SBD/Issue 25/Sports Media

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  • ESPN Earns 10.3 Overnight Rating For Bears-Cardinals “MNF”

    ESPN’s “MNF” Ratings For
    Bears-Cardinals Up 134%

    ESPN’s “MNF” earned a 10.3 overnight Nielsen rating for Bears-Cardinals last night, up 134% from a 4.4 for the comparable Texans-Seahawks Sunday night game on ESPN last year. The 10.3 ties ESPN’s best “MNF” overnight of the season. The game drew a 10.2 on ESPN and a 27.0 on WLS-ABC in Chicago, and an 11.8 on ESPN and a 14.2 on KTVK-Ind in Phoenix (THE DAILY).

    QUARTERLY REPORT: Through the first five weeks of the NFL season, ESPN’s “MNF” averaged 12.9 million viewers and 7.1 million adults 18-49, “making it the No. 1 network on Monday nights in the demo and putting the lie to the notion that the prime-time pigskin audience would plummet” by shifting from broadcast to cable. Compared to the 15.1 million viewers ABC averaged during its final “MNF” season over the comparable time period, the program is down 15%, “a trifle” when considering ESPN reaches 84% of U.S. TV homes. Media buyers said ESPN gets around $200,000 30-second spots on “MNF” (MEDIAWEEK, 10/16 issue). AD AGE’s Abbey Klaassen notes ESPN’s “MNF” averaged an 8.5 through Week Four, up from the 6.5 it got for “Sunday Night Football” last year, but down from the 10.7 national rating ABC averaged for “MNF.” MindShare co-President of Broadcast Jason Maltby: “You have to take a look at Sunday and Monday night in totality. We’re averaging an 8.5 rating on Monday and an 11.5 on Sunday for a cumulative rating of 20 points. Last year the combination averaged only about 16 points, so it’s a net positive.” ESPN/ABC Sports Customer Marketing & Sales President Ed Erhardt noted ESPN’s “MNF” ratings are 12% behind NBC’s “SNF” ratings this year, while ESPN’s Sunday night ratings last year were 43% lower than ABC’s “MNF” ratings (AD AGE, 10/16 issue).

    NBC’s Raiders-Broncos Could Be Lowest-
    Rated NFL Game On Primetime Network TV

    SUNDAY NIGHTS: The NFL said that Raiders-Broncos “SNF” this past weekend “could come in with a national rating between 7.2 and 7.6,” which would make it the “lowest-rated NFL game ever on prime time network TV.” The record low is a 7.7 for Buccaneers-Rams on October 18, 2004. Sunday’s game was up against Game Four of the Mets-Cardinals NLCS (David Barron, CHRON.com, 10/16). ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” was the most-watched program on Sunday, averaging 20 million viewers and an 8.0/18 in adults 18-49 in the 9:00pm ET window. ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” at 8:00pm averaged 14.3 million viewers and a 5.5/13 in the demo (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 10/17). NBC is not airing national ads during the first 30 minutes of “Football Night in America,” meaning “one of the network’s lowest half-hours of the week” is not included in national ratings. Nielsen fast-affiliate data found the show has averaged a 2.1 from 7:00-7:30pm ET among adults 18-49 over the past three weeks. On Sunday, October 1, ABC posted a 5.6 in the demo for the night and NBC recorded a 4.9, but excluding the 7:00-7:30pm window for NBC, “it gave the network a ratings win, boosting its 18-49 demo to a 5.9.” ABC Entertainment Exec VP Jeff Bader said NBC excluding the first half-hour of the show from national ratings “just doesn’t seem like full disclosure” (MEDIAWEEK, 10/16 issue).

    FLEX APPEAL: The NFL required CBS and Fox to designate after Week Four the four games they wanted to protect from NBC’s flexible schedule for Weeks 10-15. NFL Senior VP/Broadcasting Howard Katz said that “requiring the protected lists so early might have been overly conservative, but the league was guided by the possibility that another team would emerge from the cellar.” Katz: “The concern was that if you let CBS and Fox protect too late in the season, a surprise team couldn’t play its way onto the prime-time schedule because they would always be protected” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/17).
    LOCAL AIR: WFRV-CBS in Green Bay “acquired the broadcast rights” to NFL Network’s coverage of Packers-Vikings on December 21. NFL Network is “seen in the Green Bay area only by satellite.” WFRV will produce a pre- and postgame show (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 10/14).

    BEHIND-THE-SCENES: In Arizona, Scott Wong offers a behind-the-scenes look at last night’s “MNF” game from Univ. of Phoenix Stadium. (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/17).

