SBD/Issue 142/Sports Media

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  • NHL Ratings Up For NBC Regular Season, RSN Playoff Coverage

    MSG Earns Highest-Rated Hockey Telecast
    Since '04 With Devils-Rangers Game Three
    NBC averaged a 1.0 Nielsen rating for its 10 telecasts this regular season, up from a 0.9 rating last season for nine telecasts. For complete NHL regular-season ratings, see today's Back of the Book.

    PLAYOFFS RATINGS: MSG earned a 2.61 HH rating for the Sunday night's Game Three of the Devils-Rangers NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinals, making it the net's highest-rated hockey telecast since the '04-05 lockout. Combined with a 0.63 HH rating on MSG Plus, which showed the same game using the Devils announce team, and the rating hits 3.24. Rangers-Devils Game One earned a 2.3 HH rating on MSG, with MSG Plus delivering a 0.53 HH rating for a combined 2.83 HH rating. Meanwhile, CSN Philadelphia's coverage of Flyers-Capitals Game One averaged a 3.4 HH rating (101,076 HHs), a 54.5% increase over the regular-season average of 2.2 (THE DAILY). French-language RDS Saturday had its largest audience ever for Bruins-Canadiens Game Two with 1.736 million viewers, while the CBC drew 1.541 million viewers for the English version of the same game, combining for a total of 3.277 million viewers (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 4/15).

    NO BULL: In Philadelphia, Paul Vigna reports some Philadelphia-area viewers missed Rangers-Devils Game Three on Versus, with those viewers receiving a PBR broadcast instead. Versus Dir of PR Meier Raivich: "The feed actually ran in its entirety on the Versus Network, but it looks like it was blacked out in a couple areas, and we're looking into it to make sure that it doesn't happen again." Raivich "couldn't say exactly what areas of the region were blacked out." Raivich: "We're still actually ... trying to figure out what happened. But we're putting all these things in place so that no one is inconvenienced again" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 4/15).

    SLIP OF THE TONGUE: Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis in his blog noted NBC's Mike Milbury called his team the "Crapitals" twice during the net's Sunday broadcast of Flyers-Capitals Game Two. Leonsis contacted Milbury through NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and spoke to the analyst Sunday night. Leonsis: "Mike calmly explained that he meant no harm. He had a slip of the tongue when trying to start a commentary about our play. He meant to say the Washington Caps but instead he said the Washington Craps. ... He formally apologized to me and he wanted me to convey his apology to our community. ... I have accepted his apology and believe we should all move on" (, 4/14).

    NOT PLAYING NICE? CABLEFAX DAILY noted the NHL, which last week launched NHL Network Online and has "seized control of all team Web sites and the lion's share of league-related digital rights," has "angered some media partners and left others waiting to see which way the digital puck will slide." NHL Senior VP/Media Sales Larry Gelfand said that the content from NHL Net Online will be "'transitioned to all team sites' in an effort to enhance local sales/marketing opportunities for RSNs and other media partners." But the plans "aren't yet set in ice, causing unrest among certain cable teammates" such as MSG, which has an antitrust suit "pending against the league over the control" of the Rangers' site (CABLEFAX DAILY, 4/14).

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  • BET's "Iron Ring" Develops Following Amid Declining MMA Ratings

    While ratings for MMA TV shows are "generally down, and with the exception of the UFC, nobody has been able to maintain a substantial audience," BET's "Iron Ring" has "developed a following amid all the clutter," according to Dave Meltzer of YAHOO SPORTS. The show has become one of the "highest rated shows on the network, drawing ratings in the 0.76 to 0.87 range and averaging about 900,000 viewers." The numbers for "Iron Ring" are not "that much lower than many episodes of the sixth season of [Spike TV's] Ultimate Fighter, and there are more viewers than any other MMA programming has had to date." Meltzer noted the "first thing you notice when you watch the show is that it doesn't feel like an MMA show." Meltzer: "There are MMA fights, some edited, with far more of an emphasis on striking than ground technique, by design. It has a decidedly brutal edge to the way it's presented, avoiding things like tale of the tape and a graphic listing the unified rules and ways to win." "Iron Ring" is a show filled with "quick cutaways, featuring some major celebrities, particularly in the hip-hop culture." The show draws 52% women, and "half the [TV] audience on the debut shows that aired from [11:00pm-12:00am ET] was younger than 24." The fighters are "not all African-American, but there is little doubt that is the prime fan base they are trying to reach." Meltzer: "They are clearly aiming at a demographic that has not yet been captured by UFC" (, 4/11).

