SBD/December 15, 2010/Sports Media

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  • HBO "24/7" On Winter Classic Offers Unprecedented Access To Teams

    "24/7" Series Promises To Offer Unfiltered Look At Penguins, Capitals

    HBO's "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic" series debuts tonight, and the "word is this hockey version of 'Hard Knocks' may set a few eyeballs on fire with stuff never seen before on television -- on and off the ice," according to Bob Raissman of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The show marks the "first time a network, not beholden to a league it's in partnership with, will be given regular-season access." NFL teams featured in HBO's "Hard Knocks" already "know what to expect" based on previous seasons, but "that connection with HBO did not exist" for the NHL. HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg said, "That didn't matter. If anything, it was the opposite. The NHL is starved for attention. They are all over us. It's the NHL that's pushing the envelope here." Raissman noted that means "total access throughout the series," as the NHL "has never had the opportunity to reach the audience HBO can deliver." Greenburg: "We're just seeing the doors fly wide open. I guarantee the sport of hockey has never been showcased in the way we are going to present it." Raissman wrote "going off ice" with Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin and Penguins C Sidney Crosby could "prove to be compelling." Raissman: "And if Washington coach Bruce Boudreau or Penguins head man Dan Bylsma have just a little Rex Ryan in them all the better" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/12).

    SPIRIT OF COOPERATION: HBO Sports Senior VP & Exec Producer Rick Bernstein said, "The reaction from the NHL, from the teams, the coaches and the players, has been as good or better than any '24/7' we have ever produced." In Pittsburgh, Maria Sciullo noted HBO's cameras are "rolling at games, during practices, on airplanes, in hotel rooms, at restaurants, and they might even follow some players or coaches home." The "final say on what appears on the episodes, however, is up for negotiation." Bernstein noted that is a policy the net has "had in place since we started doing 'Hard Knocks.'" Teams "can preview the edited content and if they believe it puts them in a compromising position, from a competitive standpoint, HBO will work with that." But Bernstein said, "I can tell you that over the years there have been very few changes requested of us" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 12/12).

    BLENDED TOGETHER: Greenburg "called the four-episode 'Road to the Winter Classic' a 'hybrid'" of the "24/7" series and "Hard Knocks." Greenburg: "There are differences. We've been embedded with both teams leading up to the first telecast. ... Unlike 'Hard Knocks,' these are regular-season games, so there are going to be some real highs and lows and different emotions coming out of those contests." Greenburg added what the net has seen of the series "looks real good." Greenburg: "The NHL showed our preview during its Board of Governors meeting and they applauded. The league's really excited about this" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 12/13 issue).

    GETTING A SNEAK PEAK
    : YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski noted HBO Senior Producer Dave Harmon has seen the "nearly complete first episode," and he said that Penguins G Marc-Andre Fleury "could be a breakout star." Capitals D Scott Hannan also "has received some surprising editorial attention," as he joined the team from the Avalanche at the start of the Caps' current six-game losing streak. Harmon added, "There's enough Sidney Crosby on the first show where you could say he gets the most camera time for the Penguins." Wyshynski noted it is "fairly apparent that the Capitals' struggles have created many a Rex Ryan moment for coach Bruce Boudreau, to draw a comparison to the New York Jets' 'Hard Knocks' series that was filled with Ryan F-bombs" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/14). In DC, Dan Steinberg noted viewers should "expect profanity." Steinberg: "I was told to prepare an F bomb counter, and also that Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau would 'make Rex Ryan blush.'" Harmon said the "24/7" series has "more vulgarity than" the Jets "Hard Knocks" series (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/14).

    WHO'S NUMBER ONE? As part of a special eight-page pullout on the Capitals-Penguins Winter Classic, TV GUIDE's Barry Meisel writes the "heated argument over who's the NHL's top player promises to be why many eyes are on the juiciest Winter Classic matchup yet." NBC NHL announcer Mike Emrick said Crosby and Ovechkin are the "two guys who are subject to the most debate." Emrick, referring to Hockey HOFers Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, said, "For those of us who are old enough, we remember we went through this before with 99 versus 66." Meisel also offers a look at five more NHL games that are "worth watching this season" (TV GUIDE, 12/20 issue).

