SBD/Issue 154/Sports Media

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  • Media Monitor

    NATIONAL TV MONITOR: Last night's 1:00am ET 60-minute edition of ESPN's "SportsCenter" led with Lakers-Spurs, followed by Stars-Mighty Ducks and Celtics-Nets. The first MLB report, at 16:01 into the broadcast, was Cardinals-Reds. ESPN's "Around The Horn" led with a preview of the Lakers-Spurs playoff series, followed by the Univ. of AL firing football coach Mike Price and whether Iowa St. men's basketball coach Larry Eustachy would ever get a another Division I coaching position. ESPN's "PTI" led with Price's firing, followed by the Hornets firing head coach Paul Silas and the future of Michael Jordan with the Wizards. USA Today NBA writer David Dupree discussed the NBA playoffs during the show's "Five Good Minutes" segment. FSN's "BDSSP" led with a roundtable discussion on Price's firing, followed by a roundtable discussion on the NBA playoffs with the Philadelphia Inquirer's Stephen A. Smith and an interview with Astros 1B Jeff Bagwell.

    REGIONAL TV MONITOR: Empire Network's "Empire Sports Report" led with St. Bonaventure naming Anthony Solomon as men's basketball coach, followed by the Bills not renewing the contract of Dir of Player Personnel Dwight Adams and a report on Bills mini-camp. FSN's "Rocky Mountain Sports Report" led with a preview of Tuesday night's Rockies-Braves game, followed by Broncos TE Shannon Sharpe returning for another season, and an injury update on Broncos WR Ed McCaffrey.

    ON THE AIR: Sarah Hughes this morning appeared on NBC's "Today" show wearing a Campbell's-branded jacket. The appearance was to promote the company's "Stamp Out Hunger" initiative. Recently retired WNBA Liberty F Sue Wicks will be ringing the closing bell of the NYSE today. MLB HOFer Ozzie Smith, former MLBer Dennis Eckersley, poker player Amarillo Slim Preston and MTV's Surf Girls are scheduled to appear on FSN's "BDSSP." Bob Costas will appear on "Last Call" with Carson Daly (THE DAILY).

    Have a submission for On The Air? If so, please contact Mark Simpson at

    Print | Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Braves, Baseball, Basketball, Boston Celtics, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Reds, Colleges, Colorado Rockies, Dallas Stars, Denver Broncos, ESPN, Football, Golf, Hockey, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Lakers, MLB, NBA, Brooklyn Nets, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, Media, St. Louis Cardinals, Walt Disney, Washington Wizards
  • Media Notes

    The state of LA "will invest $37,500 in public funds to buy stock" in Baton Rouge-based The Football Network (TFN). and could eventually "provide as much as $1.25[M]" for a stake in TFN, which "expects to create as many as 300 jobs" in the state. LA Economic Development Corp. exec Mike Williams: "They are asking for the state to take an equity position in the company" (BATON ROUGE ADVOCATE, 5/6) .... SI's Richard Deitsch reports that Fox "will stop doing in-booth interviews during game coverage," which begins May 17. Goren: "Unless Casey Stengel comes back, I don't want to see any more booth interviews. Every time we do that, a game breaks out!" (SI, 5/5 issue).

    RATINGS: Sunday's Magic-Pistons Game Seven received a 13.0/30 on WKBD-UPN in Detroit, "the highest television rating for a Pistons playoff game this year" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/6)....On FSN Southwest, the Mavericks' regular season audience grew 19%, and Stars ratings were up 16%. Ad revenues rose 53% for Mavericks games and 15% for the Stars. Additionally, Southwest Sports Report's ratings were up 8% after Stars games and 5% after Mavericks games (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/3)....FSN-OH's Indians telecast "are averaging a 5.7 overall rating — down slightly from the 6.0" that they drew last season. FSN-OH GM Steve Liverani: "It's' pretty much what we would expect, given the team's early performance." When the net recently aired a next-day afternoon replay of a recent game, "it failed to register a single ratings point" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 5/5).

