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SBD/Issue 35/Sports MediaPrint All
Fox Earns 13.6 Overnight Nielsen Rating,
Up 47.8% From Last Year
OFF TO A GREAT START: Fox Sports Senior VP/Media Relations Lou D'Ermilio: "There's a definite buzz to this matchup, and based on the audience for Game 1, we're off to a terrific start. If we're lucky to get a long series with compelling games, this should be the most-watched World Series in several years" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/30). In N.Y., Michael Starr writes the World Series "has returned as a TV event after years of striking out with viewers." Horizon Media Senior VP and Corporate Research Dir Brad Adgate: "It's a little surprising the audience was that big for Game 1. Those numbers are extraordinary. ... I would say, yes, baseball is back regarding the World Series. If this year's series goes six games or longer, they could be getting 20-million-plus viewers a night" (N.Y. POST, 10/30). In Houston, David Barron writes, "All logical thought dictates that the network will show substantial improvement over last year's weather-beaten Phillies-Rays series" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/30). YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Kaduk wrote, "It's funny. Everyone outside of New York and Boston pitches fits over how no one wants to watch the Yankees and Red Sox that much and yet the only recent World Series to post any great numbers have involved both those teams" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/29).
BROTHERLY LOVE FOR THE PHILLIES: Philadelphia topped all markets for Game Two with a 42.5 rating, while N.Y. earned a 29.8 (THE DAILY). In Philadelphia, Rich Hofmann notes WTXF-Fox earned a 44.5 local rating in the market for Game One, and "given that television ratings for the World Series tend to build as the drama of the series plays out," this year's event "has a chance to beat the television numbers put up" by the '93 Blue Jays-Phillies World Series, which averaged a 45.3 local rating in Philadelphia. By comparison, the Cardinals-Eagles NFC Championship game in January earned a 44.3 local rating in Philadelphia (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 10/30).
Fox Announcers Say Yankees Crowd Quiet
During Thursday's World Series Game Two
VETERAN TEAM: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Steve Kornacki writes there is "one thing you can count on when the World Series rolls around: Joe Buck and Tim McCarver will be chatting away during the TV broadcast." This year's World Series "marks the 12th World Series" for Buck and McCarver as a broadcast team. The following chart presents the announcer pairings that have called the most championship games since '70 (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/30).EVENTPAIR# OF YEARS (GAMES)NCAA Final FourJim Nantz/Billy Packer18 (54)
World Series Joe Buck/Tim McCarver12 (59) Stanley Cup Finals Gary Thorne/Bill Clement12 (57) Super Bowl Pat Summerall/John Madden8 (8) NBA Finals Dick Stockton/Tom Heinsohn4 (25) BCS Title Game Thom Brennaman/Charles Davis3 (3)
FRESH VOICE: In Ft. Worth, Ray Buck writes under the header, "Ozzie Guillen Adds Pizzazz To Fox's World Series Broadcast." White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is serving as a guest studio analyst for the network's pre- and postgame shows, and "from a technical standpoint, Guillen could stand to slow down a bit with his rapid-fire commentary and maybe quiet his left hand." Buck: "But I like him on TV. So does the camera. And, trust me, he won't get out-talked." Guillen said, "I'm just trying to be myself and do what I do best. Hopefully, everything comes out all right" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/30).
Q: Have the first four documentaries exceeded your expectations for the series?
Littmann: Definitely. Of the four, the only one -- based on subject alone -- that really interested me was "Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?" That being said, I’ve loved all four and been drawn to subjects I wouldn’t have invested time in otherwise.
Duffy: I don't think they have exceeded my expectations, but my expectations were high initially. I thought two of the films were fantastic and two needed a little work. I haven't been overwhelmed or underwhelmed, just whelmed.
Fang: They have. I've been quite impressed with them. The four that have aired to date have been done very well. Very glad to see the directors were given plenty of autonomy for their subject matters.
Q: What could the films do better?
