SBD/Issue 198/Sports Media

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  • Rays Set Another Record TV Rating; Fox, TBS May Add Rays Games

    Rays Set Franchise-Record TV
    Rating Twice During Red Sox Series
    FSN Florida for its coverage of the Rays' 3-1 victory over the Red Sox Tuesday averaged a 9.1 HH rating (161,000 HHs) and peaked at a 13.0 HH rating from 9:45-10:00pm ET, marking the second time this week the Rays have set a franchise record TV rating. The game also ranked as the top-rated program in the Tampa-St. Pete market for the night. Tuesday's game marked a 102% increase over FSN Florida's previous record TV rating for a Rays game, a 4.5 for the June 19 Cubs-Rays game (FSN). WXPX-ION set the previous Rays franchise record TV rating, peaking at a 12.8 HH rating for Monday's Red Sox-Rays game (THE DAILY). Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed said, "Our radio ratings have been through the roof, the TV ratings have been good. Anecdotally, around the area, it’s just been something that’s been on people’s minds and for the first time in my four years it’s really been at the forefront” (“Pregame Report,” NESN, 7/2). ESPN's Erin Andrews: "They’re on the front of every newspaper here in Tampa Bay and in St. Petersburg. They’re in block A of every newscast” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 7/2).

    MOVIN' ON UP: BLOOMBERG's Danielle Sessa reported ESPN's coverage of Red Sox-Rays Wednesday marked the "fourth time this season [the Rays have] appeared on the network," double the appearance the Rays made last year. Meanwhile, Fox is "working on adding two Rays games to its Saturday afternoon schedule, which included none at the start of the season." Fox Sports Senior VP/Media Relations Lou D'Ermilio said that the net is "working with [MLB] to add" Rays-White Sox on August 23. The Rays' game against the Twins on September 20 and the Tigers on September 27 "are also possibilities." Sessa noted TBS "doesn't have the Rays in its lineup of Sunday afternoon games through July 20." Turner Sports Senior Dir of PR Jeff Pomeroy: "They definitely merit consideration now. But there needs to be a team that is a national draw on the other side of the equation to help bring in the audience" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 7/2).

    RAYS CONTINUE TO DRAW WELL: Attendance at Tropicana Field for this week's Red Sox-Rays three-game series was 101,305, the third largest for a weekday series in Rays history (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/3). ESPN’s Dave O’Brien said the Rays "continue to draw very, very well here lately. Another sellout here, this is their fourth of the season, and the fans have finally begun to catch on that they have a product they may be watching into October here in 2008.” ESPN's Andrews, a Tampa native, said, “We used to come to the games five minutes beforehand, be able to park right at the Trop, and get right inside. Last night, we came as a family and drove around for 45 minutes, couldn’t find a parking space anywhere" ("Red Sox-Rays," ESPN, 7/2).

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  • Change Of Tune: Fox' Joe Buck Claims He Rarely Watches Baseball

    Buck Says He Rarely
    Watches Baseball On TV
    Fox Sports’ Joe Buck appeared on ESPN Radio's "The Herd" Wednesday, where he talked about the slow pace of baseball and his TV viewing habits. Buck: “From baseball’s perspective, you think about what you’re asking people to invest their time in, when these games take forever. TV’s a part of it, but certainly the strike zone is in my estimation, and length of games and guys stepping out and guys stepping off the mound. By the time you get to the sixth inning, if you’re watching every minute, you put two-plus hours into the thing. It’s just a lot to ask of people in this day and age as far as sitting down and watching a sporting event." Buck added, "That’s just not part of my day, it’s not part of my night, and I’ll be honest with you, watching ‘The Bachelorette’ is” (“The Herd,” ESPN Radio, 7/2).

    REAX: ESPN’s Skip Bayless said Buck’s comments “made me wonder, ‘Is Joe Buck something of a fraud?’” Bayless: “He’s telling me he no longer loves the game I thought he loved all the way to the bottom of his soul. This is Fox’ national baseball voice … and for him to make that confession, even if it was (done) sarcastically and to say, ‘Oh, I do watch ‘The Bachelorette,’ I don’t want him doing my Fox national game of the week anymore. ...  If I’m (MLB Commissioner) Bud Selig, I don’t want him being my national voice of baseball.” Detroit News columnist Rob Parker said, “If I’m Bud Selig, I pick up the phone today and I call Fox and say, ‘Please, I want a guy who loves baseball. Can we hire Bob Costas?’” (“First Take,” ESPN, 7/2). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Brian Powell wrote, "FOX's national voice for Baseball openly admitted to not enjoying the game he covers, cramming for weekend matchups, thinking that the games are too long and that the game just isn't the same. Unbelievable" (, 7/2).

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  • NFL Net Developing Three New NFL Films Series To Debut This Fall

    NFL Films is "developing three new series that will air on Thursday nights this fall" on NFL Network, according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. "Starting 11" will be a weekly "top-10" show that lists 11 points of interest for the coming week, such as "strangest play, biggest blooper or greatest catch." That will be followed by "Sounds of the Game," which will "match the best sideline sound of the week with excerpts from players miked during games and classic sound bites from the NFL Films library." NFL Films President Steve Sabol said of the two shows, "It's going to be like building an airplane in flight. We have footage, and we will use it to make an observation about the week in the NFL." Also, the net's "America's Game" series will return September 3 with an episode on the Super Bowl XLII champion Giants. A five-episode miniseries titled, "Missing Rings," gives the "'America's Game' treatment to five teams from franchises that have never won a Super Bowl." Sabol said of the "Missing Rings" episodes, "What is great about those shows is the Shakespearean arc, which makes them even more dramatic, emotional and compelling." Sabol: "We're doing one totally contemporary show ('Starting 11'), 'Sounds of the Game' uses our archives, and 'America's Game' is right in our wheelhouse." Barron notes the shows are "in keeping with the tradition of NFL Films," which one league exec said "isn't necessarily in keeping with the tradition" of NFL Net. However, NFL Network VP/Programming Charles Coplin said NFL Films "was never designed to be a news and information outlet. That is not their core competency." Meanwhile, Sabol said that NFL Films also will "have a beefed-up presence at" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/3).

