SBD/Issue 100/Sports Media

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  • Historic Milestone? Super Bowl Could Surpass 100 Million Viewers

    McManus Expects Extraordinary
    Rating If Super Bowl Is Close
    There is "growing chatter in broadcasting circles" that Sunday's Super Bowl XLIV on CBS "could become the most-viewed Super Bowl ever," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. No Super Bowl has drawn 100 million viewers, though NBC "came close last year" with 98.7 million viewers for Super Bowl XLIII. But Deitsch predicted Colts-Saints will top that mark, "especially with ugly weather slated for the East Coast this weekend." Deitsch: "If the game is close come the fourth quarter, it's a better than likely bet CBS Sports employees will be drinking champagne back at their ... hotel come Monday morning." CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus: "If we get a close game, I think we will get an extraordinary rating. And if we get just an OK game, I still think we get a really good rating with the storylines involved." Sunday's game marks the 17th Super Bowl broadcast for CBS, and CBS VP/Production Harold Bryant said that the network has "about 500 staffers working the game." When asked about the "expectations of such a huge audience," Bryant said, "I'm nervous and our team is nervous, but it's a good nervous. We're going to be ready to go." CBS Sports Director Mike Arnold, who also directed Super Bowl XLI, said, "For me, a successful Super Bowl broadcast is this: we didn't miss anything." Deitsch noted CBS "tends to play its broadcast traditionally and shtick-free," and the features planned are "mostly rooted in football." Bryant said that "The Super Bowl Today" pregame studio show from 2:00-6:00pm ET "has more than 10 features ready for air as well as an original musical piece composed by jazzman Wynton Marsalis, and a Jay-Z mash-up of 'Run This Town' that will run in a tease prior to kickoff." CBS News' Katie Couric "has a live interview" with President Obama that is expected to air around 4:30 (SI.com, 2/4). CBS' Jim Nantz noted NFL ratings this season have been "across the board up for everybody minimum 10%." Nantz: "If there happened to be that same kind of bump here in the Super Bowl ratings, we will have ... the biggest audience to ever watch a television event in the history of the country" ("Imus in the Morning," Fox Business, 2/5). 

    MAKING PREDICTIONS: ADWEEK's Steve McClellan writes some believe the "mix of this year's huge, post-season NFL ratings coupled with spreading HDTV technology and a population focused on cheaper forms of entertainment could indeed drive the game to new heights" viewership-wise. Market research company IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst Toon van Beeck predicted that the game will "average 100 million viewers this year." Horizon Media Senior VP and Corporate Research Dir Brad Adgate said he believes the game will earn "at least 100 million and, if it's a close game like the last two, it could even compete with ... MASH as the most-watched TV show ever." But others believe that this year's game "won't break any records, especially because the Vikings were knocked out by the Cinderella Saints." The Saints do not have the Vikings' "strong national following or its aging star quarterback, Brett Favre" (ADWEEK, 2/1 issue). NEWSDAY's Neil Best wrote the Super Bowl "probably will surpass 100 million for the first time, given the rising population and a season of big NFL ratings." If the game is "close and exciting it could challenge the mark by 'MASH' for the largest audience for a scheduled program on American TV: 106 million" (NEWSDAY, 2/4). In San Diego, Jay Posner writes the Super Bowl is "likely to become just the second telecast in history to average more than 100 million viewers." A winter storm "expected to bury much of the East in snow this weekend will only help keep people in front of their TVs, as will an enticing matchup between two exciting teams with great story lines." There is "also the fact that people can't seem to get enough of the NFL these days" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/5).

    SURVEY SAYS: Respondents to a Media Life Magazine poll earlier this week were offered a "choice of seven ranges of viewership" for the Super Bowl, "from 80 million or fewer at the low end to 100.1 million or more." Thirty-four percent of respondents indicated that the game will draw between 99.1 million and 100 million viewers, while 29% chose 100.1 million or more. Another 15% chose between 98.1 million and 99 million viewers (MEDIALIFEMAGAZINE.com, 2/4).

