ESPN Begins Laying Off Around 100 Personalities Where Does NASCAR Go With Dale Jr. Leaving? Manfred: Bush-Jeter Deal For Marlins Not Done David Abrutyn's Career Intertwined With Caps History FedEx Signs Multiyear NFL Extension Learfield Brings On Gil Beverly, Jack Patterson Officials Break Ground On Pro Football HOF Village Hotel Woods' Endorsement Deals Suffer From Layoff Minding My Business: Williams Martini Racing's Richard Berry ESPN Cuts Drive Discussion On Twitter
SBD/September 21, 2010/MediaPrint All
ESPN earned a 10.6 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's Saints-49ers "MNF" telecast from 8:30pm-12:00am ET. The 10.6 overnight is up 5% from a 10.1 rating for Colts-Dolphins in Week Two last season. The game earned a 19.5 local rating on ESPN and a 45.7 rating on WDSU-NBC in New Orleans, while it drew a 15.2 local rating on ESPN and a 7.0 rating on KBCW-CW in the S.F./Oakland/San Jose market. ESPN finished second last night in primetime among all nets behind ABC, which aired the season premiere of "Dancing With The Stars" (THE DAILY).
SUNDAY NIGHT SPECIAL: NBC earned a 13.8 final rating and 23.1 million viewers for the Giants-Colts "SNF", down 9% and 8%, respectively, from a 15.1 rating and 24.8 million viewers for Giants-Cowboys in Week Two last year, which featured the first regular-season game at Cowboys Stadium. Compared to the first "Manning Bowl" on NBC in Week One of the '06 season, the rating is down 3.5%, but viewership was up 1.6% from 22.7 million viewers. The Giants-Colts telecast also helped NBC to a win in primetime among all nets on Sunday night. The game earned a 44.9 local rating in Indianapolis and a 17.7 rating in N.Y. Through three NFL game telecasts, NBC is averaging a 15.1 rating, which marks the best two-week NFL primetime average in 11 years, when ABC averaged a 15.7 rating. In terms of viewers for the same telecasts, NBC's 25.3 million viewers marks the best two-week average since '94, when ABC was averaging 25.5 million viewers. Compared to last year at the same point, NBC is up 12% and 13%, respectively, from a 13.5 rating and 22.3 million viewers (NBC). DAILY VARIETY's Rick Kissell noted it is a "testament to just how popular the NFL is today" that Sunday's 38-14 Colts victory over the Giants -- "a game whose 24-0 halftime score invited early tune-out -- delivered the fifth best overnight score since 'SNF' began on NBC" in '06. Kissell noted there "wasn't much else happening on the night, although this coming Sunday will see the season premieres of the night's top shows" (VARIETY.com, 9/20).
LOCAL NUMBERS: In Dallas, Barry Horn noted KDFW-Fox averaged a 33.1 local rating and 860,000 HHs in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market for Sunday's Bears-Cowboys game. The final 15 minutes of the game drew 978,000 HHs (DALLASNEWS.com, 9/20)....The Rams drew a 23.4 local rating on KTVI-Fox for their 16-14 loss to the Raiders, the club's highest-rated Week Two game since '06 (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/21).
TICKET REDUCTION? DirecTV Exec VP & CFO Patrick Doyle last week indicated that the company next fall "may cut the price" of its nonsubscriber "NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go" offering, which provides an "opportunity for people who can't get DirecTV to still access 'Sunday Ticket' online and on-mobile." MEDIA DAILY NEWS' David Goetzl noted the version "was tested last fall in Manhattan, an area with thousands of apartments and other dwellings, but where DirecTV signals are blocked." Doyle said despite some marketing the offering "didn't resonate very well." He did say however, "In my mind, it was more of the price that we charged." The cost was "about on par with what a DirecTV customer was paying for the traditional 'Sunday Ticket' on their TV sets." Doyle indicated that "other priorities got in the way of DirecTV launching a major marketing effort behind the 'nonsubscriber' opportunity this fall," but the company "expects to next year, and perhaps cut the price" (MEDIA DAILY NEWS, 9/21 issue). Meanwhile, in S.F., Bruce Jenkins writes the NFL's "treatment of blacked-out fans borders on criminal behavior." Fans who "subscribe to DirecTV's Sunday Ticket package -- paying good money for every game on the NFL menu" -- still cannot watch local teams' games "if they're blacked out." But the RedZone Channel is "almost too good to be true -- and it doesn't discriminate against blacked-out markets." Jenkins writes the channel is "simply a must for any fan of the league" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/21).
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Turner Sports has signed a 14-year deal with the NCAA to operate the collegiate governing body's digital properties, replacing the CBS College Sports Network beginning next year. Turner will operate and manage the newly created NCAA Digital, encompassing NCAA.com and the NCAA's various mobile sites and applications covering its 88 championships. The NCAA Digital properties add to Turner's growing interactive portfolio that also includes NBA.com, PGATour.com, PGA.com and NASCAR.com, and oversight for SI.com. Financial terms were not disclosed, though Turner will completely manage ad sales for the venture. Turner Sports Exec VP & COO Lenny Daniels said, "This is a pretty cool thing. If done right, we can create a really great destination." The deal coincides entirely in contract length with the major partnership struck earlier this year with CBS and the NCAA for media rights to the NCAA men's basketball tournament, a pact that includes Turner's operational oversight of March Madness On Demand. Though there will be obvious operational, sales, content and promotional synergies between MMOD and NCAA Digital, the two deals were negotiated separately, Daniels said. The NCAA Digital deal is also different from the others in Turner's portfolio in that TBS and TNT have no TV rights to college sports outside of the March Madness games it will air in partnership with CBS. "That definitely makes it more challenging, in that we obviously can't bundle sales with TV in the same way we have for the other leagues," Daniels said. "But we are very bullish on the future of these assets." The company plans a refresh of NCAA.com early next year.
