SBD/Issue 154/Sports Media

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  • CBS Gets Help From Turner To Keep NCAA Men's Basketball Tourney

    Every March Madness Game Will Be Televised
    Nationally As Part Of 14-Year, $10.8B TV Deal

    Every NCAA men’s basketball tournament game will be televised nationally as part of a new 14-year, $10.8B TV agreement announced Thursday by the NCAA and broadcast partners CBS Sports and Turner Sports. The agreement goes into effect in '11, when the tournament is expected to expand from 65 to 68 teams. Tournament expansion must be approved next week by the NCAA’s BOD, but approval of the new TV deal is not required. The average TV rights fee of $771M over the 14 years of the new arrangement represents a 61.1% increase over what CBS paid during the last eight years of the old contract with the NCAA. Turner and CBS will share revenue and expenses in the joint venture, the networks said. Internet and wireless rights are included, as well as the corporate marketing program. The $10.8B figure represents just the TV rights fees. Other revenue from the corporate partners program is expected to push the value to more than $11B in total and close to $800M annually. CBS will provide coverage of the regional finals and the Final Four through '15. Beginning in '16, coverage of the regional finals will be split by CBS and Turner, with the Final Four games alternating each year between CBS and TBS. Turner will also use its other networks, TNT and truTV, to broadcast early-round games nationally.

    WE CAN WORK TOGETHER: CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus said the partnership with Turner “puts us on solid footing for lasting profitability.” The escalating rights fees in the old deal, which jumped 8% a year, had put a financial strain on CBS, multiple industry sources said, and the network was seeking relief from the continued rise in fees. Partnering with Turner will help CBS share some of those expenses, while also broadening its advertising sales because all of the games will now be televised. Turner and CBS will jointly sell the tournament’s ad inventory. “This is not a bailing out,” McManus said. “We were prepared to do the last three years. It was going to be very challenging because of the rights fees, but the NCAA came to us and they were interested in putting a new programming system in place. This works out much better than if we’d had the last three years” of the old contract. "Through this partnership, we’re going to be able to expand the reach and visibility of the tournament,” said Turner Sports President David Levy. “The tournament outgrew the ability of one network to provide everything that fans are looking for. We’re going to provide unrivaled access for viewers, who can watch all of the games in their entirety" (Ourand & Smith, SportsBusiness Journal). McManus: "The system we had worked well for 29 years. But to generate the kind of revenue and exposure to complete this deal -- and you know who we were competing with -- we needed a cable partner" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/23). Sports media consultant Neal Pilson: "It's yet another indication that major rights fees deals are going to have a cable component" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/23).

    DOLLARS & SENSE: The first three years of the new deal are expected to be comparable to what was outlined in the old deal: $657M in '11; $710M in '12; and $764M in '13. The final 11 years of the contract will average $790M (Ourand & Smith). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Georg Szalai cites sources as saying that Turner "will shoulder a bigger portion" of the rights costs than CBS. The two will "split production costs and ad revenue," with Turner parent company Time Warner Cable "also expecting to benefit financially via higher affiliate fees." A TWC regulatory filing Thursday revealed that "should the tournament turn a loss, CBS' annual maximum red ink will be capped" at $30-90M and at $670M "during the course of the agreement period, with the rest carried" by TWC. CBS expects to "capture more retransmission consent and other revenue in the coming years, which would help offset shortfalls during any given year." CBS and Turner's bid trumped ESPN's offer to the NCAA, and Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce said, "It looks like CBS and Turner partnered to pay up to keep ESPN from approaching a monopoly on TV sports rights" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 4/23). ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper Thursday said, "We love the event, we love the sport, so it was something we were anxious to acquire. We were outbid" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/23). On Long Island, Neil Best suggests ESPN "might be conserving resources for a run" at U.S. rights to the '14 and '16 Olympic Games (NEWSDAY, 4/23).

