SBD/Issue 81/Sports Media

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  • Fox Gets Best Wild Card Overnight; NBC Best WC Weekend Since '95

    Packers-Eagles Overnight Up 11.9% From
    Comparable Cards-Packers Game Last Year

    Fox earned a 24.4 overnight Nielsen rating for yesterday’s Packers-Eagles NFC Wild Card game from 4:45-7:45pm ET, marking the net's best Wild Card game rating ever and best for any NFC Wild Card game since a 24.9 overnight for Bears-Saints on CBS in '91. Packers-Eagles is up 11.9% from the net’s 21.8 overnight for the comparable Cardinals-Packers game in the late window last year. CBS earned an 18.8 overnight for the Ravens-Chiefs AFC Wild Card in yesterday's early window, down 3.1% from a 19.4 overnight for comparable Ravens-Patriots game last year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

    SATURDAY NIGHT WILD: NBC averaged a 19.4 overnight Nielsen rating for its two NFL Wild Card telecasts on Saturday, marking the best two-game average for a Wild Card Saturday in 16 years. The two-game average was up 6% from Wild Card Saturday last year, which featured Jets-Bengals and Eagles-Cowboys. Jets-Colts was the top-rated program on Saturday night and helped NBC to a primetime win among all nets. Saturday night's Jets-Colts AFC Wild Card telecast earned a 20.8 overnight from 8:15-11:00pm, marking the highest rating ever for a primetime Wild Card Saturday game and best for any Wild Card Saturday game since Cardinals-Cowboys earned a 20.9 overnight in '99. The telecast was up 6% from the comparable Eagles-Cowboys game. Jets-Colts peaked at a 23.6 rating from 10:00-10:30pm. Saints-Seahawks earned an 18.3 overnight from 4:30-8:00pm, marking the best early Saturday Wild Card game in 20 years. Saints-Seahawks was up 8% from the comparable 16.9 overnight for Jets-Bengals last year (Karp). DAILY VARIETY's Rick Kissell notes NBC's Jets-Colts "figures to average more than 30 million viewers when national estimates come in on Tuesday" (DAILY VARIETY, 1/10). NBC earned a 10.2 rating in the adults 18-49 demo for Jets-Colts (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 1/9).

    NFL WILD CARD WEEKEND OVERNIGHT NIELSEN RATINGS
    NET DAY/TIME '11 GAME RAT. '10 GAME RAT. % +/-
    NBC Sat./4:30pm Saints-Seahawks 18.3 Jets-Bengals 16.9 8.3%
    NBC Sat./8:00pm Jets-Colts 20.8 Cowboys-Eagles 19.6 6.1%
    CBS Sun./1:00pm Ravens-Chiefs 18.8 Ravens-Patriots 19.4 -3.1%
    Fox Sun./4:30pm Packers-Eagles 24.4 Cardinals-Packers 21.8 11.9%
                 

    PROUD AS A PEACOCK: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes NBC's "best use of TV as TV" during its two games Saturday was "educational and fun." After Colts QB Peyton Manning "audibled to a running play that led to a first down on third and long, NBC's tape, shot from behind Manning, showed the entire left side of the Jets defense to have abandoned the line of scrimmage to defend the pass." Mushnick: "We saw exactly what Manning saw, and it was an extraordinary sight. That might have been the best between-plays use of videotape all season." Meanwhile, NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth "struck gold" during Jets-Colts when he "nailed the next-to-the-last play" -- Jets QB Mark Sanchez throwing to WR Braylon Edwards (N.Y. POST, 1/10). On Long Island, Neil Best wrote Collinsworth "did an excellent job throughout, breaking down what the Jets were doing in real time in ways that matched nearly perfectly what the Jets themselves explained after the game" (NEWSDAY.com, 1/9).

