SBD/Issue 36/Sports Media

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  • TBS, ESPN Tied As October's Highest-Rated Cable Nets

    TBS and ESPN tied as the highest-rated primetime cable nets from October 1-28, according to Mike Reynolds of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. TBS  averaged a 2.4 HH rating “behind the strength" of its exclusive coverage of the MLB Division series.  The net “might have won the month save for three of the four Division series resulting in sweeps” and the “disappointing ratings delivered” by the Rockies-D’Backs NLCS. The 2.4 average HH rating is still double the 1.2 the net averaged during October ’06. Meanwhile, ESPN was down 17% for October, compared to a 2.9 HH mark in the year-ago period. “MNF” produced the top three viewed shows on cable for the month, and four of the top five, but the franchise is “suffering through a sophomore slump” when compared to ’06 numbers (, 10/30).  DAILY VARIETY reports TBS averaged 3.1 million viewers for the month, putting the net “firmly in first place” ahead of ESPN’s 3 million viewers. The figures represent a 123% increase for TBS from the year-ago period, while ESPN is down 14%. Nine of TBS’ MLB postseason broadcasts finished among the top 15 programs. Meanwhile, Versus was up 27% in primetime viewers to finish the month 45th among cable nets, while Speed was down 17% and ranked 50th (DAILY VARIETY, 10/31).

    ESPN's Packers-Broncos Score
    10.5 Rating For "MNF" Game
    PACKERS-BRONCOS: ESPN received its best “MNF” rating of the season for Packers-Broncos this week, earning a 10.5 coverage area rating (14.0 million viewers), up 9.4% from a 9.6 coverage rating (11.9 million viewers) for the comparable week eight Patriots-Vikings game last year. In terms of viewers, Packers-Broncos is the second-ranked telecast on cable this year, behind “High School Musical 2” on Disney, and ahead of the Cowboys-Bills game on “MNF” earlier this month.  ESPN says the game led all broadcast and cable nets for the night in males 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54, as well as people 18-34 and 18-49.  ESPN benefited from the lack of a World Series Game Five, which would have occurred at the same time as Packers-Broncos (THE DAILY).  The game was the “highest-rated game of the season" locally in Milwaukee with a 49.1/ (433,553 HHs) rating. The game was simulcast on WISN-ABC, which drew “twice as many viewers" as ESPN.  Both channels combined for a 66 share during the game. The highest-rated quarter-hour included overtime (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 10/31).

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  • MLBAM Files Request For Rehearing In CDM Fantasy Lawsuit

    MLBAM Seeking To Have CDM
    Lawsuit Reheard In Appellate Court
    MLBAM, as expected, late yesterday filed its request with the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Eighth Circuit for a rehearing of the CDM Fantasy Sports lawsuit. Following similar legal ground as its co-appellant, the MLBPA, MLBAM argues the initial appeal court ruling earlier this month in favor of CDM places too much weight on First Amendment rights at the expense of state-law commercial interests. “The [appeals court] panel, like the district court, has mapped a treacherous line between the First Amendment and state-law publicity rights,” the filing reads. “As the MLBPA’s petition for rehearing explains, the panel’s conclusion that the First Amendment nullifies state law restrictions on commercial fantasy game providers’ ability to free ride on famous persons’ personas is erroneous and an issue of extraordinary importance. ... The panel’s conclusion that it could reach and resolve important constitutional and wide-reaching licensing questions without giving the parties notice and an opportunity to be heard on this linchpin issue implicates fundamental notions of due process.”

    OTHER PROPERTIES VOCAL: A group of large sports properties, including the NFL, NBA, NHL and NASCAR, yesterday repeated its collective amicus brief filing from early this year, speaking out in favor of MLBAM and the MLBPA and urging for a reversal of the decision in favor of CDM. “The panel’s decision threatens to undermine the validity and enforceability of the non-use and no-contest provisions in scores of intellectual property license agreements into which [we] have entered, and eradicate the right of publicity for anyone who has achieved sufficient fame to make the right worth protecting.” There is no timetable for the appeals court to decide upon the rehearing request, though it is likely it will first give CDM an opportunity to respond.

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  • Larkin Prepares For First IFL Event While Working Boxing Match

    Larkin To Start In New
    IFL Role On Saturday
    Jay Larkin will start his career as President and COO of the IFL on Saturday in Cardiff, Wales. The funny thing is that he will be starting it while working a boxing match in Wales at the same time the mixed martial arts league airs its first live event on broadcast TV from Chicago. “I will be on my cell phone all night,” Larkin said. Larkin will be fulfilling a commitment that he made to boxing promoter Frank Warren for the Joe Calzaghe/Mikkel Kessler super middleweight bout that HBO will air at 9:00pm ET. On the same night, IFL will debut its live primetime broadcast on MyNetwork TV, part of its three-year deal with the News Corp.-owned broadcaster. By his own admission, he will not have a lot of responsibilities in Wales, describing his role as a “troubleshooter." Larkin: "I’m there to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible with the U.S. and U.K. productions.” HBO holds the U.S. rights, while Sports Network holds the British rights.

