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ABC earned an 11.5 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals Game Three, marking the best overnight for a Game Three since Pistons-Lakers earned a 12.6 overnight in '04 on a Thursday night. The 11.5 overnight is up 13.9% from a 10.1 rating for Lakers-Magic Game Three last year, and up 6.5% from a 10.8 overnight for Celtics-Lakers in '08. Last night's telecast peaked at a 14.7 rating during the 11:30-11:45pm ET window, and helped give ABC a win in primetime among all networks. The game earned a 28.0 rating in L.A. and a 22.8 rating in Boston (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). DAILY VARIETY's Rick Kissell writes a "competitive, marquee matchup in the NBA Finals is good news for ABC, which is delivering the event's largest early audience in six years." Fans are "always interested in the Los Angeles Lakers, but throw the rival Boston Celtics into the mix, and you've got the potential for some nifty Nielsen numbers." The teams "split the first two games, likely portending a six or seven-game series, which will mean even bigger ratings" (DAILY VARIETY, 6/9).
MARKET WATCH: Celtics-Lakers Game Two aired directly opposite NBC's coverage of Flyers-Blackhawks NHL Stanley Cup Final Game Five Sunday night. Among U.S. metered-market ratings for the telecasts, only Las Vegas cracked the top 10 for both telecasts, earning a 3.9 local rating for NBC's NHL telecast and a 14.7 for ABC's NBA telecast. Below are the top 10 U.S. markets for each telecast (THE DAILY).NBA FINALS GAME TWO
ON ABCNHL STANLEY CUP FINAL GAME FIVE
ON NBCRANKMARKETRATINGRANKMARKETRATING1L.A.25.11Chicago26.02Boston23.92Philadelphia19.73Las Vegas14.73Buffalo10.64Norfolk14.14Pittsburgh5.85DC14.05Detroit4.26Providence13.76Las Vegas3.97tBirmingham13.27Minneapolis3.87tMemphis13.28Ft. Myers3.79San Diego13.19Milwaukee3.610Richmond12.410tDenver3.310tColumbus3.310tWest Palm Beach3.3
ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS: The AP's Brian Mahoney wondered with ESPN/ABC NBA analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson "frequently linked to openings for coaching jobs, how long can ABC keep its team together?" Van Gundy "professes no desire to get back into coaching for now, while Jackson would like an opportunity but says he'll be fine if it doesn't come." ESPN/ABC announcer Mike Breen "realizes there will come a day when he looks down the table and sees new faces." Breen: "I know they're going to go. I'm just praying that it still lasts a few more years before they get their coaching jobs" (AP, 6/8).
PLAYING SECOND FIDDLE? In L.A., Diane Pucin writes NBA TV during the Finals "isn't getting much preferential treatment, at least for postgame interviews." After last night's Game Three, a "parade of somber-looking, green-wearing women filed by" Lakers F Pau Gasol in a "narrow hallway" as he was being interviewed by the net. NBA TV's Matt Winer "suggested perhaps Gasol was sitting in a supply closet." Pucin writes, "Maybe before Thursday the league's network can get a room" (L.A. TIMES, 6/9).
Strasburg Compared To Several HOFers
By MLB Network Crew During Debut
MLB Network broadcast last night's Pirates-Nationals game, which marked the MLB debut of Nationals P Stephen Strasburg, and announcer team of Bob Costas, John Smoltz and Jim Kaat "did a fine job" at conveying the scene, according to Tom Gage of the DETROIT NEWS. The crew was "reasonably restrained" during the game despite portraying the feeling that they "wanted to bubble about him even more than" they did. It might have been "a reach when, after Strasburg allowed his first hit, ... Costas told us the first hit off Walter Johnson was a single by Ty Cobb." Gage: "Then again, it might not have." However, Costas "reached deep for superlatives toward the end of Strasburg's seven innings" (DETROIT NEWS, 6/9). SPORTINGNEWS.com's Dan Levy writes, "Bob Costas likened Strasburg to at least eight different Hall of Famers during the MLB Network telecast of his debut" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 6/9). ESPN L.A.'s John Ireland said he would give Costas "some leeway" on comparing Strasburg to HOFers, as he appeared to be a "prisoner of the moment.” But ESPN's Skip Bayless said he was "shocked" at Costas' comments, as he has "always been so arch-conservative and anti-prisoner of the moment hype in any sport, but especially in his first love sport, which is baseball" ("ESPN First Take, ESPN2, 6/9).