Littmann: In the case of the USFL film, there was probably a greater need to focus on one subject. It tried to give an awful lot of history while also tackling the matter of why it failed. Stories about some of the owners could’ve been documentaries unto themselves.
Duffy: Though it's difficult with an hour to work with, I think the films could do better incorporating a narrative arc. The films are meant to capture an event, but the context before and afterward are what make the event important. Because these are not omniscient narrator type documentaries on the history channel, the imagery needs to tell the story. In some films this was done brilliantly, in others it has been lacking.
Fang: I thought the USFL documentary could have been quicker paced. It dragged a bit in the middle. For "Kings Ransom" on the Wayne Gretzky trade from Edmonton to Los Angeles, there was too much grainy video, maybe less of a dependence on that, plus I thought director Peter Berg was on too much. Other than that, the documentaries were just about right.
Q: Bill Simmons notably said the series would outshine HBO Sports, more or less. Was Simmons off base with that prediction?
Littmann: I think he’s right, in that these films have gone after subjects that are really virgin soil. Compare that to HBO’s next project, which is on Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Now, that isn’t to say it won’t be well done, but haven’t we seen a million pieces on these two together?
Duffy: I haven't really watched that many HBO documentaries, so I'm not really sure.
Fang: Typical Bill Simmons, he has a tendency to overhype. I don't think "30 for 30" will outshine HBO Sports because HBO usually takes its time and does about 4-6 documentaries a year. If the future documentaries in the "30 for 30" series are not done as well as the first four efforts, then there's no chance that ESPN's efforts will outshine HBO. There's nothing wrong with having two sports network documentary units. There's room for both. And there's no need for ESPN to be better than HBO. They can be equals.
Littman Says "Muhammad And Larry"
Easily The Best "30 For 30" Thus Far
Littmann: "Muhammad and Larry" is easily the best of the first four because the documentary is largely left to stand alone without any sort of personal bias from the filmmaker. Of the remaining films, I’m undoubtedly looking forward to "No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson." I’m drawn to knowing the intimate details of how it all happened, and Steve James, who did "Hoop Dreams," should do an incredible job.
Duffy: I thought "Muhammad and Larry" was the best. I'm looking forward to "Jordan Rides The Bus" because I think it's one of the most weird and fascinating sports events in my lifetime. It's probably the conspiracy theorist in me, but I'm not sure we'll ever get the full story there.
Fang: Of the four, I liked "Muhammad and Larry" the best. Director Albert Maysles was able to cull from his own historical footage to make a very powerful documentary on the 1980 Muhammad Ali-Larry Holmes fight. The film was done very well and it was good to see updated interviews with Larry Holmes and members of the Ali circus. This is one subject I would have liked to have seen HBO handle.
Q: ESPN hands you the reins to the 31st documentary -- what's your topic and what's your title?
Littmann: This might sound strange, but I was a big baseball card collector growing up, and that industry has fallen off harder than the stock market last year. I’d love something that looks at the rise and fall and some people who absolutely lost their shirt. I had multiple card/hobby shops near my home growing up, but they’ve all been gone for years now. I’d love to see how it correlates to the MLB strike and steroid era, too.
Duffy: "Flash In The Pan -- The Story of the NASL."
Fang: Being a lifelong Red Sox fan, I would focus on the 2004 Red Sox World Series Championship. The title, "Breaking the Drought."
PACKING QUITE A PUNCH: NPR's Linda Holmes reviewed the series under the header, "Why Even People Who Hate Sports Should Be Watching ESPN's '30 For 30.'" The documentaries are "excellent, insightful television," whether you "care about sports or not." Holmes noted it is "hard to get me interested in boxing," but "Muhammad And Larry" is "fantastic, because it does what all four episodes I've seen so far have done: it approaches stories about sports as stories about people." These films are "not stories about athletes as titans, really, except in the sense that they are done with a keen understanding that being a titan carries personal consequences." All four documentaries thus far are "all aimed at answering seemingly perplexing questions -- 'How did that happen?'" Holmes: "When you're asking great questions about why things happen, it doesn't really matter whether the background is politics or sports or romance or the military" (NPR.org, 10/28).