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  • NESN, MSG Net Team To Televise Regional Little League Tourneys

    NESN, MSG Acquire Exclusive Rights To
    Televise Regional Little League Tournaments
    NESN and MSG Network have partnered to acquire the rights to televise the Little League Baseball New England and Mid-Atlantic regional tournaments, including exclusivity for select games. The agreement is the first of its kind and marks the first time NESN has partnered with another RSN on a live event production (NESN). In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, John Ourand reports the two-year deal includes televising "at least five games each from the baseball tournaments." A Little League exec said that the RSNs are "paying Little League Int'l a 'modest' rights fee for the games." NESN approached MSG to "jointly bid on the deal, a move that will cut production costs in half, since both channels will use one production team to cover the games." Neither channel has decided which announcers to use, nor have they "approached any advertisers yet." Little League is "hoping that this deal will be a template for further deals eventually, but it is not looking to televise other regions this year" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/14 issue).

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  • Ombudsman Says ESPN's "Black Magic" Earns Worthy Praise

    In her latest contribution as ESPN Ombudsman, Le Anne Schreiber discusses the net's "Black Magic," and wrote the documentary in March garnered the most mail and "drew only praise." The two-part, four-hour documentary on the early contributions to civil rights and the game of basketball was called by viewers "superb," "awesome," and "the best sports television I can recall." Its ratings were the highest ever for an ESPN documentary. Schreiber: "History lessons don't always make compelling TV, but the deft weaving of rare archival footage and intimate, in-depth interviews with black pioneers of the fast game seems to have struck a chord with viewers." One viewer wrote, "I haven't learned so much watching TV in years!" Schreiber noted such "spontaneous outpourings of praise are rare for any endeavor, but when it comes to ESPN's coverage of race and sports, I had grown used to a very different kind of feedback." Schreiber: "From my earliest days on this job, I noticed that whenever race was introduced into the discussion of sports ... I would receive mail accusing ESPN of fueling or even creating racial divides in an attempt to drive ratings or page views."

    BACKLASH: Schreiber noted the "most recent incidence of fan aversion to racial topics surfaced in my mailbox only days after it had been flooded with delighted responses to 'Black Magic.'" Schreiber: "I read message after message from angry readers demanding that [ESPN's] Jemele Hill be fired for her March column suggesting" Cavaliers F LeBron James be "more careful with his image." Hill wrote that she saw a resemblance to King Kong and Fay Wray in the March cover of Vogue featuring James and supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Schreiber wrote many readers "accused Hill of 'inflaming racism' and 'setting the country back.'" Hill, who is African-American, said, "I can guarantee you that when I write a column critical of black people -- when I talk about how the black community should not make a martyr of Michael Vick for going to jail -- readers do not see it as a racial setback. ... But when I flip the coin and ask the mainstream to take a look at themselves, then I'm setting racial progress back."

    FINAL THOUGHT: Schreiber wrote, "It should not take an elaborately researched two-part, four-hour, commercial-free primetime documentary to remove the rancor from the discussion of the intertwined history of sports and race in America. Columnists should not have to face 'fire her' campaigns for trying to connect the dots between past and present. ESPN should not have its motives impugned every time it falls short of perfection on racial matters. The bar is set too high. The only alternatives are to clear it or take the lumps trying. Walking away from it is not an alternative" (, 4/13).

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  • Par For The Course: Roundup Of Reviews From The Masters

    Writer Lauds CBS For Its Final
    Round Coverage Of The Masters
    CBS Sunday for its coverage of the final round of The Masters "did numerous things well ... as it usually does," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. Sandomir: "Whenever [commentators] Peter Kostis and Nick Faldo chat, especially to each other, I'm ready to listen. Same with Peter Oosterhuis and David Feherty." Kostis is CBS' "best analyst, a clear-talking, candid teacher. His new toy, a red line that animatedly traces the trajectory of tee shots, is simple and illuminating, but it was used much too cautiously Sunday." Additionally, the 3-D hole animations "beautifully illustrated Augusta's maddening contours, but they're luxuries, especially in the final round, if they take more than 15 seconds to describe, and most of them did." CBS should "put them online in 2009." However, CBS' announcers "rarely gave the length of a putt -- my count was four times -- an omission akin to not giving outs with the balls and strikes." And the broadcast crew, "evidently lacking ShotLink's technology, tried to describe mounds and plateaus and undulations, but it was not satisfactory." The "absence of distances, even informed estimates from professionals with microphones, was stunning" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/15). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote there is "no other sporting event -- not even the Super Bowl -- where the network (in this case, CBS) constantly jams down our throats how special the event is. With host Jim Nantz using a thesaurus as a script and the commentators rarely going more than three sentences without talking about how great the Masters is, the coverage feels more like a cult meeting than a golf tournament" (, 4/14).

