SBD/Issue 31/Sports Media

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  • TBS, Fox Combine To Average Best MLB LCS Audience Since '07

    Fox and TBS averaged 8.6 million viewers for 12 telecasts of the MLB League Championship Series. This marks the most-viewed LCS since '07, which featured a seven-game Red Sox-Indians ALCS on Fox and a Rockies sweep of the D’Backs on TBS. The LCS this year also is up 2% from last year’s 8.43 million average viewers for Phillies-Dodgers on TBS and Yankees-Angels on Fox. TBS averaged a 5.1 U.S. rating and 8.22 million average viewers for the six-game Rangers-Yankees series, marking the net’s most-viewed LCS series since it began airing postseason games in '07. TBS also saw increases of 34% and 36%, respectively, from the net's Phillies-Dodgers NLCS last year, which averaged a 3.8 rating and 6.06 million viewers. Friday night’s ALCS Game Six earned 11.86 million viewers, making it the second-most-viewed MLB telecast ever on cable TV, behind only TBS’ Rays-Red Sox ALCS Game Seven in '08, which earned 13.36 million viewers. The game also marked the most-watched MLB game of the season on broadcast or cable. Fox also scored its most-viewed NLCS since '06, with this year’s six-game Giants-Phillies series averaging a 5.5 rating and 9.05 million viewers. However, the net was down 15%, and 12%, respectively, from a 6.5 rating and 10.3 million viewers for the Yankees-Angels ALCS in ’09. NLCS Game Six on Saturday earned a 6.7 final rating (11.6 million viewers), compared to a 9.3 rating (15.5 million viewers) for last year's Yankees-Angels Game Six. The game did give Fox a win for the night in primetime among all nets, and also helped Fox to their highest-rated and most-viewed Saturday primetime in nearly a year (THE DAILY). In Dallas, Barry Horn noted TBS Friday "won the night," as "no network, cable or over-the-air, scored higher in the prime time Friday ratings" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/24). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes the solid LCS ratings were “partly because longer series help ratings and each got a six-game series" (USA TODAY, 10/25).

    FOX' MLB LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES RATINGS
    '10 NLCS:
    Giants-Phillies
    DATE
    RAT.
    '09 ALCS:
    Yankees-Angels
    RAT.
    % +/-
    1
    Saturday, Oct. 16
    4.2
    Friday, Oct. 16
    5.2
    -19.2%
    2
    Sunday, Oct. 17
    5.3
    Saturday, Oct. 17
    5.8
    -8.6%
    3
    Tuesday, Oct. 19
    3.3
    Monday, Oct. 19
    4.8
    -31.3%
    4
    Wednesday, Oct. 20
    5.7
    Tuesday, Oct. 20
    6.7
    -14.9%
    5
    Thursday, Oct. 21
    6.9
    Thursday, Oct. 22
    7.6
    -9.2%
    6
    Saturday, Oct. 23
    6.7
    Saturday, Oct. 24
    9.3
    -28.0%
    FOX LCS AVERAGE
    5.5
     
    6.5
    -15.4%
    TBS' MLB LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES RATINGS
    '10 ALCS:
    Rangers-Yankees
    DATE
    RAT.
    '09 NLCS:
    Phillies-Dodgers
    RAT.
    % +/-
    1
    Friday, Oct. 15
    5.0
    Thursday, Oct. 15
    4.3
    16.3%
    2
    Saturday, Oct. 16
    3.6
    Friday, Oct. 16
    2.9
    24.1%
    3
    Monday, Oct. 18
    5.2
    Sunday, Oct. 18
    3.0
    73.3%
    4
    Tuesday, Oct. 19
    6.3
    Monday, Oct. 19
    3.4
    85.3%
    5
    Wednesday, Oct. 20
    4.1
    Wednesday, Oct. 21
    5.0
    -18.0%
    6
    Friday, Oct. 22
    7.2
    N/A
    N/A
    N/A
    TBS LCS AVERAGE
    5.1
     
    3.8
     

    TOUGH SELL FOR VIEWERS? In N.Y., Michael Shain asks, "Who's going to watch a World Series between the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants?" It "goes without saying that a Series that goes seven games generates the most excitement," and Fox Sports VP/Programming & Research Michael Mulvihill said Fox is "due for a seven-game series." But Shain notes "one more problem looms" as the Giants have home field advantage, meaning "as many as four games will start" at 8:00pm ET. Shain: "At that hour, almost no one on the West Coast will be home from work in time to watch the first pitch" (N.Y. POST, 10/25). The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin notes the S.F.-Oakland-San Jose market is the "sixth-largest media market," while Dallas-Ft.Worth is fifth. So "we're not talking Fargo versus Natchitoches here." The Rangers-Giants series "should go six or seven," and there will be "ratings in the double digits if it gets that far" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/25). But in Denver, Dusty Saunders writes, "That huge collective groan you might have heard on Fox on Saturday night, after the Giants' pennant-clinching win over the Phillies, came from network executives and their advertisers." The national appeal of Rangers-Giants is "limited," and the teams will have to put on a "dazzling show to attract big audience numbers" (DENVER POST, 10/25). N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said, "I don't know what the television ratings are going to do. This to me is a wonderful World Series and well worth watching" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 10/24).