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  • Tennis At A Critical Stretch With TV Rights, Online Activation

    Williams Sisters Final At Wimbledon Would
    Likely Give NBC Healthy Boost In TV Ratings
    During the past 18 months, a "number of new rights deals have rezoned" tennis' TV landscape, and it is "not a stretch to say that televised tennis is at its most critical point in decades," according to Steven Zeitchik of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. There are "more programming hours today than ever," and part of "that charge is being led by" Tennis Channel, which has rights to the Australian and French Opens.  ESPN "also has offered an unexpected boost." But Zeitchik writes the "real upside lies online," as tennis, "more than most sports, lends itself to digital distribution." But even with "new platforms and the choicest rivalries, some executives urge realism about the ability to grow the sport." NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer: "For the moment we're in a good place. But it's not going to be a quantum leap. What we can hope for is stabilization and then incremental improvement" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 7/3).

    SISTER ACT: With both Venus and Serena Williams reaching the Wimbledon semifinals, NBC "might find out if [they] can still produce boffo TV box office." NBC's Mary Carillo said they both "absolutely" should reach Saturday's final. Carillo: "It absolutely helps ratings when the Williams are both on center court. Their rivalry is what created the primetime U.S. Open women's final" (USA TODAY, 7/3).

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  • Blog Hound: NBA Names Ronald Johnson Senior VP/Referee Operations

    Bloggers discuss the NBA hiring Army Maj. Gen. Ronald Johnson to oversee its officiating operations.

    The SportsBaum
    Posted by: Gabriel Baumgaertner

    "Johnson is far from the solution of this problem. … Background checks, constant oversight and harsh penalties are the beginning steps of cleaning up the officiating.”

    Online Casino Advisory
    Posted by: Matt Miller

    "Hiring Johnson may be a step in that direction, but it seems more public relations than true change of course. …What the NBA really needs is an investigative office.”

    Illegal Screen
    Posted by: BloggingRef

    "From his resume anyway, the new guy seems like a straight-arrow decent guy. But couldn't they have gotten a respected college guy or college assignor?”

    Millsport Blog
    Posted by: Chris Anderson

    “It's a good move for a couple a reasons:  First, it demonstrates to the fans and the media that the NBA is taking action to ensure its officiating is credible. … Second, according to at least one poll, Americans find military personnel to be trustworthy figures."

    BUILDING THE BUZZ: Sports Media Challenge's Buzz Manager analyzed online discussion about the NBA hiring Johnson. Bloggers who thought it was a good move for the NBA and would help clean up the NBA’s image were tallied as positive, while bloggers who questioned Johnson’s experience or thought the hire would do nothing to improve NBA officiating were counted as negative. See more info on the topic. Visit for more info.

    • The topic ranked 4 of 10 on The Buzz, indicating a medium level of interest among sports bloggers.
    • Bloggers in the positive category were pleased the NBA is making an effort to improve its officiating program. Many believed that although Johnson does not have basketball experience, his many years in the Army would translate well. Bloggers thought creating Johnson's position would help the NBA rebound from the Tim Donaghy allegations.
    • Some bloggers were neutral on the topic, intrigued by the hiring of Johnson and wondering how it would affect the NBA.
    • Bloggers in the negative category questioned Johnson’s lack of basketball experience, believing that he is not qualified. One blogger questioned NBA Commissioner David Stern’s credibility after Stern insisted the league and its officiating were clean, wondering why the position needed to be created. 


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  • Media Notes

    Just weeks after NBC televised the final two rounds of the U.S. Open in the evening, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said that next year's Presidents Cup at Harding Park in S.F. will "conclude in the evening on the East Coast." Finchem: "We haven't quite figured out the details on the schedule, but we won't be a 10 o'clock finish in the East" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/3). Meanwhile, the U.S. Open is again scheduled to be held on the West Coast in 2010, 2012 and 2015, and USGA Exec Dir David Fay said of playing into primetime in the East, "I think it was great -- not just for the U.S. Open, but for the game of golf. So why not?" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/3).

    SOCCER NOTES: German-language newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung indicated that Germany's Federal Cartel Office may "push for some television coverage of Bundesliga soccer to be shifted to free television from pay-TV, a move that could hurt pay-TV operators such as Premiere AG." Most Bundesliga matches currently are shown on pay-TV, as German soccer league DFL can "fetch a higher price than from free TV operators." The DFL receives US$699M a season for the rights to broadcast live Bundesliga matches on Premiere (THOMPSON FINANCIAL, 7/3)....DAILY VARIETY's Patrick Frater reports ESPN STAR Sports has "won rights for the Indian sub-continent through 2010" to FIFA-controlled int'l soccer matches, including the 2010 World Cup. Terms of the deal were not disclosed (DAILY VARIETY, 7/3).

    HE GONE? In Chicago, Teddy Greenstein reports the White Sox hold an option on TV announcer Darrin Jackson, and they "don't plan to let him know their intentions until late in the season or after the season." Sources said that the team is "biding their time" because it may be interested in a deal with current radio announcer Steve Stone. If Stone "doesn't join a Cubs ownership group, the Sox would strongly consider moving him ... to TV to pair him with Hawk Harrelson." The move could open a radio position for Jackson alongside Ed Farmer (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/3).

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