SBD/Issue 132/Sports Media

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  • CBS Earns 6.8/12 Overnight For Thursday NCAA Coverage, Up 13%

    CBS Earns 7.4/13 Overnight For
    Window Featuring Nova-Duke

    CBS earned a 6.8/12 overnight Nielsen rating for its Thursday night coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament Sweet Sixteen, up 13% from a 6.0/11 last year. The net earned a 6.2/11 overnight in the early window, which featured Connecticut-Purdue and Pittsburgh-Xavier, while the late window earned a 7.4/13 overnight for Villanova-Duke and Missouri-Memphis. CBS’ overall overnight Nielsen rating for the entire tournament is a 5.6/12, up 8% from ’08 (THE DAILY).

    THE ART OF SWITCHING: CBS was criticized by some for switching between games during the first two rounds of the tournament, and CBS Sports Exec VP/Programming Mike Aresco said the process is "far more art than science." Aresco: "If you had a cutoff -- say, 15 points as a magic number -- you would essentially limit your options. Our job is to try to be as alert as possible, because games change very quickly." He said the net's philosophy on switching between games is that it is "not going to let a game get too far out of hand before we move audiences." Aresco: "If we're going to err, we'll err on the side of leaving [a] game a little earlier rather than a little later. We will not let that game get to 15 or 20 points, which was the case a few years ago." The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Carl Bialik noted the exception to these rules is that "local markets may get stuck with a blowout," as for any given game, "somewhere between 2% and 7% or more of the country is categorized as a 'constant' region." Aresco noted, "In North Carolina, we won't switch from a Duke or North Carolina game, unless there's a buzzer-beater situation developing somewhere" (WSJ.com, 3/26). But YAHOO SPORTS' Matthew Darnell writes of Thursday night's games, "If you were in pursuit of the best basketball to watch, and your CBS affiliate had you glued to Pitt/Xavier, well, it just wasn't your night." Pittsburgh-Xavier was a "slow, plodding game that was physical and sloppy" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/26).

    TWO-MAN GAME: CBS' Verne Lundquist is calling the East Regional games with Bill Raftery this weekend, and he said, "We worked together for the first time in 1983 when we did back-to-back games. Afterward someone said, 'Hey, you two guys really sound great together.'" After going 17 years without working together after that initial broadcast, they were paired in '01 and Lundquist notes they have "been together ever since and he's been great." In Boston, Michael Vega notes Raftery's "exuberant expressions, such as 'Onions!' for a huge 3-pointer ... have not only provided levity, but have taken on a life of their own." Raftery: "People will say stuff or holler out something to me all the time at the airport. It's crazy how people do pick stuff up, but I'm lucky" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/27).

    REPORT CARD: In Miami, Barry Jackson awards CBS a "B" for its coverage of the tournament to date. Among the positives are "prompt switching between the conclusion of close games; solid work from new lead analyst Clark Kellogg; and an emphasis on using halftime to show live action elsewhere." But Jackson writes his " biggest pet peeve" is "too much screaming from play-by-play announcers, especially Gus Johnson" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/27).

    BIGGER THAN COULD BE IMAGINED: Pilson Communications President Neal Pilson was CBS Sports President when the network acquired the rights to the tournament in the early ‘80s, and he said, “We thought the tournament could grow, we thought it could become a major American sports event. But I don’t think we ever anticipated how big it is today.” Pilson: “I think it’s eclipsed the World Series now and next to the Super Bowl, it’s the biggest event in American sport.” Pilson said the revenue streams from digital ad sales, affiliate contribution and CBS owned-and-operated stations generate revenue that can help the net “certainly get at break even or possibly profit.” Pilson: “These major sports properties don’t have to turn a profit. … They bring in so many incremental viewers, advertisers (and) media focus to the network” ("SportsMoney,” Yes, 3/26).