    Guillen To Appear As World Series
    Studio Analyst For Second Year

    GUESS WHO'S BACK? Fox has hired White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen as a World Series studio analyst for the second straight year. He will appear on pre- and postgame shows along with Chris Rose and Eric Karros. Guillen will serve as a game analyst on Fox' Spanish-language broadcast booth for the first five innings of each game. He then will be available on Fox' main feed for in-game analysis during late-inning strategy discussions (THE DAILY).

    UNDER REVIEW: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick wrote TBS' John Smoltz "grew on us ... in just two weeks" during the postseason, as he is "modest but eager to inform." And with TBS' Ron Darling "more inclined toward objectivity than when in the Mets' booth," Darling and Smoltz "mostly were strong -- not smothering the telecasts, hints without lectures, good humor without forced laughter" (N.Y. POST, 10/24). Also in N.Y., Bob Raissman honored ESPN Radio announcers Dan Shulman and Dave Campbell with his "Dude of the Week" designation "for their outstanding calls of the NLCS." It is "not often we're inclined to hit the mute button on Buck/McCarver, but we have gone to the finger roll to hear Shulman/Campbell." Shulman is "always on the play and his descriptions are beyond vivid," and they are "precise and concise." Campbell's material is "always fresh," and his ability to "size up a situation quickly (not an inning later after watching five replays) puts listeners ahead of the game" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/24).

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  • NFL Week Seven Overnights: NBC "SNF" Up; CBS Late Window Down

    NBC earned a 16.0 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's Vikings-Packers "SNF," marking the net's third-best "SNF" overnight ever, behind a 16.5 overnight for last year's Giants-Cowboys (first game at new Cowboys Stadium) and Cowboys-Redskins from Week One this year. Including the Vikings-Saints NFL Kickoff this season, Vikings-Packers ranks as the net's fourth-best regular-season overnight since it regained NFL rights prior to the '06 season. NBC won the night for the seventh consecutive week, peaking at a 17.0 rating during two windows (9:30-10:00pm ET and 11:00-11:30pm). Vikings-Packers also earned a 53.1 local rating in Milwaukee and a 51.5 rating in Minneapolis-St. Paul. CBS saw a drop for its national window in Week Seven compared to Fox' coverage in the national window last year. The net also saw regional action in the early window decline year-over-year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

    NFL WEEK SEVEN: SUNDAY OVERNIGHT RATINGS
    NET
    '10 GAME
    RAT.
    '09 GAME
    NET
    RAT.
    % +/-
    Fox
    (single)
    10.7
    (single)
    CBS
    7.5
    42.7%
    CBS
    (regional)
    11.3
    (regional)
    Fox
    13.0
    -13.1%
    CBS
    Patriots-Chargers (85%)
    15.1
    Falcons-Cowboys (56%)
    Fox
    16.4
    -7.9%
    NBC
    Packers-Vikings
    16.0
    Cardinals-Giants
    NBC
    10.4
    53.8%


    FOCUSING ON ILLEGAL HITS
    : In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote the Sunday pregame shows were "must-see TV as they offered a compelling debate on the NFL's latest crackdown on helmet-to-helmet hits." The morning "might have been won by Fox, which smartly brought in analyst and former Bucs safety John Lynch, a player known for delivering heavy and sometimes borderline hits." Fox' hiring of former NFL VP/Officiating Mike Pereira as a rules analyst also has "turned out to be a brilliant move, and he lent his perspective as well" yesterday (TAMPABAY.com, 10/24). In N.Y., Ken Belson writes many analysts yesterday "perhaps predictably ... sided with the league's decision to enforce its rules against helmet-to-helmet hits," as the NFL and its TV partners have "worked hand in hand to promote football and make money for the broadcasters and their advertisers" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/25). Meanwhile, in Denver, Dusty Saunders writes under the header, "Schlereth A Voice Of Reason In NFL Debate." ESPN NFL analyst Mark Schlereth "regularly combines his football background with a bit of sensible commentary about happenings on and off the field." Saunders: "You might not agree with Schlereth. But he can make you think." Schlereth's "major point" about the NFL's enforcement of illegal hits is that the move is "simplistic." He is "anything but a mouthpiece for the league, referring to it last week as the NHL -- the National Hypocrite League" -- and his "future comments on the controversy should be worth noting" (DENVER POST, 10/25).

