SBD/Issue 59/Sports Media

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  • Giant Numbers: Fox Sees Best National Window Overnight Since '06

    Fox' national window yesterday that featured Cowboys-Giants in 90% of the country earned an 18.9 overnight Nielsen rating, marking the net's best national-window overnight since a 19.1 for the same matchup in Week 13 of the '06 season. Meanwhile, NBC earned a 13.7 overnight rating for Vikings-Cardinals "SNF" last night, up 23% from an 11.1 for Bears-Vikings last year. The 13.7 is NBC's fourth-highest NFL overnight of the season, and also gave the net a win in primetime. The game earned a 46.1 in Minneapolis and a 31.7 in Phoenix (THE DAILY).

    '09 GAME
    '08 GAME
    % +/-
    Cowboys-Giants (90%)
    Steelers-Patriots; Broncos-Jets*

    VICK-TORIOUS RETURN: In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich writes Fox benefited from Eagles QB Michael Vick contributing to two touchdowns in yesterday's Eagles-Falcons game, which marked Vick's return to Atlanta, "though there was a fair bit of luck involved and the story was a little bogus." Fox "devoted much pre-game talk to his return to Atlanta as if he was expected to be the pivotal player" in the Eagles' offense, though, "as has been the case all year, he spent much of his time on the bench until the Eagles built up a big lead" (TORONTO STAR, 12/7). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes Fox had a "nice catch" in showing on-field video of Vick "embracing" Falcons Owner Arthur Blank. However, the N.Y. market watched the game, won by the Eagles 34-7, to its conclusion before moving to the dramatic Saints-Redskins overtime game (N.Y. POST, 12/7).

    GAME REVIEWS: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes Fox' Ron Pitts and John Lynch, who called yesterday's Buccaneers-Panthers game, "proved themselves as a decent tandem." Pitts "calls a solid game," and Lynch "shows he has a future in the business." Lynch played 11 years with the Buccaneers, but he "wasn't afraid to be critical, such as when the Bucs blundered their way through a two-minute drill at the end of the first half and continually shot themselves in the foot in the second half" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/7). The TORONTO STAR's Zelkovich writes Fox' xMo "super slow-motion camera worked wonders" during yesterday's Cowboys-Giants game, as viewers "could almost read the players' tattoos" (TORONTO STAR, 12/7). Meanwhile, in Buffalo, Alan Pergament wrote NFL Net analyst Matt Millen is "one of the more technical analysts on TV" and play-by-play announcer Bob Papa is a "decent play-by-play man, but he isn't exactly in the Dick Enberg or Mike Tirico excitement range" (BUFFALO NEWS, 12/6).

    WILD CARDS: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand reports former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs and former ABC/ESPN analyst Joe Theismann will serve as analysts for NBC's first game of its January 9 Wild Card round playoff doubleheader. Tom Hammond will serve as the play-by-play announcer. Theismann, who played under Gibbs with the Redskins from '81-85, "doesn't assume the cameo will lead to a return to NFL TV games" after he was dropped from the ESPN "MNF" crew after the '06 season. Meanwhile, the second game of NBC's doubleheader will feature its "regular Sunday night voices," announcer Al Michaels and analyst Cris Collinsworth (USA TODAY, 12/7).

    LOCAL RESTRICTIONS: TV BY THE NUMBERS' Robert Seidman noted S.F.-based KTVU-Fox cut away from Saints-Redskins with "about 2 minutes left" in order to show the start of 49ers-Seahawks. Seidman: "Even though I understand the local affiliate has to air the 49ers game, the opening of that game was meaningless. Meanwhile the Saints were down 7 and driving to tie the game with less than 2 minutes" (, 12/6).