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  • NBA Players Using Twitter Just Keeping Up With Current Fads

    Shaq Among Many Star NBA Athletes
    Who Use Twitter
    Bucks F Charlie Villanueva "got some heat and plenty of attention" for posting an update on his Twitter page during halftime of a game earlier this month, but it was "merely the latest instance of basketball players and other athletes riding the same techno tide as the rest of us," according to Steve Aschburner of SI.com. NBA players are "young, bright, well-paid and hyper-attuned to trends and culture and they have gobs of free time on their hands, all of which makes them natural candidates to jump on board new technologies." However, coaches are "traditionally older, ... more set in their ways and definitely more single-minded, which puts them on the other end of breakthroughs and slick toys." The NBA "loves its reputation as a cutting-edge league," but some coaches "remain well behind the curve." Thunder interim coach Scott Brooks: "Twitting? What is it? So you 'tweet' on Twitter? I don't anticipate myself ever doing that." T'Wolves coach Kevin McHale said, "I heard someone say Charlie Villanueva was tweeting and I thought it meant he went in to take a leak at halftime." Aschburner noted many star players, including Suns C Shaquille O'Neal and G Steve Nash, Lakers G Kobe Bryant and Raptors F Chris Bosh all have active Twitter accounts, as does Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban. While Twitter still is unknown to some, it "soon will be easier to name those who don't than those who do" (SI.com, 3/26). O'Neal during last Saturday's Suns-Wizards game was planning to send a halftime tweet, "only to be told that Suns coach Alvin Gentry was fine with the idea." O'Neal: "I was going to do it and not get in trouble, then brag about not getting in trouble" (SI, 3/30 issue).

    ALL THE WORLD'S A TWEET: In N.Y., Noam Cohen reports in a front-page piece Twitter has become an "important marketing tool for celebrities, politicians and businesses, promising a level of intimacy never before approached online." In many cases, celebrities who tweet have "turned to outside writers -- ghost Twitterers, if you will -- who keep fans updated on the latest twists and turns, often in the star's own voice." But O'Neal said, "If I am going to speak, it will come from me. It's 140 characters. It's so few characters. If you need a ghostwriter for that, I feel sorry for you." O'Neal added that the technology "allows him to bypass the media to speak directly to the fans" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/27).

    COMPUTER CLASS: VENTUREBEAT.com's Eric Eldon reported AT&T, Twitter and ad network Federated Media have teamed to launch MarchTweetness, a site that allows viewers of the NCAA men's basketball tournament to "exchange tweets with other people watching the same tournament game." Once on the Twitter site, a user can click on an ongoing game and "see a running stream of tweets from other users about each team" (VENTUREBEAT.com, 3/26).

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  • Will Trial Run Of Miking Caddies Prove As Entertaining As Hoped?

    NBC, PGA Tour Will Team Next Week For
    Trial Run Of Miking Caddies
    NBC and the PGA Tour will team next week during the Shell Houston Open for a test run of putting microphones on caddies, but NBC golf producer Tommy Roy said he is "not sure this is going to be any great breakthrough," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. Roy: "As soon as a player steps away, you won't hear his side of the conversation." Hiestand notes while miking caddies "might allow TV to get new sounds, such as conversations on greens that are now beyond reach," Roy does not appear to be "too psyched about taking on a role ... of having to worry if miked-up caddies trust the network to carefully edit audio before it airs on tape delay." Roy: "I prefer to do it live as we do now. That's us trusting them" (USA TODAY, 3/27). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said of the plan, "I think they are fascinating conversations ... but I don't think this is going to happen. Not because caddies won't do it -- the players won't do it. The players employ the caddies and the players stand close to the caddies." Kornheiser: "The players are going to curse. They're not going to want that out. They say things to their caddies about guys they don't like who are playing in another foursome or in their twosome, and I don't think it's going to fly." ESPN's Michael Wilbon said if PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem "wants this, and it appears he does and the players want to keep bringing in these big purses, ... they'll go on-board" ("PTI," ESPN, 3/26).

