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Orange Bowl Ratings Up
Despite USC’s Dominance
ABC earned a 14.7/23 overnight Nielsen rating for last night’s USC-Oklahoma FedEx Orange Bowl, up 2.1% from a 14.4/22 for last year’s BCS championship game, the LSU-Oklahoma Nokia Sugar Bowl (THE DAILY).
BCS: USA TODAY’s Rudy Martzke notes the average national rating for the three non-title BCS games has dropped 12% in the BCS’ seven years, from an 11.1 for the games following the ’98 season to a 9.8 this season. However, the ratings for the title game “have remained relatively constant, ranging from 17.2 to 17.8, except for” a 13.8 for the ’01 Miami-Nebraska Rose Bowl and the 14.8 for last year’s Sugar Bowl, before which USC “already had laid claim to a split title.” The declining viewership for the non-title games “was behind ABC’s proposal” for the Plus One game. Kevin O’Malley, a TV consultant for the Orange, Sugar and Fiesta bowls, said, “You can make a projection with a Plus One model that the ratings would be higher for non-title games.” But O’Malley added that Fox, which recently signed a four-year, $330M deal to air the three games beginning after the ’06 bowls, “believes there’s a lot of value in this, so you can’t necessarily conclude this will lead to a Plus One model” (USA TODAY, 1/5).
OTHER GAMES: ESPN earned a 5.0/ (4,480,000 HHs) cable Nielsen rating for the December 31 Miami-Florida Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, making it the network’s third-most-viewed bowl game telecast ever. The December 31 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, featuring Louisville-Boise State, earned a 4.6/ (4,065,000 HHs), making it the seventh-most-viewed bowl game in ESPN history (ESPN). The Liberty Bowl’s 4.6 was up 91.6% from a 2.4 for Utah-Southern Miss last season (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 1/5). The Peach Bowl, the December 29 Ohio State-Oklahoma State MasterCard Alamo Bowl and the December 30 Texas Tech-California Pacific Life Holiday Bowl –- all on ESPN were Nos. 2-4, respectively, in total viewers among cable programs for the week of December 27-January 2. The January 1 Texas-Michigan Rose Bowl on ABC, which was excluded from network prime-time rankings because of its 5:07pm ET start, would have won the week with 20.5 million viewers (USA TODAY, 1/5).
ATTENDANCE: Attendance figures for each of this season’s 28 bowl games.
What grade do you give ABC on its BCS coverage? Vote in THE DAILY POLL
Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal
Of Knievel’s Libel Suit Against ESPN
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 ruling upheld a federal judge’s dismissal of a libel suit filed against ESPN by Evel Knievel and his wife, Krystal, according to Bob Egelko of the S.F. CHRONICLE. After Knievel appeared at ESPN’s ’01 Action Sports & Music Awards, a photo from the event featuring Knievel with two women, one of whom was Krystal, was posted on ESPN.com with a caption reading: “Evel Knievel proves that you’re never too old to be a pimp.” The court ruled that “no reasonable reader would have interpreted ‘pimp’ literally.” Judge A. Wallace Tashima, citing one Web site’s definition of pimp as slang for “cool,” said the caption “was most likely intended as a compliment.” Tashima added that “at the very least, any reasonable reader would have considered the caption ‘an attempt at humor.’” In a dissenting opinion, Judge Carlos Bea, citing Knievel’s claim “that some business clients canceled endorsement deals after the photo appeared,” stated that “a jury should decide how the average reader would interpret the caption” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/5).
Broncos Owner and NFL Broadcast Committee Chair Pat Bowlen “expects within the month an agreement on the final portion of the league’s network and cable contracts.” Bowlen added that NBC and Fox “have expressed interest in the Monday night package if ABC balks at the rights fee, and that a newly created package of eight late-season Thursday and Saturday night games could” go to NFL Network. NBC is also interested in that package. Bowlen: “If we went in that direction (the NFL Network), we could expect they would be carried by all the major cable companies. Right now, we’ve got about half the systems carrying the network, and we’re making significant progress with the others” (Maske & Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST, 1/5).
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: YES Network and Fox have reached an exclusive, multi-year agreement naming Fox-owned WWOR-UPN the over-the-air home of the Yankees. Starting next season, WWOR will air up to 21 games a season, with the majority on Friday nights. The games will still be produced by YES Network (YES). In N.Y., Bob Raissman reports the over-the-air deal is for three years. YES announcers will call the games on WWOR (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/5).
PACKING IT IN: CBS Sports President Sean McManus, on turning down a request by basketball analyst Billy Packer for a show on Sirius Radio: “We pay a premium for Billy's exclusivity as our primary basketball analyst, and we don't intend to give it up.” Packer: “CBS had a problem with it. They are my boss, and that was the end of it.” Packer earns about $650,000 annually at CBS (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 1/5).
CORRECTION: In yesterday’s issue, THE DAILY misidentified the newspaper that investigated Arthur Levitt’s report on NHL finances. The Eagle-Tribune in based in Lawrence, Massachusetts. THE DAILY regrets the error.