SBD/Issue 175/Sports Media

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  • NBC Sees Lowest-Rated Night Ever For Stanley Cup Game Three

    Stanley Cup Finals Game Three Marks 
    Lowest-Rated Primetime Show Ever On NBC
    NBC averaged a 1.1 final Nielsen rating and 1.6 million viewers for its coverage of Game Three of the Ducks-Senators Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday night, marking the lowest-rated night in the network's history, as well as lowest-rated Stanley Cup Finals game on broadcast TV.  The Saturday night numbers fell below the movie "Meltdown: Days Destruct" on Sci-Fi Channel, which posted a 1.2 U.S HH rating and 1.963 million viewers from 9:00-11:00pm the same night. Game Three tied a "West Wing" repeat from July 23, 2005, as NBC's lowest-rated primetime show ever.  That July 23 also marked the previous primetime low for NBC, posting a combined 1.3 rating. Game Three's numbers were down 31% from last year. NBC's Game Four performance on Monday was better, posting a 1.9 rating and 2.8 million viewers, just off last year's 2.0 rating (John Ourand, THE DAILY). Game Four drew a 3.6 rating in L.A., which trailed Buffalo (9.8), Denver (5.8), Indianapolis (4.6) and Minneapolis (4.2) (L.A. TIMES, 6/6). Game Four drew 2.859 million viewers on the CBC, the net's largest audience of the postseason.  Through four games, the CBC is averaging 2.603 million viewers, down slightly from 2.626 million for the first four games of last year's Hurricanes-Oilers final (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/6).

    VERSUS: Versus' coverage of Game One ranked 58th among all TV programs on May 28, with its 0.5 U.S HH rating and average audience of 769,000 viewers, ranking just behind Food Network's "Build a Better Burger" (807,000 viewers) and E!'s "Sunset Tan" (795,000 viewers). Game Two ranked 74th on May 30 with a U.S HH rating of 0.4 and an average audience of 576,000, placing it just behind a pair of episodes of "Mama's Family" on ION Networks (659,000 viewers and 620,000 viewers) and "VH1 All Access: Celebrity Parties" (578,000) (THE DAILY).

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  • Comcast Plans To Bolster FSN New England To Compete With NESN

     
    Comcast SportsNet President Jon Litner said that plans for FSN New England “hinge on bolstering the channel’s programming with new shows and growing its staff of producers and on-air talent,” according to Keith Reed of the BOSTON GLOBE.  Comcast agreed to buy the half of FSN New England it did not already own in April as part of a $570M deal that also included a 60% stake in FSN Bay Area.  FSN New England will change its name after the sale and “might eventually seek the right to air games” other than the Celtics and MLS Revolution, which it already airs. Comcast wants to reposition the network to become "more competitive with stronger rival” NESN. Comcast spokesperson Tim Fitzpatrick said, “There’s certainly room for more than one sports network in the market.” Boston-based Mullen Associate Broadcast Dir Kim Best said the increase in local shows will be “another avenue for local advertisers to tap into. It’ll have a local appeal for automotive, healthcare, and financial advertisers.” Reed notes Comcast’s plans for FSN New England “mirror its moves in the eight other cities where it owns sports channels” (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/6).

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  • Versus Sublicenses Ten College Football Games

    Versus signed a multi-year deal to sublicense ten Pac-10 and Big 12 football games from FSN. Deal terms will have Versus telecast five games from each conference, including the marquee Cal-Stanford Pac-10 matchup on December 1. Other Pac-10 games will include BYU-UCLA (September 8) and Stanford-USC (October 6), with two other games being selected during the season. Versus will telecast Iowa-Iowa State (September 15).  Four other Big 12 games will be selected later in the year. Versus will handle the production for each of these games. It has not decided on the on-air talent it will use.

    FUELING DISTRIBUTION: These conferences operate in several markets, like L.A., Arizona and Iowa, where the network is looking to add distribution. It currently is in about 72 million homes and will not make these games available to any over-the-air broadcasters in the local markets. "We are on a path to grow to 80-90 million homes," said Versus President Gavin Harvey. "We continue to be in a growth mode. We really like college sports a lot."  The deal makes a good fit for the channel, given its affiliation with the Mountain West Conference's channel The mtn. Comcast owns Versus and part of The mtn, and Versus telecasts several Mountain West football games per year. "When you get the opportunity to jump on the Pac-10 and Big 12, you jump on it," said Versus Senior VP/Programming & Production Marc Fein.

    TURNER: Turner Sports previously carried these games, but its five-year sublicense arrangement with FSN ended after last season when Turner opted not to renew. Though it has no college football games on its schedule, Turner hasn't completely turned away from the sport."If a premium college football package were to become available, and it fits within our financial model, we would certainly consider it," said Turner Sports President David Levy.

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  • HBO's Barbaro Documentary Receives Positive Reviews

    HBO’s “Barbaro” Documentary Airing Tonight
    HBO Sports debuts the documentary “Barbaro” tonight at 10:00pm ET. Liev Schreiber narrates the 60-minute show, Mary Carillo serves as story editor, Margaret Grossi as producer and Helen Russell as associate producer. THE DAILY presents a roundup of reviews.