    BID ON THE ITEM WITHOUT GOING OVER: The AP noted Crosby and Ovechkin "will appear together" on CBS' "The Price Is Right" next Monday. The players, along with NBC analyst Jeremy Roenick, will "introduce an NHL-themed showcase that includes a trip to Pittsburgh" for the Winter Classic (AP, 12/14).

    Print | Tags: HBO, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Hockey
  • NCAAF ratings

    CABLE TOWNS: ESPN averaged a 1.9 U.S. rating and 2.966 million viewers for its 75 college football telecasts. While the net's rating was flat with '09, the viewership level marks the net's most-watched season since '94. The net also saw a slight increase in audience for its 14 "College GameDay" telecasts, up 1.4% in viewership from '09. ESPN2's 56 telecasts averaged a 0.9 rating and 1.416 million viewers, down 10% compared to '09. Versus saw gains in ratings and viewership this season, which included a mix of Pac-10, Mountain West and Ivy League telecasts. The net's telecasts in '09 last season also included games from the Big 12. Versus was buoyed by the Nov. 13 Oregon-Cal matchup, which marked the net's most-viewed college football game ever. The net averaged 692,000 viewers for its seven Pac-10 telecasts (+46.3%) and 331,000 viewers for its eight Mountain West games (+56.9%).

    '10 NCAA FOOTBALL RATINGS, VIEWERSHIP
    NET
    TELECASTS
    U.S.
    RAT.
    % +/-
    VIEWERS
    (000)
    % +/-
    '09
    TELECASTS
    CBS*
    15
    4.2
    -4.5%
    6,944
    -0.7%
    15
    ABC
    30
    3.5
    -10.3%
    5,578
    -8.6%
    31
    NBC
    8
    2.1
    -12.5%
    3,130
    -15.0%
    8
    ESPN
    75
    1.9
    0.0%
    2,966
    3.2%
    71
    ESPN2
    56
    0.9
    -10.0%
    1,416
    -5.1%
    54
    Versus
    19
    0.3
    50.0%
    411
    27.6%
    25
    NOTES: * = SEC Package only. Excludes Army-Navy and Notre Dame-Navy telecasts.
                 

    WINDOW WATCHING: ESPN's Saturday primetime window was the net's most-watched college football window this season, averaging a 2.5 U.S. rating and 4.1 million viewers. The net saw strong numbers early in the season for the window, with Penn State-Alabama and Ohio State-Wisconsin both earning just over 7 million viewers each. The net's 12:00pm ET telecasts were flat in ratings with '09, with a slight increase in viewers. Thursday primetime telecasts saw a sharp drop from last season, when four telecasts topped the 4 million-viewers mark. This season, only the Texas A&M-Texas game on Thanksgiving topped that mark.

    BREAKDOWN OF MOST-VIEWED ESPN COLLEGE FOOTBALL WINDOWS
    WINDOW
    TELECASTS
    RAT.
    % +/-
    VIEWERS (000)
    % +/-
    '09 TELECASTS
    Saturday primetime
    14
    2.5
    4.2%
    4,124
    7.2%
    15
    Saturday 12:00pm ET
    14
    1.9
    0.0%
    2,779
    1.4%
    14
    Thursday primetime
    15
    1.8
    -21.7%
    2,841
    -19.6%
    15
    Saturday 3:30pm ET
    12
    1.3
    30.0%
    1,908
    26.2%
    12
                 

    BIG GAMES: The Nov. 26 Auburn-Alabama game on CBS was this season's most-viewed telecast on any network, earning a 7.3 rating and 12.5 million viewers. Among the top 10 most-viewed games, six were on CBS. The most-viewed cable broadcast was ESPN's Labor Day night Boise State-Virginia Tech game. That marked the net's second-best audience ever for a college football game behind last season's USC-Ohio State telecast. ESPN also saw its best "College GameDay" audience from the campus of Oklahoma State for its Nov. 27 matchup against Oklahoma (2.4 million viewers). NBC's top telecast was the Sept. 11 Michigan-Notre Dame matchup, which earned a 4.5 rating and 6.97 million viewers. ESPN2 also saw its most-viewed telecast on Sept. 11, earning a 2.2 rating and 3.5 million viewers for Georgia-South Carolina.