    Print | Tags: ABC, Arizona Cardinals, CBS, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, ESPN, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, NBC, New York Mets, News Corp./Fox, NFL, Nielsen, Oakland Raiders, Media, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Viacom, Walt Disney
  • Fox, ESPN Post Ratings Declines For ALDS, NLDS Games

    The following chart lists final Nielsen ratings for ALDS and NLDS games on Fox and ESPN (THE DAILY).

    LDS TOTALS
    06 FINAL
    05 FINAL
    % CHANGE
    ESPN (8 telecasts)      
    2.9
    3.8
    -23.7%
    ESPN2 (1 telecast)      
    1.8
    3.1
    -41.9%
    Fox (5 telecasts)      
    4.8
    6.6
    -27.3%
    LDS GAME
    DAY
    DATE
    NET
    06 FINAL
    05 FINAL
    % CHANGE
    ALDS: A's-Twins Game 1
    Tues.
    10/3
    ESPN
    1.7
    1.9
    -10.5%
    ALDS: A's-Twins Game 2
    Wed.
    10/4
    ESPN
    1.9
    NA
    NA
    ALDS: Twins-A's Game 3
    Fri.
    10/6
    ESPN^
    2.7
    4.1
    -34.1%
    ALDS: Tigers-Yankees Game 1
    Tues.
    10/3
    Fox
    5.6
    6.0
    -6.7%
    ALDS: Tigers-Yankees Game 2
    Thurs.
    10/5
    ESPN
    2.7
    NA
    NA
    ALDS: Yankees-Tigers Game 3
    Fri.
    10/6
    ESPN
    5.3
    6.0
    -11.7%
    ALDS: Yankees-Tigers Game 4
    Sat.
    10/7
    Fox
    4.5
    NA
    NA
    NLDS: Dodgers-Mets Game 1
    Wed.
    10/4
    ESPN
    3.0
    2.9
    3.4%
    NLDS: Dodgers-Mets Game 2
    Thurs.
    10/5
    Fox
    4.5
    5.3
    -15.1%
    NLDS: Mets-Dodgers Game 3
    Sat.
    10/7
    Fox
    4.5
    4.3
    4.7%
    NLDS: Cardinals-Padres Game 1
    Tues.
    10/3
    ESPN
    2.4
    3.4
    -29.4%
    NLDS: Cardinals-Padres Game 2
    Thurs.
    10/5
    ESPN^
    3.1
    2.1
    47.6%
    NLDS: Padres-Cardinals Game 3
    Sat.
    10/7
    ESPN2
    1.8
    NA
    NA
    NLDS: Padres-Cardinals Game 4
    Sun.
    10/8
    Fox
    4.8
    8.1
    -40.7%

    NOTES: Ratings are compared to games in the similar time slots last year, not necessarily games from the same league. ^ = game was on ESPN2 last year. NA = no comparable game last year (THE DAILY).

    RATINGS GAME: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said, “Under the circumstances, we’re pleased with the overall ratings. And now we’ve got a chance of having a seven-game series with the Mets and Cardinals. It takes time to build to a climax, and so far we’ve had a lot of short series.” In L.A., Larry Stewart notes two of the four LDS ended in three-game sweeps, and the other two lasted four games. The Tigers later swept the A’s in the ALCS (L.A. TIMES, 10/17). ESPN.com’s Rob Neyer wrote, “Let’s assume for a moment that declining ratings result in lower revenues, and thus less money for the billionaires who own the game and the millionaires who play it. Probably we can cope. But of course the revenues are not lower. [MLB] just got a new national TV deal that constitutes a 19[%] increase over its last deal” (ESPN.com, 10/16).

    White Sox Top Cubs In
    Local TV Ratings For Season

    TIGERS: TVWEEK’s Steven Douglas Losey reports FSN Detroit earned a 7.1 average HH rating for 112 regular-season Tigers games, a 92% increase over last year’s 3.7 (TVWEEK, 10/16 issue).

    CUBS: CRAIN’S CHICAGO BUSINESS’ Gregory Meyer reports the White Sox “beat the Cubs in local TV ratings for the first time in at least two decades.” The White Sox had higher ratings on WGN-CW, WCIU-Ind and on Comcast SportsNet, while the Cubs “lost viewers.” A source said that before the season began, WGN “was asking some advertisers to pay $10,000 for a 30-second commercial during Cubs games vs. $9,000 during Sox games.” Meyer notes WGN and the Cubs are owned by Tribune Co. On both WGN and WCIU, the White Sox’ ratings for the season increased 21% over last year to a 5.1, while the Cubs’ fell 22% to a 4.5. One ratings point equals 34,550 area HHs. The White Sox averaged a 3.1 rating on Comcast SportsNet, up 19% from ’05, while the Cubs fell 25% to a 2.9 (CRAIN’S CHICAGO BUSINESS, 10/16 issue).