COSTAS ADDING TO THE HYPE: DEADSPIN.com's Dashiell Bennett notes at least "five times during the MLB Network broadcast," Costas "took great pains to remind us ... that this is just one game that will not be indicative of Strasburg's entire career." But then with "every subsequent strikeout, he took even greater pains to imagine the colossal heights to which this great Washington ball hurler will ascend." Costas last night discussed "the 'media hype machine' as if he were not part of it," when in fact "he's the engine driver." Bennett: "Costas did more in just nine innings to craft the Legend of Stephen Strasburg then a lifetime supply of Baseball Almanacs ever could. Yet, he wants to use his same breaths to tsk-tsk the big bad media for losing their heads over the man" (DEADSPIN.com, 6/9).
TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING FROM ESPN? In Georgia, Bill Shanks writes under the header, "ESPN Goes Over The Top With Coverage." The net had a "countdown running at the bottom of the screen, with the time left before the rookie made his first pitch," and even though the net "did not televise the game, ESPN had a box on the top left of the screen throughout Strasburg’s start to keep up with his outing" (MACON TELEGRAPH, 6/9). In Jacksonville, Hays Carlyon wrote under the header, "Strasburg Is Good, But Hype Was Way Off The Charts." Carlyon: "How ridiculous was the hype machine for this event? ESPN had a countdown going all day" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 6/8). In N.Y., Wayne Coffey notes an "encampment of TV cameras was lined up outside the Nationals dugout four hours before game time," while ESPN "did a countdown as if this were a lunar landing" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/9).
MASN's Dibble And Carpenter Contribute
To Hype Surrounding Strasburg's Debut
LOCAL HERO: It was a tale of two telecasts on MASN2 last night for Strasburg's debut. The RSN’s production and camera work was top notch, proving to be big enough to capture an event that had national implications. The cameras caught every important play and presented new and informative angles during replays. The channel’s on-air talent, however, contributed to the dizzying level of hype surrounding Strasburg’s start. MASN’s Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble generally did a nice job calling the action, but at times they could barely contain their glee at calling the game. At one point, Dibble said he had “goosebumps” just watching Strasburg pitch. At another point, Carpenter said, “If I close my eyes, I would think that Walter Johnson came walking out of the cornfield and is pitching in Washington tonight." MASN sideline reporter Debbi Taylor seemed most overwhelmed. As MASN’s main on-camera interviewer, that led to several cringe-inducing interviews. During the hour-long pregame show, her first question to Strasburg’s agent Scott Boras was, "You’re like a dad to Stephen. Tell us … just how special he is." Moments later, Taylor’s first question to Nationals President Stan Kasten was equally banal: "You are really center stage of baseball right now, aren't you?" (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
POST-ER BOY: Today's Washington Post had a front-page, above-the-fold photo of Strasburg coming out for a curtain call at the beginning of the 8th inning that accompanies a front-page story by Dave Sheinin. Strasburg's pitching line is listed in bold above the photo. The front page of the sports section is dominated by a half-page photo of Strasburg pitching with the headline, "A Debut That's 14-K Gold." The section's front page has a game story from Adam Kilgore and a column from Thomas Boswell. The paper devotes 3 2/3 inside pages to the game, including a two-page spread that charts each one of Strasburg's pitches, columns from Mike Wise and Dan Steinberg and a news story from Barry Svrluga (Ourand).