    Levy Does Not Anticipate Any
    Pushback From Congress On Deal

    HOW THE TABLES HAVE TURNED: In L.A., Joe Flint notes Turner overall will carry "about 65% of the tournament's games on its cable channels" over the life of the contract. Turner likely will "try to use the NCAA deal to pressure cable and satellite distributors to pay more to carry its cable networks." SNL Kagan noted that TNT "gets about $1 per subscriber per month from cable TV providers" while TBS and truTV get $0.50 cents and $0.10, respectively. Flint notes the "exodus of sports to cable has been of concern on Capitol Hill," but Levy Thursday said that he "did not anticipate any pushback from Congress on the deal" (L.A. TIMES, 4/23). Levy said, "This is a landmark deal for our company for sure. I don't anticipate any pushback. ... These (Turner properties) are fully distributed national networks, and we're not apologizing for that." McManus noted that CBS College Sports "could not be included in the deal because its distribution lags well behind the Turner nets" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 4/23). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes Turner "might use its TNT NBA announcers -- Marv Albert, Doug Collins, Reggie Miller -- on its NCAA action." Levy said Collins "would be a tremendous asset for this portfolio." He stressed that the games "will share a consistent look" on all four networks. Levy: "We're going to look at all (on-air) talent across the board" (USA TODAY, 4/23).

    STILL IN DEMAND: The NCAA Thursday said that its "March Madness on Demand" streaming video player "will continue on both NCAA.com and CBSSports.com, and will now also appear on Time Warner digital properties." The NCAA said, "The player will be operated and developed by Turner and have enhanced digital rights allowing the NCAA to deliver content for multiple Turner and Time Warner platforms" (VARIETY.com, 4/22). PAID CONTENT's Staci Kramer noted Turner will control "all digital rights, development and operation" (PAIDCONTENT.org, 4/22). Meanwhile, the networks Thursday said that they "will look into keeping DirecTV's contribution to the package as the satellite dish owner has been offering all games" through its "Mega March Madness" subscription package (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 4/23). While many of the "production responsibilities remain undetermined," Levy said that each of the four TV networks "will have the option to have 'look-ins' at other games in progress, but there will be no switching between games on each of the individual networks" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/23).

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  • ESPN's NFL Draft First Round Up 26% In Overnight Nielsen Ratings

    ESPN Earns 5.4 Overnight Rating For Last
    Night's Draft, Up 25.6% From '09 First Round

    ESPN earned a 5.4 metered-market Nielsen rating for the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night from 7:30-11:15pm ET. That rating is up 25.6% from the first round last year, which earned a 4.3 metered-market rating from 4:00-7:30pm on a Saturday. Jacksonville topped all U.S. metered markets for ESPN's telecast with a 10.9 local rating. On NFL Network, the draft earned a 0.95 metered-market rating, up from a 0.66 for the first round last year. Combined, ESPN/NFL Network's coverage of the first round was up 30.2% from last year and 54.7% from '08. Also, TNT earned a 2.1 metered-market rating for Game Three of the Cavaliers-Bulls NBA Eastern Conference First Round in the net's early window, and a 3.0 rating for Game Three of the Lakers-Thunder Western Conference First Round series in the late window (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). CABLEFAX DAILY's Heiges & Arenstein write, "I challenge anyone to proffer a valid argument against the prudence of moving coverage of the draft's 1st round to Thurs night prime from Sat afternoon" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 4/23).

    UNDER REVIEW: In Toronto, Ryan Wolstat writes while ESPN's draft crew "loses points for ruining the suspense before most picks by revealing who it would be, the group generally did a good job of keeping viewers absorbed in the event." ESPN analyst Jon Gruden was "stellar," as he was "funny and charismatic." The coverage of QB Tim Tebow was "surprisingly good," as was the "invasion of Dez Bryant's home and his subsequent collapse to the floor owing either to the emotion of the moment, or a flair for the dramatic." Meanwhile, NFL Network's coverage of the draft Thursday was "solid, but unspectacular." The network "subjected us to the woeful work of Deion Sanders," who was "nothing short of awful in his interviewing role" (TORONTO SUN, 4/23). In Albany, Pete Dougherty writes Gruden was "outstanding," as he was "pointed in his opinions and engaging in his delivery." Dougherty added, "Any time ESPN sought input from a reporter (Chris Mortensen, Ed Werder, et al), the information was worthwhile. They were the strength of the network's coverage." Meanwhile, NFL Network host Rich Eisen "may be at least the equal" of Berman, but "unfortunately, any of Eisen's positives were negated by Deion Sanders, miscast in a role of interviewer" (Albany TIMES UNION, 4/23). NBCSPORTS.com's Mike Celizic writes ESPN's analysts were the "usual ESPN suspects, all ... adding very little actual information to the process." Even anchor Chris Berman, "who was created for events like these, was oddly subdued." Still, the primetime debut was a "total success," as it "delivered a spectacle that people love to watch in a form they want to watch it in" (NBCSPORTS.com, 4/23).

