Cavaliers Set For Monster Home Opener Cubs Close To Deal With Joe Maddon Suns Renew With Verizon, Annexus Raptors Host Outdoor Event; Hornets Return MLS To Introduce New L.A. Franchise CSN Houston Case Nears Conclusion Judge To Hear NFL Painkillers Lawsuit NBC Sports, Breeders' Cup Extend TV Rights Giants Win Third World Series In Five Years
SBD/Issue 64/Sports MediaPrint All
CBS earned an 18.5 overnight Nielsen rating for yesterday's NFL national window featuring Patriots-Bears, marking the season's best overnight and best NFL regular-season overnight since Fox' national window in Week 13 last year, which featured Cowboys-Giants. Patriots-Bears is also CBS' best regular-season overnight since November '07, when the then-undefeated Patriots and Colts earned a 22.5 overnight in the national window. CBS' Week 14 national window is also up 10.8% from last year, when Chargers-Cowboys was the featured game. NBC last night earned a 16.5 overnight Nielsen rating for the Eagles-Cowboys 'SNF" telecast, tying the record for best "SNF" overnight with Giants-Cowboys from Week Two last year, which marked the first regular-season game at Cowboys Stadium. Last night's telecast also ties the mark for best NFL regular-season primetime overnight since Broncos-Dolphins on ABC in '98 earned a 17.4 overnight. Eagles-Cowboys is up 19.6% from a 13.8 overnight for Eagles-Giants in Week 14 last year. The telecast peaked at a 17.3 rating from 9:30-10:00pm ET just before halftime. "SNF" was the top-rated show for the night for the 14th straight week, giving NBC another Sunday night win in primetime. Philadelphia and Dallas-Ft. Worth topped all markets, earning a 38.4 local rating and 38.0 rating, respectively. Meanwhile, Fox earned an 11.3 overnight for its singleheader, which was supposed to feature Giants-Vikings in 49% of markets. Instead, the singleheader saw Packers-Lions go to 55% of markets. The singleheader's overnight was down slightly from Week 13 last year. Fox also scored a season high for its "Fox NFL Sunday" pregame show, which featured exclusive video of the Metrodome roof collapsing (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).NFL WEEK 14 OVERNIGHT NIELSEN RATINGSNET'10 GAMERAT.'09 GAMERAT.% +/-Fox(single)11.3(single)11.4-0.9%CBS(regional)11.3(regional)12.6-10.3%CBSPatriots-Bears (56%)18.5Chargers-Cowboys (97%)16.710.8%NBCEagles-Cowboys16.5Eagles-Giants13.819.6%
LEADING THE CHARGE: In N.Y., Alan Schwarz wrote under the header, "In NBC Booth, A Candid Collinsworth." NBC "SNF" analyst Cris Collinsworth "has become football's most prominent critic of illegal tackling," as he "communicates parental impatience regarding the NFL's self-proclaimed culture change." Collinsworth: "I'd be less than honest if I said I didn't have my doubts as to whether my children should be playing football." Collinsworth, "pointed but not shrill, rails against those [hits] that are illegal while explaining how many are not, and cannot be." NBC "SNF" Producer Fred Gaudelli said that Collinsworth's outlook has "influenced NBC's use of in-game video." Ravens LB Jameel McClain gave Steelers TE Heath Miller a concussion with a hit to the head during the Dec. 5 "SNF" game, and Gaudelli said, "We showed the Miller hit, but we weren't celebrating, 'Wow, what a great hit by Jameel McClain!' We are all sensitized to what is going on now. Five years ago, we'd be saying: 'What a hit! Wow! Let's play this from five angles!' Five years ago you would have had a much different way to characterize it and cover it" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/12). Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, John Gonzalez writes, "Can't figure out why some people don't like Cris Collinsworth. The NBC color analyst is entertaining in a Deion Sanders/when-he-talks-absurd-stuff-comes-out sort of way" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/13).