    SAY WHAT? In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes Golf Channel is the "national home of golf expressions that golfers never use." Fans at "just about any time" can tune in to "hear golf spoken as it's never spoken unless it's spoken on TV." Mushnick: "Recently heard was that a first-year pro is in his 'initial professional campaign' and that a shot 'found the putting surface'" (N.Y. POST, 3/27).

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  • Amateur Sports Coverage To Be Reduced As CBC Makes Cutbacks

     
    The CBC Thursday announced it will cut about 800 jobs in an effort to save C$171M, and amateur sports "took the brunt of the cuts in sports, though the CBC hasn't announced the depth" of those cuts, according to Chris Zelkovich of the TORONTO STAR. The CBC said that "'there will be reduction or elimination' in coverage of figure skating, skiing, aquatics, athletics and CONCACAF soccer." However, just three people's jobs will be cut from the sports department. The "interesting thing here isn't what will be axed," but what "escaped the blade," as coverage of "HNIC," the Raptors, Toronto FC and World Cup soccer will not be affected. Hockey "keeps the lights on" at the CBC's offices but "questions do have to be raised on why the network spent about $25[M] more on its latest deal and why it did things such as outbidding TSN for the services of analyst Mike Milbury." That money "could have been used to protect some of the amateur coverage." The CBC's existing deals with the Raptors and Toronto FC "will protect them for now, though considering the low ratings those two produce it's doubtful they'll be around after the contracts expire." Meanwhile, Zelkovich notes the CBC's "The Inside Track" radio show, which has "done behind-the-scenes documentaries and told Canadian sports stories for 24 years, was also axed" (TORONTO STAR, 3/27).

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  • People & Personalities: "Sunday Night Baseball" Changes Praised

    Writer Hopes Addition Of Phillips Will Bring
    Spark Back to "Sunday Night Baseball"
    In Albany, Pete Dougherty writes ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" broadcast crew had been "getting stale" in recent years, but the addition of analyst Steve Phillips to create a three-man booth with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan "may bring some spark back" to the telecasts. Phillips has "worked game broadcasts occasionally," but he "built his credibility through his excellent studio work." The three-man booth should allow Morgan to "focus on his strength, which is what's going on between the foul lines, and allow Phillips to handle many of the off-field issues." Dougherty writes Morgan's "lack of perspective gets exposed when he talks about matters such as replays and steroids" (Albany TIMES UNION, 3/27).

    NOT GOING LOCAL: The Dodgers recently hired Eric Collins as their play-by-play announcer for select games this year, and in California, Jim Carlisle writes if the Dodgers were "going to hire another play-by-play man, they should have put him on radio" while keeping Charlie Steiner on TV. Carlisle writes putting Collins with analyst Steve Lyons "means I'll be hearing someone I don't know and someone I don't like." Carlisle: "On top of that, Collins lives in Chicago and it figures that's where he'll stay since all of his work for the Dodgers will be done in the Central and Eastern time zones. How will Dodgers fans take to an announcer who isn't even based in Los Angeles?" (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 3/27).

    ONE OF A KIND: In Philadelphia, John Gonzalez writes NHL Panthers radio announcer Randy Moller is "moving up quickly on my list of favorite play-by-play men." What makes Moller "unique, what makes him a cult figure, are his strange, funny, out-of-nowhere goal calls," as Moller "employs all sorts of unexpected lines from songs, movies, cartoons and commercials" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/27).

    MEET THE METS' CREW: SportsNet N.Y. Thursday announced its on-air team for its pre- and postgame Mets coverage. Bob Ojeda will serve as the lead studio analyst and Chris Carlin will host the shows. Darryl Strawberry will serve as a contributing analyst throughout the ’09 season (SNY). In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes Carlin has "no experience in a baseball studio," while Ojeda "proudly admits to being a total TV novice" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/27).

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  • Final Nielsen Ratings From Recent Sports Telecasts

    The chart below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts (THE DAILY).