    Print | Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Comcast-Spectacor, Detroit Tigers, ESPN, MLB, New York Mets, News Corp./Fox, Nielsen, Oakland Athletics, Media, St. Louis Cardinals, Walt Disney
  • Lyons To Keep Dodgers Job, Undergo Diversity Training

    Steve Lyons, who was fired by Fox for on-air comments “the network deemed inappropriate, will keep his job” as a part-time TV analyst for the Dodgers, according to Larry Stewart of the L.A. TIMES. The team indicated that Lyons, who works with play-by-play announcer Charley Steiner on road games that Vin Scully does not call, “would undergo diversity training and that he was given probationary guidelines.” It is “believed Lyons was making about $500,000 a year from Fox and the Dodgers, with about three-fourths of that from Fox” (L.A. TIMES, 10/17). In L.A., Vincent Bonsignore notes Lyons was in the final year of his contract with Fox and has one year left on his deal with the Dodgers and FSN Prime Ticket (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/17).

    REAX: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes Fox Sports TV Group Chair & CEO David Hill and Fox Sports President Ed Goren “relied on [Lyons] to provide comedy, edge and an over-the-top style. Thus, Hill and Goren were collaborators in Lyons’ demise. Lyons gave Hill and Goren exactly what they wanted” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/17). In Toronto, William Houston adds Fox “hired Lyons because he was unconventional and wildly unpredictable” (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/17). In Boston, Gerry Callahan writes under the header, “Shame On Fox Frauds For Lyons Firing.” Fox execs “claimed there was an outcry from their offended viewers, but no one is buying that. They might have gotten a call or two or 10, ... but they probably get more than that every time they show a promo for an upcoming episode of ‘The OC’” (BOSTON HERALD, 10/17). But in L.A., Tom Hoffarth wrote in his blog, “Lyons isn’t a racist. He’s an idiot. For that reason alone, he shouldn’t have been doing live games, and the Dodgers shouldn’t invite him back for the 2007 season” (DAILYNEWS.com, 10/17).

    Print | Tags: Los Angeles Dodgers, News Corp./Fox, Media
  • MLB People & Personalities: Indians Shake Up Broadcast Teams

    The Indians’ SportsTime Ohio (STO) has realigned its TV and radio broadcast teams. TV play-by-play man John Sanders “has not been asked back” for ’07 after 16 seasons with the team and will be replaced by Matt Underwood, who has spent the past seven seasons on the Indians’ radio broadcasts and will join analyst Rick Manning in the TV booth. Mike Hegan, who “moved back and forth between radio and TV during the past decade, will take over the permanent role in the radio booth,” alongside Tom Hamilton. For the second season, Jim Donovan “will partner with Manning for the broadcasts of 20 games” on WKYC-NBC and the regional over-the-air net (MLB.com, 10/16).

    MEDIA DARLINGS: NEWSDAY’s Neil Best writes SportsNet N.Y.’s on-site pre- and postgame Mets shows during the postseason “have gotten an energy jolt from Gary Cohen and Ron Darling sitting among the people.” While producing shows on-site can “distract from announcers’ words and make those words difficult to hear,” Darling said that he and Cohen “have their volume dials turned up ‘as high as we can go’ to hear one another.” Best: “Overall, SNY has done a thorough job covering its anchor team” (NEWSDAY, 10/17).

    OUT OF PLACE? YES Network’s Michael Kay appeared on Sunday’s edition of ESPN’s “The Sports Reporters,” “lampooning the notion [Yankees manager Joe] Torre has a tough job and has been made a ‘martyr’ by some.” NEWSDAY’s Best writes of Kay, “As the play-by-play voice on a team-owned network, he is performing a very awkward balancing act” (NEWSDAY, 10/17).

    TREND SETTERS: In Houston, David Barron noted 15 of the 30 MLB teams “no longer have a player as part of their regular radio crew,” including the Astros, who employ Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond. Astros Owner Drayton McLane: “We wanted to put out a fresh new approach to broadcasting, and part of that was that we wanted to appeal to a younger group of people. We didn’t focus on hiring two (younger broadcasters), but that’s what emerged from the interview process.” Giants broadcaster Jon Miller said, “On television, you have to have the former player, since you have the video replay and the former player is best-qualified to point things out using that tool. ... On radio, you need somebody who has a facility with the language who can describe what he’s talking about, and how many former players can do that?” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/16).