    SOME BAD, SOME GOOD: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote CBS analyst Steve Beuerlein "could not have been more annoying with his wrongheaded and pompous pronouncements" during Bills-Ravens yesterday. The Ravens "came out throwing" when they trailed 17-3 in the first half, and Beuerlein said, "I don't get what the Ravens are thinking at this point." But the "next play was a big pass play down the field that got the Ravens going." Beuerlein "had another blowhard moment late in the third quarter" when he said he did not believe Ravens TE Todd Heap "should be playing for medical reasons" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 10/24). Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley wrote there "aren't any NFL game analysts more alert and nimble than" NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth, and "none is smoother." Collinsworth replaced John Madden in the NBC booth beginning last season, and he has "excelled in all the roles given him." Wolfley: "In time his voice will come to be associated with big games, just as Madden's was" (JSONLINE.com, 10/24).

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  • FCC Asks News Corp., Cablevision To Detail Efforts To Negotiate

    FCC Media Bureau Chief William Lake Friday sent a letter to Cablevision President & CEO James Dolan and News Corp. President & COO Chase Carey "asking them to justify by Monday the moves that each side has made in the long-running retrans wrangle," according to Cynthia Littleton of DAILY VARIETY. Lake asked Dolan and Carey "to explain how the sides have been negotiating in 'good faith,' as called for in the law governing retransmission consent deals between subscription TV providers and broadcasters." Lake wrote, "In particular, we request that you describe with specificity what has transpired since you initially began your negotiations, and detail the efforts your company is making to end the current impasse" (VARIETY.com, 10/22). On Long Island, Verne Gay cited a source as saying that "no talks were held Saturday between Cablevision and News Corp. and none were expected to be held Sunday." Both sides "had been expected to resume limited negotiations during the weekend following pressure by" the FCC. U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) Saturday "praised the FCC's attempt to jump-start the negotiations" (NEWSDAY, 10/24). 

    Cablevision Takes Out Full-Page Newspaper
    Ad As Part Of News Corp. Carriage Dispute

    WAR OF WORDS: In Newark, Julie O'Connor reports News Corp. "has upped the ante in its showdown with Cablevision, taking out a full-page newspaper ad to offer a little piece of advice to rankled television viewers: Get Verizon FiOS." Under the photo of a "pouty blonde TV viewer," the ad reads, "Um, hello, News Corp? I'm still waiting ..." (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/24). Meanwhile, Cablevision runs a full-page ad in this morning's N.Y. Times with the copy, "News Corp's Ugly October Surprise: More than 20 million sports fans could miss the World Series because of News Corp's new policy of widespread sports blackouts." The ad goes on to list 68 pro teams that have had games blacked out in some markets due to disputes (THE DAILY).

    DISHING IT OUT: In Dallas, Victor Godinez reported Fox officials are "telling satellite TV subscribers that no end is in sight ... as the stalemate between Dish Network LLC and Fox Sports" entered its fourth weekend. Nineteen RSNs "went dark for Dish subscribers on Oct. 1 after the contract with Dish to carry the channels expired with no new agreement in place." Fox officials in a statement said that Dish subscribers "probably won't be getting their channels back anytime soon" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/23).

    MAKING A PLAY: In N.Y., Claire Atkinson reports the NFL "has jumped into the increasingly tangled morass of disputes," as sources said that NFL Network officials have asked Dolan to "accept the same binding arbitration process Dolan is insisting Fox agree to." NFL Network President & CEO Steve Bornstein in a letter to Dolan "calls on Cablevision to bring in mediators to resolve the dispute and get key games to viewers" (N.Y. POST, 10/25).

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  • ESPN Makes Bid For Univ. Of Texas Network, Countering Fox Offer

    Texas, IMG College Now May Wait Until
    November To Select A Network Partner

    ESPN has "countered a bid by Fox Sports to operate a University of Texas channel and is now viewed by industry insiders as a legitimate competitor to partner with the school on a Longhorns network," according to Ourand & Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. ESPN's pitch "has been buoyed" by Exec VP/Content John Skipper, who "recently has engaged officials from Texas and the school's multimedia rights holder, IMG College, in the negotiations." While Skipper has "not traveled to Texas for these negotiations," sources indicated that he has been "more engaged with IMG College, which is handling the bidding process." Texas and IMG "originally expected to have a network partner selected" by the end of this month, but sources said that the "timetable has shifted and likely will move into November." Ourand & Smith report the competition "appears to be down to Fox and ESPN, two networks well-versed in launching channels and navigating the travails of distribution" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/25 issue).

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