SBD/Issue 48/Sports Media

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  • ESPN's Ravens-Browns Lowest "MNF" Rating For '09 Season

    ESPN Earns 7.4 Metered-Market Rating For
    Ravens-Browns, Lowest This Season
    ESPN earned a 7.4 metered-market rating for its Ravens-Browns telecast Monday, marking the lowest "MNF" rating this season to date. The game is down 12.9% from an 8.5 rating for 49ers-Cardinals in Week 10 last year. In Baltimore, the game earned 14.4 rating on ESPN and a 15.6 on WJZ-CBS, while in Cleveland, the game earned a 12.3 rating on ESPN and a 17.5 rating on WJW-Fox (THE DAILY).

    LOOKING LONG-TERM: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes in persuading "MNF" analyst Jon Gruden "not to coach anytime soon," ESPN "no doubt raised his salary" as part of his multi-year extension. And it is possible that any team trying to hire Gruden "would have to pay the network to pry him loose." Gruden is "not a great analyst yet," but he is "highly knowledgeable and exuberant." And like "most former coaches, he analyzes plays well." ESPN Exec VP/Production Norby Williamson said that he "cautioned Gruden against using jargon and overusing superlatives." But Williamson added, "We've focused on not overcoaching him." Sandomir offers Gruden some feedback, writing he he "can be critical without being mean." It also is important to "detail your case." Gruden during Monday's Ravens-Browns game said Browns coach Eric Mangini is a "heck of a coach." Sandomir: "If Mangini ... is better than his 1-8 record this season shows, tell us why." Williamson said that Gruden's "reticence to criticize Mangini directly might emanate from knowing the pressures of coaching a bad or rebuilding team." However, Sandomir notes Gruden "must learn to call a game as if he will never coach one again" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/18).

    STILL ON THE MARKET? NFL.com's Vic Carucci wrote he does not "buy the speculation" that Gruden's new ESPN deal means he is "off the coaching market for 2010 and beyond." Carucci: "When the end of the season arrives and teams begin calling with an opportunity for him to coach and be the primary person in charge of a football operation, you can be certain Gruden will listen." Industry sources indicated that it is "unlikely his salary comes anywhere close to the $5[M] or so per year he could easily be offered by a struggling team looking for new direction" (NFL.com, 11/17).

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  • Hill Topper: NFL Net Take Carriage Battle To DC With Politico Ad

     
    NFL Network took its Time Warner Cable carriage battle to DC today by taking a full-page advertisement in the Capitol Hill daily newspaper Politico. The ad, which ran on page 11 of Politico's 40-page issue, calls out TWC for being the only top five TV provider that is "blocking fans from the NFL Network." The ad opens with NFL Net's "Thursday Night Football" logo and says, "A primetime game each week on NFL Network but not for Time Warner Cable customers." The ad also highlights the five first-place teams on NFL Net's schedule -- the Broncos, Chargers, Colts, Cowboys and Saints -- and games on Thanksgiving and Christmas nights. The ad also lists the top five video providers -- Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, TWC and Cox -- with a line through TWC. "This is part of our informational campaign with Congressional members and their staffs who are constantly getting asked by constituents why they can't see Thursday night games in Time Warner markets," said an NFL Network spokesperson. "We also are responding to local reporters' questions in TW markets."

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  • EA Sports' "NCAA Basketball 10" Lets Users Pick Announcers

    EA Sport's "NCAA Basketball 10" To Feature
    Both ESPN And CBS Elements For First Time
    EA Sports today releases its latest college basketball video game “NCAA Basketball 10,” which for the first time will include extensive amounts of content, announcers, music and themes from both ESPN and CBS. The game had previously featured some ESPN material as part of a larger relationship between the two companies, but the addition of CBS marks the first time a sports videogame has featured a dual integration from two broadcast brands. In the game itself, users can select which themes and announcers they want -- ESPN’s Brad Nessler, Dick Vitale and Erin Andrews, or CBS’ Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery. The default setting within the season mode features ESPN for mid-week games, and CBS for many weekend games and the entire NCAA tournament. “We really tried to maintain that authenticity and true-to-life feel, which frankly aided in getting the licensing done,” said EA Sports Producer Connor Dougan. "When you think of college basketball, both these brands are synonymous with the sport, so we made the decision to go after both. We’re out there competing for dollars with a lot of other titles, including ones of our own like 'Madden' and 'FIFA,' and other entertainment, so we have to give consumers something that differentiates ourselves.” The game, however, does not include “One Shining Moment,” traditionally played by CBS following the national championship game. Dougan: “That would have required additional licensing, and our resources for this year were really focused on this dual integration. But it’s something we’d still love to have in future editions."

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  • Rivalries Never Die: FSN To Air Online Gatorade Series "Replay"

    FSN signed a deal to telecast Gatorade's online series "Replay" that originally was housed on the Gatorade Web site MissionG.com. The series, which restages high-school sports rivalries, launches on FSN November 29 at 9:00pm ET, with a one-hour special between the season-one teams -- the Easton (PA) Red Rovers and the Phillipsburg (NJ) Stateliners, two high-school football rivals that played to a 7-7 tie in '93. As part of the partnership, FSN will carry the second and third seasons, though those teams have not been picked yet. The RSN plans to roll out additional programming in the rivalries' markets where FSN also operates an RSN. The program also will be televised nationally on Comcast and Liberty RSNs. FSN Exec VP/Ad Sales Kyle Sherman said, "We’re thrilled to work with Gatorade on this project. It’s a great example of creating organic sports programming and integrating media to market Gatorade to consumers."

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  • Media Notes

    Enberg Expresses Interest
    In Broadcasting For Padres
    In San Diego, Tim Sullivan writes sportscaster Dick Enberg "has a hankering to return to baseball broadcasting and his hometown Padres appear to be tuned to the same frequency." But while the "interest is mutual and the dialogue ongoing, the movement has been glacial." Enberg: "If they're interested, I'm interested." But he added, "I'm fully employed by CBS. At this point, it's pie in the sky." Sullivan writes Enberg's presence on a Padres telecast "would add cachet and credibility to a franchise that has been losing customers" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 11/18).

    JUST MIGHT WORK: SPORTINGNEWS.com's Dan Levy wrote if Comcast SportsNet's move to enhance its local offerings is a "preemptive strike against ESPN, it just might work" in cities like Philadelphia and DC. But Levy added, "Let's just hope the new model isn't so successful that [it] gobbles up all the talent in town ... to the point where none of the existing local news outlets can compete with CSN or ESPN" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 11/17).

    BRAND STUDY: AD AGE includes 2K Sports' NBA franchise among its list of "America's Hottest Brands." AD AGE's Rita Chang notes the franchise "has been the No. 1-rated NBA simulation game ... for eight years running" according to Gamerankings, as the franchise brings a "dose of uncanny realism to game play, where graphics and animation mimic in detail everything." As 2K Sports "taps into what makes NBA fans tick, it's also beating a different path to market to its youth audience, finding that it's more effective to provoke them than to sell to them" (AD AGE, 11/16 issue).

    HE'S IN THE GAME: Single-A Northwest League Vancouver Canadians Assistant GM and broadcaster Rob Fai "has entered into a three-year agreement with EA Sports to be the public address voice" for the next three installments of its NHL videogame franchise (VANCOUVER SUN, 11/14).

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