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  • CBS Earns 11.8 For Alabama-Florida, Best Non-Bowl Rating Since '06

    Saturday's Alabama-Florida SEC Title Game
    Earns 11.8 Overnight, Up 13% From '08

    CBS earned an 11.8 overnight rating for Saturday's Alabama-Florida SEC Championship game, up 13% from a 10.4 rating for last year's matchup between the same teams. The 11.8 rating marks the best overnight rating for the SEC Championship game since it was first held in '92 and the highest-rated regular-season college football game on the net since Notre Dame-Miami earned a 14.6 rating in November '89. Alabama-Florida also is the highest-rated non-bowl game on any net since ABC earned a 13.7 rating for Michigan-Ohio State in November '06 (CBS). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote the "normally solid CBS broadcast team of Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson had a rare off day calling" Alabama-Florida. There was a "bizarre reference to 'When Harry Met Sally,' ... a movie that came out 20 years ago." Jones: "It made the two sound 100 years old." However, CBS "absolutely did its job by showing a tearful" Florida QB Tim Tebow during the game's final seconds (, 12/6).

    GOOD TO THE LAST DROP: ABC earned a 7.6 overnight rating for its telecast of the Texas-Nebraska Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship on Saturday night, which featured Texas winning 13-12 on a last-second game-winning field goal. The rating is up 28.8% from a 5.9 for the comparable Oklahoma-Missouri matchup last year. Meanwhile, the Georgia Tech-Clemson Dr Pepper ACC Championship on ESPN earned a 1.9 metered-market rating. Last year's ACC Championship aired on ABC on a Saturday afternoon (THE DAILY).

    PAC-ING THEM IN: In Portland, Rachel Bachman reported ESPN earned a 26.5 local rating in the market for Thursday's Oregon State-Oregon football game broadcast, the "highest-rated show on ESPN in the market since 2001." The game also marked the "third-highest-rated broadcast of any kind in Portland in the past year, sports or non-sports, behind the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl's pregame show." Meanwhile, Oregon State-Oregon earned a 4.2 cable rating and 5.7 million viewers nationally, making it the "second-highest-rated Thursday night game on ESPN this season" (Portland OREGONIAN, 12/6).

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  • NCAA Considering Men's B'Ball Tourney Expansion, Move To Cable

    NCAA Meeting With Broadcasters To Explore
    Media Value Of Expanding Tourney Field
    The NCAA has "started meeting with broadcasters to explore the media value of expanding the men's basketball tournament field," according to sources cited by Ourand & Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. As part of that process, the NCAA also is "gauging the feasibility of moving the tournament from broadcast to cable." NCAA Senior VP/Basketball & Business Strategies Greg Shaheen is "leading the exploration with assists from a pair of well-known college media consultants," former Turner Sports Senior VP Kevin O'Malley and former ABC/ESPN Exec VP/Collegiate Sports Chuck Gerber. The three have been "contacting several broadcast and cable networks to judge interest in bidding for the basketball tournament." The NCAA is "talking with TV networks about whether they are interested in the tournament as is." The idea discussed with networks would likely take the tournament "from its current field of 65 teams to 96 teams and add another week to the competition, with the top 32 teams receiving byes." The move "has been characterized as folding the NIT into the NCAA tournament." Ourand & Smith note the NCAA is "not committed to making any changes," and CBS is "expected to move aggressively to keep the tournament." A source said that these talks mark the "beginning of a process that will conclude in summer 2010, at the earliest" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/7 issue).

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  • NBC Avoids Tiger Story During Coverage Of Chevron Tournament

    NBC on Saturday opened its coverage of the Chevron World Challenge without specifically addressing the scandal surrounding tournament host Tiger Woods. NBC's Dan Hicks said, "The No. 1 ranked player in the world, Tiger Woods, is not here, electing to withdraw from his tournament. Just over a week ago he was involved in a car accident, so no Tiger Woods this year at the 2009 Chevron World Challenge. Nevertheless, his tournament, which has always benefited the Tiger Woods Foundation, goes on” (“Chevron World Challenge,” NBC, 12/5). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote it was "not a surprise," but it was "disappointing that NBC did not address the Tiger Woods situation." By "ignoring the story, NBC, rightly or wrongly, comes off as if it is either afraid of Woods or protecting him" (, 12/6). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes Woods on Saturday, "for the first time in his 13-year pro career," was deemed "commercially unacceptable and/or inappropriate during a golf telecast." NBC's three-hour tournament coverage "did not include even one commercial starring Woods," though he "did twice appear, briefly, in a PGA Tour 'image' ad" (N.Y. POST, 12/7).