    TELECAST
    DATE
    NET
    TIME
    RAT/SHR
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: First Round: (regional)
    3/19
    CBS
    12:15-
    2:37pm
    2.8/10
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: First Round: (regional)
    3/19
    CBS
    2:37-
    5:16pm
    3.4/10
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: First Round: (regional)
    3/19
    CBS
    7:00-
    9:56pm
    5.7/10
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: First Round: (regional)
    3/19
    CBS
    9:56pm-
    12:16am
    5.0/9
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: First Round: (regional)
    3/20
    CBS
    12:10-
    2:45pm
    3.0/10
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: First Round: (regional)
    3/20
    CBS
    2:45-
    5:30pm
    3.5/10
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: First Round: (regional)
    3/20
    CBS
    7:00-
    9:35pm
    4.5/9
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: First Round: (regional)
    3/20
    CBS
    9:35pm-
    12:25am
    5.6/11
    "NASCAR Countdown"
    3/21
    ABC
    2:00-
    2:30pm
    0.8/-
    NASCAR Nationwide Series: Scotts Turf Builder 300
    3/21
    ABC
    2:30-
    5:00pm
    1.7/4
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: Second Round: UCLA-Villanova
    3/21
    CBS
    1:00-
    3:23pm
    3.9/11
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: Second Round: (regional)
    3/21
    CBS
    3:23-
    5:39pm
    5.0/13
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: Second Round: (regional)
    3/21
    CBS
    5:39-
    8:10pm
    6.7/15
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: Second Round: (regional)
    3/21
    CBS
    8:10-
    10:38pm
    6.5/12
    U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix (taped)
    3/21
    NBC
    2:00-
    3:00pm
    0.4/1
    PGA Tour: Transitions Championship: Third Round
    3/21
    NBC
    3:00-
    6:00pm
    1.2/3
    "NBA Countdown"
    3/22
    ABC
    12:30-
    12:56pm
    0.8/1
    NBA: Heat-Pistons
    3/22
    ABC
    12:56-
    3:50pm
    1.2/3
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: Second Round: Arizona State-Syracuse
    3/22
    CBS
    12:00-
    2:18pm
    3.8/10
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: Second Round: (regional)
    3/22
    CBS
    2:18-
    5:02pm
    5.8/14
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: Second Round: (regional)
    3/22
    CBS
    5:02-
    7:52pm
    7.3.15
    NASCAR Sprint Cup: Food City 500
    3/22
    Fox
    2:16-
    5:15pm
    4.5/10
    NHL: Flyers-Penguins
    3/22
    NBC
    12:30-
    3:03pm
    0.8/2
    PGA Tour: Transitions Championship: Final Round
    3/22
    NBC
    3:03-
    6:14pm
    1.7/4
    TELECAST
    DATE
    NET
    TIME
    U.S.
    CABLE
    VIEWERS (000)
    DUR
    World Baseball Classic: Second Round: Venezuela-Puerto Rico
    3/16
    ESPN
    8:00-11:33pm
    1.0
    1.2
    1,424
    213
    NCAA Basketball Tournament: Opening Round: Morehead St.-Alabama St.
    3/17
    ESPN
    7:30-
    9:43pm
    0.8
    0.9
    1,174
    133
    NCAA Basketball: NIT: First Round: Kentucky-UNLV
    3/17
    ESPN
    9:43-11:37pm
    1.0
    1.2
    1,466
    114
    NBA: Heat-Celtics
    3/18
    ESPN
    7:00-10:00pm
    1.0
    1.2
    1,532
    180
    NBA: Pistons-Rockets
    3/18
    ESPN
    10:00pm-12:41am
    1.1
    1.3
    1,654
    161
    NCAA Basketball: NIT: First Round: Baylor-Georgetown
    3/18
    ESPN2
    9:04-11:04pm
    0.8
    0.9
    1,165
    120
    NBA: Trail Blazers-Cavaliers
    3/19
    TNT
    8:16-11:11pm
    1.1
    1.3
    1,570
    175
    NBA: Warriors-Lakers
    3/19
    TNT
    11:11pm-1:24am
    1.0
    1.2
    1,388
    133
    World Baseball Classic: Semifinals: Japan-U.S.
    3/22
    ESPN
    8:00-11:26pm
    1.9
    2.2
    2,784
    206
    NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament: First Round: (regional)
    3/22 ESPN2 9:21-11:49pm 0.8 0.9 1,163 148