    CHUCKY, SAY CHEESE: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes ESPN should "order up more camera time for Jon Gruden," as so far he has been the "star of the draft." Gruden, with his "devious arching eyebrows and twisted sneer," has "all the makings to be the Simon Cowell of this event" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 4/23). But in Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes, "Gruden liked everybody. Every pick was good, every player a potential star. If Gruden is accurate, 150 players will be invited to the 2010 Pro Bowl." Sorensen: "Hey, Jon -- Dick Vitale wants his script back." Meanwhile, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. was "honest and sincere" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/23). SPORTINGNEWS.com's Dan Levy writes Gruden has "developed an inability to criticize teams in the league." Meanwhile, Gruden seemed to be doing "more and more of the analysis over the highlights." Levy: "It felt like ESPN had Kiper sitting on the end of the desk doing nothing other than staring at his Big Board" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/23). Gruden on-air called both Bryant and RB C.J. Spiller the "prized possession" of the draft ("NFL Draft," ESPN, 4/22). Meanwhile, THE BIG LEAD noted Gruden after a video montage "seemed to be reading a text message to the guys on the set and said ' ... it's a crazy league, a lotta dumb ass ...' but then Chris Berman jumped in to save him" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 4/22).

    Did ESPN's Kiper Have Lesser On-Air Presence
    During First Round Than In Previous Years?

    OTHER TALENT REVIEWS: In Buffalo, Alan Pergament wrote Kiper "didn't get much air time in ESPN's Thursday night coverage, primarily because analyst Steve Young seemed to be conducting a filibuster."  Pergament: "He never shut up. ... Kiper and Tom Jackson were overwhelmed by Young's filibusters. The coverage would have been better if Young had been benched" (BUFFALONEWS.com, 4/22). SPORTINGNEWS.com's Levy writes NFL Net "made Mike Mayock into their star of the evening." The net's on-air talent "deferred to his expertise on everything from player grades to who would be the right fit for which team." Levy: "Mayock felt like an expert on Thursday, and the credit clearly goes to Rich Eisen for that" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/23).

    TRADING SPACES: In San Diego, Jay Posner writes "all the reporters ESPN has at the NFL draft and the network still mangled the Chargers trade story." The Dolphins traded their No. 12 pick to the Chargers, and after the Chargers took RB Ryan Mathews with that selection, Berman said that the Dolphins "got several draft picks plus linebacker Tim Dobbins was going from 'Miami to San Diego.'" But Dobbins was going from the Chargers to the Dolphins. Berman "managed to top that goof later when he misidentified the team that was on the clock and about to select Tim Tebow" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/23). In L.A., Diane Pucin wrote, "Best statement of the coverage so far: ESPN anchor Chris Berman telling us that Miami and San Diego have made a trade. 'Let's get the details,' Berman said. 'We don't have them.' All in the same breath" (LATIMES.com, 4/22).

    DON'T TWITTER ME THIS: SPORTINGNEWS.com's Levy writes it was "impossible to miss the fact that Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen from ESPN and Jason La Canfora from NFLN were blatantly announcing picks on Twitter minutes -- sometimes up to five or six minutes -- before the commissioner announced a selection." Levy: "I'm all for scoops, but we aren't sitting around for five hours watching this spectacle of a draft so we can have our picks leaked out before hand. ... I understand that millions of people watch the NFL Draft and no more than a few hundred thousand are following on Twitter, but those few hundred thousand are likely the more dedicated viewers" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/23).