    ESPN:  In Oakland, Dave Del Grande writes ESPN's "first swing at live Masters coverage was a home run. Especially the event's par-3 competition" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 4/15). In Illinois, Tim Cronin writes The Masters Live online webcast was a "huge success." Cronin: "The stately golf tournament at Augusta National proved beyond doubt that television will come to the Web faster, and with a better picture, than the Web will come to the telly. ... Live all-day coverage of five holes from Augusta National without commercials, for free? It makes those stilted mentions of the patrons and second cut palatable" (DAILY SOUTHTOWN, 4/15).

    Immelman Reads Top Ten List On
    Last Night's "Late Show" On CBS
    MAKING THE ROUNDS: In Boston, Steve Bulpett notes The Masters winner Trevor Immelman sat courtside for last night's Celtics-Knicks game at MSG and was introduced to the crowd during a first-quarter timeout, while the theme to “Caddyshack” played on the PA system. Immelman was "invited into the Celtics dressing room" at halftime. Celtics coach Doc Rivers: “It was great. Half the guys didn’t know him. It was really cool. They all gave him a nice standing ovation and shook his hand” (BOSTON HERALD, 4/15). Immelman yesterday also appeared on CBS' "Late Show," where he was the subject of the Top Ten list. Immelman read the “Top Ten Ways Trevor Immelman’s Life Has Changed Since Winning The Masters” (“Late Show,” CBS, 4/14).

    10) “I’ve been elevated from 'Unknown' to 'Obscure.'”
    9) “Thanks to the prize money, I no longer have to buy generic root beer.”
    8) “Suddenly I don’t look so foolish for trademarking ‘Immelmania.’”
    7) “I’m BFF’s with Lauren and Heidi from the ‘The Hills.’”
    6) “President Bush called to congratulate me on winning Wimbledon.”
    5) “When my caddy recommends a club I can say, 'Excuse me, how many Masters have you won?'”
    4) “Invited to Masters Winners Week on ‘Jeopardy.’”
    3) “I get a lifetime supply of them little pencils.”
    2) “Guess who’s playing 36 holes with the Pope this weekend?”
    1) “Get to put my arm around Tiger Woods and say, ‘Maybe next year.’”

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  • Blog Hound: NBA Playoff Race, Carmelo's DUI Top Blog Posts

    The NBA playoff race leads today's blog discussion. Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony being charged with a DUI and former NFLer Herschel Walker's new book "Breaking Free," which addresses his multiple personality disorder, are also hot topics in this morning's blog discussion.


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  • Media Notes

    Gotuit Media Corp. has renewed its deal with Sports Illustrated to power the SI Filmroom, an interactive online video offering that serves as a key element of's coverage of the upcoming NFL Draft. Gotuit, whose platform relies on extensive metadata-based search and navigation capabilities, also recently reupped its deal with MLS to power the QuickKicks video portal within (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

    Writer Feels NFL Network
    Should Hire Hammond
    JOB OPENING:'s Richard Deitsch wrote now that announcer Bryant Gumbel has left NFL Network's game telecasts, "you'll be hearing plenty of people champion Marv Albert" for the job. Deitsch: "There's nothing wrong with Albert, who is clearly aiming to hold every job in sports broadcasting prior to his retirement. Personally, I'd rather see him stay on the Westwood One broadcast of Monday Night Football, where he and partner Boomer Esiason have developed terrific chemistry." Meanwhile, NBC's Tom Hammond is a "pro's pro whether he's calling [AFL], the Penn Relays or waxing about Giacomo in the Kentucky Derby. Plus, he's already called games with [NFL Net analyst and would-be partner] Cris Collinsworth." Deitsch: "Sign him up" (, 4/14).

    HANGING PITCH: In N.Y., Bob Raissmann writes the "only thing more stunning" than Yankees manager Joe Girardi letting [P] Mike Mussina pitch to Red Sox LF Manny Ramirez on Saturday with two outs, runners at second and third, and the Yankees leading 2-1, was Fox' Tim McCarver "having absolutely nothing to say about the move." McCarver "went mum," and after Ramirez drove in two runs, it became "even more glaring an omission." Instead, it was "left up to Kevin Kennedy, sitting in Fox's Hollywood studio." Kennedy said, "You must walk Manny Ramirez" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/15).

    LIONS: The Lions and WWJ-CBS have entered into a three-year agreement to broadcast the team's preseason games, starting with the '08 season. The agreement includes the continuation of "The Ford Lions Report," a half-hour program about the Lions that airs weekly during the season (Lions).

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  • Media rights: We really know our stuff

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