SBD/Issue 64/Sports Media

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  • Tiger On Hiatus: Length Of Break A Concern For Tour TV Partners

    Networks Wondering How Long Woods'
    "Indefinite" Break From Golf Will Be
    The reaction of PGA Tour television partners to the news that Tiger Woods will take an indefinite break from professional golf included "concern about the duration of Woods's hiatus," according to Larry Dorman of the N.Y. TIMES. CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus said the network will "adjust and life will go on, but a tournament with Tiger Woods is a much bigger sport." McManus: "We've obviously done golf tournaments without Tiger before, but we all know how much better they do when Tiger is playing well on the weekend. We'll adjust, but I guess a lot of it depends on what the definition of the word 'indefinite' is" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/12). The AP's Rachel Cohen notes the Tour's six-year deals with CBS and NBC "expire in 2012, and negotiations are expected to begin late next year." By the time the talks start, the networks "might have a better sense of the scenario, good or bad." If Woods "has already returned to the tour, they'll be able to gauge the effect of the scandal on ratings and his level of play." However, the "longer he stays out, the more uncertainty will permeate the negotiations." Former Magna Global Exec VP/Audience Analysis Steve Sternberg said in an e-mail, "If Tiger returns to golf and performs well, ratings will remain high. But if he is not back yet, it will definitely impact how much the networks will be willing to pay" (AP, 12/14).

    RATINGS RICHES: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's James Hibberd writes, "If and when Woods does return to the game, it's certain to spike viewership -- at least initially." But analysts said that over the long term, the scandal "could have a lasting negative impact" on golf's popularity. Campbell Mithun Senior VP & Dir of Media Analysis John Rash: "While there will be keen interest in Tiger's first tournament back, overall ratings will likely decline as the casual golf viewer who was enticed by Tiger's personal and professional persona will now most likely view him differently" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 12/14). MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds wrote advertisers "only interested in grabbing [gross rating points] should hedge their media schedules, making sure their buys include a position on Golf Channel's opening-round Thursday coverage upon Woods's return." That telecast "will obliterate" all of Golf Channel's Nielsen records (MULTICHANNEL.com, 12/13).

    NBC Addresses Woods Situation During Its
    Coverage Of Shark Shootout This Weekend
    ON THE AIR: NBC addressed the Woods situation in the early stages of its coverage of the PGA Tour Shark Shootout on both Saturday and Sunday. NBC's Dan Hicks yesterday noted the "golf world and beyond (are) still reacting to the latest statement" from Woods. Hicks: "It's anyone's guess when he's going to come back to this sport. Only Tiger and his family will eventually decide that." Woods' situation was revisited at the conclusion of the broadcast, with Hicks saying, "As you look back at 2009, really what will be most remembered is what really happened outside the golf course and what has transpired with Tiger Woods." Hicks: "The big question as we look forward to 2010 is what kind of reception will Tiger get?" NBC's Gary Koch: "It will certainly be an interesting year" ("Shark Shootout," NBC, 12/13). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones noted Koch and analyst Roger Maltbie both touched on the situation, and, "to the shock of no one, seemed to show support for Woods." Koch said that "everyone he talks to is tired of the story" (TAMPABAY.com, 12/13).

    TV MONITOR: Last night's edition of NBC's "Nightly News" led with a report on Accenture dropping their sponsorship agreement with Woods. ABC's "World News" discussed Woods prior to the first commercial break; CBS' "Evening News" did not air due to NFL coverage. All the network morning shows today covered the Woods story in the opening half-hour, with CBS' "The Early Show" and NBC's "Today" addressing it as their second news report (THE DAILY).

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  • IOC Expects At Least Three Networks To Bid For U.S. TV Rights

    IOC Believes Winning Offer For U.S. TV
    Rights For '14, '16 Games Will Exceed $2.2B
    The IOC "expects at least three networks or media consortiums to bid for the U.S. television rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics and believes the winning offer will exceed the previous" $2.2B deal with NBC, according to Stephen Wilson of the AP. IOC Finance Commission Chair Richard Carrion said that he "has already received several expressions of interest from American networks and plans to make a deal sometime in 2010." Carrion: "I would expect a minimum of three players. ... I think we will see different consortiums come together." He added, "We can still wait, but things are better than six months ago. There [are] a lot of things going on in the marketplace. It's very likely we'll do it in 2010 sometime. Whether it's in the first half of the year or the second half of the year, it's not clear." Carrion said that he "expects to secure a more lucrative deal than" contract signed with NBC for the '10 and '12 Olympics. Carrion: "Obviously we'd like to improve. When you look at the overall picture, you will see markets that were lesser developed that are now showing big increases, including Brazil, some of the Asian Markets and even Europe. We will expect to improve on '10 and '12, without a doubt." Comcast earlier this month agreed to acquire a controlling stake in NBC Universal, and Carrion said that he "doesn't expect the multibillion-dollar deal ... will impact NBC's Olympic role and ambitions." Carrion: "I don't think that it's going to alter the calculus much. ... My understanding is that [NBC Sports & Olympics Chair] Dick Ebersol will lead the combined sports department and Dick is a big believer and a big supporter of the Olympic Games. It's probably a positive but we'll see when the bids come in." Meanwhile, Carrion said that the USOC's "controversial plans to launch its own Olympic network ... appeared off the table for now." Carrion: "We had asked for some information. They have not given it. I think the USOC has made a very clear statement they are not going to go ahead with anything without our approval" (AP, 12/12).

    DELAY OF GAME? In making his sports media predictions for '10, THE DAILY's John Ourand writes, “Olympic bidding will be pushed to 2011.” The IOC “already delayed the bidding process once” and they “will do it again to let the Comcast-NBC acquisition go through the regulatory approval process.” Ourand: "The problem for the IOC right now is that it looks like only two networks will make serious bids for Olympic rights: ESPN and NBC. The IOC will want to ensure that a fully engaged and deep-pocketed NBC/Comcast is at the table" (SportsBusiness Journal, 12/14 issue).

