SBD/Issue 5/Sports Media

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  • CBS To Air November 7 Strikeforce MMA Event Live In Primetime

    Emelianenko(l), Rogers (r) Will Headline CBS'
    Live Primetime Strikeforce MMA Event
    MMA promotion Strikeforce will make its "CBS debut with a live prime time event" from 9:00-11:00pm ET on November 7, the "first network prime time" MMA broadcast since October '08, according to Dave Meltzer of YAHOO SPORTS. Sources said that the event, headlined by Fedor Emelianenko-Brett Rogers, is "not the beginning of a multi-fight contract with CBS, and at this point it is the only network show agreed to." No site has been announced for the show, which was "first slated for Showtime." While Emelianenko is "generally considered the No. 1 heavyweight in the world" in MMA, he is "unproven in terms of the kind of appeal to the casual sports fan that is needed when a show is on a major network in primetime." But a "big advantage is that by holding the event during football season, the network has a target audience to promote toward." Meltzer noted the October '08 EliteXC event on CBS, in which Seth Petruzelli knocked out Kimbo Slice in 14 seconds, "set the wheels in motion for the death" of EliteXC (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/17). MMAJUNKIE.com's Morgan & Stupp reported Showtime Sports for the event "will produce a four-fight main card with a broadcasting team of Gus Johnson, Frank Shamrock and Mauro Ranallo." Strikeforce Dir of Communications Mike Afromowitz said that Emelianenko-Rogers "currently is the only fight officially booked for the show" (MMAJUNKIE.com, 9/17). SHERDOG.com's Loretta Hunt cited sources as saying that Chicago's Sears Centre Arena has "emerged as the frontrunner for the event" (SHERDOG.com, 9/17).

    READY FOR THE CHALLENGE: SHERDOG.com's Jake Rossen noted the November 7 event is just a "week ahead of UFC 105, a Spike broadcast, and two weeks ahead of both boxing's" Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto bout and UFC 106. Rossen: "Maybe Strikeforce is gambling that the UFC won’t have the resources to assemble a show to create three consecutive weeks of programming. ... This leaves the UFC to counter in what they’ve clearly defined as an adversarial relationship with the network: minimal effort means some repackaged shows on Spike" (SHERDOG.com, 9/17).

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  • DirecTV Not Likely To Carry Saturday's BYU-FSU Game On Versus

    DirecTV VP/PR Darris Gringeri said it is "very, very doubtful" that a carriage agreement will be reached with Versus before Saturday's BYU-Florida State college football game on the net, according to Jay Drew of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. DirecTV earlier this month removed Versus from its platform "after the two sides failed to reach a contract agreement, and so millions of college football fans who subscribe to DirecTV will not get" Saturday's game. Versus President Jamie Davis Wednesday said that it "doesn't look like there will be a resolution any time soon." Davis: "Right now it is not looking like there is a near-term solution -- certainly not before this Saturday's big game." Drew writes while DirecTV and Versus "point fingers, call each other names and trade insults," the "real losers are college football fans and, locally, Mountain West Conference [MWC] football programs such as BYU, TCU and Utah that are crying out for more national exposure and respect." DirecTV subscribers missed last Saturday's Texas-Wyoming game on Versus, and "six more MWC games are scheduled to be televised by the fledgling network this season." BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said, "It's a shame. It's very unfortunate. ... It is unfortunate with the contract that negotiations couldn't be reached for the benefit of the subscribers, the fans. And it is too bad. The (MWC's TV) contract in general, from beginning to end, has been less than desired" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 9/18). Davis earlier this week said that he "wouldn't entirely rule out the possibility that his network will resolve its differences before game time on Saturday, but that he 'wouldn't count on' any kind of resolution before then." Davis said of simulcasting the game on The mtn., the MWC's network, "We don't have any rights under our contracts to do that." There also will be "no streaming of the game on any Internet sites" (DESERET NEWS, 9/17).

    BLITZ ATTACK: In Jacksonville, Garry Smits reports Versus has "launched a media blitz" including a half-page ad in the Florida Times-Union Friday and a "blizzard of radio spots in Tallahassee." The ads "make it clear that the FSU-BYU game won't be available to DirecTV subscribers, and an 800 number is provided that, when called, gives a recorded message criticizing DirecTV for dropping Versus" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 9/18). In Utah, Scott Pierce notes fans "want to blame the Mountain West Conference for the Versus-DirecTV breakdown," and that "ought to trouble the league." It is "more evidence of the lingering resentment over the league's TV situation." Pierce: "I'm not for a moment suggesting the criticism is correct. But it is indicative of a deeper problem that never seems to end" (DESERET NEWS, 9/18). Meanwhile, in K.C., Blair Kerkhoff reports the Big 12 "isn't happy" that DirecTV customers will not see Saturday's Duke-Kansas football game on Versus. Big 12 Senior Associate Commissioner Tim Allen: "Obviously we hope they resolve it. Candidly, while it may not be convenient there are opportunities to find the games elsewhere" (K.C. STAR, 9/18).