    TOP 10 MOST-VIEWED COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAMES FOR '10 SEASON
    DATE
    NET
    TELECAST
    START
    U.S. RAT.

    VIEWERS (000)

    11/26
    CBS
    Auburn-Alabama
    2:30pm
    7.3
    12,520
    12/4
    CBS
    SEC Championship: Auburn-South Carolina
    4:00pm
    6.0
    10,093
    9/6
    ESPN
    Boise State-Virginia Tech
    7:58pm
    6.3
    9,888
    12/4
    ABC
    Big 12 Championship: Nebraska-Oklahoma
    8:07pm
    5.3
    8,981
    10/2
    CBS
    Florida-Alabama
    8:00pm
    5.0
    8,595
    11/13
    CBS
    Georgia-Auburn
    3:40pm
    5.0
    8,262
    11/27
    ABC
    (regional)*
    8:06pm
    4.9
    8,234
    9/25
    CBS
    Alabama-Arkansas
    3:30pm
    5.2
    8,138
    11/26
    ESPN
    Arizona-Oregon
    7:22pm
    4.5
    7,787
    10/9
    CBS
    Alabama-South Carolina
    3:30pm
    4.8
    7,662
    NOTE: * = Regionalized telecast featured Oklahoma-Oklahoma State and Notre Dame-USC

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  • Media Notes

    ESPN earned a 7.7 U.S. rating and 11.927 million viewers for the Ravens' OT victory over the Texans on "MNF", down 7.2% and 8.8%, respectively, from an 8.3 rating and 13.077 million viewers for Cardinals-49ers in Week 14 last year. The game led ESPN to win the night Monday among all networks, cable or broadcast. Through 14 weeks, "MNF" is averaging an 8.9 U.S. rating and 14.190 million viewers, down 1.1% and 1.3%, respectively, from a 9.0 rating and 14.384 million viewers through the same point last season (THE DAILY).

    FILLING THE VOID: NBC tennis announcer Ted Robinson and Wild radio announcer Bob Kurtz, both former Twins announcers, "will work about 25 games each to replace" Twins radio announcer John Gordon, "who will have a reduced schedule" of 90 games in '11. The Twins said that studio host Kris Atteberry "also will handle play-by-play or analyst duties for about 45 games." Twins analysts Dan Gladden and Jack Morris "both return to their roles in the broadcast booth." Gladden "will be heard during about 140 games and Morris for about 25" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/15). In St. Paul, Charley Walters writes the Twins "got a real pro" in Kurtz, the "peerless play-by-play radio voice" for the Wild who called Twins games from '79-86 (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/15).

    A NEW HOME: MMAWEEKLY.com's Ken Pishna reported Bellator Fighting Championships announced that MTV2 is its new TV partner in a three-year deal that "will commence in 2011." This comes as "recent signs had all pointed to Bellator closing in on a deal to air on Fox's FX channel." Instead, MTV2 will telecast two seasons of Bellator's 12-week tournament, plus a "collection of unspecified special feature events." The first event will premiere in March '11 (MMAWEEKLY.com, 12/14). YAHOO SPORTS' Maggie Hendricks wrote the "key" to the deal is that MTV2 will provide live coverage. Bellator "was with Fox Sports Net for their last two seasons, and they were often pre-empted by other local programming" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/14).

    CAPTAIN JACK WILL GET YOU BY TONIGHT: ESPN 3D will carry the premiere of the Walt Disney Pictures 3D trailer for "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" this Friday during the Heat-Knicks telecast (John Ourand, THE DAILY).

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