MOMENT IN THE SUN: In Newark, Alan Sepinwall wrote "Muhammad and Larry" tells the "ultimately happy story" of Larry Holmes, who "never got much respect as champ, in part because everyone felt bad about the whupping he laid on Ali, in part because he was a fairly bland, unassuming guy" compared to previous heavyweight champions. It feels "oddly refreshing to see a relatively well-adjusted champ, one who gets so much obvious, simple pleasure out of listening to songs written about him, and who's perfectly happy to still be living in his hometown" of Easton, Pennsylvania (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/28). However, Holmes said that he "felt discredited" by the documentary. Holmes: "They did too much about Muhammad Ali on the drug situation. They said he was taking thyroid pills, and that the pills were doing this and that. As far as that goes, it discredits me because they're telling me now that this man was on drugs, and that's the reason that I probably beat him like I beat him" (FANHOUSE.com, 10/28).
Packers-Vikings "MNF" Game Became
Most-Watched Program Ever On Cable TV
BLOWOUT BLUES: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes Fox' "antiquated policy of the way it handles blowout games sent you back to a bygone era last weekend, a time when there were just a handful of network-dictated viewing options." Fox first "flexed its muscles by removing the originally scheduled" Falcons-Cowboys game "in favor" of the Bears-Bengals game in the St. Louis market. That move is "debatable," but what "isn't debatable is that local viewers were scalded when that game quickly deteriorated into a mongrel and Fox was unable to switch to a competitive contest." The Bengals led 31-3 at halftime, but Fox Sports VP/Communications Dan Bell said, "Technically, we weren't capable to make the switch from the Bears game. We were just technically capable to make the switch from the Atlanta-Dallas game in the event that was lopsided" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/30).
Eagle Can Be Heard
Regularly On CBS
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN: On Long Island, Neil Best writes ESPN analyst and former Mets manager Bobby Valentine and former ESPN analyst and Mets GM Steve Phillips, who was recently dropped by the net, working together on the ESPN set "would have been a delicious, outside-the-lines subplot at the World Series." Valentine: "I was really looking forward to it. I thought we could have been a real dynamite duo." Valentine added, "The things we could have bantered about. ... It could've been a good little niche for the show" (NEWSDAY, 10/30). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand wonders, "Will -- or should -- Steve Phillips get another shot on TV sports?" One should not "assume Phillips won't be back on-air." TNT's Marv Albert is "back as a prominent announcer" after pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault in '97. Harold Reynolds also was fired in '06 by ESPN after the net alleged that he had "repeated 'sexual misconduct' with staffers and an intern," but he is "now big on MLB Network." Hiestand writes Phillips as a result of his highly-publicized affair with a production assistant is "now much more well-known -- a big plus in TV -- but now needs to seem hugely repentant" (USA TODAY, 10/30).
ROOKIES OF THE YEAR: In Miami, Barry Jackson awards his "Best TV rookies" award to NBC studio analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison. While ESPN's Jon Gruden has a "commanding TV presence," Harrison and Dungy provide "refreshing candor in NBC's studio." ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski also has a "more critical edge than Gruden, and that sometimes translates into sharper analysis" (MIAMI HERALD, 10/30).
PERSONNEL MOVES: The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin reported Rogers Sportsnet's Mike Toth "has been let go." Toth has been a "featured host for Sportsnet's Connected newscasts, but lately had been spending more time doing radio with The Fan 590 and posting to Sportsnet.ca" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 10/28)....CSN Chicago has informed former Blackhawks studio host Josh Mora, "whose contract is up in February, that it won't be re-signing him" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 10/25)....Former NHLer Jeremy Roenick will be a "regular contributor" to TSN's "Off The Record" (TORONTO STAR, 10/30).