    WHAT'S COOLER THAN COOL? Davis noted that getting Versus back on DirecTV by October 1 for the start of the '09-10 NHL season "isn't looking particularly promising." Davis: "The two sides are now talking again, and that's a good sign. I'm hoping for an amicable solution, but right now I would have to say that DirecTV is insistent in not budging off this distribution issue. If they stay the way they are, I do not believe this will ... be solved prior to Oct. 1, unfortunately." YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote the NHL "may have to become a more active player in this dispute as time runs short." Davis said, "The NHL is very squarely behind us. And remember, DirecTV pulled us off the air" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/17).

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  • Fox Sports Launches First Episode Of Racy Online Show "Cubed"

    FoxSports.com Vows Nothing Is Off Limits
    For Its New Weekly Online Show "Cubed"
    FoxSports.com Thursday afternoon launched the premiere episode of “Cubed,” a weekly online show that appears will have little -- if anything -- to do with sports. Upon announcing the show on September 9, FoxSports.com vowed “nothing is off limits as this show plans to push the line as far as it will go.” Well, that was one release that told the truth. The debut episode kicks off with a warning that the video contains nudity and graphic language, then takes little time living up to its promise to provide “shock” by including a naked woman in the opening credits after less than 25 seconds. Immediately following the introduction, the opening segment of the Webisode features three young professionals sitting at adjoined cubicles debating the question, “Would you rather watch the WNBA or gay porn?” The characters proceed to take several jabs at WNBA athletes, as well as at the league over its lack of fan support. The ad-free clip, which in total runs just over 16 minutes, goes on to discuss such topics as online dating, sex tapes and overweight celebrities, in addition to showing random videos of bikini-clad women. As the episode winds down, it introduces the final segment: “Naked activity of the week.” The clip shows 15 seconds of a naked woman brushing her teeth, footage accompanied by no commentary or sound bytes. This show is one of five new Webisodes offered by FoxSports.com that will update weekly under the marketing banner “Lunch w/ Benefits" (Brian Helfrich, THE DAILY). SPORTS MEDIA WATCH wrote "Cubed" "may have been more suited for 3 AM on premium cable than a mainstream sports site" (SPORTSMEDIAWATCH.BLOGSPOT.com, 9/17). THE BIG LEAD writes, "We’re all for risk-taking, and bawdy, harmless fun … but what is this doing on FOX Sports?" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 9/18).

    A DIFFERENT APPROACH: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand reports FoxSports.com on Friday is set to debut "Inside Call," allowing viewers to "see Fox NFL studio analysts such as Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy Johnson, at home and using webcams, talk to producers about Sunday's coverage." The online shows, "while being TV-like, wouldn't necessarily work on TV." For instance, "Cubed" is a "change of pace for the Fox Sports brand." But Fox Sports Chair David Hill said that viewers "simply have to remember the difference between TV ... and online -- 'where people have clicked on of their own volition and there's intimacy'" (USA TODAY, 9/18).

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  • WNBA Sees 8.9% Viewer Jump For ESPN2 Regular Season Telecasts

    By Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor

     
    ESPN2 averaged 269,000 viewers for its 12 regular-season WNBA telecasts this season, up 8.9% from 247,000 viewers for 13 telecasts in '08. This season, the league had only the season opener on ABC, compared to eight telecasts on the net last year. Sparks F Candace Parker, the league's reigning WNBA MVP and Rookie of the Year, had her team featured four times on ESPN2 this season, averaging 311,000 viewers, up from 292,000 viewers for three Sparks telecasts on the net last year. Last Sunday also saw the league close the regular season on a high note up against the NFL, as Sparks-Mercury was up 90.7% from last year's final Storm-Sparks game. This year's most-viewed game on ESPN2 was Sky-Sparks on August 25 from 10:14pm-12:01am ET, which earned 449,000 viewers on the heels of a good lead-in audience from a Little League World Series game. Last year's most-viewed game on the net (Sparks-Monarchs) only netted 368,000 viewers. ESPN2 also saw increases in men 18-34 (+9%), 18-49 (+14%) and 25-54 (+23%). In addition, viewing of live games on WNBA.com's new Live Access feature more than tripled this season (THE DAILY).