MISSING THE MARK: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes he has "never been a big fan" of Fox analysts Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa, who worked yesterday's Buccaneers-Redskins game. Jones: "Occasionally, they offer insight, but it's almost as if they stumble upon it by accident because both talk so much. When they are talking, it's usually scratch-the-surface, obvious stuff" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/13). YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase noted late in the game, "with the Redskins down seven points and driving for the equalizing score, the team gained a first down at the three-yard line." But Fox' announcers, "unaware that the play resulted in a first, believed the next play was second-and-1 instead of first-and-goal." As the plays continued, Fox "showed the wrong down and the booth of Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa announced the action as such." The Redskins scored a touchdown on fourth down, but "thanks to confusion" in the booth, viewers thought it "occurred on an extra 'fifth' down." It "wasn't until the Redskins botched the subsequent extra point that the booth figured out the problem was on their end, not on the field." Chase: "It was an honest mistake, but an inexcusable one" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/12).
Lynch Questions Commitment
Of Panthers Owner Richardson
HARSH CRITICISM: In Charlotte, Scott Fowler writes announcers often are "vanilla when they talk about the Panthers," but Fox analyst John Lynch was "anything but on Sunday when he talked about Carolina owner Jerry Richardson and the letter he sent to PSL holders last week." Lynch during Fox' coverage of Falcons-Panthers "noted the 'huge disparity' in talent between the Falcons and Panthers and said 'you just don't see the commitment right now' from Richardson and the Panthers to build a winning franchise." Lynch said during the broadcast, "With the Panthers, quite frankly, I see a team that has been preparing for the lockout the last couple of years" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/13).
HIT THE MUTE BUTTON: In Tacoma, John McGrath notes the "distracting noise" viewers heard during "replays of the Seahawks' game at San Francisco -- it could be called background music, except the music had no melody -- apparently was a Fox experiment to provide a football telecast with the equivalent of a movie score." At one point, the voices of announcer Thom Brennaman and analyst Brian Billick "were nearly obscured by a percussion sequence that brought to mind the sound of a child allowed to pound away on his uncle's basement drum set." McGrath: "My suspicion is the idea of the background noise/music was planted at a production meeting that included some amount of drug use" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 12/13). In Sacramento, Scott Lebar writes, "It's one of those ideas that must have seemed logical (it's not) and easy to pick on (let's)" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 12/13).
HIGHS & LOWS IN THE BOOTH: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote ESPN "MNF" analyst Ron Jaworski has a "high percentage mouth." During last week's Patriots-Jets game, he "flapped his jaw only when he had something insightful to say." Raissman: "Maybe his years of experience have taught Jaworski that if there's nothing to say, don't bother with the banal -- the ordinary. Jaworski's method works. Easy on the ears too" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/12). Also in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes Fox' "Fox NFL Sunday" pregame show yesterday featured a "strong feature" with rules analyst Mike Pereira "explaining the cans and can'ts of pick plays" (N.Y. POST, 12/13). Meanwhile, Mushnick yesterday wrote from the start of Thursday's Colts-Titans game on NFL Network, "even the most self-evident plays -- a short out, anything -- were slathered" by analyst Joe Theismann's "needless talk and takes." Mushnick: "He'd still have us ignore what we see to instead believe what he tells us we saw" (N.Y. POST, 12/12).
QUIET, PLEASE: SI.com's Peter King writes ESPN reporter Greg Garber's look at the 30-year anniversary of NBC's announcer-less game was a "superb feature." King: "I loved Garber's touch of doing the story announcer-less -- that is, he didn't speak in the piece. His subjects did, but no narration from Garber. Good idea. Very good execution" (SI.com, 12/13).
NOTHING BUT THE BEST: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes under the header, "Get In The Zone With RedZone TV." NFL Network's RedZone channel "provides the best electronic magic since instant replay" (DENVER POST, 12/13).