    Critics Still Split Over Whether Beginning Draft
    On Thursday Was A Wise Decision

    THE VERDICTS ARE IN: The L.A. DAILY NEWS' Hoffarth writes of moving the draft to primetime on Thursday, "For this NFL chest-thumping experiment to work here, there are too many intangibles, a lot of character issues, even some off-the-chart downside. There's already enough NBA and NHL playoff games sharing space with MLB. But maybe it's just crazy enough to work, as long as the teams making the draft picks continue to fool everyone and stretch out the drama" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 4/23). In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes under the header, "Move Of 2010 NFL Draft To Prime Time On ESPN Won't Go Down As One Of Roger Goodell's Best Ideas." Raissman: "This was just another night of the NFL polishing its brand. Someone thinks the NFL draft is now too big for Saturday afternoon. It must have glitz. It must step out with other star prime-time attractions. Baloney. You can believe the ratings hype. We ain't" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/23).

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  • NHL Utilizing Facebook Tools To Make Fans Advocates For League

    NHL.com Visitors Can Now Sign
    Into Site With Facebook Logins

    The NHL "has launched the next phase" of its long-term social-media strategy, as it has "begun using new Facebook tools that it hopes will make NHL fans advocates and promulgators of league content and opinions," according to Karl Greenberg of MARKETING DAILY. As part of the league's "Hockey Marketplace" syndication strategy, visitors to NHL.com now can sign into the site with their Facebook login and "access a number of plug-ins that carry NHL content to the people friended by the social site's members who express their opinion, share or comment on NHL." NHL Senior Dir of Digital Business Development Alex Simon said tools on team pages and player profiles, as well as the home page, allow users to "voice their affinities, and how they feel about the NHL." Simon added that Facebook members "who click on, say, the 'like' or 'share' button on NHL, or on NHL's Facebook site, or anywhere else the League has integrated the tools disseminate that content and their opinion about it across their network of Facebook friends" (MARKETING DAILY, 4/23 issue). NHL Senior VP/Direct & Digital Marketing & Fan Analytics Perry Cooper: "We are excited about the potential of Facebook as an audience development tool because of its unparalleled reach and its unique word-of-mouth capabilities." Meanwhile, BROADCASTING & CABLE's Alex Weprin reported ESPN has started integrating Facebook features on ESPN.com, kicking off during Thursday's primetime coverage of the NFL Draft. Facebook users visiting the "NFL DraftCast" on ESPN.com were "able to 'like' players and teams, and send that information to their friends" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 4/21).

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  • CBS/ESPN Dedicated 19% Of Masters TV Coverage To Tiger Woods

    Tiger Woods garnered the majority of TV time during ESPN's and CBS' telecasts of The Masters, accounting for 19.12% of the coverage, according to data from brand exposure measurement firm Repucom. ESPN devoted just over 50% of its first-round broadcast to Woods and his playing partners K.J. Choi and Matt Kuchar. When the coverage of Woods' first tee shot is included, that percentage rises to 55% for Woods' group. Coverage of Woods dipped back down during the second round, as he was finished with his round before ESPN's live coverage had begun. Phil Mickelson topped Day Two coverage at 18.63%. When CBS began airing weekend coverage on Saturday, Woods again jumped to the top of the list, with 24.43% of air time. Mickelson regained the top spot during the final round with 26.63% of air time as he secured his third green jacket. The percentage of broadcaster coverage dedicated during the four rounds to the top 10 finishers in the tournament is below.

    PERCENTAGE OF BROADCASTER COVERAGE
    FOR TOP 10 FINISHERS DURING THE MASTERS
    FINISH
    GOLFER
    THURS. (ESPN)
    FRI. (ESPN)
    SAT. (CBS)
    SUN (CBS)
    TOTAL
    1
    Phil Mickelson
    0.2%
    17.1%
    23.5%
    20.7%
    15.8%
    2
    Lee Westwood
    2.3%
    18.6%
    18.6%
    26.6%
    17.5%
    3
    Anthony Kim
    0.0%
    9.1%
    2.4%
    3.6%
    3.7%
    T-4
    K.J. Choi
    8.9%
    0.0%
    6.3%
    12.1%
    7.5%
    T-4
    Tiger Woods
    29.7%
    2.8%
    24.4%
    18.7%
    19.1%
    6
    Fred Couples
    14.3%
    0.3%
    6.2%
    9.7%
    8.0%
    7
    Hunter Mahan
    0.0%
    3.4%
    1.7%
    1.2%
    1.5%
    T-8
    Nick Watney
    2.4%
    0.0%
    0.0%
    0.7%
    0.8%
    T-8
    Y.E. Yang
    0.2%
    7.7%
    0.0%
    0.0%
    1.7%
    T-10
    Ricky Barnes
    1.8%
    0.4%
    3.9%
    0.6%
    1.6%
    T-10
    Ian Poulter
    3.4%
    0.8%
    11.4%
    1.3%
    3.9%

    NOTE: Broadcaster coverage is measured through time on screen for the golfer, and includes their shot setup, ball flight, interviews and highlights.