Longtime TV producer David Neal has signed the PBR as his first client "two months after leaving NBC to set up his own production company," according to John Ourand in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. L.A.-based David Neal Productions (DNP) will exec produce the PBR's Built Ford Tough Series, starting in January. As part of the deal, DNP "receives a straight contractual fee for producing the PBR programming, which is carried by Versus." The programming had been produced in-house by the PBR. Neal is repped by William Morris Endeavor, which "cut the deal" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/20 issue). DAILY VARIETY's Jon Weisman noted Versus airs "roughly 400 hours per year" of PBR event coverage leading up to the PBR World Finals in October. PBR Exec Chair Jeffrey Pollack believes that Neal "will help accelerate the rise of the PBR." Neal, who spent 30 years with NBC, intends to bring his "style of presentation to how the tour is presented on TV -- approaching it as a storytelling opportunity for both the two-legged and four-legged athletes." He added, "At the core of it is this eight-second marvel that these riders go out and routinely accomplish. First and foremost, there's so much to capture there that's just of an audio and visual nature that needs to be uncluttered" (DAILY VARIETY, 9/20).
The National Baseball HOF & Museum has struck a broad partnership with Massachusetts-based EMC Corp. in which the technology company will sponsor a digitization project aimed at preserving the HOF's massive archives and expanding the institution's reach globally. The effort will digitally preserve more than a half-million photographs, 3 million documents, more than 12,000 hours of audio and video and nearly 40,000 three-dimensional artifacts. The project, slated to begin later this year, is scheduled to extend into '13. EMC will additionally support the Hall's existing videoconferencing education series that uses baseball to teach concepts in science, math, history and many other subjects. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the pact is structured as a sponsorship agreement in which EMC will be aligning with the HOF in return for the consulting on the digitization effort, hardware and a relationship fee. EMC is performed similar digitization efforts for many other major museums, including the Smithsonian Institution. "The key is making us more accessible to the rest of the world," said HOF President Jeff Idelson. "It's not so much about directly monetizing the digital content as much as boosting research and learning, driving traffic to Cooperstown and increasing overall engagement with the hall" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). In Boston, Jerry Kronenberg reports a half-dozen EMC workers will "assist the museum in digitally recording its most important items." Online viewers "will actually enjoy a better experience in some ways than those who actually visit Cooperstown," as the HOF "only has space to show about 17 percent of its collection at any one time" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/21).
Augusta National Chair Billy Payne announced today that ESPN next year will air an extra hour of The Masters during its Thursday and Friday coverage. The net's live broadcasts are scheduled for 3:00-7:30pm ET during those two days. Meanwhile, Payne also announced that Sky Sports will join the BBC as a live broadcaster in the U.K. for the ’11 tournament (Augusta National Golf Club).
RANGER DANGER: In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson reports Saturday's Rangers-A's game is the "only game on the Rangers' 162-game schedule this year that won't be televised" despite the fact that the Rangers "might actually be able to clinch the American League West on Saturday." The team is "working to make TV happen in some capacity, and have been working for about a month." The Rangers "lobbied Oakland to change the game time outside of Fox's exclusive rights window, but the A's passed." The Rangers are "attempting to get the game on live air, but have also discussed showing the game on tape-delay." The team hopes to "know something" by tomorrow (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/21).
SPUTTERING OFF THE LINE: ESPN averaged a 2.3 U.S. rating and 3.677 million viewers for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Sylvania 300, marking the lowest-rated and least-viewed Sprint Cup race this season -- excluding rained-out races run on a Monday. Those figures are also both down from the same race last year, which aired on ABC (THE DAILY). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes that this was the first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and the rating is "not a rousing start to NASCAR's de facto playoff." But it is "still good to have a playoff so NASCAR has a chance to get some attention beyond its hard-core fans" (USA TODAY, 9/21).
STORM FRONT: ESPN2 averaged 516,000 viewers for Games Two and Three of the Storm-Dream WNBA Finals, up 20% over 430,000 average viewers for Games Two and Three of last year's Mercury-Fever WNBA Finals on ESPN2. The 516,000 average also was up 73% over 299,000 average viewers for ESPN2's coverage of Games Two and Three of the '08 Shock-Silver Stars WNBA Finals. Meanwhile, video usage on WNBA.com during the '10 WNBA Finals climbed 50% over the first three games of last year's finals (five-game series), while visits increased over 15% (WNBA).
BIG PLANS: FoxSports.com Managing Editor Steve Miller said that columnist Jason Whitlock "will write multiple columns weekly and do chats and podcasts." Fox hired Whitlock full-time earlier this year, and the site "had been in serious discussions to bring Whitlock on board since June." Miller: "My impression of him has evolved over time. How would I describe him? Thought-provoking. Interesting. You might not agree with him -- and early on I did not -- but after reading him I would learn something and was compelled to think about an issue in a different way" (SI.com, 9/17).