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CBS earned a 24.2 fast-national Nielsen rating and 43.5 million viewers for Sunday's Jets-Patriots AFC Divisional playoff game, which marks the highest-rated NFL Divisional game on any net since Cowboys-Panthers earned a 27.6 rating on Fox in '97. The audience for Jets-Patriots also projects to be the most-viewed Divisional game on any net dating back to at least '87, which is as far back as CBS records go. Compared to last year's Jets-Chargers matchup on CBS, Jets-Patriots is up 20.4% and 22.1%, respectively. CBS earned a 19.4 rating and 34.0 million viewers for Ravens-Steelers in the early Saturday window, marking the highest-rated Saturday Divisional game since Fox' Packers-49ers earned a 22.2 rating in '96. Ravens-Steelers also marks the best viewership for any Saturday Divisional game since the net earned the same figure for Vikings-49ers in '88. CBS' two games averaged 38.5 million viewers, marking the best Divisional playoff weekend audience ever for any net (THE DAILY). On Long Island, Neil Best notes Boston "led the 56 measured individual markets" for Jets-Patriots with a 47.8 local rating for the game, while N.Y. ranked 11th with a 30.4 rating. Best: "Both extraordinary numbers for football in those baseball-centric cities" (NEWSDAY, 1/18). DAILY VARIETY's Rick Kissell noted the "final portion" of Jets-Patriots was the peak of the broadcast with an average of 52.3 million viewers from 7:30-7:48pm ET. Meanwhile, NBC's telecast of the "Golden Globe Awards" on Sunday was "no match for the Jets-Patriots game," but "excluding the Academy Awards on ABC last March, the Globes matched the best nonsports 18-49 score for any network in the Sunday time period since last year's Golden Globes" (VARIETY.com, 1/17).
SOLDIER ON: Fox earned a 19.1 rating and 32.5 million viewers for Sunday's Seahawks-Bears NFC Divisional game, down 13.2% and 13.7%, respectively, from the comparable Cowboys-Vikings game last year. Saturday's Packers-Falcons primetime game earned Fox a 17.0 rating and 30.8 million viewers, marking the net's most-viewed Divisional game since the '96 Packers-49ers game. The Packers-Falcons telecast is up 5.6% and 10.4%, respectively, from the net's afternoon Cardinals-Saints matchup last year. It is flat in rating compared to CBS' Ravens-Colts primetime Divisional game last year, but up slightly in viewership. Fox through three playoff telecasts is averaging a 19.4 rating (34.1 million viewers), up 1% from a 19.2 rating (33.3 million viewers) through the same point last year (THE DAILY).'11 NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAMESDAYWINDOW
(000)Sat.4:30pmCBSRavens-Steelers19.434,000Sat.8:15pmFoxPackers-Falcons17.030,800Sun.1:00pmFoxSeahawks-Bears19.132,500Sun.4:30pmCBSJets-Patriots24.243,500'10 NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAMESDAYWINDOW
NOT COACH KILLERS: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes it was "too much to expect Phil Simms and Jim Nantz to de-hoodie" Patriots coach Bill Belichick during the Jets-Patriots telecast. Simms and Nantz "could have mashed him for running the ball, killing most of the fourth quarter," or "for a failed fake punt late in the second quarter." They also could not "bring themselves to say" that Belichick was "thoroughly out-coached" by Jets coach Rex Ryan. Raissman writes Simms and Nantz have "never been known to take the sledgehammer approach," as they are "not coach-killers." Raissman: "Not everyone is as direct and pointed as Cris Collinsworth. ... A difference in approach and a high level of respect for Belichick probably makes Simms think twice before trashing the Pats' coach" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/18).
MOTIVATIONAL PLOY: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones noted ESPN analyst Tom Jackson during "Sunday NFL Countdown" picked the Patriots to beat the Jets 30-10 because he was "trying to fire up the Jets." Jackson yesterday on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" said, "I wanted to further fuel them in a little cement -- cement them in that bunker mentality of 'us against the world.'" He added that he was "playing a 'psychological game' and that his prediction was 'premeditated.'" Jones wrote, "Since when [is it] the job of an analyst on an ESPN pregame show to fire up an NFL team? Why should Jackson care if the Jets win, lose, get blown out, or have their bus break down on the way [to] the game?" Jackson is a "seasoned pro and should have known better." Jones: "He crossed a serious line Sunday" (TAMPABAY.com, 1/17).
