SBD/Issue 21/Sports Media

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  • TBS Continues To See Ratings Jump For Divisional Series Coverage

    The three MLB Divisional Series (LDS) games on TBS yesterday averaged a 3.5 metered-market rating, up 9.4% from a 3.2 rating for the three games on the comparative fifth day of the postseason in '08. The Angels' 7-6 series-clinching win over the Red Sox in Game Three of their ALDS matchup drew a 5.9 local rating in the L.A. market and a 14.8 rating in the Boston market. The Yankees' 4-1 win over the Twins in Game Three of that series, which also was the series finale, drew a 16.1 local rating in the N.Y. market and a 22.9 rating in Minneapolis/St. Paul. The Phillies' 6-5 Game Three win over the Rockies drew a 16.9 local rating in Philadelphia and a 19.6 rating in Denver (THE DAILY).

    '09 GAME
    '08 GAME
    % +/-
    Angles-Red Sox 12:00-4:07pm
    Yankees-Twins 7:00-10:40pm
    Rays-White Sox
    Phillies-Rockies 10:40pm-2:22am
    Angels-Red Sox

    MLB Receives Criticism For Scheduling
    Phillies-Rockies Games So Late
    MISPLACED PRIORITIES: MLB postponed Phillies-Rockies Game Three on Saturday due to cold weather and snow, moving the game to last night at 10:07pm ET. MLB VP/Business PR Matt Bourne said the league "set the schedule before the Cardinals were knocked out" by the Dodgers on Saturday, preventing MLB from playing Phillies-Rockies earlier yesterday. Bourne: "In order to change the time (and) give fans and everyone involved putting the game on less than 20 hours to be made aware of the time change, that's just not really enough time" (USA TODAY, 10/12). YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Kaduk wrote scheduling Phillies-Rockies for 10:07pm last night was a "monumentally stupid scheduling move" by MLB, and it forces the question "why MLB is so beholden to TBS and Fox that they're playing night games in the cold and dark Denver night, instead of the relatively more accommodating afternoons." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "can't control the weather, but he and his schedule makers could sure use a lot more common sense in anticipating and avoiding the worst of it" (, 10/10). In Philadelphia, Phil Sheridan notes Phillies-Rockies Game Three originally was scheduled for 9:37pm ET Saturday, and "no sane person could defend" that start time. Sheridan: "When it comes to selling programming to the highest bidder, MLB and pretty much every other sports entity are prepared to play their games at 3 a.m. on Christmas Day at the bottom of the ocean -- as long as the check clears" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/10). In St. Petersburg, John Romano writes MLB officials "hand over the most important time of their season to network television executives to do whatever they please with the playoff schedule." Phillies fans in Philadelphia "had to stay up until 2 o'clock Monday morning to watch" Phillies-Rockies, while Angels fans in Anaheim yesterday "were treated to a 9 a.m. start" for Game Three of the team's series against the Red Sox. Romano: "There is simply no justification for these schedule decisions" (, 10/12).

    STILL MISSING THE MARK: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote TBS announcer Chip Caray is "erratic," and that is "being kind." The fact Turner Sports officials "placed Caray in such a high profile gig, and continue to stick with him, is a mystery for the ages." Caray Friday during the network's coverage of Yankees-Twins Game Two "totally blew a promo for the new George Lopez show." Caray said, "It's 'Lopez Tonight' weekends." After silence, Caray continued, "I think I meant to say weeknights." Raissman wrote, "Why, through all the errors and scathing critiques, do they stick with him? Maybe it's a contractual thing? Or maybe it's out of loyalty" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/11). Also in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes Caray "doesn’t just talk fancy nonsense, he has no grasp of baseball beyond a clichéd, elementary level." Meanwhile, TBS "often keeps that PitchTrax gizmo thing on the screen … adding to the clutter" (N.Y. POST, 10/12).

    ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes TBS is producing "more hits than errors during the postseason this year, even though Chip Caray's glitches have caught national attention." TBS' Brian Anderson and Joe Simpson "kept the first two Rockies-Phillies NLDS games in clear focus." Anderson and Simpson are "broadcasting with the assumption that most national viewers are avid, or at least knowledgeable, baseball fans," thus the "yakety-yak about each pitch and swing has been minimal" (DENVER POST, 10/12). The N.Y. POST's Mushnick wrote Anderson and Simpson "have helped make Phillies-Rockies a good watch and an even better listen," as they "don't choose to analyze every pitch and swing nor are they inclined to decorate their thoughts with extra fancy." They have been "alert, yet relaxed, pleasant and amusing without being silly or shticky," and when something happens, they "sound excited, not hysterical." Anderson and Simpson "let the telecasts breathe, allow games to sometimes speak for themselves" (N.Y. POST, 10/11).