The chart below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts (THE DAILY).TELECASTDATENETTIMERATING"NFL on Fox": Falcons-Cowboys (56%)10/25Fox4:17-7:27pm16.8"NFL on Fox": (regional)10/25Fox1:03-4:11pm11.4ALCS: Yankees-Angels: Game Six10/24Fox8:17pm-12:03am9.3
"Sunday Night Football": Cardinals-Giants10/25NBC8:31-11:42pm9.1 "NFL on CBS": (single)10/25CBS1:06-4:08pm6.4 NCAA Football: (regional)10/24ABC3:30-7:01pm4.5 NCAA Football: Tennessee-Alabama10/24CBS3:30-7:01pm3.6 NCAA Football: (regional)10/24ABC8:06-11:26pm3.4 "Football Night In America"10/25NBC7:30-8:15pm3.5 "Fox NFL Sunday"10/25Fox12:00-1:00pm3.3 NASCAR Sprint Cup: Tums Fast Relief 50010/25ABC1:30-5:32pm2.9 "The NFL Today"10/25CBS12:00-1:00pm2.2 NCAA Football: Boston College-Notre Dame10/24NBC3:43-7:15pm2.2 Figure Skating: Halloween On Ice (taped)10/25NBC4:00-6:00pm1.2 World Gymnastics Championships (taped)10/25NBC2:00-4:00pm1.1 World Gymnastics Championships (taped)10/24NBC1:30-3:30pm1.0 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating (taped)10/25NBC12:00-2:00pm0.8 "College Football Today"10/24CBS3:00-3:30pm0.8 PBR Built Ford Tough Race to Vegas (taped)10/25CBS5:00-6:00pm0.7TELECASTDATENETTIMEU.S.CABLEVIEWERS (000)"Monday Night Football":
Game Five10/21TBS8:00-11:57pm5.05.77,978NCAA Football:
Florida State-North Carolina10/22ESPN8:00-11:42pm2.02.32,973
"Sunday NFL Countdown"10/25ESPN11:00am-1:00pm1.72.02,321 "Monday Night Countdown"10/19ESPN7:00-8:30pm1.41.72,078 NCAA Football: Auburn-LSU10/24ESPN27:30-10:56pm1.21.41,938 "College GameDay"10/24ESPN10:00am-12:01pm1.31.51,813
OCTOBERFEST: ESPN and ESPN2 both posted their most-watched Octobers in history on a 24-hour basis. ESPN averaged 1.294 million viewers for the month, up 14.8% over 1.127 million viewers from the same period in '08, beating the record set in '06. ESPN2 averaged 336,000 viewers for the month, up 5.3% over 319,000 viewers for October '08, beating the record set in '07 (THE DAILY).
GRIDIRON WATCH: KDFW-Fox earned a 33.8 local rating and 858,520 HHs in Dallas-Ft. Worth for last Sunday's Falcons-Cowboys game, equaling the combined local rating the team drew for the September 28 Panthers-Cowboys "MNF" game, which aired in Dallas on ESPN and KTXA-Ind (DALLASNEWS.com, 10/26)....WVUE-Fox earned a 49.3 local rating in New Orleans for last Sunday's Saints-Dolphins game, topping a 45.7 local rating and 47.2 rating in the market for Super Bowl XLIII and XLII, respectively (NOLA.com, 10/26)....WXIX-Fox earned a 39.0 local rating and 358,254 HHs in Cincinnati for last Sunday's Bears-Bengals game, marking the highest-rated Bengals game since a 45.2 local rating for Colts-Bengals in November '05 (CINCINNATI.com, 10/26). Meanwhile, WFLD-Fox drew a 25.9 local rating in Chicago for Bears-Bengals, marking the "lowest-rated game of the year" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 10/27).
Wise Says Not Many People Calling
In About Post's Coverage Of Redskins
Q: How much have callers focused on the recent feud between the Washington Post and the Redskins? Are listeners following it?