    WEB TRAFFIC: The NFL Internet Network drew 1.7 million visitors's during the week ending April 27, marking a 113% increase from the 798,000 one week prior. Also Fox Sports jumped 67% to 587,000 visitors, was up 40%, the NBA Internet Network was up 23%, and AOL Sports and each jumped 21% (Nielsen).... set a new daily traffic record with more than 2.2 million visits on April 30 and a new weekly traffic record for the week ending May 4 with more than 14 million visits. Through the first round of the playoffs, traffic is up 65% over the last year's opening round (NBA).... The National Women's Football Association (NWFA) Web site received over 3.5 million hits last month (NWFA).

    Print | Tags: Basketball, Cleveland Indians, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Pistons, ESPN, Football, Motorsports, NASCAR, NBA, NFL, Orlando Magic, Media, Walt Disney
  • NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Ratings Down, Big Markets Out

    ABC has seen its NHL Stanley Cup Playoff viewership drop by 27% prior to Saturday's games," according to Mark Spector of the NATIONAL POST, who wrote that "a plunge of that magnitude, coupled with the fact the NHL will be trying to renew their ABC contract in the summer of '04 with a lengthy lockout in the offing, represents dire news for a league that doles out" $4M per team from its current U.S. TV deal. CA-based SportsEconomics President Daniel Rascher said NHL ratings are "amazingly low, and their TV deal reflects that. It just doesn't generate a lot of revenue for each of the teams." Spector noted ESPN's 9% drop through its first 18 playoff telecasts "has not been as sharp," but ESPN2 has seen a 23% drop during its first 25 playoff games. Only TSN has posted an increase of 29% in the opening round, but "those numbers are somewhat misleading," as Rogers SportsNet in '02 carried first-round games "and, as the more established and well watched of the two Canadian cable channels, TSN has improved on those numbers" in '03. One TV industry exec said, "A lot of the problems ABC is experiencing are the same ones that Fox (the NHL's previous U.S. network carrier) did. A lot of it has to do with luck. You can't control which teams are in there, and you have to have certain teams" (NATIONAL POST, 5/5). USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke reports that overnight ratings for Saturday's ABC regional afternoon games fell 23% from '02 to a 1.7 average. National ratings for ABC's first three weeks averaged 1.1, a 21% decline, the "same drop-off experienced during the regular season." ESPN's playoff ratings have dipped 14% from '02 to a 0.6 cable average, a loss of 50,000 homes per game. ESPN2 is off 94,000 HHs per game, with a 20% ratings decline (USA TODAY, 5/6).

    IN CANADA: Saturday's Senators-Flyers Game Five averaged 702,000 viewers, one million below the CBC's second round Stanley Cup playoff average. CBC Senior Exec Producer Joel Darling "could not remember a smaller playoff audience for a game with a Canadian team." Darling: "We had 774,000 for a Vancouver-St. Louis (first-round) game this year, but that was a 10:30pm (ET) start. We're disappointed, but we knew that going in. Saturday afternoon is not a very good time for hockey, especially when the weather is good." TSN's coverage of Ducks-Stars Game Five at the same time drew 235,000 viewers, well below its 589,000 average (TORONTO STAR, 5/6) ....In Toronto, William Houston writes CBC's "Hockey Night In Canada's first-round ratings were down 11% from last year, from 1.9 million to 1.7 million. Saturday afternoon games "factor into the decline" as Leafs-Flyers Game Five drew 1.66 million viewers, while Game Six, "in prime time two days later, pulled in more than three million" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/6).

    STRONG LOCALLY: The Avalanche's Game Seven loss to the Wild registered a 12.2 in the Denver market, marking the fifth-highest figure for FSN Rocky Mountain in the team's coverage history (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 5/5).

    Print | Tags: ABC, CBC, Colorado Avalanche, Comcast-Spectacor, Dallas Stars, ESPN, Hockey, Minnesota Wild, NHL, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Media, Walt Disney
  • Operators Now Willing To Get Behind Sports Tier Concept

    Cable operators today will testify to a Senate Commerce Committee that they are "open to separating sports channels from basic programming packages as a way to control the industry's fast-rising rates," according to David Lieberman of USA TODAY. Cox Communications CEO James Robbins will tell the committee, "Less than 20% of our customers are avid sports fans. But sports programming is disproportionately driving up cable prices for everyone" by raising carriage fees by up to 20% a year. Most large cable operators have "opposed proposals to put sports channels" on a separate tier since it would "cut sports audiences and reduce ad sales for programmers and operators alike." Cablevision Chair Charles Dolan will also testify and "will probably agree" with Robbins' position that separate sports pricing is "an intriguing solution" to rising consumer costs. YES Chair & CEO Leo Hindery will "call for legislation to prevent operators from favoring their [own] channels over those from independent programmers." Consumers Union's Gene Kimmelman "will agree with Hindery's proposal — and also ask Congress to require operators to let subscribers buy just the channels they want" (USA TODAY, 5/6).