Giants-Vikings On Fox Will Have Limited
Distribution Due To "MNF" Exclusivity
Tonight's Giants-Vikings game will air only in the markets of N.Y., Minneapolis-St. Paul and Rochester, Mankato and Duluth, Minn. due to the fact that tonight's Ravens-Texans "MNF" telecast is "contractually protected," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. Giants-Vikings was originally scheduled for yesterday, and losing the game "was a big loss for Fox." However, Fox "got exclusive shots" from inside the Metrodome of the collapse of the stadium's roof that "Fox NFL Sunday" host Curt Menefee said looked like "something directed by James Cameron." Fox yesterday "saw what it had but didn't consider airing it before" the start of "Fox NFL Sunday." Fox Sports VP/Communications Dan Bell: "It's once-in-a-life footage, so obviously we were going to save it for our own show" (USA TODAY, 12/13). In Minneapolis, Judd Zulgad noted the NFL "added Duluth to the cities that will be able to see" Giants-Vikings. Mankato and Rochester "are considered 'secondary' markets for the Vikings." ESPN "pays big money to have one game all to itself each Monday," and Giants-Vikings "will now compete with the Baltimore-Houston game and ESPN wants to limit the viewing competition as much as possible." NFL Network "will re-air" Giants-Vikings at midnight tonight (STARTRIBUNE.com, 12/12). The game also will be available live to subscribers of DirecTV's Sunday NFL Ticket (THE DAILY).
OFFERING PROTECTION: On Long Island, Neil Best notes the NFL chose not to show Giants-Vikings "more widely" because it "understandably must protect ESPN, which pays $1.1 billion a year" for the rights to "MNF." It is "bad enough for the network that it will lose the nation's biggest TV market," so it was "not about to concede cities beyond Minneapolis and New York." Meanwhile, to "minimize the overlap," Giants-Vikings will kick off at 7:20pm ET, "more than an hour earlier than the ESPN game" (NEWSDAY, 12/13). ESPN Communications & Media Relations Dir Bill Hofheimer called the adjustment "a very rare circumstance" and said the net will "still have what we feel is a very compelling matchup." Hofheimer also expressed "concern about the people affected" by the snowstorm in the Midwest "and the Metrodome situation" (L.A. TIMES, 12/13).
DESERVING A PAT ON THE BACK: SI.com's Peter King writes the video and sound of Fox' video of the Metrodome roof collapsing is "tremendous." King: "That's the video of the year. No doubt. Just a thought for David Hill and Ed Goren: Whoever either had that idea or executed said idea deserves a little extra dough in their paycheck this week" (SI.com, 12/13).
Newton's Heisman Win Lacked
Drama Seen During '09 Show
ESPN earned a 2.4 overnight Nielsen rating for the Heisman Trophy presentation show Saturday night from 8:00-9:00pm ET. Auburn QB Cam Newton won the trophy, more than doubling the number of votes second-place finisher Stanford QB Andrew Luck received. The show is down 33% from a 3.6 overnight for last year's telecast, in which Alabama RB Mark Ingram won the award over Stanford RB Toby Gerhart in the closest Heisman vote ever. Following the ceremony, ESPN earned a 1.8 overnight from 9:00-11:00pm for the premiere of "Pony Excess," the laast installment in the "30 for 30" documentary series this year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes the Heisman show "has become tedious to watch because it takes 50 minutes to get to the actual announcement." However, ESPN "did a decent job filling time and, best of all, did not shy away from the controversy that surrounded" Newton. The net "mentioned early in the broadcast" that Newton's father was not at the ceremony, and it "aired a short interview asking Newton about allegations that he or his father asked for money to play college football." There was "no need to dwell on it, but it couldn't be ignored, and ESPN handled it just right" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/13).