    STORY STRETCHING BEYOND SPORTS MEDIA: CBS' Bob Schieffer talked about Woods' travails on "Face The Nation," saying, "As his life came apart last week, he was still complaining about being put upon, about not being able to lead a normal life. Sorry, Tiger. We all make mistakes, but if you wanted to be normal, you should’ve taken Arnie’s advice: just play golf with your friends on Saturdays, like the rest of us" ("Face The Nation," CBS, 12/6). Meanwhile, NBC's "SNL" was among several late-night programs over the weekend that touched on Woods' current situation (THE DAILY).

    TIME FOR TELL-ALL? USA TODAY's Michael McCarthy reports "The Oprah Winfrey Show," ESPN and Golf Channel all said that they have requested an "on-camera interview" with Woods. CBS' "60 Minutes" also is "likely in the hunt." HBO Sports VP/Sports Publicity & Media Relations Ray Stallone said that HBO also "put in a request but was turned down." Meanwhile, "Oprah" spokesperson Don Halcombe denied a blog report that Winfrey "had personally called" Woods, saying that is "not true" (, 12/7). In London, Kevin Garside wrote Woods' reps are "probably talking to Oprah's people now." Garside: "Too early, perhaps, for a Christmas Special, but don't bet against it. All will be timed to purge Tiger's soul in time for the Masters in April" (, 12/5).

    TRAFFIC JAM: Hitwise reported that traffic to peaked last Wednesday, the day Woods apologized for his transgressions in a statement on the site, as visits increased 377% over the previous day. Visits to the site on Wednesday also were up 45% over traffic on November 29, when Woods first addressed his early morning accident in a statement on his Web site (, 12/4).

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  • Comcast Committed To Cable, Broadcast After NBC Uni Acquisition

    Comcast "at every turn … has emphasized to its own shareholders" that the purpose of buying control of NBC Universal from GE is to "gain control over NBC Universal's fast-growing cable channels," according to Brian Stelter of the N.Y. TIMES. A NBC News staffer said, "Everyone's now talking about NBC as a cable company, and Comcast is a cable company. I guess we're wondering, do they like broadcast?" But Stelter wrote they do "on the record," as Comcast "could toss a lifesaver of sorts to the broadcaster business by supporting per-subscriber payments to stations, or so-called retransmission agreements." Comcast was "noncommittal about retransmission last week, saying only that it hoped to play a constructive role." Meanwhile, Comcast "did not commit to keeping the name NBC Universal after the deal closes." Stelter notes some Comcast officials are "keen on using the Comcast Entertainment name in the future, although it is doubtful that the 'NBC Nightly News' will become the 'Comcast Nightly News' anytime soon" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/7).

    WAITING FOR APPROVAL: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Paul Bond reports GE "plans to buy at least $59[M] worth of ads each year for five years once the deal" closes. GE also will buy $50M in ads "for the 2012 Olympics, bringing the total five-year commitment" to at least $345M (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 12/7). CABLEFAX DAILY writes a "big question is whether approval of the deal might be contingent on Comcast losing the terrestrial loophole exemption" for Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. Comcast Exec VP/Content Acquisition David Cohen "knows the issue will come up but doesn't believe it relates to the transaction." Cohen: "When NFL and DirecTV are prepared to make Sunday Ticket available to the cable industry on a non-discriminatory basis, we're prepared to give up the terrestrial exemption'" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 12/7).