    Print | Tags: Cleveland Indians, ESPN, Houston Astros, MLB, NBC, New York Giants, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, SNY, Media, Walt Disney, YankeeNets
  • UM Broadcaster Lamar Thomas Fired For Comments During Brawl

    Comcast Sports SouthEast Fires Lamar
    Thomas Over Comments During Brawl
    Comcast Sports SouthEast (CSS) fired Univ. of Miami (UM) TV analyst Lamar Thomas yesterday for comments he made during the brawl between UM and Florida Int’l Univ. Saturday night, according to Garvin & Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. Thomas, who played at UM from ’89-92, “cheered the fight on from [the] broadcasting booth and even threatened to join it.” Thomas said on-air, “You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked. You don’t come into the [Orange Bowl] playing that stuff.” After referees got control of the situation, Thomas added, “Why don’t they just meet outside in the tunnel after the ball game and get it on some more?” CSS GM Mark Fuhrman said Thomas “blurred the line between what takes place as a participant and your role as a broadcaster.” Fuhrman added UM officials, who were consulted about the firing, “were supportive of the decision.” Before he was fired, Thomas said that no one from CSS “suggested he tone it down during the telecast, and that he had not heard from the network since.” Thomas: “This thing blew up into a national event, and I was caught with my pants down. If I had to do it all over again, I would be a little more tactful” (MIAMI HERALD, 10/17). Thomas added, “They decided not to continue with my contract because there’s so much heat going on right now” (PALM BEACH POST, 10/17).

    REAX: In Orlando, Jemele Hill writes, “Some in the media already go out of their way to portray minorities as more violent than anyone else and Thomas’ comments only justified that stereotype.” Thomas’ cheering “not only reflected poorly on him and other minorities, but on [UM], which for years has battled an outlaw reputation” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/17). In San Jose, John Ryan: “Hard as it seems to pull off, Thomas made fellow ‘The U’ alum Michael Irvin sound positively erudite” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/17). Irvin, now an NFL analyst on ESPN, said on “SportsCenter” yesterday Thomas’ firing “was justified. You cannot promote that type of behavior” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 10/16).

    Print | Tags: Media
  • Gordie Howe On Board To Exec Produce Film About WHA

    Howe To Exec Produce Hockey Film

    Howard and Karen Baldwin are teaming with David E. Kelley “to produce a feature based on the origins” of the World Hockey Association (WHA) and Hockey HOFer Gordie Howe, according to Dave McNary of DAILY VARIETY. Howe will exec produce along with Mike Ilitch Jr., whose family owns the Red Wings. The film will “focus on the 1973-74 season when Howe, then 44, returned to pro hockey after two years in retirement and played on the same team as his two sons, Mark and Marty, in the upstart” WHA. Howe’s wife, Colleen, “served as agent-manager for the trio.” Howard Baldwin owned and operated the Whalers for 17 years, including during Howe’s final three seasons with the team. He later owned the Penguins for eight years; Kelley’s father, Jack Kelley, served as coach & GM of the Whalers and was Penguins President during Baldwin’s ownership. The Baldwins will produce through their Baldwin Entertainment Group (DAILY VARIETY, 10/17).

    Print | Tags: Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sacramento Kings, Media
  • Media Notes

    In this week’s SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, John Ourand reports FSNY will be rebranded in Q1 ’07 “with a heavier New York focus that is intended to counterbalance the rebranded MSG.” FSNY’s rebrand will include more local programming with a “younger, more energetic feel.” While Fox no longer owns part of the net, FSNY “plans to use the Fox brand and Fox shows to attract younger viewers.” The net plans to create local versions of FSN’s “BDSSP” and “Focus” “to give it more of a New York feel” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/16).

    EIGHT IS ENOUGH: The top four U.S. PPV distributors -– In Demand, DirecTV, EchoStar and TVN –- on December 2 will offer “Superfighter,” a live, four-hour, elimination event. The winner will earn $5M. The eight fighters scheduled to appear are O’Neill Bell, Calvin Brock, Chris Byrd, Tye Fields, Juan Carlos Gomez, Oliver McCall, Jameel McCline and Samuel Peter (DAILY VARIETY, 10/17).

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, DirecTV, Madison Square Garden, NASCAR, News Corp./Fox, Media
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