THE BEST OF AN AWKWARD SITUATION: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir noted ESPN "had a choice" with Newton -- ask "awkward, on-the-griddle questions in front of a live and enthusiastic audience Saturday, or interview him in advance." ESPN's Chris Fowler interviewed Newton Thursday afternoon and parts were shown during Saturday's show. ESPN Senior VP & Dir of News Vince Doria said it "fulfills the journalistic obligation that we have to viewers and allows the show to be as good a watch as it can be for viewers and recipients." Fowler indicated that he "told Auburn officials he would not restrict his questions or provide a list of them." Fowler also "told them he would ask Newton some of those questions at the Heisman presentation if he did not agree to the interview." Doria said that Auburn "was reluctant to expose Newton ... to ESPN's questioning." Doria: "But they came to see that these questions had to be asked, and if we asked them live in a show, they'd be awkward." Fowler said Newton "handled himself very well." Fowler: "He was more forthcoming than I expected him to be and didn't hide behind the shield of an NCAA investigation. ... He's not naive enough to believe that he has closed the door on questions. He knows he addressed them" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/11).
Thirty-Eight LPGA Rounds Were Tape
Delayed On Golf Channel This Year
The LPGA is "looking for a way out of the 10-year contract that made Golf Channel the exclusive cable partner for the women's tour beginning this year," according to sources cited by Ron Sirak of GOLF WORLD. The deal puts the LPGA "at the end of a long line of live programming available" to the net, including the PGA, European, Nationwide and Champions tours. Of the 94 official LPGA rounds this year, 38 "were on delayed tape and 11 had no TV coverage at all." Sources said that when Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal is completed, the "new Golf Channel will put more emphasis on live programming" (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 12/13 issue). LPGA Chief Communications Officer David Higdon called the report “absolutely false.” Higdon: “We look forward to the next nine years with the Golf Channel” (Michael Smith, SportsBusiness Journal).
EARLY TEE TIME: Golf Channel has announced Erik Kuselias and Gary Williams will serve as co-hosts for "Morning Drive," the net's first live morning show. The show is set to debut Jan. 3 from 7:00-9:00am ET from Golf Channel's Orlando studios. Kuselias has been at ESPN since '03, where he worked on various TV and radio shows. Williams co-hosted an early morning show on Sirius XM's "Mad Dog Radio" (Golf Channel). Golf Channel Senior VP/Programming, Production & Operations Tom Stathakes said that the show "will be reminiscent" of MSNBC's "Morning Joe." He added that he "wished the Golf Channel had created the morning show earlier since fresh programming doesn't begin until evenings on some days" (AP, 12/10).
PVI Technology Rights For Broadcast
Enhancements Sold To Sportvision, ESPN
Sportvision Inc. has struck an asset acquisition and licensing deal with rival broadcast technology outfit PVI Virtual Media Services Inc. in which Sportvision will acquire certain intellectual property, company assets and patent licenses from the Cablevision-owned PVI, and will now sell PVI products and services. In a separate deal, ESPN will also acquire significant portions of PVI intellectual property and will hire "substantially all" of PVI's engineering staff. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal ends more than a decade of often-heated competition between Sportvision and PVI, including a set of patent infringement claims over the now-ubiquitous 1st-and-10 line in televised football that were settled out of court in '02. "This deal is really 10 years in the making," said Sportvision President & COO Mike Jakob. "It's a complex deal, but we've finally figured out a way to do this and work together. We're very pleased to be taking what they're good at, particularly the in-studio insertion of [broadcast] enhancements, and marry that up with our expertise, particularly in the optical tracking and on-site event work, and sell as one entity." ESPN, meanwhile, will use the PVI technology across multiple platforms, furthering its interests in areas such as 3D TV graphics, iTV applications and virtual insertion. "PVI has developed some of the television industry's leading virtual content, and now the addition of their engineering team will help ESPN continue to invent ground-breaking production enhancements for our fans," said ESPN Exec VP/Technology Chuck Pagano in a statement.
