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ABC Earns 4.2 Overnight Rating For
Castroneves' Indy 500 Win
ALPHABET SOUP: In St. Petersberg, Tom Jones wrote ABC's coverage "was solid, especially in the first half-hour of the race and of the controversial wreck in the first lap between Mario Moraes and Marco Andretti." The net "showed plenty of hustle by tracking down both drivers for emotion-filled interviews." However, while ABC's Jack Arute "does a good job" as a pit reporter, Jones wondered why he was "putting a Firestone cap on the head of Helio Castroneves and handing him the bottle of milk after Castroneves won?" Jones: "Completely inappropriate" (TAMPABAY.com, 5/24). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay wrote ABC milked Castroneves' "drama for all it was worth, focusing on his weepy, hand-holding family in the race's closing laps." ABC's Marty Reid alluded to Castroneves' recent acquittal of tax evasion charges, saying during the final laps of the race, "Five weeks ago, Helio Castroneves was staring at jail. An orange suit -- not a race suit" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/26). In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin wrote in an online chat, "ABC gets a C. I never thought I'd say this: Bring back Versus" (INDYSTAR.com, 5/25). Meanwhile, MYNAMEISIRL.com's live blog of the race wrote of Patrick, "She'll take third and the MASSIVE airtime given to her by ABC. Might need to add a 'D' to that network to account for the excessive coverage [of Patrick]" (MYNAMEISIRL.com, 5/24).
EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY: In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich wrote the best part of the Indy 500 was that viewers "didn't need (announcers) to explain the day's most dramatic stories," as it was what the "cameras, reporters and radio transmissions captured that told the best stories." ABC captured Moraes "stridently professing his innocence" in the wreck with Andretti, but later was "shown in tears at trackside." Meanwhile, when Dario Franchitti "pulled away from the pit with the fuel hose still attached after a misunderstanding, he was overheard in a surprisingly calm voice telling his crew, 'We need to be clearer on the hand signals'" (TORONTO STAR, 5/25). Meanwhile, Zelkovich wrote coverage of motorsports sometimes "provides way too much information." Zelkovich: "When the pit reporters are talking about wing adjustments, downforce, fuel position 3 vs. fuel position 4 and a whole lot of other gearhead stuff, millions of eyes are glazing over" (THESTAR.com, 5/25).
Castroneves Climbs Fence After Win Despite
Official Trying To Keep Him In Car
RUNNING TWO WIDE: In Daytona Beach, Ken Willis noted ABC utilized side-by-side coverage during commercial breaks in the broadcast, a strategy NASCAR does not use on a weekly basis. Willis wrote of NASCAR: "They tinkered with a similar idea a couple of years ago but it didn't score points with the advertisers, I guess. Imagine that" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 5/26).
Nuggets-Lakers Series Helping ESPN Record
Viewership Gains For Playoffs
HOOP DREAMS: In DC, Tim Lemke writes the NBA Playoffs thus far "have provided the league and its broadcasters with precisely what they root for: long series filled with tense, competitive games." The ratings "appear to validate Turner, which signed an eight-year extension of its broadcast deal in 2007 that included a takeover of the league's cable and digital operations." Turner President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy: "When I travel around the country people are talking about the NBA and these games. ... The games have been terrific. If you're a sports fan, you're tuning in." ESPN Senior Dir of Programming & Acquisitions Doug White added, "What you've been seeing with these playoffs is really the best form of reality television. It's unscripted, you don't know what you're going to get from night to night, and it has all of the drama and suspense you could ever hope for" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/27).
IN THE BOOTH: Syndicated columnist Norm Chad wrote ESPN/ABC announcers Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy are "as enjoyable of a three-man booth as I have heard in a long, long time," as they "combine sensible play-by-play with smart conversation and minimal shtick." Breen understands that a good game is a "crescendo and reserves his most emotive calls for the biggest moments." Jackson speaks in "no-nonsense language, with a clipped, succinct rhythm," and Van Gundy is "frank, refreshing and unassuming, with a sneaky sense of humor" (Mult., 5/25). But in Denver, Dusty Saunders wrote, "My major question regarding the ESPN-ABC telecasts of the NBA playoffs: Why is Mike Breen part of the broadcast coverage?" Three announcers is "one too many, particularly when telecasts feature outspoken broadcasters like Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, who mix play-by-play with ongoing, strong commentary." Breen "too often gets caught in a verbal no-man's land." Meanwhile, TNT announcers Marv Albert and Doug Collins are a "smooth, veteran twosome who are in sync most of the time" (DENVER POST, 5/25). ESPN.com's Bill Simmons wrote the "difference in quality" for TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley before and after his December DUI arrest "has been jarring." Simmons: "In a good way. He even looks lively during TNT's integrated commercial spots when he's trying to seem excited about 'X-Men'" (ESPN.com, 5/22).
Columnists Write '09 Playoffs
The Best In Recent Years
Versus' NHL Conference Finals Telecasts Have
Averaged 1.598M Viewers, Up 24.5% From '08
Versus' five NHL Conference Finals telecasts through Saturday have averaged a 1.4 cable rating and 1.598 million viewers, up 16.7% and 24.5%, respectively, from a 1.2 rating and 1.284 million viewers through their first five Conference Finals telecasts in '08. Versus was the highest-rated ad-supported net on all of cable among males 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 for Saturday night's Penguins-Hurricanes Eastern Conference Finals Game Three. For 55 total postseason telecasts to date, Versus is averaging 721,000 viewers, up 32.1% from 546,000 viewers for 46 games through the same point last year (THE DAILY). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Liz Mullen reports NHLPA Exec Dir Paul Kelly is "calling for league TV partners Versus and NBC to do more to promote the NHL and NHL players, citing players' growing frustration over hockey coverage." Kelly said that the fact that Game Seven of the Hurricanes-Bruins Eastern Conference Semifinal series did not air nationally until the conclusion of Game Seven of the Red Wings-Ducks Western Conference Semifinal series is a "'source of great frustration' to NHL players as well as the union." Kelly said of Versus, "It is not ESPN. It doesn't have a sports highlight show. It doesn't have a lot of properties people want to tune in to, unless you are a hunter or a fisherman or you like turtle wrestling" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/25 issue). Blackhawks Chair Rocky Wirtz said the one change he would make if he were NHL Commissioner would be to "find a way to get NHL games back on ESPN" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/24). In Miami, George Richards wrote recently fired Flames coach Mike Keenan "sure could add some spice to [Versus'] bland production." Richards: "If I'm Versus, I have already put in a call" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 5/22).