    Orsillo Praised For Not Having
    Red Sox Bias During ALDS
    WEST COAST COVERAGE: In L.A., Diane Pucin wrote though TBS' Don Orsillo is a "regular Red Sox broadcaster," Angels fans "shouldn't be able to find a hint of bias" in his coverage of the Angels-Red Sox series. Orsillo "has been nothing but fair," but he "still shouldn't have been assigned to this series" (L.A. TIMES, 10/10). Pucin noted announcers can help fans "when the team on the road is batting because you're not going to get that big roar" when the road team succeeds. But by the "monotone voices" of Orsillo and Buck Martinez when Angels 1B Kendry Morales hit a home run during yesterday's Angels-Red Sox Game Three, it was "hard immediately to know that Kendry's ball was long gone" (, 10/11).

    DODGE BALL: The TIMES' Pucin wrote in the third inning of Dodgers-Cardinals Game Three, Dodgers 1B James Loney was "safe at first" on a play, while Dodgers LF Manny Ramirez moved to third base. But TBS announcer Dick Stockton said, "Manny safe at first." Pucin added she "hoped there would be more discussion in the later innings" of the game when the outcome "seemed pretty clear, about whether the effect of the Colorado-Philadelphia snow-out would be positive, negative or neutral, on the Dodgers" (L.A. TIMES, 10/11).

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  • Getting Air: CBS Sees Slight Jump For Broncos' OT Win Over Pats

    CBS' NFL national window telecast yesterday earned a 14.3 overnight Nielsen rating with Patriots-Broncos, up 2.1% from Week Five last year, when CBS featured Bengals-Cowboys in the national window. NBC earned a 10.8 overnight rating for its "SNF" broadcast of Colts-Titans, up 5.9% from the comparable Steelers-Jaguars game from '08. Fox' lone window for the day averaged a 10.6 overnight, up 7.1% from Week Five last year (THE DAILY).

    NET '09 GAME
    '08 GAME  
    % +/-
    Fox (single)
    CBS (regional)
    CBS Patriots-Broncos
    NBC Colts-Titans

    BOOTH REVIEW: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes CBS' announcers and production crew yesterday "provided a huge nationwide audience with first-rate coverage" of Patriots-Broncos. CBS' Phil Simms and Jim Nantz "constantly reminded viewers about the teacher-pupil relationship between" Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Broncos coach Josh McDaniels. The net's cameras also "captured McDaniels on the Broncos' sideline at key times when the Denver coach was uttering phrases that probably made lip readers blush" (DENVER POST, 10/12). Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes Fox' broadcast team of Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan "might be even better" than Fox' No. 1 broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Jones ranks Rosen and Ryan third among NFL broadcast teams, behind NBC's Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth and ESPN's "MNF" crew of Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/12).

    TOUGH POSITION TO BE IN: In Dallas, Barry Horn wrote if Collinsworth, Gruden or Simms makes a negative comment about Cowboys QB Tony Romo's play, it "usually disappears into thin air." But if Aikman, who played for the Cowboys from '89-'00, "says something that could be construed as negative, it becomes news and often takes on a news-cycle life of its own." Aikman said that he also "hears it from fans and media critics up and down the East Coast if he compliments Romo during a broadcast or compares him favorably to other quarterbacks." Aikman: "I always say I am not a Tony Romo apologist. I know he has special talents, but when I say that, some critics scoff at that" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/10).

    RATINGS GOLD:'s Peter King writes he believes ESPN's "MNF" has a "good chance to make ratings hay right now, and for the rest of the season." Last Monday's Packers-Vikings game was the highest-rated show in cable television history, and "with the exception of Baltimore-Cleveland and Tennessee-Houston, the Monday night slate in Week 8 and beyond is strong." The net's schedule of games "could turn out to be the deepest schedule ESPN has had" since acquiring "MNF" rights beginning with the '06 season (, 10/12).

    JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH: DAILY VARIETY's Stuart Levine noted not only are ratings "up for every football carrier this fall," but audiences also are "tuning in to the seemingly endless pregame and postgame shows." Production values for the shows have "risen dramatically over the past few years and salaries for both ex-jocks and longtime anchors and analysts have remained high." Yet in "drawing fans to their big games" with pregame shows, networks are "fully cognizant that expensive rights fees paid to the NFL need to be offset by advertiser-friendly high ratings." Fox Sports Chair & CEO David Hill said that a "well-executed pregame show is an essential ingredient to maximize ratings." Hill: "I've always seen the pregame show as a bunch of guys at a bar that you want to eavesdrop on." NFL Net Exec Producer Eric Weinberger: "We're pretty sure there's never enough football at this point. There's so much interest" (DAILY VARIETY, 10/10).