Versus Viewership For Firestone 550k Up
Nearly 11% From Last Year's Race
Versus averaged 518,000 viewers (0.3 U.S. rating) for last Saturday night's Izod IndyCar Series Firestone 550k at Texas Motor Speedway from 8:42-11:04pm ET, marking the net's most-viewed race telecast since it began airing IndyCar races last season. The race peaked at 650,000 viewers in the 10:00-10:15pm window. The telecast's viewership was also up 10.9% from the race at Texas last year. Through four IndyCar telecasts this season, Versus is averaging 434,000 viewers, up 24.7% from 348,000 viewers at the same point last season. At the same point during the '08 season, ESPN/ESPN2 had averaged 893,000 viewers for five live telecasts. That excludes Danica Patrick's first win at the Japan race, which was shown on tape-delay the following day. Versus is also seeing year-over-year gains among males 18-34 (+44%), 18-49 (+12%) and 25-54 (+36%).DATE'10 RACELOCATIONSTARTVIEWERS (000)3/14Sao Paulo Indy 300Streets of São Paulo11:54am4114/11Indy Grand Prix of AlabamaBarber Motorsports Park3:49pm3104/18
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Streets of Long Beach4:21pm4906/5 Firestone 550k Texas Motor Speedway8:04pm518DATE'09 RACETRACKSTARTVIEWERS (000)4/5Honda Grand Prix of St. PetersburgStreets of St. Petersburg2:38pm2334/19Toyota Grand Prix of Long BeachStreets of Long Beach4:13pm4784/26RoadRunner Turbo Indy 300Kansas Speedway4:48pm2226/6 Bombardier Learjet 550 Texas Motor Speedway9:38pm467
POCONO DOWNS: TNT averaged a 3.1 U.S. rating and 5.097 million viewers for last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 from Pocono Raceway, which was the net's first NASCAR telecast of the '10 season. The race was down 8.8% and 7.0%, respectively, from a 3.4 rating and 5.48 million viewers for the race last year, and down 20.5% and 16.4% from '08. Sunday's telecast ranked as the sixth most-viewed program on all of cable TV for the week ending June 6, and was the most-viewed cable sports program of the week. The race was Sunday's top telecast on cable among men 18-49 and 25-54. NASCAR.com also had over one-million unique visitors and 7.4 million page views during the Pocono race, up 13% and 25%, respectively, from the race last year. Additionally, the site saw 724,000 total video streams (on demand+live), which was up 227% from last year.
In San Antonio, Richard Oliver noted local TV rights for the Astros and Rockets "are currently being hammered out, with the very real possibility that the teams will partner with Comcast cable company to form their own regional sports network." But the issue for fans in San Antonio is that a new Comcast SportsNet Houston, "which would begin televising the games in 2013, would have to work out distribution deals with Time Warner, AT&T U-verse, Grand Communications and Dish Network" in the market, "and more importantly, on a tier that will be affordable." Oliver noted FS Southwest, "which carries the Astros on its primary feed into San Antonio, is currently available on all major cable and satellite companies throughout the state" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 6/6).
MOVING DAY: In Miami, Barry Jackson cites sources as saying that the NHL Panthers tomorrow will announce that they are "moving their games" from WAXY-AM to WQAM-AM. Panthers games had been on WQAM from the team's inception in '93 until '07. The team's three-year contract with WAXY "expired after this past season." Randy Moller "will remain the team's radio announcer" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/9).
BACK TO WORK: Mike Wilner, who covers the Blue Jays for Toronto's The Fan 590-AM, was scheduled to return to his job last night "after being told to take last weekend off following a tense exchange with team manager Cito Gaston." Station Program Dir Don Kollins "confirmed his return in a brief email Monday, but declined to comment on a letter by the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America backing Wilner." The "exact reason for Wilner's absence ... was never explained publicly" (CP, 6/7).
LEGAL MATTERS: CABLEFAX DAILY reported MLB has asked the New York Supreme Court to issue a subpoena requiring Charter Communications' "aid in identifying people who have allegedly posted porn and other indecent content on MLB.com message boards, as the league determined that certain offenders are Charter Internet subs." The MSO said that it has "received and is reviewing MLB's request, but will 'disclose subscriber information only as required by law, making certain that we comply with applicable law while respecting the privacy of our customers'" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 6/8).