SBD/Issue 33/Sports Media

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  • Fox Pleased With Early Results From World Series

    Fox Earns 10.5/18 Rating
    For World Series Game One
    Fox earned a 10.5/18 fast-national Nielsen rating (16.9 million viewers) for Game One of the Rockies-Red Sox World Series on Wednesday, up 31.3% from an 8.0/15 for Cardinals-Tigers Game One last year, which aired on a Saturday night. The 10.5/18 marks the biggest year-to-year increase ever for a primetime Game One of the World Series, and is also the best Game One rating since the 13.7/25 for Cardinals-Red Sox in '04, which also aired on a Saturday night.  Fox won the night on Wednesday and charted the highest-rated Wednesday for any net since its "American Idol" finale in May (THE DAILY). Game One averaged a 5.8/16 rating in the adults 18-49 demo (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 10/26).

    FOX HAPPY WITH EARLY RESULTS: Fox Sports President Ed Goren said the 10.5 fast national was a testament to and a direct result of the new World Series schedule that shifted the start of the event from Saturday, the most lightly-watched night of the week, to the more favorable Wednesday. Goren: "This number obviously speaks to the power and draw of the Red Sox, but also, this is really about the new schedule."  Goren's expectations for Game Two, however, were more tempered given the increased entertainment programming on Thursdays and the somewhat divided fan focus in New England due to the Boston College-Virginia Tech football game. "This is going to be a tougher night, but we're off to an excellent start," Goren said (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).  However, in Houston, David Barron notes Cardinals-Tigers Games Three (played on a Tuesday) and Four (played on Thursday) averaged a 10.2 and 10.4, respectively, which is “uncomfortably close to Wednesday’s performance.” If the Rockies “don’t turn things around in a hurry, and with Game 3 coming up Saturday, there’s no guarantee this series won’t set yet another record low” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/26).

    CHANGING START TIMES: In Boston, John Powers notes the first pitch of Game Two was six minutes earlier than that of Game One “because Fox Sports didn’t have to present the lineups again,” but it will be pushed back to 8:35pm ET Saturday for Game Three, the first game in Denver. Monday night’s possible Game Five will start at 8:40pm due to the Packers-Broncos “MNF” game. Fox Sports Senior VP/Media Relations Lou D’Ermilio said, “When the times vary by a minute or two, it’s because it’s happening live.” MLB Senior VP/PR Rich Levin said, “A couple of minutes either way doesn’t matter” (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/26).

    Ellsbury Triggers Free Taco Promotion
    With Series' First Stolen Base
    YO QUIERO SILENCIO! In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes he has “rarely seen a sponsor so overly and shamelessly integrated into a game” as Taco Bell has been with its “Steal A Base, Steal A Taco” promo. During the sixth inning in Game One, Fox’ Tim McCarver said, “No stolen bases yet in the game.” Fox’ Joe Buck replied, “No free tacos for America.” During Game Two, Fox’ Chris Myers concluded an interview with Taco Bell COO Rob Savage after Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury stole the series’ first base by saying, “We’re thinking outside the bun.” MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan said that the net “was not required to extend the basic Taco Bell promotion into the call of the game.” Brosnan: “But I think Fox wants to make the sponsors happy” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26). In L.A., Christine Daniels writes under the header, “Hey Fox, Enough Ads Already.” Daniels writes the shorter the World Series goes “the better, for pretty much everyone concerned, especially viewers forced to sit through Fox’s cross-promotion insanity” (L.A. TIMES, 10/26). USA TODAY’s Mike Dodd notes the three-minute commercial breaks during the World Series “is part of the new TV contract signed last November.” However, MLB VP/PR Pat Courtney said that Fox last year had 2:55 breaks as well (USA TODAY, 10/26).

    PLAYERS TURNED BROADCASTERS: D’Backs LF Eric Byrnes, who has been part of Fox’ pregame team, will be replaced by YES Network analyst Joe Girardi for the games played at Coors Field (DENVER POST, 10/26)....In Toronto, William Houston writes Blue Jays C Gregg Zaun, who is covering the World Series for Rogers Sportsnet, “has a good presence on TV,” adding that "many of the best baseball analysts, from Joe Garagiola to [McCarver] to Buck Martinez, are catchers.” Meanwhile, Sportsnet drew 459,000 viewers for Game One, up from 397,000 for Cardinals-Tigers Game One. However, TSN’s coverage of Canucks-Red Wings drew 357,000 viewers and “cut into Sportsnet’s B.C. audience” (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/26).