There is "no end in sight" to the "fight" between Boston sports radio stations WEEI-AM and WBZ-FM, according to Chad Finn of the BOSTON GLOBE. WBZ has made "remarkable headway in the Arbitron ratings since its mid-August 2009 launch, culminating in November when its programming for morning drive and afternoon drive finished first in the Boston market in the crucial male 25-54 demographic." Yet proclaiming that the station's "outstanding November signifies a sea change in the market would be premature," as WEEI's ratings "have not suffered." WBZ "trends younger, finishing first in November in the male 18-49 demo and 18-34 demos," while WEEI "embraces the reality that it appeals to the older end of the male 25-54 demo, finishing first last month in the 35-44 and 35-54 segments." But while WEEI officials "scarcely acknowledged the new competition" in the early days of WBZ, "other subtle and not-so-subtle changes continued to reveal WEEI's awareness that it no longer had a sports radio monopoly." WEEI's long commercial breaks "were broken into smaller segments beginning in August 2009, with the hosts reminding the audience how soon they would be back." The station's Red Sox pregame show also was "suddenly revamped this summer" when the hour-long "The Baseball Show" on WBZ "began beating it in the 6-7 p.m. window." Additionally, WEEI revamped its website and repositioned it "as more than just a network of radio stations." Finn wrote "perhaps the most telling and compelling competition comes in afternoon drive time." WEEI's "The Big Show," hosted by Glenn Ordway and an "orbiting cast of cohosts, has been entrenched as a ratings monster for years." But "love him or loathe him," Michael Felger, co-host of "Felger and Massarotti" on WBZ, "has become the host in the market whose opinion when sports news breaks is the one you immediately want to hear." Felger and co-host Tony Massarotti "never shy away from a sharp opinion or a well-timed rant," and the "result is that they have beaten or tied 'The Big Show' in the male 25-54 demo each of the past five months" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/12).
NFL Films President Steve Sabol Says HBO
Documentary Is His Last On Vince Lombardi
HBO and NFL Films' documentary "Lombardi," which debuted Saturday, is a "fascinating refresher course in the story of a figure we think we know well but who has been dead for 40 years," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The 90-minute film about Pro Football HOFer Vince Lombardi is "hagiographic, yes, but it is balanced with the candor of many, including his son and daughter, who talk about the difficulty of growing up with a father who put football ahead of family." NFL Films President Steve Sabol said that this documentary is the "last one he would make about Lombardi for NFL Films." Sabol: "I am officially closing the vault on Lombardi" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/12). YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase wrote, "What this 90-minute documentary shows is that Lombardi just didn't put Green Bay on the map, he put the NFL there too." The film "doesn't break new ground," but there is "plenty here for a Lombardi devotee or an NFL fan whose familiarity with the coach doesn't go much further than knowing he coached the Packers more than 40 years ago" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/10). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes there were "still new nuggets of information in HBO's outstanding documentary" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 12/13). SI.com's Peter King writes the "depth and intelligence of it so far are stunning." King: "I love seeing his kids talk about what it was really like to be Lombardis" (SI.com, 12/13). In Newark, Jerry Izenberg wrote, "From his son and daughter ... from earlier interviews with his late wife, Marie ... from the men who played for and against him ... from the men who wrote about him ... this is Vince as he struggled to be, as he was and as he is remembered" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 12/11).
SOMETHING MISSING: In N.Y., Ginia Bellafante wrote the documentary is an "exercise in character exaltation that comes at the expense of any sort of illumination of Lombardi's technical proficiency." Bellafante: "Clearly Lombardi had a nerdy theoretical interest in the game ... but watching the film, you never get a sense of where his particular technical genius lies." Bellafante wrote of HBO's sports documentaries in general, "You can't help walking away with the feeling that they were made with the spirit of serving up a little something for the ladies" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/11). In S.F., David Wiegand wrote the documentary, in a way, is a "profile of two Lombardis, the obsessively driven coach and the human being." Through players such as Bart Starr, Sonny Jurgensen and Frank Gifford, "we get a very clear picture of Coach Lombardi." But the "other Lombardi remains slightly elusive here, perhaps because it was easier to call plays on a football field than it was at home" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/11).
BROADWAY VINCE: In Jacksonville, Vito Stellino wrote the "Lombardi" play "isn't typical Broadway fare and isn't selling out, but the NFL should film it and show it on the NFL Network," as "every football fan should see it." The play is a "portrait (warts and all) of the legendary coach, described in the play as an 'imperfect perfect man'" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 12/11).