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  • Comcast-NBC Merger Could Create Potential Competitor To ESPN

    Comcast and GE officials “see the creation of a combined sports business as a key benefit” of a potential merger of Comcast's cable networks with GE's NBC Universal (NBCU), according to sources cited by Sam Schechner of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Comcast Programming Group President Jeff Shell in June said that “expanding the sports business at his cable networks was the ‘top of our list over the next five years.’” Schechner notes if Comcast’s bid to control NBCU succeeds, it would advance Shell’s goal "overnight, creating a potential new rival” to ESPN. Paired with NBC, Comcast “could get a bigger slice of a large sports TV market,” as the expanded NBCU would combine both companies’ rights to college football, hockey and golf. It also would have NBC’s rights to the Olympics in '10 and '12 and NFL “SNF” games through '13. In addition, a deal would give NBC Sports “access to cable subscription fees, which would put it in a better position to keep up with growing sports-rights costs.” Comcast’s Versus and Golf Channel “already receive about $400[M] in yearly subscription fees.” Comcast also “could try to push paid distribution for NBC’s fledgling Universal Sports channel,” and a source said that Comcast could “put large swathes of Olympics footage” on its VOD service. Schechner notes if Comcast “succeeds in building a stronger sports business, the company and other cable operators might gain better leverage when negotiating the fees they pay ESPN.” Pilson Communications President Neal Pilson said, “If this merger goes through, they become a much, much stronger competitor to ESPN. And they threaten to dominate CBS and Fox” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/12).

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  • Skate Sharpener: NBC To Air Grand Prix Of Figure Skating Series

    NBC agreed to broadcast the Int'l Skating Union Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series, marking the first time in six years the series will be on broadcast TV. Through a partnership with U.S. Figure Skating, NBC will carry 12 hours of live and taped coverage from five Grand Prix events and the Grand Prix Final. As part of the deal, Universal Sports will carry more than 50 hours of coverage, including rebroadcasts of NBC's telecasts. U.S. Figure Skating picked up the Grand Prix Series rights this summer from the ISU.

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  • Media Notes

    In N.Y., Stephanie Clifford reports while print advertising is "in miserable straits right now," special issues "seem to be the one thing attracting ad dollars." Publishers Information Bureau data indicated that ad pages for ESPN The Magazine "were down about 24[%] in the first six months of this year from the same period a year earlier," but the magazine's Body Issue is the "biggest October issue" revenue-wise ever. Meanwhile, SI ad pages are down 21.6% overall. But the magazine will produce "six special issues this year, including a college football preview in August and a [NFL] preview in September." The NFL preview issue "had about 86 pages of ads this year, up more than 50[%] from the same issue last year." The college football issue was up 15% (N.Y. TIMES, 10/12).

    Citizen Sports Counting On Facebook
    Community To Help Elevate Its Game
    FANTASY CAMP: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Nando Di Fino reports Citizen Sports Inc. is "banking on the growing Facebook community to help elevate its game," as the company "signed up over 1 million players for its fantasy football game this year -- its second in existence." Facebook lists "over 600,000 participants as active, meaning they check in on the game and play regularly." Meanwhile, Pepsi Max, Ford and Samsung "have already signed up to sponsor specific parts of the 2009 game." And because of the unique nature of Facebook, Citizen Sports "has the chance to make money beyond sponsorships," as the company "hopes to add to the pot with micropayments, several add-ons to the game that players can buy for small fees" (, 10/12).

    MIXED REVIEW: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick noted Golf Channel's coverage of the Presidents Cup "reunited the ex-ABC pair ... Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger." Mushnick: "What a treat!" But the network "still can aggravate." On Thursday and Friday, "after repeatedly showing a crawl giving the day-end leaders of the European Tour's Madrid Masters, to keep leaving live coverage of the Presidents Cup ... for a studio report on the Madrid event just seemed like a foolish way for Golf Channel to prove what it has and what it can do" (N.Y. POST, 10/11).

    NOT FINISHED YET: HOF baseball writer Hal McCoy has agreed to work for the Dayton Daily News "in a freelance capacity." McCoy will "continue to write his popular Ask Hal column on Sundays," and he also "will continue to interact with fans through his blog" on McCoy is retiring as the Reds' beat reporter for the newspaper after 37 years (DAYTON DAILY NEWS, 10/11).

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