    SPONSOR EXPOSURE: Lee Westwood, who finished second behind Mickelson, delivered an event-best $8.29M in sponsor exposure during the four TV telecasts. Westwood had eight sponsors visible during the four Masters telecasts, with each sponsor averaging around $1.04M in exposure. Mickelson finished second in total exposure value at $7.97M, with the KPMG branding on his hat edging out shirt-sponsor Barclays by around 5% in media value. Barclays, however, delivered 7% more value than KPMG during Sunday's final round. While KPMG and Barclays topped the media value for finance/professional service companies, much of the category's value came from int'l institutions. Choi fared best with Shinhan Bank, generating $332,572 in media value for the company for the tournament, with 85% of that value coming during the final round. On a per-sponsor level, Woods delivered the best value with Nike, which was his only on-course partner. Woods delivered $5.15M in media exposure for the brand during the four rounds. Overall, the top six finishers at The Masters delivered 68.82% of the total brand exposure, and 84.36% of media value. Listed below is media value delivered by the top six finishers at the event (Repucom).

    MEDIA EXPOSURE FOR TOP SIX FINISHERS AT THE MASTERS
    FINISH
    GOLFER
    VISIBLE SPONSORS
    MEDIA VALUE
    PER SPONSOR
    1
    Phil Mickelson
    4
    $7,973,804
    $1,993,451
    2
    Lee Westwood
    8
    $8,294,015
    $1,036,752
    3
    Anthony Kim
    2
    $1,064,053
    $532,027
    T-4
    Tiger Woods
    1
    $5,151,561
    $5,151,561
    T-4
    K.J. Choi
    6
    $2,393,638
    $398,940
    6
    Fred Couples
    4
    $2,240,142
    $560,036

    NOTE: Repucom's broadcast analysis media value takes into account the quality of each brand exposure -- consecutive duration on screen, size of the brand on screen, location of the brand on screen, numbers of brand executions present, as well as the audience exposed to it (delivered by Nielsen Media ratings) and the cost to reach that audience. The higher value compared to exposure points to the broadcaster's concentration on the leaders during Sunday's final round, where the audience is higher, and therefore the value of each exposure seen is higher.

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  • Final Nielsen Ratings From Recent Sports Telecasts

    The chart below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts (THE DAILY).