    THUMBS MOSTLY UP: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes the documentary is a “hero’s journey told with respect.”  It is “restrained as it shifts from the derby victory to [Barbaro's] breakdown at the Preakness” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/6).  The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Irv Letofsky writes the show is a “straightforward, dutiful recitation of the Barbaro story, with touching commentaries from the owners, the trainer, horse historians, etc.” (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 6/6).  In Orlando, Jerry Greene writes the presentation “is excellent. Producers, writers and editors build a sad tale of ill-fated love, making the people the focus. And Liev Schreiber is one of the best narrators in the biz” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/6).  In DC, Dick Heller wrote “good taste ... is very much in evidence here,” as the documentary only shows one replay of Barbaro’s breakdown at the Preakness (WASHINGTON TIMES, 6/3).  In Houston, David Barron wrote NBC’s "Barbaro" documentary, which ran the weekend of the Kentucky Derby, “was a creditable job, but HBO’s effort feels more like the definitive word.” The “star of the show" is Barbaro’s co-owner, Gretchen Jackson. Carillo “seemed to get something out of her that others didn’t” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/4).  

    LOOKING FOR MORE: In Illinois, Ted Cox wrote under the header, “HBO’s ‘Barbaro’ Barely Scratches Surface Of Tragedy.” Cox: “It never delves into what made Barbaro burst out of the starting gate before the bell at the Preakness a year ago. It accepts the Pimlico doctor’s story that he then examined the horse and found him sound.” But it is “not as if ‘Barbaro’ is going to disappoint anyone who watches it" (ILLINOIS DAILY HERALD, 6/1).

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  • Blog Hound: Bloggers Bantering About Donovan’s Indecision

    With Billy Donovan negotiating to return to Gainesville to coach the Univ. of Florida after backing out of his commitment to coach the Magic, some bloggers think his decision could change the way NBA teams deal with college coaches in the future.

    SportsBurn
    Posted By: Sports Dude
    “I think that something has to be done to prevent people from having a ‘change of heart’ and not honoring their contract. Remember, the media kills players when they want to renegotiate or ask to be traded. I just hope that this is a lesson to those coaches who don’t want to honor that signed document that we call a contract.”
    From Aj’s Skybox
    Posted By: aj3166
    “He has not only destroyed any chance of going to the NBA himself, but has made it difficult for any college coach to make the jump to the pros. Do you think any NBA team is ever again going to consider hiring a college coach, knowing in the back of their minds that whoever they hire could pull a ‘Donovan’?”
    Sports Manor
    “I think that Billy Donovan going back to Florida is a good decision. I watched the press conference he held with Orlando and to me, he looked scared, like a deer caught in the headlights. It just looked to me like he was going through the motions; like it hadn’t really sunk in yet what he was doing.”
    Kentucky Wildcat Basketball
    Posted By: UK1BIGBLUE
    “I think Billy Donovan has spoiled his chances of returning to the NBA in such a good position. Note that doesn’t mean I don’t think eventually he will go - I still think the NBA calls to him. I just think that his chances of landing as good of a job as the Orlando Magic will escape him.”
    Get a lodha this
    Posted By: K.L.
    “Could Donovan have handled this situation any worse? He’s definitely alienated the Magic, he’s probably alienated most of his players at Florida, and here’s betting that most NBA teams will now be quite unwilling to give him a shot.”
    Duke Basketball Report
    Posted By: DBR
    “Everyone understands that contracts in this business mean nothing, but everyone also knows that if both your bosses and your recruits get whiplash trying to keep up with your career shuffle, your credibility necessarily declines.”

    BUILDING THE BUZZ: Sports Media Challenge's Sports Blog Index analyzed the buzz surrounding Donovan’s expected return to Florida. There was mixed reaction among bloggers. Click here for more analysis.Visit www.SportsBusinessDaily.com for more analysis.

    • The topic measured 10 of 10 on The Buzz, which indicates an extremely high level of interest.
    • Most of the positive exposure is drawn from Florida bloggers who support the return of Donovan, or bloggers who feel it is in Donovan’s best interest to avoid previous college-to-NBA coaching failures.
    • Negative exposure is drawn from critics of the “flip-flopping” behavior on Donovan’s part. Surprisingly, this sentiment is even felt by some Florida fans.
    • Fans feel that a ban for Donovan to return to the NBA is fair, and some bloggers have called for that ban to be longer, if not permanent.
     
    Do you have a blog post that our readers would find interesting? Please forward your submission to bloghound@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

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  • Media Notes

    The Mountain West Conference BOD voted unanimously Tuesday to follow a BYU and Univ. of Utah initiative in “retaining legal counsel to clarify the league’s television contract and hasten distribution of The Mtn.” Utah and BYU announced the hiring of L.A.-based Morrison & Foerster Partner Kelly Crabb last week (DENVER POST, 6/6). 

    NBC: SI.com and NBCSports.com have partnered to create “Sidelines,” a daily Web show featuring WFAN’s Chris Russo, NBC’s Jimmy Roberts and comedian Matty Blake. Guests will include SI reporters Peter King, Tom Verducci, Jon Heyman, Seth Davis and Ian Thomsen, as well as analysts from NBC Sports (SI/NBC)....NBC received 13 TV Critics Association nominations, including five for “Friday Night Lights.” The show was the most nominated series overall (DAILY VARIETY, 6/6).

    BROADCAST BOOT CAMP: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand writes the NFL will stage its first-ever “Broadcast Boot Camp” for players wanting to become broadcasters on June 18 at NFL Films in New Jersey. NFL TV consultant Dick Maxwell said the three-day camp will have 12-hour days and curriculum including a “session on ethics and what it’s like to criticize former teammates.” The camp will involve programmers and producers from each national TV and radio network carrying NFL games. CBS’ James Brown and Gus Johnson, Fox’ Brian Baldinger and Ron Pitts, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski and NFL Network’s Dick Vermeil will also participate (USA TODAY, 6/6). 

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