    WORLDWIDE LEADER: ESPN2 averaged a 0.5 cable rating for its 13 telecasts of the World Baseball Classic (WBC), down 37.5% from a 0.8 for the '06 WBC. ESPN2 this year "had fewer games with the U.S. team and more games airing between midnight and dawn in the U.S." (USA TODAY, 3/27)....ESPN through Tuesday was averaging a 1.0 cable rating for five telecasts of the men's NIT, up 11.1% over a 0.9 through six games in '08. ESPN2 through Tuesday was averaging a 0.6 cable rating for seven NIT telecasts, up 50% from a 0.4 through seven games last year (ESPN).

    NORTHERN LIGHTS: In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich reported viewership for the CBC's "HNIC" this season is "actually up ... despite the dismal [Maple] Leafs being the featured attraction every Saturday night." The CBC is averaging 1.176 million viewers for the early-window "HNIC" game, which "involves the Leafs in most markets," up 6% from last season. The late-window "HNIC" game is averaging 702,000 viewers, up 4% from last year's pace. Meanwhile, TSN drew 103,000 for last Friday's Bobcats-Raptors game, and The Score earned 97,000 viewers for last Sunday's Louisville-Siena NCAA men's basketball tournament game (THESTAR.com, 3/24).

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  • What's The Frequency?

    THE DAILY presents "What's The Frequency?" which highlights the subjects being discussed this week on sports talk radio shows across the U.S. The following chart lists some of those topics. Local stations are listed in order of market size.

    NATIONAL SHOWS
    Sirius XM Mad Dog Radio (2-7pm ET) “Mad Dog Unleashed”
    UConn basketball recruiting allegations; NFL schedules – why the NFL chooses opening weekend and Thanksgiving games; Preview of Sweet-16 matchups; CBS' coverage of first two rounds of NCAA Tournament
    Sirius NFL Radio (3-7pm ET) “Movin’ The Chains”
    Shows broadcast live from NFL owners meetings in Dana Point, California; Possible switch to 17- or 18-game regular season; NFL changes rules to increase player safety; Changes to replay rule; Broncos coach Josh McDaniels wants to work things out with QB Jay Cutler
    XM MLB Home Plate (3-6pm ET) “The Show” with Rob Dibble & Kevin Kennedy
    P Curt Schilling’s retirement; Japan beats South Korea to win World Baseball Classic; Rays send P David Price to minors
    MARKET – STATION SHOW
    Boston – WWZN “The Young Guns”
    Continuing coverage of NCAA tourney games in Boston; Celtics try to bounce back from loss to Magic, hold onto second place in Eastern Conference; How much will PF Kevin Garnett play following injury?; Bruins end their long rest period against Maple Leafs in Toronto; N.Y. Times' Bruce Weber discusses his new book, "As They See 'Em, a Fan's Travels in the Land of Umpires"
    Detroit – WXYT “Valenti & Foster”
    NCAA Tournament; Who should be Red Wings' starting goaltender?; Lions Draft; Tigers Spring Training
    Phoenix – KDUS “Calling All Sports With Roc & Manuch”
    Roc and Manuch's bracket bet – loser has to get their chest or back hair waxed; Harley Davidson announced as grand prize for "Battle of the Bone" '09; Suns' playoff push, F Jared Dudley discusses recent performance; Yahoo Sports' Brad Evans breaks down NCAA tourney, talks Arizona and Arizona State hoops; New on-air game – "Are you smarter then a Hooters Girl?"
    Seattle - KJR "The Gas Man"
    NCAA Tournament; Larry Scott named new Pac-10 Commissioner; MLS Sounders FC opening game reactions; Can Sounders FC sustain momentum from opening night?; Mariners Spring Training news
    Miami – WAXY “The Dan Le Batard Show”
    Marlins finally get their new ballpark; Heat struggling in playoff race; NHL Panthers falling out of playoff race; Dolphins name Chad Henne starting QB for '10
    Charlotte – WFNZ “Prime Time With The Packman”
    NCAA Tournament – ACC has been remarkably weak amid Big East dominance; Kyle Busch calling out Dale Earnhardt Jr.; Hurricanes red-hot, Bobcats ice-cold; New NFL rule changes
    Jacksonville – WJXL "The Frank Fergie Show"
    Have Jaguars lost connection with the community?; Is Florida men's basketball still an elite program?; Florida State appealing punishment from the NCAA; Have problems at FSU and handling of sanctions tarnished Bobby Bowden’s reputation?; Should Jaguars sign WR Torry Holt to make a statement to their fans that they are trying to compete?

