SBD/Issue 181/Sports Media

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  • Magic-Lakers Gives NBA Most-Watched Game Two In Five Years

    Magic-Lakers Draws Most Finals
    Game Two Viewers Since '04
    Sunday night’s Magic-Lakers NBA Finals Game Two on ABC earned an 8.2 fast-national Nielsen rating and 14 million viewers from 8:00-11:12pm ET. While the rating was down 3.5% from an 8.5 for Celtics-Lakers last year, viewers increased 3.8% from 13.5 million. The 14 million viewers also marks the most-viewed NBA Finals Game Two since Pistons-Lakers in ’04 drew 16.1 million viewers. Magic-Lakers Game Two was Sunday night’s No. 1 program across all key adult demos -- helping to give ABC the win in primetime -- as well as the net’s top-rated summer Sunday in five years among adults 18-49 and 18-34. For Game One, the net earned a 7.8 fast-national rating and 13.0 million viewers from 9:00-11:43pm ET, down 10.3% and 2.6%, respectively, from an 8.7 rating and 13.4 million viewers for Celtics-Lakers Game One last year. Game One gave ABC the win for last Thursday night in primetime, with the game ranking as the No. 1 program across viewers and all key adult demos (THE DAILY). DAILY VARIETY's Rick Kissell writes unless the Magic win tonight's Game Three, the "air will come out of this ratings balloon" (DAILY VARIETY, 6/9).

    VOICE OF REASON: In L.A., Diane Pucin writes under the header, "Jeff Van Gundy Gives Fans Little To Criticize." Van Gundy, whose brother Stan coaches the Magic, said that during Sunday's broadcast on ABC, he "probably wasn't as vocal about criticizing some officials' calls he thought went the Lakers' way." Near the end of the first quarter of Game Two when a blocking foul was called on Magic C Dwight Howard, ABC analyst Mark Jackson "immediately said it was a bad call and waited for Van Gundy's response." However, there was an "uncomfortable silence, as if Van Gundy were biting his tongue," which he "admits he was." Van Gundy said, "I'm doing my best. But it's hard. I haven't hid it, I won't hide it now. He's my brother. This is the biggest moment of his life. I want him to win. So it's hard. Do I find myself pulling my punches? Probably. Do I think twice before I make a criticism about the Lakers? Absolutely. But, hey, how much could they have been criticized so far? Not much" (L.A. TIMES, 6/9). On Long Island, Neil Best writes through the first two games, Jeff Van Gundy's "sibling allegiance to the Magic's coach has not been evident." But even so, it is "asking a lot of viewers to listen without wondering how his opinions are informed and/or influenced by his relationship" with his brother. Best: "It's a phenomenon both interesting and distracting" (NEWSDAY, 6/9).

    IF A BASKET IS SCORED ... : SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted with 24.4 seconds remaining in the second quarter of Game Two, ABC cameras "inexplicably ... focused on Magic forward Rashard Lewis heading to the bench" as Lakers F Pau Gasol made a basket. It was the "final basket of the first half, but we never saw it" (SI.com, 6/8).

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  • Red Wings Not Allowed To Show Game Six Of Cup Finals At Joe Louis

    Red Wings Have Shown Away Playoff Games
    At Joe Louis Arena For More Than A Decade
    The NHL has asked NBC and the CBC "not to allow" the Red Wings to air tonight's Stanley Cup Finals Game Six at Joe Louis Arena, according to sources cited by Shelly Darby of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. The Red Wings "for more than a decade ... have showed away games in the playoffs" at the arena as part of what the team calls "Joe Vision." Red Wings Senior VP/Business Affairs Steve Violetta: "Obviously, we're disappointed but we were unable to secure the broadcasting rights to show Game 6." NHL Senior VP/Communications Bernadette Mansur indicated that "one of the league's contractual agreements with NBC is that clubs will not hold viewing parties in their arenas." NBC declined comment (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/9). NHL VP/Media Relations Frank Brown: "We need to be sensitive to the business end of things and that business is ratings driven." In Detroit, Terry Foster notes the Penguins showed Games Three and Four of the Finals "on a giant screen outside Mellon Arena because Versus, which had those rights, gave approval" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/9). CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS' Bill Shea wrote a “near-sellout of Joe Louis could shave a ratings point off the local television ratings measurement, and such ratings are used to establish advertising rates.” Each ratings point “represents 19,270 households in the Detroit market” (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 6/8).

