00pm. In L.A., I think it's really having a hard time finding its stride. If it does find one, I think it's got the potential to make a huge impact because of the time available to do this." But Hoffarth said while the show is "heavily publicized, there really is just no buzz. It just really hasn't grabbed on and grabbed people like it probably should. ... I think they've shortchanged the local broadcasts, at least here, from the financial standpoint, and the result of that is just not the product that it probably should be." Tuchinsky said the "RSR" does not "seem to really be required viewing, and in some ways it very well could have been if it were well done. ... Fox needs to make a commitment one way or another. They either have to fund it so that it is going to be a comprehensive, high-quality program or probably not bother." Stewart: "I don't think people are coming into the sports department at the L.A. Times and saying, 'Wow, did you see what (FSN) had on their ('RSR') last night?,'" Stewart concluded, "Fox needs this to last. ... It really hurts them that they don't have the identity that ESPN has. In this market, they keep changing their name and nothing really sticks, nothing really catchy ... and it just leaves the viewer totally confused. The continual name changes and format changes, they're spinning their wheels when they do that. They've got to lock in on something and stick with it" (THE DAILY).
COMING NEXT: THE DAILY speaks with media critics in Houston, Dallas and OK City who review FSSW's "RSR."
TV MONITOR: Last night's 10:00pm ET 60-minute edition of FSN's "National Sports Report" led with Bulls-76ers, followed by Mavericks-Hornets. The first non-basketball report, at 9:17 into the broadcast, was Angels 1B Mo Vaughn rupturing a tendon in his left arm. The first report on the PGA Tour v. Martin was at 10:09. The first Super Bowl report was at 12:20. The first report on the Australian Open was at 18:51. Last night's 11:00pm ET 60-minute edition of ESPN's "SportsCenter" led with Univ. of CA-Stanford Univ. NCAA men's basketball, followed by Univ. of GA-Univ. of FL NCAA men's basketball. The first non-basketball report, at 10:43, was Penguins-Coyotes. The first Super Bowl report was at 13:05. The first report on the PGA Tour v. Martin was at 23:29. The first Australian Open report was at 45:28. Last night's 11:00pm ET 30-minute edition of CNN/SI's "Sports Tonight" led with an interview with new baseball HOF inductees Dave Winfield and Kirby Puckett with hosts Vince Cellini, Andre Aldridge, with guest Ozzie Smith, followed by OH St. Univ. naming Jim Tressel as head football coach with Univ. of OK Bob Stoops discussing Tressel's hiring. At 14:52, was Raptors-Spurs, followed by Knicks F Marcus Camby's five-game suspension. "Sports Tonight" spoke with Winfield, Puckett and Smith later in the show. "Sports Tonight" did not report on the Super Bowl, Casey Martin or the Australian Open (THE DAILY).
NOTES: NASCAR VP/Broadcasting Paul Brooks, on a report that NASCAR is paying $50M over three years to nets that "possessed the rights to races" before the new TV deal was signed with NBC, Fox and TBS: "There were certain agreements that were reached between the other networks and provisions to address that, but I really can't get into the specifics of dollars." Reports have said that NASCAR will pay $25M in the contract's first year, $13M in the second and $12M in the third to ESPN, TNN and CBS (WINSTON CUP SCENE, 1/18 issue)....In Ft. Worth, Dwain Price writes that Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban was a guest on two Charlotte radio talk shows yesterday, as his team was there to play the Hornets. During one of the shows, a "surprise caller innocently called to ask Cuban a question." The caller said, "Hi, this is Pat from Charlotte." Price: "Shortly thereafter, Cuban said: 'I know that voice.'" The caller was 76ers President Pat Croce (STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/18)....In AL, Tommy Hicks writes that this Saturday's Delchamps Senior Bowl will "mark a rematch of the all-star game with ESPN" after five years apart. The two "have joined forces again in a new, six-year deal reported to be worth" $3M, or $500,000 per year, "the richest deal" in the game's history (MOBILE REGISTER, 1/18).