    NBC Could Still Be Backed By GE
    When It Bids For '14, '16 Games
    UP IN THE AIR: AROUND THE RINGS' Rosen, Steinberg & Hula noted it "could take up to a year for regulators and shareholders to approve the deal, meaning that NBC will still be backed by GE when it comes to make a formal bid to the IOC for the rights" to the '14 and '16 Olympics, which "could exceed" $1B. Whether the pending deal with Comcast "affects how much NBC will bid remains to be seen" (, 12/3). BROADCASTING & CABLE's Ben Grossman listed the Olympics as one of "10 Things To Watch About Comcast-NBCU," and wondered if the deal throws a "wrench into the conventional wisdom that Disney will easily outbid everyone" for the rights. The Olympics are a "major vanity play," and if Comcast is "serious about getting into sports as it has always planned with Versus, this would be a tough property to lose." Grossman also listed Versus/NBC Sports as something to watch, and wrote, "Whether or not they 'go after ESPN' is not the point; there is plenty of room for both if Comcast can grab a big-time property or two" ( 12/5).

    NOT IMPRESSED: MEDIAPOST's David Goetzl noted USA Today's sports media columnist Michael Hiestand in an appearance on a Toronto radio station on November 25 indicated he liked NBC Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol, but then "kept ripping him." Hiestand: "I have to take my hat off to Dick for self-promotion over the years. If you look at NBC in this decade what exactly have they done now?" Goetzl noted Hiestand suggested in the interview that there was "profligacy under Ebersol's watch," saying there is "so much fat in that budget" (, 12/4). Hiestand, on NBC: "They got Arena Football and said it's the most exciting game ever if it was just televised right. They picked up the NHL, which continues to get essentially zero ratings. They were one of the big backers of the XFL till its ratings fell apart and then they said, 'No, it was all Vince McMahon's idea.' Their Notre Dame ratings are setting all-time lows. If you took out the Michael Phelps ratings in Beijing, those were sort of so-so, same with Torino in '06. ... I'm not really sure what it is that he would do that other people won't do because when it comes to buying sports rights, me and my dog could pick up Olympic rights if we bid a buck more than the opponents" (, 11/25).

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  • MLBAM, Bloomberg Partner To Offer Analytical Products To Teams

    MLBAM, Bloomberg Strike Deal To Create
    And Sell Advanced Statistical Products
    MLBAM and Bloomberg have reached a multi-year deal to "create and sell an advanced set of statistical and analytic products for" MLB teams and the general public, according to Eric Fisher of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Bloomberg will "take MLBAM's real-time statistical feed from every game, as well as location-based data already being developed in partnership with Sportvision, and apply an almost limitless amount of analytical tools." For example, a team using the system could "very quickly isolate the angle of a pitcher's arm on every pitch that resulted in an extra base hit against a given opponent in a chosen game situation." Bloomberg and MLB will "brief teams on the effort and show the product this week" at MLB's Winter Meetings in Indianapolis. Teams will be "given a six-month free trial to test the product, with Bloomberg beginning sales on the system after that." Use of the system "will be voluntary" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/7 issue). Baseball Info Solutions Owner John Dewan, whose company "sells fielding software to about half" of the MLB teams, noted if Bloomberg and MLBAM "convince all 30 teams to pay $50,000 each, that's $1.5[M]." Dewan: "Is that big enough? It's nice for a small company. For a big company? I don't think they'll get the return they want." But Bloomberg President Daniel Doctoroff "disagreed." Doctoroff: "Not everything we do has to be huge." MLBAM President & CEO Bob Bowman said that despite Bloomberg's "financial-world capabilities, it still had to prove itself to teams and fans." Bowman: "Can they transfer their expertise to baseball? Time will tell." Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said that the "value in the software will be in evaluating free agents." Wilpon: "If you take X player on another team who's around a great cast of players, we want to look at him in our ballpark with different players around him to see how he will fit in" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/6).