Wise: It's pretty miniscule, the number of people who actually call in and say, "The Post should be more positive," or "The Post needs to get after these guys." The whole time Donovan was talking, I didn't want to steer him away from it, because I wanted to give him his say. But at some point, I just thought to myself, "Does anybody out there really care that the Redskins believe the Washington Post is really at the head of this conspiracy?" I threw out a question once to listeners asking if the media was part of why the Redskins are doing so badly. And out of 20 calls we took, maybe one mentioned that we have it out for the team, and I'm not sure that one was a legit caller.
Q: Roughly what percentage of listeners calling in to your show make direct reference to Redskins Owner Dan Snyder and Exec VP/Football Operations Vinny Cerrato when discussing the team's problems?
Wise: Vinny and Dan have become the universal punching bags on the station. And frankly, I don't like that. Because one, I don't like personal attacks. But the main reason I don't like it is it kind of promotes the idea that this is where you can air your grievances about the team, and it turns into whiny radio. It's just become a cliché at this point to use Dan as a punching bag.
Q: How do listeners feel about the Redskins' shift in policy regarding signs at games? Do they buy any of the explanations offered by the team?
Wise: We didn't know this until after the Donovan interview, but the Washington Post's Dan Steinberg told me he's gotten tons of e-mails and pictures of signs, and the team actually passed out Geico signs Monday to fans. After the Donovan interview, we took reaction calls, and a woman named Catherine Kidwell called and said on Monday, a field security person took a sign from her about her son that read, "Sgt. Kidwell, No. 1 Redskins Fan. God Watch Over You In Iraq. We Love You." At the end of the call, she was almost crying.
Q: How do the different pro sport organizations in DC handle the media? Are other teams as confrontational as the Redskins have been of late?
Wise: It's a weird thing, because Redskins Exec VP/Communications Zack Bolno doesn't have that bent about him at all. For me to say that the Redskins deal with the media awfully is not fair -- their players are available, they put you together with people who are interested in talking to you. But the problem is, the people who don't talk are at the top of the organization. The Wizards are great. The Capitals are above and beyond. They're No. 1 in terms of dealing with the media, and that's a reflection of their owner.
Q: Could the Redskins ever turn off enough fans that they would no longer be the most-cared-about team in town?
Wise: No, it’s always going to be a Redskins town. The Wizards and Caps could make tremendous inroads if they won a championship. But when you talk to the people in and around DC about those 12 years when their burgundy and gold won three Lombardi trophies, they sound like they're talking about their grandfather taking them to an ice cream shop and paying 25 cents for a double-scoop. Sometimes, I want to blame the fans. They're the enablers.
Hear podcasts of WJFK-FM's "The Mike Wise Show," which airs weekdays from 10:00am-2:00pm ET. "The Mike Wise Show" airs weekdays on WJFK-FM from 10:00am-2:00pm ET.
In Atlanta, Rodney Ho reported WGCL-CBS is "handing over all sports duties" to WQXI-AM, in a move that "should save WGCL-TV a few bucks." WGCL News Dir Steve Schwaid said that the "outsourcing was a way to continue the same amount of sports coverage but free up cash to expand regular news programming." Schwaid: "This will give us even more sports content over the next few years. I think this give[s] us more flexibility in the world of sports. The analogy I use is how ABC News uses ESPN for its sports coverage." Ho noted WGCL sports anchors Gil Tyree and Mark Harmon "will be let go at some point early in the new year but will continue with their regular duties for the next few weeks" (AJC.com, 10/28).
STUCK IN NEUTRAL: In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich notes the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) "applied for its own channel almost two years ago and has yet to be granted a hearing on its application," as the COC's "boldest venture ever is stuck in neutral and in danger of slipping into reverse." COC CEO Chris Rudge: "We're quite frustrated. We would have expected a hearing by now and instead we're being told it will be some time until there will be one" (TORONTO STAR, 10/30).
DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF BASEBALL? MLBAM has released a beta version of its popular MLB.com At Bat mobile application for the Android platform. The application, free for the duration of the World Series, will contain live game audio, game-day statistics and updates, video clips, and other content. The mobile version of Postseason.TV, however, remains tied to the iPhone and iTouch devices. The Android test effort is a run-up for a potential full version in ‘10 (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).