    Super Bowl XLIV Audience Could
    Surpass MASH's Record
    EYE ON THE PRIZE: In Boston, Chad Finn writes it "would not be brash for CBS to expect monstrous ratings for the Super Bowl," and "to the network's credit, it is resisting the temptation to add any soft-focus embellishment to the game's naturally compelling story lines." There are "no Transformer-style robots during this telecast, just minor amplification of the usual technology," and there will be "more cameras used, including the high-speed 'swing vision' models that provide slow, crisp replays" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/5). Bryant said CBS' pregame show will have "more fan presence this time" than in '07, when the net last aired the Super Bowl. He noted that pregame was "a little sterile" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/5). Meanwhile, in Toronto, Chris Zelkovich reported the Vince Lombardi Trophy and several CFL Toronto Argonauts cheerleaders "posed for the main graphics that CBS will use during Sunday's Super Bowl." A Toronto warehouse was rented, and a "22-foot-high Super Bowl logo was ... built along with a 12-foot NFL on CBS logo." The graphics also "will be used on CBS for next season" (THESTAR.com, 2/4).

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  • Final Nielsen Ratings From Recent Sports Telecasts

    The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts (THE DAILY).

    TELECAST
    DATE
    NET
    TIME
    RAT.
    NBA: Lakers-Celtics
    1/31
    ABC
    3:26-6:11pm
    3.5
    PGA Tour: Farmers Insurance Open: Final Round
    1/31
    CBS
    3:07-6:48pm
    2.2
    "Saturday Night Live": Sports All-Stars (taped)
    1/31
    NBC
    8:00-9:00pm
    1.9
    NCAA Basketball: Duke-Georgetown
    1/30
    CBS
    1:00-3:18pm
    1.6
    NBA: Nuggets-Spurs
    1/31
    ABC
    12:57-3:26pm
    1.6
    PGA Tour: Farmers Insurance Open: Third Round
    1/30
    CBS
    3:18-6:00pm
    1.5
    Figure Skating: Silk Soymilk Skate for the Heart (taped)
    1/31
    NBC
    4:00-6:00pm
    1.4
    NCAA Basketball: (regional)
    1/31
    CBS
    1:00-3:00pm
    1.3
    "Truth in Motion: The U.S. Ski Team's
    Road to Vancouver" (taped)
    1/30
    NBC
    8:00-9:00pm
    1.2
    PBR: Built Ford Tough Series:
    Tecate Light Invitational (taped)
    1/30
    NBC
    4:30-6:00pm
    1.1
    Skiing: Nature Valley Freestyle Cup (taped)
    1/30
    NBC
    3:00-4:30pm
    0.9
    NHL: Red Wings-Penguins
    1/31
    NBC
    12:30-3:14pm
    1.0
    "NBA Countdown"
    1/31
    ABC
    12:30-1:00pm
    0.9
    Monster Energy AMA Supercross (taped)
    1/31
    CBS
    12:00-1:00pm
    0.9
    Int'l Auto Show (taped)
    1/31
    NBC
    3:14-4:00pm
    0.9
    World of Adventure Sports (taped)
    1/30
    NBC
    2:00-3:00pm
    0.5
    TELECAST
    DATE
    NET
    TIME
    U.S.
    CABLE
    VIEWERS (000)
    NFL Pro Bowl
    1/31
    ESPN
    7:22-10:44pm
    7.1
    8.2
    12,297
    "Sunday NFL Countdown"
    1/31
    ESPN
    5:30-7:22pm
    2.3
    2.6
    3,677
    NCAA Basketball:
    Kansas-Kansas State
    1/30
    ESPN
    7:00-9:49pm
    1.9
    2.2
    2,937
    NCAA Basketball:
    Vanderbilt-Kentucky
    1/30
    ESPN
    4:11-6:42pm
    1.6
    1.8
    2,692
    NCAA Basketball:
    Kentucky-South Carolina
    1/26
    ESPN
    9:03-11:21pm
    1.7
    1.9
    2,622
    "College GameDay"
    1/30
    ESPN
    6:32-7:00pm
    1.4
    1.6
    2,272
    NBA: Celtics-Magic
    1/28
    TNT
    8:00-10:58pm
    1.3
    1.5
    1,973
    Winter X Games
    1/30
    ESPN
    9:49-11:34pm
    1.1
    1.3
    1,961
    NCAA Basketball:
    Louisville-West Virginia
    1/30
    ESPN
    12:00-2:23pm
    1.3
    1.5
    1,867
    Winter X Games
    1/31
    ESPN
    12:00-5:30pm
    1.1
    1.3
    1,816

    THIS ONE GOES TO ELEVEN: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic earned a 3.2 local rating in DC for Tuesday's Capitals-Bruins game, in which the Capitals won 11 straight games for the first time in franchise history. The rating marked the "second-best rating for a regular-season game in the network's history," behind a 3.3 local rating for Capitals-Penguins on January 21 (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/3)....FS Arizona ratings for Coyotes telecasts are up 50% from last season’s average. With the Coyotes currently third in points in the Western Conference, the net is also seeing a 90% increase for the “Qwest Coyotes Live” pregame show and a 60% increase for the “Qwest Coyotes Live” postgame show (Coyotes).