Heat F LeBron James' Spring Hill Productions and Believe Entertainment Group (BEG) today announced that they will launch a new Web-based animated series titled, "The LeBrons." The show will appear on its own YouTube channel and will be syndicated on other websites via Digital Broadcasting Group. Characters in the show will wear Nike Young Athlete shoes and apparel. A portion of the proceeds will be used to purchase HP computers to be donated to Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BEG). In N.Y., Dave Itzkoff reports the series will "revisit some of his best-known off-the-court performances while featuring socially conscious messages." The series is set for a spring debut on YouTube and James’ website, and it will “revive the characters from a popular series of Nike commercials in which Mr. James played four versions of himself.” James said, “I’m the athlete, of course, that everyone sees. But I also have a business side, a cool side, and I love antique stuff and classical music. I guess that’s the old man side of me.” The first season, consisting of "10 episodes of five to six minutes each, will center on the world of 16-year-old Kid LeBron and his life in Akron, Ohio, using authentic locations” from the city where James was born and raised. Each episode “will convey a message.” BEG Founders Dan Goodman and Bill Masterson “have helped other entertainment figures translate their online popularity into digital shows,” including “Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy,” a series of online shorts from the “Family Guy” creator and star (N.Y. TIMES, 1/18).
Mary Carillo is not part of ESPN's broadcast team at the Australian Open as the tournament begins this week, and it "doesn't take a leap to surmise that the philosophical difference" between Carillo and ESPN was in Carillo "believing the tone and tenor of ESPN's coverage was closer to cheerleading than reporting," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. Carillo "quietly left ESPN last year during the middle of the U.S. Open," and sources said that she was "distressed by a culture that frowned on critical analysis of the top players on tour, particularly American stars." ESPN Exec VP/Production Norby Williamson said, "Mary, for years, helped build ESPN's tennis coverage and she was a valuable asset which made us very strong. ... She wanted to experiment and do some different things beyond just tennis. The load of the ESPN tennis was not allowing her to do that." Williamson added, "Given everything she had done for ESPN and the high level she had given us, if that was what she wanted to do, of course we would accommodate her. But it's very hard to replace a Mary Carillo." Williamson said that he "did not have direct conversations with Carillo on tennis philosophy." She will continue to call tennis on CBS and NBC, as well as contribute to HBO's "Real Sports." Deitsch wrote no sport "does conflicts quite like tennis," and that has "morphed today into ESPN's Mary Joe Fernandez interviewing a player (Roger Federer) represented by her IMG agent husband." ESPN analyst Patrick McEnroe "makes a six-figure salary from the USTA, which puts him in a tricky situation when questions come up yearly about the U.S. Open scheduling and the stadium's need for a roof." It is "hard to believe such flagrant conflicts would be permitted in other sports" (SI.com, 1/17).
COVERING THE RAFA SLAM: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds noted Rafael Nadal is attempting to "win the Australian Open and thus hold all four of tennis' major titles at once," and such a run "figures to boost ESPN2's Nielsens, despite the 16-hour difference between Australia and the East Coast in the U.S. and 19 hours to the Pacific time zone." ESPN2 "plans a record 124 live hours, plus nearly 50 additional afternoon encores, the most in its 27-year history with the Australian." Coverage "will be enhanced by ESPN2's use of the 'spider cam' it unveiled at Ashe Stadium at the 2010 U.S. Open." ESPN3.com "will offer 600 live hours, with users choosing between matches on seven courts," and "all of that action is available on-demand after their completion." Meanwhile, Tennis Channel is "scheduled to present close to 30 hours of live match play over the fortnight, beginning with the initial day of play through the singles quarterfinals, doubles championships and mixed-doubles final." The network will offer 70 total hours of live and encore coverage (MULTICHANNEL.com, 1/16).
OUT OF LINE: The AAP's Robert Grant reported a New Zealand TV journalist yesterday "again disrupted" Maria Sharapova's post-match media conference, marking the "third time the man has appeared when she has been scheduled to speak during the past two weeks." Last weekend, the man "asked her if she spent time with compatriot Anna Kournikova and frequented a club for 'hot Russians.'" Sharapova: "You're the guy from New Zealand, huh? Oh God, you're stalking me!" The journalist jokingly replied, "It's not stalking if you love someone." Australian Open officials "were yet to decide on whether to caution the man" (AAP, 1/17).