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END OF THE ALLEN ERA: The acquisition comes on the heels of a period of transition for the Sporting News brand under Allen’s six-year ownership run. Allen purchased the print operations from Times Mirror Co. in ‘00 for more than $100M and added the radio operations a year later through an acquisition of One-on-One Sports. Sporting News then pursued an extensive series of editorial revampings, a change in the overall design and feel of the magazine, and an overhaul of its online strategy. But unable to turn a profit, even amid rising revenue, Allen formally put the properties on the market early this year. Sporting News CEO Rick Allen said, “We feel fortunate that the next phase of Sporting News growth will be accelerated by ACBJ. They have a deep knowledge of sports and media, a large audience that reinforces and extends our own, and a portfolio of complementary media products” (THE DAILY).
MOVING DAY? In St. Louis, Christopher Boyce reported ACBJ “plans to study the Sporting News’ operations before deciding whether to keep” the magazine’s HQs in Creve Coeur, Missouri. While neither side would disclose the terms of the deal, Rick Allen in a February N.Y. Times article said that he “expected the franchise would ‘fetch into the hundreds of millions.’” Hoover’s estimated Sporting News’ annual revenue at $60M (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/6).
Agassi’s Farewell Draws Best Rating For
U.S. Open's First Sunday Since '90 On CBS
NOTABLE NUMBERS: Agassi’s finale drew a 10.8 rating on KLAS-CBS in his hometown of Las Vegas, while the “rest of the tennis coverage drew” a 6.0 on Sunday. CBS’ coverage on Monday averaged a 3.1 in the market (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 9/6). The match drew 315,000 viewers on TSN, “a huge tennis number” (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 9/6).
REVIEWS: The crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium gave Agassi an 8-1/2 minute ovation after the match, and in Las Vegas, Bill Taafee noted CBS’ Dick Enberg “had the good sense not to babble through the cheering, letting the cameras and the sounds alone tell the story” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 9/5)....In Ft. Lauderdale, Charles Bricker wrote “you shouldn’t have a tennis analyst (Mary Joe Fernandez) who is married to an agent (Tony Godsick of IMG) doing commentary or heaping praise on players [Tommy Haas] represented by her spouse or his company” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/5).
MSG Networks Ink Rights
Deal With Sabres
THRASHERS: In Atlanta, John Manasso reported FSN will broadcast 61 Thrashers games this season, “which will be more evenly spread throughout the season than last year’s front-loaded schedule which almost left the season finale ... not broadcast locally.” The Thrashers will have a “stronger national presence,” as three games will be carried by OLN and two will be on NBC (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/2).
DUCKS: The Ducks will have a franchise-high 78 games broadcast locally this season, besting the previous mark of 73 set last season. FSN Prime Ticket will cover 40 games this season, KDOC-Ind will air 30 games. The Ducks’ four road games against the Kings will air on FSN West. Four Ducks games will air nationally: three on OLN and one on NBC (Ducks).
Laimbeer Upset About ESPN Mic
The Panthers and local TV stations have reached a compromise on the NFL’s ban on sideline TV cameras, under which “one local TV photographer will be allowed on the sidelines and the video will be shared with all local stations,” according to Mark Washburn of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The stations will rotate shooting the games. The Panthers “will have editing oversight of what sidelines video will be provided to the stations” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/2). In Indianapolis, Phillip Wilson reports the Colts will allow two local TV cameras that will “share all video in a pool-shooting capacity with other stations.” The four local network affils “reluctantly agreed to alternate pool shooting.” For road games, each team “must seek league approval to have more than one visitor-market camera on the field during the game” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/6). The agreements in Charlotte and Indianapolis follow a similar compromise in Cincinnati (THE DAILY).
VIEWERS’ CHOICE? With NBC placing its score and time graphic at the bottom of the screen during its NFL game broadcasts, “Sunday Night Football” Producer Fred Gaudelli said, “It seemed to me that with all the graphics, the screen was getting smaller and smaller. The very bottom is a place where not much happens. We want to give the screen back to the viewer” (John Molori, MEDIA BLITZ, 9/5 issue).
SLY FOX: In Charlotte, Scott Fowler notes Fox’ announcing team during its August 24 broadcast of the Dolphins-Panthers preseason game promoted a “free car giveaway on air at the end of the third quarter,” but sideline reporter Tony Siragusa instead gave Panthers fan Greg Good a toy car. Good, who believed that “the toy was a symbol for the real thing,” said, “I thought I had won a real car.” Fox Sports Manager of Communications Tim Buckman said, “As far as we know, Mr. Good hasn’t contacted anyone at Fox Sports about this. We would welcome an opportunity to speak to him and offer an apology for any misunderstanding” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/6).
The following chart presents overnight Nielsen ratings for recent sports events.
College Football Countdown9/2ABC3:00-3:30pm1.8/- NCAA Football: (regional)9/2ABC3:30-6:30pm3.8/- NCAA Football: Notre Dame-Georgia Tech9/2ABC8:00-11:15pm5.8/- Tennis: U.S. Open - Men & Women's Third Round9/2CBS11:00-6:00pm1.6/4 Golf: Ryder Cup Preview9/2NBC2:00-3:00pm0.8/2 Ice Skating: Smucker's Stars on Ice9/2NBC3:00-4:30pm1.0/2 Volleyball: AVP Cincinnati Open9/2NBC4:30-6:00pm0.7/2 Golf: Deutsche Bank Championship - 3rd Round9/3ABC5:00-7:00pm3.0/- Tennis: U.S. Open - Men's Third Round, Women's Fourth Round9/3CBS11:00am-6:15pm3.0/8 Volleyball: AVP Cincinnati Open9/3NBC1:30-3:00pm0.9/2 Golf: Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach - Final Round9/3NBC3:00-6:15pm1.1/3 NASCAR: Sony HD 5009/3NBC7:00pm-12:00am4.5/8 Golf: Deutsche Bank Championship - Final Round9/4ABC3:00-6:00pm4.8/- Tennis: U.S. Open - Men & Women's Fourth Round9/4CBS11:00am-12:00pm1.9/5 Tennis: U.S. Open - Men & Women's Fourth Round9/4CBS12:30-6:00pm2.4/5
NOTE: ABC's final-round coverage Monday of the Deutsche Bank Championship, won by Tiger Woods, was up 128.6% from a 2.1 last year. Third-round coverage was up 50% from a 2.0. Woods finished out of contention last year (THE DAILY).
Florida State-Miami Pulls In
Big Numbers For ESPN
CALLING IN: Trevor Denman, the voice of Santa Anita Park and Del Mar, will call Breeders’ Cup races for ESPN, when the network carries the event for the first time November 4 from Churchill Downs (ESPN). Tom Durkin signed an exclusive deal with NBC in February, meaning he cannot call the Breeders’ Cup for the first time since the event’s inception in ’84 (BLOODHORSE.com, 9/5).
BE HOME BLYLEVEN, AND WATCH YOUR CUSSING! Twins TV analyst Bert Blyleven was “suspended for two telecasts for accidentally using [an] obscenity on the air” before Twins-Yankees on Sunday. Blyleven “thought the pregame portion of the telecast was being taped” when he swore (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/4).
NEW DEFINITION: In an e-mail interview with CNET NEWS.com, Mavericks Owner and HDNet co-Owner Mark Cuban wrote, “The sports that gain the most [in HD] are hockey and soccer, which is why HDNet pursued these sports. ... Their ratings suffered in the past because the sports aren’t suited for 4-by-3 standard-definition coverage” (CNET NEWS.com, 9/5).