SBD/Issue 73/Sports Media

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  • ABC, ESPN Earn Best NBA Christmas Day Audiences Ever

    Heat-Lakers On Christmas Day Marks ABC's
    Best NBA Regular-Season Mark Since '04

    The two NBA Christmas Day games on ABC averaged a 5.5 fast-national Nielsen rating, marking the net’s best Christmas Day audience ever. ESPN’s three games also marked the net’s best Christmas Day audience. The Heat-Lakers telecast on ABC in the 5:30pm ET window led all NBA telecasts with a 6.4 rating, marking the net’s highest regular-season rating since the same matchup on Christmas in ’04 earned a 7.3 rating. The game earned a 15.5 local rating in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, marking the best local rating ever for an NBA game on ABC. The 15.0 rating in L.A. is the best for ABC in the market since Heat-Lakers in ’04. The Celtics-Magic telecast in the 2:30pm window on ABC earned a 4.6 rating, up 39% from a 3.3 rating for the same matchup last year. ABC also earned an 8.0 local rating in Orlando-Daytona Beach, which marks the net’s best NBA regular-season rating ever in the market. On ESPN, Bulls-Knicks in the 12:00pm slot led the net's telecasts with a 2.3 U.S. rating (4.0 million viewers), up 35% from the comparable Heat-Knicks in the same slot on Christmas last year (THE DAILY). In Miami, Barry Jackson reports for the "first time in memory, a Heat game drew a larger local audience than a Dolphins game during the same weekend." The 15.5 local rating topped the 14.1 for Lions-Dolphins on Sunday (MIAMI HERALD, 12/28). In Orlando, Hal Boedeker noted the Celtics-Magic game drew 183,100 viewers in the Orlando market, fewer than the 209,300 viewers in the market for the Heat-Lakers game that followed on ABC. Boedeker also noted that the NBA telecasts "trailed the NFL in pulling in local viewers this weekend," as the two Sunday NFL windows on Fox "drew bigger audiences." Redskins-Jaguars was shown in Orlando in the early Fox NFL window, drawing 242,300 viewers, while Giants-Packers in the national window drew 253,600 viewers (, 12/27). In L.A., Austin Knoblauch wrote, "It looks like the NBA and its commercial partners are having a belated merry Christmas" (, 12/27).

    START (ET)
    Trail Blazers-Warriors

    COACH'S CORNER: ESPN has hired former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown "as an analyst." ESPN said that Brown was scheduled to "begin his TV stint on Christmas Day" for the Bulls-Knicks telecast on ESPN 3D. Brown also will "contribute as an ESPN studio analyst throughout the season" (AP, 12/24).

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  • CBS Earns Its Best NFL Single Overnight Since '98; "MNF" Up 11%

    Fox led all Sunday NFL telecasts with a 15.6 overnight Nielsen rating for its national window, which featured the Packers' 45-17 blowout of the Giants. The Week 16 national window is down nearly 5% from CBS' telecast last year, which featured Broncos-Eagles. Fox also saw a 26% drop for its regional coverage. On CBS, the net's singleheader coverage, which had Jets-Bears as the top game, earned a 15.4 overnight, marking the best NFL singleheader window this season and the net's best singleheader since it re-acquired NFL rights prior to the '98 season (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). In Orlando, Hal Boedeker wrote NBC was the "biggest loser Sunday night" when the NFL postponed Vikings-Eagles "SNF" due to a snowstorm. Early ratings showed CBS "pulling in the most viewers Sunday night, and Fox delivering the most young adults" (, 12/27). DAILY VARIETY's Jon Weisman wrote the postponement left Fox to "win Sunday primetime" in the adults 18-49 demo "thanks to its own football coverage and halfhour animated comedies." NBC "ended up with a primetime slate featuring 'Football Night in America,' followed by reruns of 'Minute to Win It'" (, 12/27).

    '10 GAME
    '09 GAME
    % +/-
    Giants-Packers (90%)
    Broncos-Eagles (57%)

    ALL SAINTS DAY: ESPN earned a 12.1 overnight for last night's Saints-Falcons "MNF" finale from 8:30-11:45pm ET, marking the third-best "MNF" overnight this season behind Giants-Cowboys on Oct. 25 and Vikings-Jets on Oct. 11. Saints-Falcons is also up 11% from Vikings-Bears in Week 16 last year. In New Orleans, the game earned a 24.0 local rating on ESPN and a 36.6 rating on WDSU-NBC, while in Atlanta, the game earned a 16.5 rating on ESPN and a 20.9 rating on WSB-ABC (THE DAILY).

    CHRISTMAS PRESENT: NFL Network averaged a 3.8 U.S. rating (7.8 million viewers) on Christmas night for its Cowboys-Cardinals telecast, marking the net's highest-rated and most-viewed NFL game this season. Cowboys-Cardinals is also up 15.2% from a 3.3 rating (6.9 million viewers) for Chargers-Titans on Christmas night last year. Last Thursday, the net earned a 2.4 U.S. rating (4.4 million viewers) for its Panthers-Steelers telecast, down sharply from Cowboys-Saints last year, which aired on a Saturday night and earned a 5.7 U.S. rating and 10.5 million viewers (THE DAILY).