    Want to add your own Frequency? Contact Preston Bounds at pbounds@sportsbusinessdaily.com

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  • Media Notes

    PAIDCONTENT.org's Staci Kramer cites sources as indicating that the Walt Disney Co. "could wind up with an equity stake in Hulu in exchange for adding ABC programming to the NBC Universal-News Corp joint venture." A source said that "all Disney content has been discussed but it centers on ABC." Kramer notes other Disney programming possibilities for Hulu "could include ESPN and, if not the Disney Channel, some offshoots." NBC Universal and News Corp. currently each own 45% of Hulu, and a source said that one plan is for Disney to "get something close to parity with the media companies, possibly with performance incentives" (PAIDCONTENT.org, 3/27).

     

    CAPTION, MY CAPTION: On Long Island, Neil Best writes for a network "praised for its Mets announcers and extras such as in-game interviews ... it is a glaring, hard-to-figure omission" that SportsNet N.Y. "does not provide captioning for the hard of hearing." The FCC "provides new channels burdened with start-up costs four years to institute captioning, so SNY is in the clear" through the middle of next March. However, YES Network featured closed captioning when it debuted in '02, as did MLB Net upon its debut January 1. SNY Senior Dir of Communications Andrew Fegyveresi: "There are many improvements that we plan to make -- and continue to make -- at SNY, and closed captioning is certainly one that is in our plans" (NEWSDAY, 3/27).

    LOSING A DEMO: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley notes some TV execs are "scratching their heads about the recent disappearance" of men 18-34 "in terms of sports television viewing." NASCAR Sprint Cup Series telecasts this season on Fox are down 11% among all viewers, but down 25% among men 18-34. Meanwhile, ESPN2's Nationwide Series coverage is down 10% in all HHs, but down 38% among men 18-34. And CBS' coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament is up 2% overall, but down 11% in the demo (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/27).

    DIGITAL DESTINATION: ESPN360.com VP Damon Phillips, when asked if visits to ESPN360 increase during work hours, said, "We have a theory at ESPN called best available screen. I'm sure, given a choice, you're going to want to go somewhere or watch TV at home on your 50-inch screen, but everybody can't do that." Phillips said ESPN wants the service to be "relevant to sports fans, bringing quality and video over your Internet connection" (HARTFORD COURANT, 3/25).

    MLB NOTES: A record 126 Astros games this season will be broadcast in HD. FS Houston will offer 123 of its 147 Astros telecasts in HD, while KTXH-MYT will air three of its nine Astros games in HD (FSN)....FS Ohio for the '09 MLB season will air 100 of its 145 Reds games in HD, an increase from 71 games in HD last year (CINCINNATI.com, 3/24).

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