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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
    RATING
    "NFL on Fox": Redskins-Giants (85%)
    9/13
    Fox
    4:36-7:37pm
    14.8
    "Sunday Night Football": Bears-Packers
    9/13
    NBC
    8:32-11:48pm
    12.6
    NFL Kickoff: Titans-Steelers
    9/10
    NBC
    8:41-11:50pm
    12.8
    "NFL on Fox": (regional)
    9/13
    Fox
    1:03-4:36pm
    8.6
    NFL on CBS: (regional)
    9/13
    CBS
    1:03-4:28pm
    7.1
    "The OT"
    9/13
    Fox
    7:30-8:00pm
    6.8
    NCAA Football: Notre Dame-Michigan
    9/12
    ABC
    3:30-7:23pm
    5.2
    "Football Night In America"
    9/13
    NBC
    7:30-8:15pm
    5.1
    NASCAR Sprint Cup: Chevy Rock & Roll 400
    9/12
    ABC
    7:47-11:30pm
    3.5
    "Fox NFL Sunday "
    9/13
    Fox
    12:00-1:03pm
    3.5
    "The NFL Today"
    9/13
    CBS
    12:00-1:03pm
    2.6
    U.S. Open: Men's Semifinals: Federer-Djokovic
    9/13
    CBS
    4:28-7:25pm
    2.6
    PGA Tour: BMW Championship: Final Round
    9/13
    NBC
    2:00-6:02pm
    2.3
    U.S. Open: Women's Semifinals: Clijsters-S. Williams
    9/12
    CBS
    9:18-11:12pm
    2.1
    PGA Tour: BMW Championship: Third Round
    9/12
    NBC
    3:00-6:02pm
    2.1
    MLB: (regional)
    9/12
    Fox
    4:07-7:30pm
    1.2
    U.S. Open: Men's Quarterfinals, Rainout coverage
    9/12
    CBS
    12:00-6:00pm
    0.9
    TELECAST
    DATE
    NET
    TIME
    U.S.
    CABLE
    VIEWERS (000)
    NCAA Football:
    USC-Ohio State
    9/12
    ESPN
    7:50-11:36pm
    6.3
    7.3
    10,586
    NCAA Football:
    Miami-Florida State
    9/7
    ESPN
    8:00-11:56pm
    5.1
    5.9
    8,406
    NCAA Football:
    UCLA-Tennessee
    9/12
    ESPN
    4:00-7:23pm
    1.9
    2.2
    2,985
    "Sunday NFL Countdown"
    9/13
    ESPN
    11:00am-1:00pm
    2.1
    2.4
    2,945
    NCAA Football:
    South Carolina-Georgia
    9/12
    ESPN2
    7:00-11:25pm
    1.6
    1.8
    2,729
    NCAA Football:
    Clemson-Georgia Tech
    9/10
    ESPN
    7:30-11:11pm
    1.7
    2.0
    2,643
    NCAA Football:
    Fresno State-Wisconsin
    9/12
    ESPN
    12:01-3:33pm
    1.7
    2.0
    2,456
    U.S. Open: Men's,
    Women's Quarterfinals
    9/9
    ESPN2
    7:00-12:17pm
    1.5
    1.8
    2,324
    NCAA Football:
    Cincinnati-Rutgers
    9/7
    ESPN
    4:00-7:19pm
    1.5
    1.7
    2,248
    U.S. Open: Men's Fourth
    Round, Women's Quarterfinals
    9/8
    ESPN2
    7:00pm-12:05am
    1.5
    1.7
    2,128

    READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL: Fox' Week One national game featuring Redskins-Giants was up 13.8% in ratings and 20.1% in viewership from a 13.0 and 20.9 million viewers for the comparable national window featuring Cowboys-Browns last year. The telecast also posted increases over last year across all key adult and male demos, and marked the highest-rated opening Sunday game since '87 and the most-viewed opening Sunday game since tracking began in '81. Fox' early window, featuring either Cowboys-Buccaneers or Vikings-Browns in most markets, was up 68.6% over a 5.1 in Week One last year, and marks the highest-rated Week One early window game since an 8.7 in '01. Meanwhile, "Fox NFL Sunday" was up 13% in ratings over last year while ratings for "The OT" were up 17.2% (Fox)....The Chargers-Raiders "MNF" telecasts in the San Diego market, which was carried on ESPN and the local CBS affiliate, marked the fourth-highest rated regular-season Chargers telecast in the market in the past decade (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/18)....KHOU-CBS earned a 14.3 local rating in Houston for Jets-Texans, the "lowest home audience" in the NFL for opening week (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/18).