    OFF THE MARK: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote while he was "deeply impressed" with NBC's coverage, he was "not so with CBS Sports and its coverage" of Ravens-Chiefs. "The NFL Today" pregame show was "so flat" Zurawik "switched to the NFL Network." During the game, announcers Phil Simms and Jim Nantz "never focused on how poorly" Chiefs QB Matt Cassel played and "how literally frightened he seemed of the Ravens ferocious defense." Zurawik: "Simms, Nantz and CBS Sports, in general, never call anyone out on the field during the games. But in avoiding the negative that way, they give lie to what viewers are seeing with their own eyes. If you are going to provide analysis, don't pull punches." However, Zurawik wrote the camera work for "most of the game was terrific," and he "loved the shot viewers were given of the first fumble" by Ravens QB Joe Flacco (BALTIMORESUN.com, 1/9).

    PLAYING BY THE RULES: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted Fox rules analyst Mike Pereira during Packers-Eagles made a "vanity booth appearance ... to force in some commentary about the playoff overtime rules." However, Pereira "later did provide a useful explanation about the officials' decision to allow the Eagles to replay a two-point try after a touchdown." Meanwhile, Fox sideline reporter Chris Myers, "working the Eagles' sideline, provided solid reporting about the injury to" Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (JSONLINE.com, 1/9).

    Several Network Officials Believe That
    Favre No Longer Has A Future In TV

    MISSED OPPORTUNITY? In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote there had been the "distinct possibility" Vikings QB Brett Favre "would eventually wind up on television" when he decided to retire. However, even a "limited schedule seems out of the question for Favre," as the consensus of NFL TV officials was that the "recent controversies surrounding Favre have made him toxic when it comes to TV -- at least in the short-term." One network producer said, "There's a backlash against him. People don't look at Brett like they did three or four years ago, when he was the aw-shucks type of guy, the gunslinger, the everyman." A network official added, "It's more than one incident with Brett. It's hard to overcome a number of different incidents and stuff that has happened over such a short period of time. All this stuff is fresh in the mind. It would be hard to use him next season" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/9).

    DRESS REHEARSAL: In Ft. Worth, Ray Buck noted Friday's LSU-Texas A&M AT&T Cotton Bowl was a "dress rehearsal for Fox Sports, in terms of technology, logistics and production planning," for Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on Feb. 6. The Cotton Bowl kicked off at 7:00pm CT, and a similar kickoff time to the Super Bowl "allowed for measuring the different lighting element for a prime-time event." Fox prior to the game "had been inside JerryWorld for only noon and 3:15 p.m. games." Fox Senior Producer Bill Brown said the net will use "20 to 22 manned cameras" during the Super Bowl and estimated 16 cameras were used Friday night, or "half a dozen more cameras than we would've used for a normal Cotton Bowl." There "are no on-field events scheduled" for Cowboys Stadium during the next four weeks, and Brown said, "We'll be leaving behind a lot of our equipment because we'll be back here next month" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/9).

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  • Tiger Bait: First Primetime Cotton Bowl Helps Fox Win Night

    Fox Earns Its Best-Ever Rating
    For Cotton Bowl With LSU-Texas A&M

    Fox earned a 5.8 fast-national Nielsen rating and 10.0 million viewers for LSU's 41-24 win over Texas A&M Friday in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, marking the net’s best Cotton Bowl rating ever. The game marked the first Cotton Bowl to air in primetime and gave Fox its best Friday night since New Year's Day last year and win for the night among all nets. The game was up 29% from a 4.5 rating for Ole Miss-Oklahoma State last year, which was played the afternoon of Jan. 2 (THE DAILY). In Ft. Worth, Gil LeBreton noted the game was the "first AT&T Cotton Bowl ever under the lights," and it was a "prime-time classic." LeBreton: "Somewhere along the way, local football watchers will attest, the Cotton Bowl had lost its groove." But with the game now being played at Cowboys Stadium, "hopefully those days are forever gone" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/8). FS SOUTHWEST's Mike Piellucci noted the rating "should help quell some of the criticism that erupted after the game moved from its traditional New Year's Day slot into later in the bowl schedule." The rating also should "help Cotton Bowl officials in their outspoken request to lure a BCS bowl bid once the current bowl agreements expire in 2014." Without the "aid of a high profile BCS matchup, the Cotton Bowl came within striking distance" of ratings for the Fiesta and Orange bowls (FOXSPORTSSOUTHWEST.com, 1/9).

    RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR: ESPN's coverage of bowl games saw the net post its highest-rated and most-viewed day in its history on New Year's Day, and its highest-rated and most-watched week in its history for the week ending Jan. 2. ESPN on New Year's Day averaged 6.301 million viewers, besting the previous record of 4.456 million viewers set on Sept. 14, 2009, when the net aired an NFL opening-week "MNF" doubleheader. Meanwhile, for the week ending Jan. 2, ESPN averaged 2.953 million viewers, topping the 2.274 million viewers for the week ending Jan. 3, 2010. In addition to the New Year's Day bowl games, the net during the week telecast the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, the Capital One Bowl, the Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl and Saints-Falcons "MNF," the most-viewed "MNF" game of the season. ESPN.com on New Year's Day also earned 12.5 million visits, 35 million page views and 59.2 million minutes for college football content, up 17%, 24% and 31%, respectively, from a year ago. BCS games represented three of ESPN3.com's four most popular college football games. Meanwhile, ESPN Mobile on New Year's Day saw 8.8 million visits, 18.5 million page views and 35.3 million total minutes, up 49%, 41%, and 42%, respectively (ESPN).

    A SWING AND A MISS, AGAIN: In Detroit, Jerry Green noted Stanford Univ. coach Jim Harbaugh Friday agreed to coach the 49ers, but ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit in November referred to Harbaugh and the Univ. of Michigan's coaching job, saying, "I think Jim Harbaugh is gone. I think he would take a Greyhound bus to Ann Arbor." Green wrote Herbstreit "forfeited his journalistic credibility three years ago" when he erroneously reported LSU coach Les Miles would leave to take the Michigan job. Green: "It's time for ESPN ... to put the gag on Herbstreit. It's time he buttoned his lip. ... For some unfathomable reason newspapers and other media outlets grab at statements delivered by Herbstreit as the bloody truth." Herbstreit "has been guilty of an imposing list of strikeouts." Green: "Time for ESPN to put the gag on Herbstreit's piffle. And for a onetime Ohio State quarterback to be spouting off about Michigan -- and most of it inaccurate ... well, ESPN is endorsing a conflict of interest" (DETROIT NEWS, 1/8).

    RIVALED COVERAGE: In Birmingham, Kevin Scarbinsky noted Univ. of Alabama football coach Nick Saban is serving as an "analyst on ESPN's family of networks, including ESPN 3D," in advance of tonight's Auburn-Oregon Tostitos BCS National Championship Game. ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Ed Placey said he has not "personally heard any" reactions from Auburn fans to Saban's role. But he added, "I'm aware of them. We knew it was coming. Someone with Nick Saban's credentials and certainly coming off a national championship and a person who, as most of Alabama knows and most of the country knows, is a straight shooter and someone that's going to be candid and passionate and tell it like it is, those are the people that we want a part of our broadcast" (AL.com, 1/9).

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  • HBO's Greenburg Says Another NHL-Themed "24/7" A "No-Brainer"

    Greenburg Thinks "24/7" Series Can
    Become A "Game-Changer" For HBO

    HBO was "so enamored with its groundbreaking experiment with the NHL and vice versa, it seems certain the relationship will continue with a follow-up next season," according to Scott Burnside of ESPN.com. The reaction to "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic" was so positive, HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg said that the network "couldn't walk away from the project." Greenburg: "You can't do that to the American public." He added a "24/7 Part II" is a "no-brainer." Capitals VP & GM George McPhee said that he "would recommend to any other NHL GM or team that they take advantage of the opportunity should it present itself." McPhee: "It might have been the most fun I've ever had in this business." NHL COO John Collins "thinks the series has the potential to be a defining moment for the league." Collins: "Hopefully it'll be a game-changer for us." Greenburg said, "They're ecstatic at the NHL. We brought the game life." He added that he "thinks the '24/7' series might be a 'game-changer' for the network in terms of opening doors to other sports like baseball, which had previously been reluctant to provide the access the NHL ultimately allowed" (ESPN.com, 1/7). In N.Y., Larry Brooks wrote, "If HBO's bang-up, compelling '24/7' is going to become a standard lead-in to the Winter Classic, then it's likely clubs will be chosen to play in the NHL's signature Jan. 1 outdoor game by virtue of their willingness to provide access to the cameras and microphones, or eliminated thereto." An NHL official, when asked whether the league has the power to compel cooperation with HBO, said, "No, but we do control who is selected to play in the Winter Classic" (N.Y. POST, 1/9).