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  • Baseball HOF Cutting Ties With MLBAM On Web Site Production

    Baseball HOF Has Cut Ties With MLBAM, Will
    Again Self-Produce Its Site At
    The Baseball HOF has cut ties with MLBAM after a three-year Internet services contract expired earlier this year, and it will again self-produce its Web site at The HOF in '06 signed a contract for MLBAM to manage the institution's online operations, including e-commerce, continuing a run for MLBAM that followed similar deals with Minor League Baseball and the MLBPA. But industry sources said the deal was not profitable, and the hall is now working with Dreams Inc. for its e-commerce operations. The institution currently has an interim look in use for the site, and is readying a re-design that will launch in the early spring in part using software from South Carolina-based Blackbaud Inc., an outfit that specializes in non-profit organizations. Part of that re-design will include a further increase in social media functionality to the site. The content and day-to-day management of the HOF's site will be overseen by museum personnel, most notably a communications staff led by Senior Dir of Communications & Education Brad Horn. "Over the course of three years, we learned a lot about our needs online and growing our objectives as a non-profit," said HOF President Jeff Idelson. "BAM was a good host for us, but as a non-profit, we needed to go in a different direction, and the tools are now out there where we can take a more autonomous approach." MLBAM President & CEO Bob Bowman confirmed the HOF was forging on its own for its site, but declined to comment further. The HOF has operated a Web site in various forms since '95.

    TWO NEWEST MEMBERS: The Baseball HOF Veterans' Committee this morning selected longtime umpire Doug Harvey and former MLB manager Whitey Herzog for induction into the hall from the managers and umpires ballot. The committee did not select any candidates from the executives ballot for induction, including former MLBPA Exec Dir Marvin Miller, whose candidacy had been among the most fervently discussed. From the executives ballot, former Tigers Owner John Fetzer received eight votes, falling one vote short among the 12-person committee for the necessary 75% threshold for induction. Miller and former Yankees Owner Jacob Ruppert received seven votes each, falling two votes short.

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  • Media Notes

    In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal reported columnist Rick Morrissey "has left the Chicago Tribune for the rival Chicago Sun-Times." Morrissey "now ostensibly slides into the same co-lead sports columnist slot next to Rick Telander that's been vacant since Jay Mariotti resigned after 17 years in August 2008." Morrissey had been a Tribune columnist since '00 (, 12/4). Morrissey's move comes less than a week after the "move of Dan McNeil's weekly column to the Tribune from the Sun-Times" (, 12/6).

    TV GUIDE: DAILY VARIETY's Rick Kissell noted 10 weeks into the new season, networks are "holding their own -- and with some help from sports, could be headed for their first year-over-gains in some time." Fox, "leading the season in adults 18-49 at this juncture for the first time, is up an impressive 17% vs. last year." The six-game Yankees-Phillies World Series "certainly helped, but Fox also had made ratings strides on other nights." With some college bowl games and the NFC Championship on its schedule in January, Fox "appears positioned to maintain its 18-49 edge the rest of the way." CBS, "roughly flat for the season, has the best shot at sticking close to Fox thanks to its upcoming telecast of the Super Bowl." NBC, "even with its highest-rated season yet of 'Sunday Night Football' and more than two weeks of Winter Olympics ahead in February, will finish fourth once again" (, 12/4).

    THE GREAT OUTDOORS: In N.Y., Stuart Elliott reports Mariah Media, the publisher of Outside magazine, "has made a deal to take a minority stake in Resort Sports Network, which for more than two decades has created and distributed programming that can be watched in vacation and resort communities." Resort Sports Network will be "renamed Outside Television Network as of June 1, 2010." Mariah Media Chair Lawrence Burke said that there "will be collaborations between producers at Resort Sports and the editorial department at Outside ... along with offerings to advertisers of cross-media deals involving TV, print and online properties from both companies along with promotions and events." Resort Sports CEO Mark Burchill said the deal would give his channel a "more broadly known brand to leverage and content to tap into" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/7).

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