    WHAT A WEEKEND: In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich wrote CBC officials "have to be pretty happy with the number of viewers they pulled in for Hockey Day In Canada" last Saturday. The non-game segments "did pretty well," but the games "did even better, with all three topping a million" viewers. The CBC earned 2.173 million viewers for the 7:00pm ET Canucks-Maple Leafs game, 1.036 million viewers for the 10:00pm Oilers-Flames game and 1.032 million viewers for the 2:00pm Canadiens-Senators game. Meanwhile, Sunday was the "busiest day ever at TSN's website." The site "recorded more than 800,000 views" as the Maple Leafs traded for both D Dion Phaneuf and G Jean-Sebastien Giguere (THESTAR.com, 2/2).

    HARDWOOD HEROES: Comcast SportsNet Chicago earned a 4.7 local rating for the January 29 Bulls-Hornets game, marking the net's highest-rated regular-season Bulls game ever (CSN)....SportSouth earned a 4.5 local rating in Atlanta for the January 29 Celtics-Hawks game, marking the net's highest-rated Hawks game since Nielsen began tracking the net's ratings during '96-97 season (SportSouth).

    HIT THE MAT: YAHOO SPORTS' Dave Meltzer reported Showtime drew 517,000 viewers for last Saturday's Strikeforce event in Miami, which was "largely built around" the MMA debut of former NFLer Herschel Walker. The 517,000 viewers marks the "second-most viewers for an MMA event on Showtime, trailing only the 571,000 viewers" for the August 15 Strikeforce event featuring Cris "Cyborg" Santos-Gina Carano. Meanwhile, UFC Saturday "countered on Spike TV with the cable debut of a taped major event, in this case airing" UFC 107 from December 12. Spike earned a 1.6 cable rating and 2.2 million viewers, marking the "second-highest rated ... replay of a UFC PPV event in history" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/2).

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  • Media Notes

    Cubs Could Tie Record Low Number
    Of Games Shown On WGN This Season
    In Chicago, Paul Sullivan noted the release of the Cubs' broadcast schedule Thursday "revealed the potential for only 60 games being shown" on WGN, "which would tie a record low." The Cubs currently have 58 games "slated to be shown on WGN," though that number "will increase, depending on six games that may be picked up by ESPN or Fox." Games not televised on those networks also "will air on WGN." Sullivan notes last year's schedule had a "record-low 60 games scheduled" on WGN, which has broadcast Cubs games since '48 (CHICAGOBREAKINGSPORTS.com, 2/4).

    MOVING ACROSS THE BAY: MLB.com's Jane Lee reported A's radio host Marty Lurie Thursday confirmed that he is "taking his wildly popular" "Right Off The Bat" pregame show to KNBR-AM, where he will be heard on pre- and postgame MLB Giants programming. Lurie had hosted the show for 12 years, most recently on KTRB-AM, and had "bought and sold his own time slots each year." However, this year he "never quite landed on the same page as KTRB, which recently agreed to a long-term contract to broadcast A's games" through '19. Lee noted Lurie on KNBR will host a "weekend show before and after every Giants game that will fill an estimated 5-6 hours for a combined 140 hours during the season" (MLB.com, 2/4).

    RECORD-SETTING SEASON: NHL.com on Wednesday exceeded 1 million video starts for the first time in the site's history, according to internal league metrics. The mark added to a series of new league records in recent weeks, including January 2010 being the most trafficked month in the history of the league site, and up 44% compared to a year ago (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

    NEW FORM OF ROCK 'N JOCK: Fuse Sunday at 11:00am ET will premiere a one-hour special, "Fuse & NBA All-Star Double Team," which will feature players participating in the February 14 NBA All-Star Game and music videos. Players appearing during the program will include Heat G Dwyane Wade, Cavaliers F LeBron James, Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony and Knicks G Nate Robinson (Fuse).

    GOING TO EXTRA HOLES: Golf Channel analysts Frank Nobilo and Brandel Chamblee have both agreed to multiyear contract extensions with the net that will keep them with Golf Channel through '14. Nobilo and Chamblee will continue to provide in-studio and on-site analysis for the Golf Channel's live PGA Tour and Champions Tour tournament coverage, as well as during the net's "Live From" weeks (Golf Channel).

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