    COOL AS ICE: SI.com's Stu Hackel wrote "24/7" was "exquisite." HBO "made great use of their access by bringing viewers into areas of the game that most fans never see: the dressing room, practice facilities, planes and buses, players’ homes, meetings and strategy sessions, the awarding of the shovel and hard hat after games and ... lots of terrific on ice audio of players and officials." The "mini-portraits of the players, especially those who are not the great stars" Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, "were revealing" (SI.com, 1/7).  In Pittsburgh, Rob Rossi wrote, "The time for a first-rate NHL Films is now, because the success of '24/7' showed that the want of people -- regular people, not just die-hard hockey fans -- is expertly executed specialty programs such as what HBO churned out the past four weeks." The NHL needs to "continue capturing that passion" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 1/9).

    COLD SHOULDER? In Edmonton, John Mackinnon wrote of the Winter Classic, "Positioning this event as part of the 'grow-the-game' effort in the U.S., particularly in terms of TV ratings, is understandable." But distancing it from the '03 Canadiens-Oilers Heritage Classic, "at least in a marketing sense, by identifying the Buffalo game as the first of its kind, or necessarily situating the Winter Classic in the U.S., excluding the Canadian teams from the rotation, seems wrong." Mackinnon: "Yes, Calgary will play host to a second Heritage Classic, but given the NHL's marketing approach, to borrow a Seinfeld-ism, it seems like 'lesser babka.' That's not right" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 1/9).

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  • Villegas DQ Sparks Debate About Role Of TV Viewers For Golf

    Golf Fan Who Saw Villegas Commit A Penalty
    Sent Tweets To Alert PGA Tour, Golf Channel

    The PGA Tour's disqualification of Camilo Villegas from this past weekend's Hyundai Tournament of Champions "will stoke a long-lingering debate" about whether a golf event should be "governed by people witnessing infractions on television," according to Jeff Babineau of GOLFWEEK. The Tour disqualified Villegas from the season-opening tournament after a fan watching Thursday's first round on Golf Channel notified the Tour and the network of a possible rules violation. The punishment "raises the debate whether some players are under more scrutiny than others because they receive more TV time." A Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson "certainly is going to be shown much more than a lesser-named player finishing in the bottom half of the leaderboard." PGA Tour VP/Rules & Competition Slugger White said that the Tour has "experimented with putting a rules official in the TV booth in the past, but it deemed it better to have that official on the golf course than sitting watching a telecast" (GOLFWEEK.com, 1/7). ESPN.com's Jason Sobel wrote the disqualification is unfair because there "isn't a level playing field" for all golfers. If Golf Channel producers "had decided to cut away from Villegas at that point in the telecast and show another player instead," he would have "committed the same violation." Sobel: "It's not fair that those who are either popular enough or playing well enough to warrant TV coverage should be held to a different standard than their fellow competitors" (ESPN.com, 1/8). In Jacksonville, Garry Smits wrote, "Perhaps golf organizations should have rules officials monitoring TV broadcasts, but what about the portions of a tournament not televised?" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 1/9). But GOLF WORLD's Tim Rosaforte writes, "This is how it works in this game where competitors -- and fans from nearly 5,000 miles away -- get to call the penalties" (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 1/10 issue).

