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DeShaun Foster, Panthers Dominate Eagles,
While Game Notches 25.4/37 Rating
Fox earned a 25.4/37 preliminary overnight Nielsen rating for last night's Panthers-Eagles NFC Championship game at 6:45pm ET. Last year's comparable game, the AFC Championship featuring Titans-Raiders in the similar Sunday night time slot, got a 26.4/38 overnight. CBS earned a 26.6/46 prelininary overnight for yesterday's Colts-Patriots AFC Championship game at 3:00pm ET (THE DAILY).
POKED IN THE EYE: USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke writes CBS yesterday "did not execute its normally first-rate production." The "overuse of the overhead Cable Cam resulted in losing the ball or having poor perspective on a couple of Patriots field goals. Audio for reporter Bonnie Bernstein's second question of Colts coach Tony Dungy was turned down and then cut off in an awkward segue to halftime." the "technical foul-ups took the spotlight away from top-level efforts by" Greg Gumbel, Phil Simms, Bernstein and Armen Keteyian (USA TODAY, 1/19). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes during the second quarter, a Patriots field goal "was followed by a commercial break. The ensuing kickoff was followed by a commercial break. Then Peyton Manning, on first down, threw an interception, which was followed by a commercial break. ... And with 2:27 left in regulation, CBS missed the Colts' onside kick" (N.Y. POST, 1/19). In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich notes CBS aired 166 shots of coaches and coordinators. Dungy's face appeared "65 times, seven in the first six minutes of the game." But CBS "did an otherwise good job" (TORONTO STAR, 1/19).
ANALYZE THIS: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes while Fox analyst Troy Aikman "remains too conventional," Fox' Cris Collinsworth "further cemented his position as the bluntest pro football analyst," and "frequently punctuates what Aikman has just said." After Panthers RB DeShaun Foster's touchdown, Aikman "praised his effort," but Collinsworth said, "That's a pathetic effort by the Eagles." Simms' style "is subtler than Collinsworth's. He rarely wields an anvil." More Sandomir, on Simms: "The best analyst makes you say, `I didn't know that.'" Simms noted that Colts WR Marvin Harrison "doesn't read signals" but receives the play "from whoever lines up next to him" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/19).
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"Playmakers" Goes Int'l With FX Deal
ESPN: DAILY VARIETY's Elizabeth Guider reported ESPN's "Playmakers" has been licensed to U.K. pay TV channel FX, giving the net exclusive U.K. pay rights. The deal is the first int'l sale of "Playmakers" (VARIETY.com, 1/18)....In Dallas, Barry Horn noted ESPN's "SportsCenter" aired a jailhouse interview with former NFLer Dexter Manley yesterday night, two nights before HBO's "Real Sports" is scheduled to do the same. Horn: "This marks at least the fourth time ESPN has beaten Real Sports to the punch by two nights. Coincidence? If you vote 'yes,' you don't know TV" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/17).
NBA: DAILY VARIETY's John Dempsey reported NBA TV has launched "NBA TV Screening Room," a weekly series showcasing documentaries about basketball. Next Sunday's series premiere is "Whatever Happened to Michael Ray," an Emmy-winning documentary on former NBAer Michael Ray Richardson co-produced by the NBA and TNT, and narrated by Chris Rock (VARIETY.com, 1/18)....During Saturday's broadcast of T'Wolves-Rockets, ABC's Michele Tafoya reported "over 97,000 visits have been received by" the Rockets' Chinese version of their Web site. Tafoya: "Sixty-three percent of that traffic comes from mainland China, and I'm also told that (Rockets C) Yao Ming's page on NBA.com is the most visited of any player's in the NBA" (ABC, 1/17).
The Washington Post has hired N.Y. Times sportswriter Mike Wise to write a weekly column and features, according to Harry Jaffe of the WASHINGTONIAN. Wise replaces Rachel Nichols, who had been covering the NBA and other beats from N.Y., and "had been talking to the Times, [before] she left the Post for ESPN." Wise's addition "signals a realization by the Post that its sports section needs new energy and fresh perspective." Jaffe adds that Wise "burned the Post" while writing for the N.Y. Times, as "it was Wise' reporting last year that first shed light on the tensions between" Michael Jordan and Wizards Owner Abe Pollin that led to Jordan's departure. Washington Post Sports Editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz indicated that a spot became available for Wise "in part by the recent buyouts at the Post." Post horseracing columnist Andrew Beyer "will go from 100 columns a year to 26," while William Gildea's weekly column will be reduced to monthly. Wise, who will leave the Times at the end of the month and start at the Post in March, said of his role with the Post: "It's pretty much an open page" (WASHINGTONIAN, 1/16 issue).
FREEMAN: The N.Y. POST's "Page Six" reported a N.Y. Daily News spokesperson said rumors of Mike Freeman, who was fired by the Indianapolis Star for fabrications on his resume, joining the paper are "not true." Page Six noted Freeman, three years ago on Sportspages.com, "ripped his fellow sportswriters, contending they were jealous, sexist, bigoted and untalented." One former colleague said of Freeman: "A lot of sportswriters hate him. They're happy now that he's getting his comeuppance" (N.Y. POST, 1/17).