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  • Blog Hound: Fox' World Series

    The Red Sox blew out the Rockies 13-1 in World Series Game One, and with the outcome all but decided for much of the game, Fox had plenty of time to fill in during its broadcast. Bloggers weigh in on the net's announcing and presentation.

    Baseball On Deck
    Posted by: Rick
    “Could FOX cram any more commercial endorsements into the game. They even had a string of them between Ortiz and Ramirez' at-bats in the opening frame.”
    The Sports Curmudgeon
    Posted by: Sports Curmudgeon
    “FOX did not disappoint those fans who really wanted to see dugout close-ups or images of fans ‘representing’ the home team.”
    The Mighty Quinn Media Machine
    Posted by: The Omnipotent Q
    “McCarver continues to be one, if not THE most hated broadcaster doing regular national sports in America.”
    Yardbarker
    Posted by: retoocs
    “Coverage on Fox just started, with an incredibly bad overly sentimental opening. I think at one point they mentioned Odysseus. Really?”
    Sox & Dawgs
    Posted by: Steve
    “FOX just loves the Boston Bullpen Band. They show them every chance they get, maybe they can book them for that new show ‘The Next Great American Band.’”

    BUILDING THE BUZZ: Sports Media Challenge's Buzz Manager analyzed blog posts about Fox’ coverage. Bloggers who felt the coverage was entertaining were counted positive, and represented 7.14% of posts, while posts expressing discontent were tallied negative at 78.57%. 14.29% remained neutral. Click here for more information. Visit www.SportsBusinessDaily.com for more info.

    • The topic ranked 2 out of 10 on The Buzz, indicating a low level of interest.
    • There was no positive sentiment for on-air talent. Some bloggers felt the network’s improved picture quality due to its HD capabilities made up for poor commentating and time fillers.
    • Negative sentiment stemmed from bloggers' distaste for the overall coverage. Some singled out announcer Tim McCarver, while others mentioned the whole broadcast.  Others disliked Red Sox CF Coco Crisp and SS Royce Clayton’s conversation about the Taco Bell promotion.

    Do you have a blog post that our readers would find interesting? Please forward your submission to bloghound@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

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  • ESPN, Breeders' Cup Hope Cross-Platform Push Boosts Ratings

    ESPN To Provide Nearly Ten Hours Of
    Breeders' Cup Coverage Over Next Two Days
    ESPN’s networks will devote a total of nine and a half hours of coverage to The Breeders’ Cup World Championships today and tomorrow.  ESPN2 will broadcast Friday’s races live from 4:00-6:00pm ET Friday, and ESPN will follow with live coverage from noon to 7:00pm ET on Saturday, with all coverage simulcast on ESPN360.com (THE DAILY). The event is in its second year on ESPN since switching from NBC.  Last year's broadcast from Churchill Downs on November 4 registered a 0.8 final Nielsen rating, marking a 53% decline from NBC’s broadcast in ’05 and the event's lowest rating ever. But ESPN Senior VP/Programming & Acquisitions Len DeLuca said, “This is our second year in an eight-year relationship with the Breeders’ Cup and we’ve already taken it up a notch from where we were last year”  (THOROUGHBRED TIMES, 10/25). More DeLuca: "It's a much larger proposition for us now. We'd like to get the ratings up, but we realize the strength of the competition" (SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, 10/26).  With the event expanding to two days with three new races being held Friday, Breeders’ Cup President & CEO Greg Avioli said that “it may take five years for recent efforts to pay off.”  He is “confident the changes will work, but conceded they may have upset some within the industry.” Avioli said, “You can’t just wish all this stuff to happen."  Event officials said that the switch to ESPN “gives them greater prominence on a network that caters to a key demographic: 18- to 49-year-old males.” In Louisville, Gregory Hall wrote one of the “major points of interest to the Breeders’ Cup was the ability of ESPN to promote the event on other programming” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 10/25).  One new feature of the broadcast will be two "RailView" cameras mounted on a car that will "run alongside the horses in the infield" (USA TODAY, 10/26).