    FALLING RATINGS IN CANADA: Penguins-Red Wings Game Five on Saturday averaged 1.612 million viewers on the CBC, marking the "lowest-rated game of the series, and a sharp drop from the 1.929 million viewers" who watched Game Four Thursday on the net. The CBC's broadcast of Game Five in '08, which went to triple overtime, attracted 2.708 million viewers (CP, 6/8). In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich wrote the Finals are "turning out to be a bit of a ratings dog for CBC, with audiences down 15[%] after the first five games," and if the series ends tonight, this "could be one of the least-watched Stanley Cup finals in years." CBC Sports' Scott Moore: "We're slightly mystified and slightly disappointed. Maybe it's a case of been there, done that and Saturday's blowout certainly didn't help. But beyond that we're not really sure what's happening." Moore added that "despite the decrease, the network was meeting its ratings commitment to advertisers." He added that he does not believe the "fact the series started on NBC this year, as opposed to CBC having exclusive rights for Games 1 and 2 in 2008, played any role." Moore noted that the "vast majority of Canadians watch their hockey on Canadian channels." Moore: "NBC really isn't a factor" (THESTAR.com, 6/8).

    GET YOUR CLICKER READY: On Long Island, Neil Best writes the "biggest shame" of tonight's sports TV offerings is the "conflict between the NBA and NHL Finals." Best: "Why did the NHL wait three days between Games 5 and 6, with another three-day gap to come if there is a seventh game?" Best writes his "educated guess is that NBC prefers to show low-rated NHL games on Fridays and Saturdays, which are low-priority nights, rather than giving up a midweek night," and by "spreading out the last three games from Saturday to Tuesday to Friday, NBC dedicates only one non-weekend prime time to hockey" (NEWSDAY, 6/9). In Rochester, Bob Matthews writes, “Obviously, the NHL and NBC should’ve done the logical thing and scheduled Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals for Monday. It would’ve had a captive sports audience with the Game 3 of the NBA Finals scheduled for tonight” (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 6/9).

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  • Setanta In Crisis Talks To Stay Afloat, Avoid Administration

    Premier League Clubs In England, Scotland
    Awaiting Millions Of Pounds From Setanta
    Setanta was "in crisis talks yesterday in an attempt to stay afloat," and if the company "fails to broker an 11th-hour deal with its backers, then the accountancy firm Deloitte could be appointed as administrators within days," according to sources cited by James Robinson of the Manchester GUARDIAN. Setanta declined to comment on the matter. If the company collapses it would have "serious consequences for Premier League clubs in England and Scotland, which are awaiting payments totaling millions of pounds." The EPL is "confident it can resell the rights to the 46 games Setanta holds for the 2009-10 season, the final year of its contract," and the league also "believes it could match or exceed" the US$256.7M Setanta paid for the rights "to screen 23 Premier League games each season from 2010-11 if they are put out to offer." Sky Sports "could pick up one of Setanta's two Premier League packages for the 2009-10 season but it is barred from buying both under competition rules." Robinson notes while Sky Sports has been "British sport's major benefactor since the late 80s," Setanta has assembled an "impressive portfolio of rights, wooing less high-profile sports with the promise of more money" and spending close to US$806.7M in under five years. Setanta also owes money to the PGA Tour, boxing organizations, cricket's Indian Premier League, rugby's English Premiership and England's Football Association (FA). The "most powerful sports bodies, including the FA and Premier League, privately claim they have water-tight contracts with Setanta," and they argue the financial backers "have effectively guaranteed Setanta's payments." If Setanta does "go under, that claim could ultimately be tested in the courts." Robinson writes, "Not everyone would rue Setanta's demise but its collapse could herald the end of a golden era for British sport and the vast sums of money on which it has gorged itself for more than a decade" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 6/9).