    MAIN FOCUS ON IFL EVENT: Larkin’s main focus will be thousands of miles away on the IFL event, featuring three fights directed by veteran Craig Janoff. Larkin, the former Senior VP/Sports & Events Programming at Showtime, is one of the most accomplished boxing executives, yet he is dipping his toe in the MMA arena because of the growth potential he sees. He is particularly excited about the Saturday night slot the IFL has had on MyNetwork TV since March. All previous shows have been tape-delayed, and while Saturday's matches will be the first live broadcast, the series is planning for most of its '08 slate to be live. “Broadcast is where stars are built,” Larkin said. “They are not built on cable or pay-per-view.” While he acknowledges that MMA needs better TV deals and sponsorships if it wants to continue to grow, he says live events will help. "Everybody’s talking about MMA like it’s the new real estate with an endless stream of money,” Larkin said. “What’s lagging behind is the revenue.”

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  • Blog Hound: Inheriting The Empire

    Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner earlier this month ceded much of the control of the organization to his sons, Senior VP Hank Steinbrenner and Yankee Global Enterprises Chair Hal Steinbrenner. Already the two brothers, Hank in particular, have emerged as visible public figures in dealing with major personnel decisions involving Joe Torre and Alex Rodriguez.  Bloggers discuss their early leadership.

    The Dumplog
    Posted by: Andrew
    “Talk about living up to the Stereotype. I can’t shake the feeling that things are going downhill fast for the Yankees.”
    IT IS HIGH, IT IS FAR, IT IS…caught
    Posted by: el duque
    “Here, you got a monosyllabic, leisure-suited billionaire's son, ripping a millionaire athlete for valuing money more than loyalty... just days after the team showed no loyalty to its most beloved and loyal manager.”
    The Bronx Cheer
    “Hank Steinbrenner’s inane ‘Yankee Universe’ vs. ‘Red Sox Nation’ comments, while not nearly as offensive as the Boras / A-Rod stuff, still sounded a lot like the whining of a jealous older brother.”
    Posted by: Allen
    “Hank Steinbrenner seems to be every bit like his dad in the past. Listen to all the things he said. I’m worried that he won’t let his baseball people run the Yankees and Cashman can’t make the decisions he wants.”
    “Hopefully the boys have learned what not to do from their crazy dad. Such as considering the hiring and firing Joe Torre 5 times. Or leaving a paper trail when they are going to pay a stripper to get the dirt on A-Rod.”

    BUILDING THE BUZZ: Sports Media Challenge's Buzz Manager analyzed the online buzz about Hank Steinbrenner becoming the new “boss.” Bloggers excited about his taking over were tallied as positive and represented 15.79% of posts, while posts expressing panic were counted as negative at 52.63%. 31.58% were neutral. Click here for more information.Visit for more info.

    • The topic ranked 3 out of 10 on The Buzz, indicating a low level of interest.
    • Positive sentiment stemmed from bloggers who see hope for the Yankees under Hank, many of them in favor of his decisions about A-Rod’s contract and P Joba Chamberlain's position on the team.
    • Negative sentiment stemmed from bloggers who felt Hank is a chip off the old block, many of them frustrated with Hank’s perceived non-professional attitude and fearful of the impact he will have on the team and MLB.

    Do you have a blog post that our readers would find interesting? Please forward your submission to

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  • Media Notes

    De La Hoya-Mayweather Jr. Bout
    Officially Sets PPV Buys, Revenue Records
    The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Eric Lyman reports several owners of Italian Serie A soccer clubs are in talks with Swiss-based Infront Sports & Media to “discuss creating an independent television network to broadcast games and other programming.” It is the first time the league has considered broadcasting its own games (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 10/31)....The May 5 Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Oscar De La Hoya fight drew 2.4 million buys and $134.4M in PPV revenue, up from original estimates of 2.15 million buys and $120M in revenue. Both figures are PPV records, exceeding the 1.99 million buys for the ’97 Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson fight and the $106M in revenue generated by the ’02 Lennox Lewis-Tyson bout (, 10/30)....Arena Media Networks, which programs content in 30 sports venues including Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium and TD Banknorth Garden, has inked a deal with NBC Universal. Fans waiting at high-volume areas can watch NBC content customized for the facility, including news, sports, trivia and weather updates running on about a ten minute loop (, 10/29)....Sources said that Spike TV’s three-year extension with UFC is worth “more than $100[M]” (, 10/29)….Houston Chronicle sports editor Fred Faour has agreed to a buyout (, 10/29).

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