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  • Keep Up The Fight: UFC, Spike TV Agree To Three-Year Extension

    Spike TV Inks Three-Year Extension With UFC
    Spike TV and UFC have agreed to a three-year extension of their partnership that includes four additional seasons of “The Ultimate Fighter,” 12 live fight cards, two seasons of a new weekly series featuring live fights and 39 one-hour episodes of “UFC Unleashed,” a retrospective on the UFC greatest fights (Spike TV). UFC President Dana White said, “Since we started on Spike TV, we’ve continued to grow and build Spike’s numbers. With this new deal our plan is to grow the UFC, build big superstars and put up big numbers on Spike.” White also said that he is "‘100[%] confident’ that the UFC will end up with an HBO deal down the road” (BOSTON HERALD, 10/26). In Houston, Steve Sievert reported White confirmed that UFC "is no longer pursuing discussions with ESPN” to broadcast live fights (CHRON.com, 10/25). In Boston, Dan Duggan notes UFC has also signed former WWE wrestler Brock Lesnar and will hold UFC 79, featuring the Chuck Liddell-Wanderlei Silva fight, on December 29 in Las Vegas (BOSTON HERALD, 10/26).

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  • MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson Discusses The mtn. Carriage

    Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson Wednesday appeared on KFNZ-AM and said the conference "on any number of occasions in the last several months ... could have pulled the trigger and put [The mtn.] on seven western states," but it waiting on national carriage deals. Thompson said, "How does that help someone in New York or Florida or Texas or beyond? ... We fully expect to be on satellite and we fully expect that distribution to be national." Thompson: "We recruit in Florida, we have athletes in other states. … Should we cut off 43 states in recruiting just to get seven?"  Thompson indicated conference members are telling him to pursue national deals over local ones. Thompson added The mtn. is in around 1.2 million homes in the MWC footprint in the net's second year.  The conference had a five-year projection of getting into 4 million homes, and Thompson said, "We do need to grow exponentially and we do need to add a lot of satellite dishes in the next season or two to hit that four million projection." Thompson said of overall carriage: "It's something that we need to improve and get the satellite distribution. I think that’s a crucial element of this" (KFNZ-AM, 10/24). In Utah, Scott Pierce writes, “If that’s true, that’s appalling. The people who approved this plan knew going in that it would take five years to reach cable distribution of four million homes?” (DESERET MORNING NEWS, 10/26).

    BTN: In Detroit, Michael Rosenberg writes of the stalemate between the Big Ten Network (BTN) and Comcast, “The conference wants to make money for its schools and increase exposure for its athletes. ... At least the Big Ten is up-front. Comcast, on the other hand, acts like it is fighting hunger and curing cancer by insisting that the [BTN] belongs on a ... sports tier.” Comcast execs are “angling for a piece” of a possible SEC Network, and if a deal is reached, “you can be sure Comcast will put [it] on expanded basic in Southern markets.” Rosenberg: “For Comcast, this isn’t really about the [BTN]. It’s about precedent” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/26). Univ. of Minnesota (UM) AD Joel Maturi and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney write an Op/Ed in the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE in response to an editorial that appeared earlier this month.  Maturi & Delany write the BTN “warrants widespread distribution to provide maximum access to [UM] sports and programming to the people of this state. The editorial takes the position that, although 150 cable operators throughout the eight-state Big Ten region carry the network at no extra cost to consumers on their expanded basic package, Comcast should instead place it on a sports tier to generate hundreds of extra dollars from each customer” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/26).

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  • Final Nielsen Ratings From Recent Sporting Events

    The following lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sporting events. n/a = Not available at presstime (THE DAILY).