With CBS' NFL ratings down 10% from last year, CBS Sports President Sean McManus told THE DAILY the numbers "are down about as much as we expected them to be based on the fact that we started on Labor Day weekend and had three weeks of Olympic competition. ... This year, Fox had one more double-header than we had. A lot of the quirks of the schedule worked against us this year. Some teams in some of our large markets didn't perform as well as we would have liked, specifically the Patriots." ABC Sports VP/Media Relations Mark Mandel agreed with McManus that the calendar was one obstacle to better ratings, calling the season a "strange scheduling year" and adding that the last "MNF" game of the season was on Christmas Day. But McManus added, "I don't believe that we are getting an accurate count from Nielsen on NFL ratings. ... Some of the declines I see don't make any sense. I don't believe on certain weekends on certain games that many less people had decided to watch NFL football. It makes no mathematical or logical sense whatsoever." McManus said, "We're coming up with some specific questions for Nielsen, and it's up to them, I think, to come back to us and then talk about their methodology and their sample and how their sample may have changed over the last six or eight months" (THE DAILY).
IMPACT OF PARITY: Mandel, when asked if the NFL's job of scheduling "MNF" games has become more difficult due to parity: "No question. They would probably admit to that as well. In the past, it was pretty easy to predict which teams would be at the top of their divisions. ... That's changed." McManus added, "There are pluses and minuses to parity. The pluses are more teams have a shot at the playoffs there's more interest in more cities, which helps your regional games. Where parity hurts is in the big national matchups either in a big double-header game on CBS or Fox, or a Monday night game on ABC. I think everyone would agree that if you're a television executive and you can choose between having one or two super successful national teams in each conference as opposed to parity, you would probably choose to have a couple of super teams. ... It's getting more and more difficult to create marquee national matchups when you have parity" (THE DAILY).
PREGAME SHOW: McManus said the 10% ratings drop for the network's pregame show, "The NFL Today," was "disappointing primarily because of the enormous lack of top ten markets that we were able to feature in the early window. There will always be a disparity between the NFC pre-game show and the AFC pre-game show. This year was slightly more because of the fact that we had so few top ten market games compared to Fox. ... In the early window, 1:00pm, we had a top-ten market team 27 times and Fox had one 64 times." McManus said of the pregame show, "I think some of the less-than-serious things we tried like having questions from the studio audience or having cheerleaders probably got us away from what we do best, which is delivering really good content in an entertaining way." Fox Sports Exec Producer Ed Goren and NFL Senior VP/Broadcasting Dennis Lewin were unavailable for comment (THE DAILY).
SI for Women is "hitting the mark" with "solid growth" in circulation and advertising, according to Valerie Block of CRAIN'S N.Y. BUSINESS. Block called the magazine a "niche title" and "scrappy." By "patiently crafting its product," SI for Women is "winning, by providing a mix of features on favored athletes and information for women who participate in everything from field hockey to competitive swimming." The magazine increased its circulation rate base this year by 33% to 400,000. Ad pages rose to 50 per issue in '00, up from 33 in '99. Ad revenues "more than doubled" to $5.4M last year. However, Block notes that a "difficult advertising climate ahead could slow progress and sour management's taste for further investment, even though costs are defrayed by leveraging" SI's resources. SI for Women launched in March '00 and "has yet to turn a profit." The magazine will publish eight issues this year, up from five last year, "with plans to go to 10 issues" in '02. The audience is "young, with a median age of 26, active and valuable" to advertisers who want to be "associated with the feel-good aura of supporting women's sports." Hershey Foods VP/U.S. Marketing Michael Holmes, a charter advertiser in SI for Women, about the rising popularity of women's sports: "To us, it seems long overdue. Women's sports at the grassroots level in high school and college has been increasing for years" (CRAIN'S N.Y. BUSINESS, 1/15 issue).