    TITLE TILT IN PRIMETIME: Sunday's Rams-Seahawks game has been moved to an 8:20pm ET start time on NBC. Jaguars-Texans and Titans-Colts were moved to 4:15pm, and both will air on CBS. Bears-Packers, Cowboys-Eagles and Giants-Redskins were moved to 4:15pm and will air on Fox (NBC). In St. Louis, Dan Caesar noted Sunday's game will mark the Rams' first national TV appearance since NFL Network televised their game against the Steelers in December '07 (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/27). The winner of Rams-Seahawks will win the NFC West, and's Peter King noted in Week 17, "all ratings concerns take a back seat to the game that [means] the most to the playoff picture" (, 12/27).

    Opinions Divided On
    CBS Analyst Fouts

    BOOTH REVIEW: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote while Sunday's Ravens-Browns game was a "pretty boring affair," no one can "take boring and turn it into tedious like CBS Sports." Zurawik: "Start with the endless string of promotional messages this network seems absolutely addicted to. ... How many holiday greetings from the production workers in the CBS Sports control room and trucks does it take before viewers know CBS Sports wishes them a happy holiday season?" Zurawik: "Most of all, spare me the shots of the goofballs in the stands acting like fools." Analyst Dan Fouts, "at his worst," is "another key element in the mix of tedium," as he "regularly lapses for long stretches in a flat, monotone tone of voice" (, 12/26). But in Denver, Dusty Saunders wrote Fouts and ESPN announcer Mike Tirico are "often underrated" among NFL broadcasters and analysts. Fouts, who is paired with Ian Eagle on CBS, "always comes prepared with full background information on teams, stadiums and cities." Meanwhile, Saunders noted NBC announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have been "seldom out of sync" in their "second Sunday night season together." Michaels is "billed as the play-by-play man and Collinsworth the analyst," but they "smoothly move back and forth in the two categories without stepping on one another's broadcasting toes." Saunders wrote Collinsworth is "as good -- and maybe a bit better -- than the legendary" John Madden (DENVER POST, 12/27).

    SET YOUR SCHEDULE: In L.A., Sam Farmer noted Christmas "falls on a Sunday next year, so you can expect the NFL will have a full Christmas Eve slate of games on Saturday." Next year's schedule "isn't out yet, but there will also probably be a game or two played on Christmas Day" (, 12/27).

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  • Media Notes

    CBS Bumped Jones' Discussion Of NFL Lockout
    Prospects To The Online "Overtime" Feature

    The HUFFINGTON POST's Brian Frederick wrote Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones' comments during his recent interview for CBS' "60 Minutes" on the "looming NFL lockout should have garnered more attention," but the "problem is, CBS didn't air them." Rather, CBS "included them in its online 'Overtime' feature, which was likely seen by only a tiny fraction of fans." CBS reporter Scott Pelley asked, "I think the first thing fans want to know from Jerry Jones is -- Is there going to be football next year?" Jones: "What you need to do is address a car wreck years before it gets there. That's when you can do something about it." When asked by Pelley to explain what the "car wreck" was, Jones said, "Basically, the model that we have does not work. The economic model of the NFL that we have, relative to the players does. Not. Work." Pelley also asked, "Do you think (a lockout) would be disastrous for the game?" Jones: "No. I do not. But I know that the sentiment is not to have a lockout." Frederick wrote, "If the first things fans want to know is whether or not there is going to be football, why didn't CBS air this question and Jones' response? CBS made absolutely no mention of the looming work stoppage" (, 12/23).

    FOR THE BIRDS: After Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco Sunday tweeted that he would not be playing against the Chargers, CBS’ Bill Cowher said the NFL “has to step in” to deal with players’ use of Twitter. Cowher: “I will say this, they should eliminate any tweeting up until game time; nothing during the game or until two hours after the game. Listen, I know it’s a new era but this has gone too far.” CBS’ Shannon Sharpe: “I think they should stop tweeting the day of the game. No more tweeting the day of the game. This is getting out of hand now” (“The NFL Today,” CBS, 12/26).

    BEST OF THE BEST: In Denver, Dusty Saunders wrote CBS' Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson were the best college football announcing team this season, and it was an "easy decision." Lundquist and Danielson have the "advantage -- and disadvantage -- of working games in the Southeastern Conference, currently the strongest college league." While their "profiles are high, so is ongoing criticism about their perceived bias," but Lundquist and Danielson, "often in no-win situations, respond admirably week after week." Meanwhile, ESPN/ABC analyst Kirk Herbstreit is "often underrated" (DENVER POST, 12/27).

    MAINTAINING STATUS QUO: In S.F., Henry Schulman reported the MLB Giants have "reached tentative agreements on six-year extensions for the well-regarded" TV broadcasting team of Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper. Krukow "will begin his 21st season behind the microphone," while Kuiper "will return for his 18th consecutive year with the Giants" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/24).

    KEEPING THE GANG TOGETHER: In N.Y., Bob Raissman cited sources as saying that the Jets and SportsNet N.Y. "recently agreed to a new deal keeping SNY as the 'local' home of the Jets" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/26).

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