SBD/Issue 77/Sports Media

Fox Earns 17.0 Overnight For BCS National Championship Game

Thursday night's Florida-Oklahoma FedEx BCS National Championship Game earned a 17.0/27 overnight Nielsen rating on Fox, up 9.0% from a 15.6/23 for last year's LSU-Ohio State matchup, which aired on a Monday night. The 17.0/27 marks Fox' highest-rated primetime program this season and highest since last season's "American Idol" finale, which earned a 17.5/27. Fox for the game earned a 16.1/25 in primetime, tops among all nets. Oklahoma City topped all metered-markets with a 52.6/67, followed by Tulsa's 47.8/63. In Florida, Jacksonville delivered a 40.5/55, followed by a 32.5/49 in Tampa and a 30.7/45 in Orlando (THE DAILY).

Did Fox Announcers Go Overboard In 
Their Praise For Florida QB Tim Tebow?
STOPPED AT THE GOAL LINE: In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht writes Fox' coverage of Thursday night's game "came up lacking." The net airs "only five college football games a season, and it clearly showed Thursday night." Announcer Thom Brennaman, who was paired with Charles Davis on the broadcast, had a "sloppy night with numerous mistakes," and "clearly had trouble following the action on the field." Brennaman and the Fox crew went "overboard in gushing about how great a man" Florida QB Tim Tebow is off the field. Brennaman's comments would have been "more fitting on a feature story than a game broadcast." Also, Fox studio analyst Barry Switzer, a former OU coach, "clearly had trouble being objective" on Thursday night's telecast, "referring to the Sooners as 'we' and 'us'" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 1/9).  In Albany, Pete Dougherty wrote if viewers could "tolerate the Fox cameras panning away from the field after every whistle and announcers who aren't qualified for the Pop Warner championship," Thursday night's BCS Championship "delivered quite a title game." A good game can "mask the odor of a stinky telecast." While Fox "got a little stronger in the fourth quarter" of Thursday night's game, the net "proved that it should stick to the NFL" (TIMESUNION.com, 1/8). AWFUL ANNOUNCING’s Brian Powell writes, “Most networks fail on just one thing when broadcasting Football. It's either the announcers not knowing what's going on, the camera crew can't keep up, or the production truck is behind. It's rare that a broadcast achieves even two out of those three, but that's where FOX's BCS games come in” (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 1/9).

Fox' Constant Split-Screen Coverage Likened To
Its Penchant For Close-Ups During MLB Playoffs
INCOMPLETE PASS: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes a sequence in the second quarter of Thursday night's game in which Davis and Brennaman could not "tell the difference between second down and third down, or between third and fourth down," said "much about how viewers should judge" the announcing team. While Fox' graphics on the screen correctly labeled a play as third and goal, Davis "seemed to believe" that OU coach Bob Stoops was "having second thoughts about going for it on fourth down." After OU failed to convert on third and goal, Brennaman said, "A huge stop for the Gator defense on fourth and goal." Sandomir notes Brennaman belatedly "acknowledged his error, but it was too late," as he and Davis "had expended a lot of credibility." Sandomir writes Brennaman is "well suited to the rah-rah side of a college bowl game; he is an unabashed fan, a promotional voice, a starry-eyed, corny guy." But Sandomir writes if announcer Al Michaels during a telecast said, "'When Major Wright hits you, you feel it in a major wrong way,' his producer would rush from his truck to smack him." In addition, Fox in its coverage "split the screen in half, and then in fourths, far too many times," and it "became the bowl game equivalent of the network’s penchant for postseason baseball close-ups" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/9).

VOICE OVERS? AOL SPORTS' Chris Burke writes Brennaman was "so far over the top in his pro-Tebow hyperbole on Thursday that the game became darn-near unwatchable unless the volume was off." The announcing "would have been bad enough had Fox put together a spectacular broadcast worthy of a national-title game," but "unfortunately, Fox did not" (FANHOUSE.com, 1/9). THE BIG LEAD wrote of Brennaman and Davis, “With all the money behind broadcasts like the one tonight, this is the best Fox can do? They’re out of sync, out of place and calling courageous goal line stands on third down” (THEBIGLEAD.com, 1/8). On Long Island, Neil Best writes Brennaman "often seems to be doing a clever parody of an old-time sportscaster, except that he's serious." Thursday night's telecast was "particularly amusing, especially his over-the-top deification of Tim Tebow" (NEWSDAY.com, 1/9). In Orlando, Jerry Greene gives Fox a grade of "C-minus" for Thursday night's coverage. Greene: "Brennaman settled down after a shaky start. Davis was decent. But a 'no-frills' performance for the network's last title game anytime soon. Nothing special, nothing awful. Nothing to be missed" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/9).

Fox Announcers Matt Vasgersian, Tim Ryan
Panned For Work On Monday's Fiesta Bowl
MISSED COVERAGE: In Dallas, Barry Horn wrote prior to Thursday night's game, Fox' BCS coverage "has been disappointing," and the net's "formula just hasn't worked." Fox, which "does itself so proud" with its NFL coverage, is "limping to the college football finish line." Horn noted, "I can't remember when I received as many reader complaints on a series of broadcasts." Fox' coverage of Monday's Texas-Ohio State Fiesta Bowl "was a mess," as there were "several missed plays and I guess we learned why broadcasters Matt Vasgersian and Tim Ryan were so low on the network's NFL announcing totem pole" (DALLASNEWS.com, 1/8). The SPORTING BLOG's Spencer Hall writes, "Fox puts on an incompetent broadcast. No. Incompetent doesn't cover how inept their clodfooted work on the BCS has been" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 1/9). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes during coverage of Monday night's Fiesta Bowl, it "often seemed as if Fox showed live plays in their entirety only by accident or against its better judgment." Vasgersian, who is "no worse than most in that he talks a lot while saying nothing (or confusing something)," on Monday "kept talking talkity-talk, the effortlessly banal language of too many sportscasters" (N.Y. POST, 1/9).

HOLD THE LINE: In L.A., Chris Dufresne reports ESPN when it assumes control of the BCS package in 2011 will "not pressure [BCS] officials into pursuing a playoff." ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus Thursday at the annual Football Writers Association of America meeting said that ESPN obtained the rights to the BCS "with the understanding there would be no changes through the duration of the four-year contract," which expires in '14. Magnus: "The format is left to the people who run the sport" (L.A. TIMES, 1/9). In K.C., Blair Kerkhoff writes several ESPN announcers are "open about changing college football’s championship structure,” but BCS Coordinator and ACC Commissioner John Swofford said that that is “not a problem.” Swofford: “We wouldn’t expect because somebody is our rights holder they’re not going to have the freedom to offer their opinion on air” (K.C. STAR, 1/9).

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