    IS THIS THING ON? Jonathan Byrd "agreed to become the first PGA Tour player to wear a microphone" during Friday's second round of the Tournament of Champions, but "technical problems scrapped those plans." The PGA Tour has "allowed Golf Channel to use microphones on players this year, provided the player goes along with it." The agreement "stipulates that it be either Thursday or Friday, but not during the weekend" (AP, 1/7). ESPN.com's Sobel wrote PGA Tour players "should request" to wear microphones during events, "even demand it." Golfers need to "market themselves -- and the game -- in any way possible," and "hopefully, more players will see it that way soon." Sobel: "I'm in favor of creativity across the board. As long as something isn't breaking one of the Rules of Golf or isn't an eyesore for the game, let's try it and see how it works out" (ESPN.com, 1/9). Golfer Brad Faxon in an e-mail said, "I like the idea of the mic for the players, but picking the right players is huge. That would be one of the first things I would like to see on TV." Faxon, who did some on-course work for NBC last year, added golf Exec Producer Tommy Roy "always told us as announcers to be quiet when player and caddie were talking" (GOLF.com, 1/9).

    WIRED FOR SOUND: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's John Paul Newport reported the PGA Tour and Sirius XM Radio have "agreed to continue live play-by-play broadcasts of every Tour event in 2011, including the majors." Neither party would "reveal specifics of the deal, including how long the contract runs." PGA Tour Senior VP/New Media Paul Johnson said that the "day-to-day production now will be handled by the Tour rather than Sirius XM." The schedule and "lead announcers such as John Maginnes will remain the same" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/8).

    ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: SI's Gary Van Sickle in an e-mail said he wants "something different" from Golf Channel analysts. Brandel Chamblee "is the network's best," and Golf World's Rosaforte also "does good reporting." Van Sickle: "Other than that, I don't want to pick on any individuals, but I could do with a lot fewer cliches from Golf Channel. I don't think I'm going to get insight until Brandel is the coverage host and [Paul] Azinger is his color analyst. But I can dream." SI's Mark Godich added, "They certainly didn't lack for numbers: a host, no fewer than five people in the 'booth,' and I forget how many roaming the course. There were almost as many analysts as there were players in the field" (GOLF.com, 1/9). Meanwhile, GOLF WORLD's Chris Millard writes there was "plenty of good talk" during the first week of Golf Channel's new talk show, "Morning Drive." But the first week also will "be remembered for over-animated discussions on non-golf topics." Millard notes on Friday morning he was "expecting a lively debate" on Villegas' disqualification, or Chamblee 'breaking down the shot of the day, Bubba Watson's eye-opening driver off the deck into the 18th green." Instead, there was an interview with Vikings K Ryan Longwell. Millard: "How about just golf?" (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 1/10 issue).

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  • FCC Chair Makes Call For Increase In Wireless Spectrum At CES

    Genachowski Says Not Addressing Wireless Spectrum
    Could Put Economic Competitiveness At Risk

    FCC Chair Julius Genachowski for the second straight year used the Int'l Consumer Electronics Show to make a passionate call for a dramatic increase in wireless spectrum. The agency recently estimated the U.S. will see a 35-fold increase in mobile traffic over the next five years. Video content and the meteoric rise of tablet devices, both of which have overindexed among sports fans, stand among the significant drivers of that surge. Genachowski, however, Friday branded that projection as conservative. "Not addressing this situation will have disastrous consequences and put our economic competitiveness at risk," he said, calling the issue the agency's top priority in '11. "Though we can't see it, spectrum is becoming increasingly essential to the daily lives of almost every American. ... We have to move and we have to move fast." The FCC is pursuing a voluntary auction system in which broadcasters are encouraged to give up underutilized bands of spectrum, and then share in proceeds when those bands are resold. The National Association of Broadcasters, however, to date has resisted other spectrum-release efforts it sees as pressuring of its members.

    CBS EYEING FINAL FOUR, MASTERS IN 3D: CBS Sports is optimistic of landing deals to show the upcoming '11 Final Four and The Masters in 3D, said Exec VP/Operations, Engineering & Production Services Ken Aagaard, though there is no signed deal for either yet. Aagaard appeared Friday at Panasonic's booth at CES to discuss the network's work to date in the enhanced format. CBS Sports and Panasonic, along with DirecTV, collaborated last summer on a 3D production of tennis' U.S. Open. "We're still working on those, and I'm hopeful," Aagaard said of the Final Four and The Masters. There has been no discussion, however, with the NFL on producing games in 3D, he said, with the topic likely shelved until at least after the league's labor issues are resolved.

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