    ALL ON ESPN? National Cable Television Cooperative President Michael Pandzik said, "ESPN has become the lightning rod for this kind of discussion. ... But this is not just ESPN; this is an industry-wide clash. If we don't provide an industry solution, there will be a congressional solution and that's not our first choice." ESPN last week announced a proposal to reduce its annual fee increase from 20% to 11% by 2014 in exchange for carriage of new ESPN programming, such as ESPN Deportes and ESPN HD, on premium tiers, and the SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Andy Bernstein reports, "Several operators have made oral agreements to accept the new proposal." ESPN Exec VP/Affil Sales & Marketing Sean Bratches: "There is an acceptance of the general proposition of (ESPN) lowering the rate caps in exchange for other value." But Bratches "conceded that some operators had strong objections to the new deal" (SBJ, 5/5). Speaking last week at Kagan's Broadband Summit in N.Y., Mediacom Communications Corp. Chair & CEO Rocco Commisso, "without naming names — but clearly alluding to ESPN," said that the total fee for his subscribers' most popular network, Lifetime, "is less than the sports channel's proposed incremental bump." Commisso added that ESPN accounts for 23% of Mediacom's total programming costs. Insight Communications CEO Michael Willner said, "One way to get them is at contract renewal time, to say we're going to carry you on a tier, and if that is not acceptable to you, we're not going to carry you at all" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 5/5 issue). Cox Communications yesterday reported a Q1 loss of $29.2M as expenses rose 13% to $886.8M. The company "attributed the increase [in expenses] partly to the rising costs of carrying programming from ESPN and other networks" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 5/6).

    Print | Tags: ABC, Basketball, Cablevision, ESPN, NBA, Media, Walt Disney
  • People & Personalities: Bob Ryan Backs Off Kidd Comments

    REGRETS: In N.Y., Marc Berman reports the Boston Globe today will release an official statement regarding columnist Bob Ryan's comments on Boston's WBZ-CBS "SportsFinal" program Sunday night. Ryan said that "he'd `like to smack' Jason Kidd's wife, Joumana, because he feels she uses her son T.J. Kidd as a `prop.'" Bob Lobel, the host of the show, twice asked Ryan to retract the "smack" remark, and Ryan refused. But Ryan said yesterday, "I'd like to have that back" (N.Y. POST, 5/6).

    THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE: FSN's Tom Arnold appeared on last night's edition of "Access Hollywood" to deny allegations of sexual harassment by a former FSN "BDDSP" staff member. O'Brien asked Arnold, "Did you sexually harass this woman?" Arnold: "No. She hasn't even accused me of that. I think what the accusation is that someone sexually harassed her. She came to me and told me about it and said I didn't care, which is absolutely not true. If that ever happened on our set, I would absolutely act on it. What I'm being accused of is being insensitive." Arnold said the AP "made a big mistake because they said that I was accused of sexual harassment, which I was absolutely not." O'Brien: "The AP has since retracted that story. As for John Salley, (the person accused of sexual harassment in the lawsuit), he emphatically denies the allegations and plans to vigorously defend himself" ("Access Hollywood," 5/5).

    FAREWELL? Sean McDonough "confirmed last night that he may be leaving" his radio program "before his contract expires at the end of next year." McDonough: "I can confirm that discussions are under way between my agent and the folks at Sporting News Radio, but, to my knowledge, nothing has been settled." McDonough's agent, IMG's Sandy Montag, added, "Part of it is to expand his role at ESPN now that he's not doing as many Red Sox games. Sean always has worked for a number of different outlets and the challenge is to make the different parts fit" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/6).

    Print | Tags: Baseball, Basketball, Boston Red Sox, CBS, ESPN, Media, Viacom, Walt Disney
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