    SHOW
    DATE
    NET
    TIME
    RAT/SHR
    "The Road to the Liberty Mutual
    Coach of the Year"
    10/20
    ABC
    2:30-3:00pm
    0.6/-
    "College Football Countdown"
    10/20
    ABC
    3:00-3:30pm
    1.0/-
    NCAA Football: (regional)
    10/20
    ABC
    3:30-6:56pm
    4.1/-
    NCAA: "Saturday Night Football":
    Michigan-Illinois
    10/20
    ABC
    8:00-11:23pm
    3.0/5
    Supercross: Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. Open
    10/20
    CBS
    1:30-3:00pm
    0.5/1
    "College Football Today"
    10/20
    CBS
    3:00-3:30pm
    0.7/2
    NCAA Football: Florida-Kentucky
    10/20
    CBS
    3:30-7:15pm
    3.3/8
    MLB: ALCS: Indians-Red Sox: Game Six
    10/20
    Fox
    8:19-11:30pm
    6.8/13
    AST Dew Tour: PlayStation Pro: BMX Dirt
    10/20
    NBC
    2:00-3:30pm
    0.7/2
    NCAA Football: USC-Notre Dame
    10/20
    NBC
    3:45-7:00pm
    1.7/4
    "NASCAR Countdown"
    10/21
    ABC
    1:00-1:30pm
    1.5/-
    NASCAR Nextel Cup: Subway 500
    10/21
    ABC
    1:30-6:00pm
    3.7/-
    "The NFL Today"
    10/21
    CBS
    12:00-1:00pm
    2.0/5
    "NFL on CBS": (regional)
    10/21
    CBS
    1:00-4:15pm
    7.8/18
    Jeep King of the Mountain Professional
    Mountain Bike Championships (taped)
    10/21
    CBS
    5:00-6:00pm
    0.9/2
    "Fox NFL Sunday"
    10/21
    Fox
    12:00-1:00pm
    3.8/10
    "NFL on Fox": (regional)
    10/21
    Fox
    1:00-4:15pm
    n/a
    "NFL on Fox": Vikings-Cowboys (76%)
    10/21
    Fox
    4:15-7:30pm
    14.8/29
    "NFL on Fox": (doubleheader)
    10/21
    Fox
    1:00-7:30pm
    n/a
    MLB: ALCS: Indians-Red Sox: Game Seven
    10/21
    Fox
    8:19-11:57pm
    11.7/19
    AST Dew Tour: PlayStation Pro:
    Skate Vert & BMX Park
    10/21
    NBC
    3:00-6:00pm
    0.5/1
    "Football Night in America"
    10/21
    NBC
    7:30-8:15pm
    4.0/-
    "Sunday Night Football": Steelers-Broncos
    10/21
    NBC
    8:30-11:30pm
    8.3/13
    World Series: Rockies-Red Sox: Game One
    10/24
    Fox
    8:30-11:00pm
    10.5/18
    SHOW
    DATE
    NET
    U.S. AREA
    COV. AREA
    HHs (000)
    "Monday Night Football" Cowboys-Bills
    10/8
    ESPN
    8.4
    9.8
    9,507
    "Monday Night Countdown"
    10/8
    ESPN
    2.0
    2.3
    2,203
    MLB: ALDS: Indians-Yankees: Game Four
    10/8
    TBS
    5.9
    6.9
    6,622
    "MLB On Deck Pregame Show"
    10/8
    TBS
    1.8
    2.1
    2,048
    NCAA Football: Navy-Pittsburgh
    10/10
    ESPN
    1.6
    1.9
    1,851
    MLB: NLCS: Rockies-D'Backs: Game One
    10/11
    TBS
    3.6
    4.2
    4,061
    NCAA Football: Florida State-Wake Forest
    10/11
    ESPN
    1.8
    2.1
    2,076
    MLB: NLCS: Rockies-D'Backs: Game Two
    10/12
    TBS
    2.2
    2.6
    2,511
    NCAA Football: Georgia Tech-Miami
    10/13
    ESPN
    1.8
    2.1
    2,004
    NCAA Football: Auburn-Arkansas
    10/13
    ESPN
    1.7
    1.9
    1,874
    "College GameDay"
    10/13
    ESPN
    1.5
    1.7
    1,690
    MLB: NLCS: D'Backs-Rockies: Game Three
    10/14
    TBS
    3.2
    3.7
    3,592
    "NFL Countdown"
    10/14
    ESPN
    2.0
    2.4
    2,309

    NOTES: Last Sunday's Fox late-window game featuring Vikings-Cowboys was the most-watched show of the week (October 15-21) with 23.6 million viewers (NFL)….With TBS' MLB playoff coverage ending, ESPN and Disney returned to the top of cable ratings, averaging a 2.3 rating each. ESPN had four football telecasts, including the top-earning "MNF" (6.7 coverage rating), "although the franchise continues to experience viewership dips" from last season. TBS' D'Backs-Rockies NLCS Game Four earned a 3.0 coverage rating to put the net in fourth place (CABLEFAX DAILY, 10/24)....F1 races on Speed averaged a 0.15 coverage area rating and 285,000 viewers this season for 16 telecasts, down 17% and 9%, respectively, from last season (THE DAILY).