    DEFAULTING ON CONTRACTS: Sources said that Setanta "could be placed into administration later this week if new funding could not be secured for the business," and such a move would "threaten 430 jobs, including about 200 in Ireland." In Ireland, Ciaran Hancock notes Setanta "has recently tried to renegotiate" its sports rights contracts, "in some cases seeking to shave 25[%] off the costs." Setanta also owns rights to the Scottish Premier League (SPL), but the company yesterday "missed another" US$4.8M payment to the SPL, putting Setanta "in default of its contract with the SPL, which only recently agreed to a new four-year deal with Setanta for live rights to Scottish soccer." Setanta also is due to pay about US$55.6M to the EPL "later this month as part-payment for its live rights" (IRISH TIMES, 6/9).

    Ripples From Disappearance Of
    Setanta Would Spread Broadly
    LEAGUES TAKE A HIT: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Fenton & Blitz report the EPL yesterday was "taking a tough line with Setanta." An EPL source said, "If people can't run their businesses properly and enter into arrangements they can't fulfil, that's not our fault." Meanwhile, Setanta currently has a five-year deal worth US$202M with the SPL, and Liverpool Univ. professor Tom Cannon said, "It would be very hard to replace Setanta at anything like the rates they are paying currently. The ripples from the disappearance of Setanta would spread very broadly" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/9). In London, Ian Fraser wrote the "problem for the SPL is that there is no queue of rival broadcasters waiting to rush in and compete." Fraser: "Having been rescued by Setanta earlier this decade, perhaps it is time for Scottish football to return the favour?" (LONDON TIMES, 6/7).

    EVENTS LIST A TAX ON SPORT? In Manchester, Mark Sweney reports BSkyB has "attacked the government's review of the so-called 'crown jewels' sporting events reserved for free-to-air television, arguing the policy acts as a 'tax on sport' that subsidises terrestrial broadcasters." BSkyB also argues that the policy "reduces competition for media rights," and the broadcaster believes that sports governing bodies "should be allowed to make their own decisions to maximise the value of their TV rights, free of political interference." BSkyB in a filing with the U.K. Department of Culture, Media & Sport said, "Listing an event against the wishes of a sports body means that it becomes a forced seller of its rights and denies it the ability to get a fail deal from its chosen broadcast partners." BSkyB CEO Jeremy Darroch today "staunchly defended BSkyB's position" in the debate over cricket's potential inclusion on the list, saying that terrestrial broadcasters "have no appetite for providing the extensive coverage that it offers and which is needed to build the profile" of the sport (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 6/9).

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  • Twitter Introducing System To Prevent Celebrity Impersonators

    Twitter Will Start Testing Verification Service
    This Summer For Public Officials, Celebrities
    Twitter co-Founder Biz Stone Saturday in a blog post said that the site "will introduce a verification system to insure that famous people are who they say they are" following the recent lawsuit from Cardinals manager Tony La Russa over a fake page set up in his name, according to Verne Kopytoff of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Stone said that Twitter will "start testing a verification service this summer for public officials, public agencies, famous artists, athletes, and other well known individuals at risk of impersonation." The accounts will get a "verification seal so that users will be able to see that they are legitimate." Kopytoff notes Twitter has "long had rules against impersonation, although they were often ignored." If notified, the company "suspended fake accounts," though "some who complained said that they were ignored or that the suspensions took too long to implement" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/9).

    PLAYERS AT RISK: In Philadelphia, Ashley Fox writes it is "simple to pretend to be an athlete -- all you need is a valid e-mail address to sign up for a Twitter account." And while impersonating someone is a violation of the site's terms of service, that "doesn't appear to be much of a deterrent." Twitter has "burst on the scene so quickly that none of the four major pro sports leagues has rules prohibiting athletes from participating," but the NFL is "concerned about Twitter's reach and scope." NFL security officials following April's draft "made their annual presentation to the players on all 32 teams," and this year the presentation covered "online impersonations through social-networking sites, including Twitter, and online gambling." In a 12-minute video as part of the presentation, the league "warned against cyberstalking." Fox notes the "rapid dissemination of information, including false information, could have problematic consequences once the NFL season begins" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/9). In Denver, Dave Krieger writes the downside of Twitter is that "it's the Wild West out there," as "anybody can pretend to be anybody and say anything." A user registered under the name cbillups7 drew "more than 2,000 followers by identifying himself as Chauncey Billups and his location as 'Mile High.'" However, the only Nuggets players "actually on Twitter, as far as the club knows," are Gs J.R. Smith, Dahntay Jones and Sonny Weems (DENVER POST, 6/9).