    TELECAST
    DATE
    NET
    TIME
    RAT.
    NBA Western Conference First Round:
    Thunder-Lakers: Game One
    4/18
    ABC
    2:56-5:44pm
    3.3
    MLB: (regional)
    4/17
    Fox
    4:07-10:40pm
    2.4
    NBA Eastern Conference First Round:
    Bulls-Cavaliers: Game One
    4/17
    ABC
    2:56-5:32pm
    2.5
    "Saturday Night Fights": Strikeforce
    4/17
    CBS
    9:00-11:45pm
    1.8
    PGA Tour: Verizon Heritage: Final Round
    4/18
    CBS
    3:00-6:24pm
    1.9
    NHL Western Conference Quarterfinals:
    Coyotes-Red Wings: Game Three
    4/18
    NBC
    3:01-6:00pm
    1.3
    "NBA Countdown"
    4/18
    ABC
    2:30-3:00pm
     1.0
    NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals:
    Bruins-Sabres: Game Two
    4/17
    NBC
    1:00-3:53pm
    1.0
    PGA Tour: Verizon Heritage: Third Round
    4/17
    CBS
    3:00-6:00pm
    1.0
    National Heads-Up Poker Championship (taped)
    4/18
    NBC
    12:00-1:00pm
    0.8
    "NBA Countdown"
    4/17
    ABC
    2:30-3:00pm
     0.8
    Champions Tour: Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am:
    Final Round (rainout coverage)
    4/18
    NBC
    1:00-3:00pm
    0.7
    Champions Tour: Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am:
    Third Round
    4/17
    NBC
    3:53-6:00pm
    0.7
    Monster Energy AMA Supercross: St. Louis (taped)
    4/18
    CBS
    2:00-3:00pm
    0.5
    TELECAST
    DATE
    NET
    TIME
    U.S.
    CABLE
    VIEWERS (000)
    NBA Western Conference First Round: Spurs-Mavericks: Game One
    4/18
    TNT
    8:18-10:53pm
    2.5
    2.9
    3,925
    NBA Eastern Conference First Round: Heat-Celtics: Game One
    4/17
    ESPN
    8:05-11:01pm
    2.5
    2.9
    3,821
    NBA Eastern Conference First Round: Bobcats-Magic: Game One
    4/18
    TNT
    5:39-8:18pm
    2.0
    2.3
    3,116
    NBA Western Conference First Round: Trail Blazers-Suns: Game One
    4/18
    TNT
    10:53pm-1:35am
    2.0
    2.3
    2,988
    NBA Western Conference First Round: Jazz-Nuggets: Game One
    4/17
    ESPN
    11:01pm-1:20am
    1.9
    2.2
    2,921
    MLB: Mets-Cardinals
    4/18
    ESPN
    8:00-10:59pm
    1.4
    1.6
    2,194
    NBA Eastern Conference First Round: Bucks-Hawks: Game One
    4/17
    ESPN
    5:30-8:05pm
    1.5
    1.7
    2,160
    NBA: Celtics-Bulls
    4/13
    TNT
    8:16-10:55pm
    1.1
    1.3
    1,622
    NBA: Nuggets-Suns
    4/13
    TNT
    10:55pm-1:27am
    1.1
    1.2
    1,594
    NBA: Suns-Jazz
    4/14
    ESPN
    10:38pm-1:07am
    1.0
    1.2
    1,417

    HOOPIN' IT UP: ABC averaged a 2.9 rating and 4.432 million viewers for its two NBA Playoff games last weekend, Bulls-Cavaliers Game One and Thunder-Lakers Game One. The figures are up 7.4% and 10.5%, respectively, from a 2.7 rating and 4.010 million viewers for the first two playoff games in '09 (THE DAILY)....FS Arizona averaged a 9.0 local rating in the Phoenix market for its telecast of Tuesday's Trail Blazers-Suns Game Two. The 9.0 rating tied the record for the highest-rated Suns game ever on the net with the Lakers-Suns game in February '08 in which C Shaquille O'Neal made his debut with the team (FS Arizona).

    HOT ICE: NBC averaged a 1.2 rating and 1.736 million viewers for its two NHL Stanley Cup Playoff games last weekend, Bruins-Sabres Game Two and Coyotes-Red Wings Game Three. The figures are up 20% and 5%, respectively, from a 1.0 rating and 1.657 million viewers for the first two playoff telecasts last year (THE DAILY)....In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich noted the Canadiens-Capitals Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series has been "drawing huge ratings" in Canada. TSN averaged 2.1 million viewers for last Saturday's Game Two, a "strong but not an overwhelming number" and one the Maple Leafs have "topped during the regular season." But another 1.3 million viewers "watched the game on French-language RDS -- an impressive 39[%] of the Quebec French market." Zelkovich wrote with a Saturday night audience "focused on the Canadiens, it's possible that some viewers will have noticed that there's at least one team worth cheering for in this country" besides the Maple Leafs (THESTAR.com, 4/20). Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic averaged a 5.3 local rating in the DC market for its telecast Wednesday's Capitals-Canadiens Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game Four, its highest rating of the postseason. The net averaged a 1.8 local rating in the Baltimore market for the game. Through four first-round games, CSN Mid-Atlantic is averaging a 5.0 local rating in the DC market, up 79% from the net's first four Capitals games last postseason. The net's Capitals postseason viewership is up 42% in Baltimore from last year (CSN).

    TRAFFIC REPORT: NASCAR.com recorded 14.2 million video views through the first eight races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, up 70% over 8.3 million views during the same period last season. The site also is up 5% in visits over the same time period. Meanwhile, through March, NASCAR.com averaged 6.6 million monthly unique users, up 6% for the first quarter of the year over 6.3 million in '09 (Turner Sports).

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