WHY LEAVE? In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, John Ourand writes under the header,"With Treatment It's Getting On Versus, Why Would NHL Leave?" The NHL's cable TV contract with Versus expires after the '10-11 season, and the league's ultimate decision "will come down to money." Ourand: "All things being equal, I think the league should stay with Versus." The common thread from people "bashing the Versus deal ... is that ESPN has a greater ability to expand the sport." However, some hockey execs "should temper their expectations" about a return to ESPN. Ourand: "I'm skeptical that ESPN would give as much focus or care to the NHL as Versus currently does. ... The NHL is the biggest sports property on Versus, and the network treats it as such" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/25 issue).
Should NHL Cater Schedule
To Comply With NBC's Wants?
NORTH OF THE BORDER: TSN through 36 telecasts of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is averaging a record 651,000 viewers, up 35% from 482,000 average viewers last season. TSN2 aired five additional playoff games (TSN). In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich noted the first weekend of the CBC's coverage of the conference finals produced audiences that "didn't even match the average for a regular-season Saturday night." Ratings in Canada typically "decrease until the final ... as long as there's no Canadian team involved," but there is "hope for solid ratings" for the Stanley Cup Finals. Zelkovich: "The thought of the kind of hockey that could be produced in a Detroit-Pittsburgh series should have hockey fans salivating, or at least breathing heavily" (THESTAR.com, 5/26).
NEW HOME FOR HOCKEY? The GLOBE & MAIL's Roy MacGregor wrote, "I have to count myself among those saying this spring that TSN has outscored" the CBC's "Hockey Night In Canada." MacGregor: "This is said in part to compliment the growth of TSN in hockey." TSN play-by-play announcer Gord Miller has "grown nicely into the job," while analyst Pierre McGuire is "enthusiastic, has turned his between-the-benches stunt into industry standard and -- most significantly -- sees the game through 21st century eyes." MacGregor wrote that is "not said in order to slag 'Hockey Night in Canada' -- merely to beg the CBC to take it into the same century in which the rest of us live" (GLOBEANDMAIL.com, 5/26). Meanwhile, GLOBESPORTS.com's Bruce Dowbiggin noted CBC analysts were "almost apoplectic" after the hit from Red Wings D Niklas Kronwall briefly knocked out Blackhawks RW Martin Havlat during Game Three of their Western Conferene Finals series. Kronwall was given a major penalty and a game misconduct, and the reaction from the CBC's studio panel of Kelly Hrudey, Mike Milbury and P.J. Stock was "livid." Dowbiggin: "That Kronwall's hit was a 'hockey play' was never in doubt." Milbury, as video of Kronwall hitting Havlat was shown, said, "They should put [referees Dan O'Halloran and Dave Jackson] on a bus tomorrow morning, get them out of the playoffs" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 5/25).
EAST VS. WEST: In Boston, Bob Ryan addressed the start times for NLCS and World Series games on Fox this season being moved to 7:57pm ET. Ryan: "For decades upon decades, people from the East Coast have made all the viewing sacrifices. Those West Coast dilettantes haven't been asked to make any. It's time those pampered PDT/PSTers had to live with World Series, baseball playoffs, NBA Finals, and Final Four starting times that either a) prevent normal working people from seeing the finish of games or b) preclude the youth of America from watching these games at all. That's the reality of life on the East Coast" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/24).
Beijing's China Open In October Will Be
First Event Of CCTV-IMG Partnership
Millen Reportedly Upset He
Isn't Replacing Kornheiser
MAKING A PLAY? BROADCASTING & CABLE's Atkinson & Weprin report Turner's TruTV will feature a program tentatively titled "NFL Full Contact," which offers "some grid irony in behind-the-scenes looks at pro football." The show, which will be produced in conjunction with NFL Films, "may represent Turner's attempt to play up an interest in NFL rights." But Turner President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy noted that the NFL is "extending deals with existing partners and there won't be an opportunity until 2013, making the notion premature" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 5/25 issue).
ON THE DL: In Detroit, Tom Gage reports Tigers radio announcer Dan Dickerson missed last night's Tigers-Royals game and "will miss more after a jogging injury near the team hotel." The extent of his injuries was "not immediately known, but it's expected he will return home to Detroit today for surgery on his left leg, forcing him to miss the upcoming four-game series in Baltimore." FS Detroit announcer John Keating "joined Jim Price in the booth" for last night's game, but it is "not known if that makeshift team will continue" (DETROIT NEWS, 5/27).
NOTES: In Dallas, Barry Horn wrote of Spike TV's "4th and Long" reality series, "This show is starting to exceed my expectations. It's really no nonsense football that has yet to go for theatrics" (DALLASNEWS.com, 5/26)....Outdoor Channel Holdings' aerial camera company Skycam has "inked a multi-year contract to provide services for ESPN sports coverage," including "MNF" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 5/27).