SBD/Issue 136/Sports MediaPrint All
CBS' Ratings For Final Four Games Down From '07
CBS' coverage of Saturday's Memphis-UCLA NCAA men's basketball tournament national semifinal game, played in the early window of the net's Final Four coverage, earned a 7.2 overnight rating, down 14.3% from an 8.4 for the comparable Ohio State-Georgetown game in '07. In the late window, Kansas-North Carolina averaged an 8.8 overnight, down 1.1% from an 8.9 for Florida-UCLA last year (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 4/7).
PACK MENTALITY: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes CBS' Billy Packer has "drifted from what made him a valued analyst." Packer "used to speak only to tell us something worth our attention; he seemed to understand that live TV didn't need that much extra help." Mushnick: "He now seems compelled to say something -- anything -- on every possession" (N.Y. POST, 4/7). In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich writes in Packer's "world, every play requires a comment even if there's nothing to say." Zelkovich: "He must have told viewers five times in the Kansas-North Carolina game that the former team was looking a little tight after almost blowing a big lead" (TORONTO STAR, 4/7). In South Carolina, Sean Horgan writes Packer's "one-size-fits-all analysis tells you the same things about the same games no matter which teams are playing." Horgan: "At some point, CBS has to figure out how bad Packer is, right? ... Packer is the Dick Cheney of sports announcing. The only thing that makes him remotely palatable is the serial niceness of Jim Nantz" (Myrtle Beach SUN NEWS, 4/7). However, in Denver, Dusty Saunders wrote, "To their credit, neither Packer nor Nantz raised their coverage to histrionic levels, offering measured responses about what was happening on the floor" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 4/6). Packer: "My job is to say what I see, not have some kind of subconscious feelings about offending anybody" (USA TODAY, 4/7).
EYE-SIGHT PROBLEMS: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes CBS "could have done more by bringing its studio show on-site" instead of broadcasting from N.Y. Also, the NCAA "should have insisted CBS air fewer commercials -- even if it meant CBS would pay smaller rights fees -- so viewers don't have to sit through on-air corporate onslaughts to watch amateur sports" (USA TODAY, 4/7). In K.C., Jeffrey Flanagan reports CBS yesterday arranged an interview with Memphis coach John Calipari and Kansas coach Bill Self, though the net "apparently forgot to tell either coach about the setup." Calipari arrived first and asked a CBS staffer, "What is this for?" When Self arrived a few minutes later, he "seemed a bit surprised and said, 'Are we doing this together?'" (K.C. STAR, 4/7).
CBS Feels Basketball Configuration Of
Large Domes Not Conducive To Television
KNIGHT AND DAY: The N.Y. POST's Mushnick wrote ESPN is "so proud to have Bobby Knight on its NCAA tournament studio team" it has created a promo featuring highlights of Knight's time at the net. Mushnick: "Suddenly, ESPN wants us to think of Knight as Will Rogers. ESPN apparently has misplaced that other Knight clip reel, the one with footage, compiled over 35 years, of him physically and verbally abusing and bullying people for no better reason than that he could get away with it" (N.Y. POST, 4/6).
HALL BOUND: In Ft. Worth, Wendell Barnhouse reports Packer and ESPN's Dick Vitale are among the seven inductees for the third class of the National Collegiate Basketball HOF. Former players Danny Manning, Charles Barkley and Arnie Ferrin, along with coaches Nolan Richardson and Jim Phelan, round out the class (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/7). Vitale today also was selected into the Basketball HOF as a contributor to the game (Mult., 4/7).
NHL This Week To Unveil Online
Video Portal On NHL.com
Analyst Feels Video Portal Aimed
At NHL's Most Passionate Fans
NO PLANS FOR LIVE GAME BROADCASTS: In Ottawa, Vito Pilieci reports the league has no plans to use NHL Network Online "to broadcast games live." In addition to "The Hockey Show," the portal will include Livewire, which offers exclusive videos of warmups, news conferences and teams' morning skates and practices, while the Playoff Channel will deliver news around the NHL playoffs (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 4/7).
DuPuy Driving Blackout Issue That Will
Redraw MLB Team's Territorial-Rights Map
KFNS-AM Friday fired radio host Kevin Slaten in the wake of a "controversial interview last week with Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan" in which Slaten aired a conversation between the two that Duncan believed was private, according to Dan Caesar of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. KFNS GM Evan Crocker said that management made a "thorough review of the matter ... and that there was no choice but to fire Slaten and [producer] Evan Makovsky" due to potential FCC ramifications. Slaten "disputed that and said the station was reacting to pressure from the Cardinals." Slaten added that the team "used the Duncan incident as an excuse to persuade KFNS management to remove from the local airwaves a voice that often is critical of the team." Slaten: "This is a vindictive and retaliatory practice by the Cardinals that has gotten me fired. The Cardinals are at the very root of this, and [KFNS] has thrown me under the bus to curry favor with the Cardinals. ... I'm simply stunned that any station in this day and age would cave in to pressure from an athletic team -- especially one that they don't even broadcast their games." Slaten added that he believes pressure to remove him came from Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, "a frequent target of Slaten's criticism, rather than the front office." La Russa Friday denied talking to the station about Slaten. Crocker said there was "no pressure from the Cardinals" and it "didn't matter who was on the other end of the call" for the interview in question. Crocker added that "even if the incident had happened with someone from another organization, 'the outcome would have been the same'" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/5).
Sports Media Challenge's Sports Blog Index identifies the top issues discussed over the past week on some of the top sports blogs. The pie chart details the percentage of posts spent on each topic. These five topics represented 17.06% of the total discussion last week.
In DC, Jennifer Harper reports MASN and the Washington Times have formed a partnership to "share sports coverage and some live talent." The RSN will feature Times sports reporters Mark Zuckerman and Ben Goessling in a new "Hot Corner" segment during Nationals games, as well as the team's pre- and post-game "Nats Extra" shows (WASHINGTON TIMES, 4/7).
FAULT: In Houston, David Barron reported FSN Southwest "apologized to viewers ... for switching away from the final games" of Thursday night's Andy Roddick-Roger Federer match at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. Roddick was leading 4-3 in the third set when FSN Southwest "switched to the scheduled Southwest Outdoors Report" at 8:00pm CT, followed by a Stars pregame show at 8:30pm. FSN said that the match "aired in its entirety in other FSN regions" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/5).
Smith To Host His Final ESPN
Radio Show On Thursday
SIGNING OFF: ESPN's Stephen A. Smith Friday announced that he "soon will be a former radio host," as his final show on ESPN Radio 1050 N.Y. will air this Thursday. Smith said that ESPN "wanted him to concentrate on TV" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/6).