    LOCAL BASEBALL NUMBERS: During the Twins' first season on KSTP-AM, the station finished 11th in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market with a 3.5 share among listeners 25-54 from June 28-September 1. KSTP's figures were up from a 3.0 share and 12th place ranking form the spring book, but down from last summer's figures (3.8, ninth place) when the Twins were still airing on another station. The Twins "saw their Arbitron figures cool after an outstanding spring." The Twins also averaged a 6.8 rating this season on FSN North, an all-time high for the team on the net. However, a glitch at the beginning of the season "caused numbers to be lower than they should have been" in '05 and '06. WFTC-IND averaged an 8.0/21 for 26 over-the-air telecasts, down 5% from an 8.4 last year (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/26)....Orioles games on WHFS-FM more than doubled their share of younger male listeners, going from a 3.6 share in '06 to 7.7 share this season.  This was the first year Orioles games were on FM (Orioles)….Compared to September, SNY's "SportsNite" has seen its average October rating (through October 23) fall by more than 75% to an average of about 7,000 of the 7.4 million homes in the area. ESPN's "SportsCenter" is averaging about seven times as many homes in N.Y. this month as SNY, drawing "more than twice SportsNite's audience in September," when the Mets were still playing (NEWSDAY, 10/26).

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  • What's The Frequency?

    THE DAILY presents "What's The Frequency?," which highlights the subjects being discussed this week during afternoon drive shows on sports talk radio across the U.S. The following chart lists some of those topics. Local stations are listed in order of market size.

    NATIONAL SHOWS
    Sirius NFL Radio (3-7pm ET) “The Afternoon Blitz”
    NFL prepares for game in London; Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown out for the year; QB questions for Vikings, Jets, Panthers; Ray Lewis vs. Adalius Thomas
    MARKET -- STATION SHOW
    Detroit -- WXYT “The Sports Inferno”
    NFL not signing "hip-hop culture" players; Three Michigan State players arrested; Lions improve to 4-2; Should Pistons trade for Kobe Bryant?
    Miami – WAXY “The Dan Le Batard Show”
    Heat trade Antoine Walker to T’Wolves for Ricky Davis; Dolphins are the worst team in NFL; Ronnie Brown; World Series
    Phoenix – KDUS “Calling All Sports With Roc & Manuch”
    Cardinals let Chargers use training facilities; Suns prepare for season; Coyotes continue to struggle; Cal-Arizona State preview
    Minneapolis – KFAN “The Chad Hartman Show”
    Vikings-Cowboys review; Lack of touches for Adrian Peterson; Univ. of Minnesota loses to I-AA team; T’Wolves-Heat trade; Wild have NHL’s best record; World Series
    Charlotte -- WFNZ “Prime Time With The Packman”
    Wild college football season; World Series; Panthers-Colts preview; Jeff Gordon vs. Jimmie Johnson in Chase for Nextel Cup; Jim Nantz interview

    Want to add your own Frequency? Contact Rick Ellington at rellington@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

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  • Media Notes

    Stuart Scott will replace Dan Patrick as host of ESPN/ABC's NBA studio show. Bill Walton will move from games to studio and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith on ESPN and Michael Wilbon on ABC. Walton replaces Jon Barry, who is moving from the studio to games. Jalen Rose and Rick Carlisle will also be studio analysts on the net. Longtime ESPN college basketball announcer Dan Shulman will do play-by-play with analyst Hubie Brown (USA TODAY, 10/26). Shulman, formerly a Blue Jays announcer, is “giving up almost all of his radio baseball work, with the exception of the first two playoff rounds and a few regular-season games.” He will continue to call Wednesday night MLB games and college basketball games on ESPN (TORONTO STAR, 10/26).

    FIGURE '08: In Chicago, Philip Hersh reports ESPN “is considering a renewal" of its int'l rights contract with the International Skating Union (ISU). ESPN paid $5M in ‘04 for a four-year deal that ends after the ’08 World Championships, but the net “had quickly fallen out of love with the property because of what it considered shabby treatment by the ISU, and because ESPN’s emphasis is on stick-and-ball programming. The lure now for ESPN, which telecasts the worlds and Grand Prix series other than Skate America, is that the 2009 world championships are in Los Angeles.” The World Championships “could be the only event ESPN actually televises,” opting to show the rest of the Grand Prix series through the Web (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/26).

    NIGH-DEF: FSN this season will air Rockets away games in HD “at sites where it can share a production truck with the home team’s broadcaster.” But the delivery of a Houston-based HD truck “has been delayed until December.” FSN Houston PR Dir Ramon Alvarez said that the net “is trying to book trucks in the interim, but it appears the home opener next Friday will not be aired in HDTV” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/26).

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