    NO SETTLEMENT: Twitter's Stone, in a blog post, wrote reports that Twitter "has settled a law suit and officially agreed to pay legal fees" to La Russa are "erroneous." Stone: "Twitter has not settled, nor do we plan to settle or pay. With due respect to the man and his notable work, Mr. La Russa's lawsuit was an unnecessary waste of judicial resources bordering on frivolous. Twitter's Terms of Service are fair and we believe will be upheld in a court that will ultimately dismiss Mr. La Russa's lawsuit" (BLOG.TWITTER.com, 6/6).

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  • TNT Announces Sprint Cup Presence With E-Mailed Video

    Click To Watch "Race Buddy" Signal
    End To Fox' 13-Race Sprint Cup Schedule
    TNT's NASCAR mascot, "Race Buddy," signaled the end of Fox' 13-race Sprint Cup schedule by dropping a manhole cover on "Digger's" trackside home in a video that was e-mailed on Sunday. The video included tune-in information for last Sunday's Pocono 500 race, which was the first of six straight Sprint Cup events on TNT. The video was part of an e-mail blast to viewers who followed the race on NASCAR.com's "Race Buddy" feature, a free enhancement that offers four unique camera angles. The manhole cover on "Digger's" gopher hole signified the end of Fox' schedule and was not intended to be a shot at the Fox mascot.

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  • Media Notes

    Writer Says NBC Announcers, Camera
    Operators Reacted Well To Court Stormer
    SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote NBC's announcers and camera operators "reacted well to the red beret-wearing knucklehead who stormed the court" during Sunday's French Open men's final, in which Roger Federer defeated Robin Soderling. Announcer Ted Robinson "properly referenced the on-court stabbing" of Int'l Tennis HOFer Monica Seles in '93, while "most striking was the camera angle from Federer's side, showing the fear that came over Federer's face before he quickly realized the man was unlikely to harm him" (SI.com, 6/8).

    IN THE SPOTLIGHT: In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht reports NBA Draft prospect F Blake Griffin will be featured in the second season of ESPN's "The Rookie." The show will consist of "three webisodes on ESPN.com and a half-hour special June 30 on ESPNU and ESPN2." Producer Ron Wechsler said that the first "three- to five-minute webisode will debut Wednesday and focus on" the May 19 NBA Draft Lottery. Bracht notes the half-hour special on June 30 will "focus on the June 25 draft in which Griffin is expected to be taken No. 1" by the Clippers (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 6/9).

    WNBA NEWS & NOTES: The WNBA Chicago Sky and Comcast have "reached an agreement to broadcast five games this season" in Chicago on Comcast Channel 100, and have "formed a partnership to present additional Sky content via Comcast Digital On Demand, Channel 1." The on-demand content will include "additional games, team and player special features and game highlights." The Sky also announced a "new TV broadcast team," with Brent Stover serving as play-by-play announcer and Illinois Daily Herald columnist Patricia Babcock McGraw serving as analyst for the five games on Channel 100 (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 6/9)....The WNBA Seattle Storm and FSN Northwest have reached an agreement for the net to televise five Storm games this season (Storm).

    NOTES: In Detroit, Tom Gage reports Tigers radio play-by-play announcer Dan Dickerson "wasn't cleared to travel with the team on its current 11-game trip" due to his "leg injury and subsequent surgery." As a result, Tigers analyst Jim Price and FS Detroit announcer John Keating will be in the radio booth for the road trip (DETROIT NEWS, 6/9)....ESPN Deportes Radio 1540 Dallas has obtained the rights to the Spanish-language broadcasts of MLS FC Dallas' 19 remaining regular-season games this season. The agreement began with Sunday's Earthquakes-FC Dallas game (ESPN Deportes).

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