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  • NFL Week 14: CBS' Earns Its Best '09 Late Window; "SNF" Up 48%

    CBS earned a 16.7 overnight Nielsen rating for NFL national window telecast yesterday, which featured Chargers-Cowboys, marking the net's best overnight for a national window this season. The 16.7, however, is off slightly from the 17.0 overnight for Fox' national window in Week 14 last year, which featured Cowboys-Steelers. On NBC last night, the Eagles-Giants "SNF" earned a 13.8 overnight rating, marking the net's fourth-highest NFL overnight of the season. The 13.8 rating is up 48% from a 9.3 for Ravens-Redskins in Week 14 last year. Eagles-Giants was the highest-rated program of the night, giving NBC the win in primetime among all networks for the 12th time in 13 Sunday night telecasts. Ratings for Fox' NFL singleheader were unavailable at presstime (THE DAILY).

    NFL WEEK 14 OVERNIGHT NIELSEN RATINGS
    NET
    '09 GAME
    RAT.
    '08
    NET
    '08 GAME
    RAT.
    % +/-
    Fox
    (single)
     n/a
    CBS
    (single)
    11.6
    n/a
    CBS
    (regional)
    12.6
    Fox
    (regional)
    11.7
    7.7%
    CBS
    Chargers-Cowboys (97%)
    16.7
    Fox
    Cowboys-Steelers (90%)
    17.0
    -1.8%
    NBC
    Eagles-Giants
    13.8
    NBC
    Ravens-Redskins
    9.3
    48.4%

    BOOTH REVIEWS: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes listening to CBS play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle during the Jets-Buccaneers game yesterday "was a pleasure." Eagle "showed enthusiasm throughout," and he provided information in a "smooth and, most important, well-timed manner, showing the amount of homework he does." Meanwhile, it is "always surprising to hear just how good" CBS analyst Rich Gannon is. Gannon provides an "honest assessment -- good or bad -- of what he's seeing." Jones: "Isn't that what an analyst is supposed to do?" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/14). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley writes it is "fun and instructive to spend three hours listening" to Fox analyst Brian Billick. Billick "takes a studious, analytical approach to deconstructing football games." Wolfley: "He's organized and smart without being wonky. He maintains high energy. He has a sense of humor" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 12/14). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick noted every time he turned on the Steelers-Browns game on NFL Network Thursday, analyst Matt Millen, "was giving a speech." The speech "often seemed designed to sound cool while filling space -- like talking garnish -- when silence would have done the trick." But Mushnick wrote Millen is "hardly alone" in giving such speeches on broadcasts (N.Y. POST, 12/13).

    SUPER RATINGS: CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus said a match up of the undefeated Saints and Colts in Super Bowl XLIV could be the "difference between an excellent rating and a spectacular rating." But McManus added that there are "other promising Super Bowl possibilities, such as getting" Vikings QB Brett Favre (USA TODAY, 12/14). Meanwhile, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's Michael Ausiello cites a CBS source as indicating that while "no decision has been made" as to which of the net's shows will follow the Super Bowl, the "buzz is that it's down to freshman hit 'NCIS: Los Angeles' or an expanded 'The Big Bang Theory.'" Ausiello lists "How I Met Your Mother" as a "dark-horse candidate" (ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, 12/18 issue).

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  • Media Notes

    In Dallas, Barry Horn reported the MLB Rangers Friday announced a one-year extension for TV play-by-play announcer Josh Lewin, whose contract was "supposed to run out at month's end." Lewin has held the position for eight years, but he also is the radio play-by-play announcer for the Chargers, which "sometimes causes conflict in August and September." The Rangers next season "will allow Lewin to miss a maximum of three games for other work" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/12).

    Writer Calls ESPN's Coverage Of The
    Hesiman Trophy Presentation "Solid," But Long
    FEATURE PRESENTATION: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote ESPN's coverage of the Heisman Trophy presentation Saturday was "solid," but you "couldn't help but get the feeling that it was dragging on when 50 minutes of an hourlong show is spent talking about the finalists that everyone has spent the past week talking about." Meanwhile, Jones noted ESPN's "Outside the Lines" yesterday "turned its bright lights on the academic scandal" at Florida State Univ. (FSU). Prior to the show's airing, FSU Dir of Communications Franklin Murphy sent an e-mail to ESPN Senior VP & Dir of News Vince Doria asking the network "not to air the piece." Also, FSU AD Randy Spetman "sent an e-mail to 'Florida State Alumni, Friends and Supporters' refuting the ESPN piece nearly 24 hours before it aired Sunday morning, as well as pointing out all the excellent student-athletes FSU has produced over the years" (TAMPABAY.com, 12/13).

    SEEKING A BIGGER PIECE OF THE PIE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Sam Schechner cites sources as saying that broadcast networks are "asking independently owned TV stations that carry their programming for a cut of the payments the stations get from cable, satellite and telecommunications companies." In some cases, networks "want half or more of the compensation their affiliated stations receive." Sources said that CBS in talks with its affiliates is "asking for about half of their subscription revenue" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/14). News Corp. Deputy Chair, President & COO Chase Carey said, "We need to have a business model that enables us to compete with the ESPNs and the TNTs and USAs that are doing more original programming and buying more sports programming." In N.Y., Peter Lauria noted while retransmission fees "historically have been a pittance," Carey speculated that "if ESPN can get close to $4 per subscriber per month in carriage fees, Fox could justifiably get $5 per subscriber given programming like the Super Bowl and World Series" (N.Y. POST, 12/13).

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