    GONE BUT NOT FAVRE-GOTTEN: WITI-Fox earned a 19.5 local rating in the Milwaukee market for the Vikings-Browns game, marking the highest-rated regular-season non-Packers game on the network since a 27.5 for Cowboys-Redskins in December '07. Meanwhile, WTMJ-NBC drew a 41.5 local rating in Milwaukee for Bears-Packers "Sunday Night Football," higher than any Packers game last season except for a 45.5 for the Vikings-Packers season opener in September '08 (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/16).

    YES WE CAN: YES Network is averaging a 4.74 local rating for Yankees telecasts this season through Wednesday night, up 10% over the same period last year. The Yankees pregame show is up 29% over last year, the postgame show is up 7% and "Yankees Batting Practice Today" is up 33%. YesNetwork.com page views also have increased 270% over the same period last year. Meanwhile, from May 27-September 11, primetime Yankees telecasts on YES ranked No. 1 in key demos in the N.Y. DMA 42 of 45 nights (YES).



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  • First Time, Long Time: WFAN-AM's Craig Carton

    Carton Says Average Fan Will Always
    Think Yankees Tickets Are Overpriced
    For this week's installment of "First Time, Long Time," we talk to WFAN-AM's Craig Carton, who co-hosts "Boomer & Carton" on the N.Y.-based station weekdays from 6:00-10:00am ET. Carton took a few minutes to discuss Yankee Stadium ticket prices with Staff Writer Preston Bounds.

    Q: What are your listeners' reactions to the Yankees freezing or lowering most season-ticket prices for next year? Do listeners feel that they are still overpriced?

    Carton: The average fan is always going to think they are overpriced. I think the fact that the Yankees recognized that and are trying to remedy the bad PR that they got was perceived well. But if you go from $1,000 a ticket to $600 a ticket, you're not including many more people in your potential pool of buyers. It was not met with an avalanche of reaction one way or the other.

    Q: Along similar lines, how do listeners feel about the Yankees' playoff ticket pricing structure?

    Carton: Well, like most successful, popular teams, the majority of those tickets go to season-ticket holders, so you're talking about probably less than 1% of the Yankee fan base that can get their hands on playoff tickets. But when you're the Beatles, you're Elvis, and you have tickets people want, why shouldn't you be able to set the marketplace?

    Q: Have the Yankees lost fans because of their ticketing practices in the new ballpark?

    Carton: The blue-collar fan base is certainly not going to as many games, but that's probably across the board in all sports right now. No one's going to say, "Oh, I'm not rooting for the Yankees anymore." They just may not get to go to as many games, which stinks, but it's a sad reality of sports, not just the Yankees.

    Q: Do listeners tend to react positively or negatively to the new Yankee Stadium hosting non-baseball events like a possible college bowl game?

    Carton: Listeners want a World Series championship. They don't care if Notre Dame's playing a game there. They don't care if the NHL does their Winter Classic there in two years. Right now, the only thing people care about is, can the Yankees win a World Series? And everything else doesn't exist.

    Download podcasts of "Boomer & Carton" here.

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  • Media Notes

    CBS this season will stream its entire SEC football schedule live on CBSSports.com, beginning with Saturday's Tennessee-Florida game. The games will be offered free of charge and will include a live chat feature, video preview segments and on-demand highlights throughout the game (CBS). Meanwhile, the Big Ten Network (BTN) will stream at least 200 live events on its Web site this college sports season, doubling its commitment to several Olympic sports (BTN).

    Writer Says John Henry's Blog On
    NESN.com Worth A Bookmark
    STRAIGHT FROM THE OWNER'S MOUTH: In Boston, Chad Finn notes NESN.com has "made an aggressive effort in recent months to become an Internet destination for Boston sports fans," and the "most intriguing addition" debuted last Sunday, when Red Sox Owner John Henry launched a new blog on the Web site. Henry has contributed a second post since, and while his "musings have been about as controversial as vanilla ice cream so far, his blog is worthy of a bookmark" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/18).

    LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD: Score Media Inc. in partnership with Gillette will debut a new TV series titled "Gillette Drafted: The Search for Canada's Next Sportscaster," Monday at 11:30pm ET on The Score. The program's winner will earn a one-year contract with Score Media to become a multi-platform sportscaster, contributing to The Score, theScore.com and ScoreMobile. The winner also will receive a one-year spokesperson contract with Gillette (Score Media).

    NOTES: Westchester Journal News Yankees beat writer Peter Abraham wrote he is leaving the paper after nearly 10 years to work for the Boston Globe. Abraham will be covering baseball and the Red Sox and blogging for Boston.com (LHBLOGS.com, 9/17)....San Diego's XEPRS-AM has hired former KLSD-AM radio host Lee Hamilton to "host a four-hour talk show every weekday" from 3:00-7:00pm PT beginning October 5. XEPRS will be the third area station to "host Hamilton's show over the past two decades" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/18).

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