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ESPN earned a 7.1 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's Discover Orange Bowl, which saw Stanford rout Virginia Tech 40-12. The rating marks ESPN's third-best college football overnight ever, behind only Saturday's Rose Bowl and the September '09 USC-Ohio State telecast. ESPN3.com also saw 182,000 unique viewers for last night's game. Stanford-Virginia Tech on ESPN is down 17.4% from the comparable Boise State-TCU Tostitos Fiesta Bowl last year, which aired on a Monday night last year on Fox. This year's Orange Bowl is also down 1.4% from a 7.2 overnight for last year's Iowa-Georgia Tech matchup on Fox, which aired on a Tuesday night (THE DAILY).
FINAL SCORE: ESPN earned an 11.3 U.S. rating and 20.558 million viewers for the TCU-Wisconsin Rose Bowl, marking the third largest audience ever on cable TV. Only two "MNF" broadcasts from '09 -- Packers-Vikings and Patriots-Saints -- attracted more viewers. Compared to last year’s Ohio State-Oregon Rose Bowl on ABC, TCU-Wisconsin is down 14.4% in both ratings and viewership. ESPN also earned a 6.2 U.S. rating and 10.819 million viewers for the Oklahoma-Connecticut Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, marking the net’s second-largest non-NFL audience ever. The game is down 27.1% and 30.3%, respectively, from an 8.5 rating and 15.533 million viewers for the comparable Allstate Sugar Bowl on Fox last year. Compared to last year’s Fiesta Bowl, which aired on a Monday night on Fox, this year’s telecast is down 24.4% and 21.7%, respectively (THE DAILY). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes whether the ratings declines for the Rose and Fiesta bowls are "due to weaker matchups or the shift to cable could be answered as ESPN shows the other games" (USA TODAY, 1/4). Meanwhile, ESPN earned a 30.0 local rating and 270,330 HHs in the Milwaukee market for the Rose Bowl (JSONLINE.com, 1/3).
The NHL "will plot to build on its best-ever" Winter Classic rating, a 2.3 for Saturday's Capitals-Penguins game at Heinz Field, but it "may not be easy," according to Stu Hackel of SI.com. The opening faceoff was moved to 8:00pm ET due to rain, and there "almost certainly would have been bigger numbers had the game gone off in the afternoon this year," because "all the promotion was geared" to a 1:00pm start. Going forward, there "have already been suggestions that the NHL move this game to prime time and make it the only NHL match that day," but the league "will likely want to avoid the sort of prime time competition that it had this year" with ESPN's coverage of the Fiesta Bowl. There is "less competition in the early afternoon." In addition, Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday next year, and "assuming it doesn't opt for a shift to Dec. 31, the NHL is going to be up against the NFL no matter what time the game starts." It also "should not be forgotten that the rating benefited immeasurably" from HBO's "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic," and the game "probably won't have that sort of boost next year" (SI.com, 1/3). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports the NHL "would not say if future Winter Classics would be held in prime time." That discussion "will be a part of talks with NBC, whose NHL contract expires after this season." The league also is "in an exclusive negotiating period with Versus about renewing its expiring deal" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/4).
ON THE HOME FRONT: In DC, Dan Steinberg reported Capitals-Penguins earned a 7.6 local rating in the DC market, though he would have "guessed that number would have been higher." The game "got the best ratings" in Pittsburgh, posting a 32.0 local rating in that market. The Winter Classic "earned its third-highest ratings" in Baltimore, with a 6.6 local rating (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/3).TOP 10 U.S. MARKETS FOR '11 NHL WINTER CLASSIC ON NBCRKMARKETRATINGMARKETRATING1Pittsburgh32.05tDenver4.32D.C.7.67Boston4.03Baltimore6.68Richmond3.84Buffalo5.39Philadelphia3.55tSt. Louis4.310Columbus3.4
LEAVING SOMETHING ON THE TABLE? MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds noted the 4.5 million viewers for the Winter Classic marks the largest audience for a regular-season NHL game since '75, but he wrote there were "enough factors in its favor that should have helped the game score more with the Nielsens." Those include HBO's "brilliant promo" in the form of the "24/7" series, the "game's two biggest stars ... going head-to-head" and the fact it aired against "only one college football game, the lackluster BCS Fiesta Bowl." Also, most sports fans "should have been aware that the game had the potential to skate into primetime because of the forecast calling for substantial rain" at its scheduled 1:00pm start. Reynolds: "Not to downplay all those positives and the 4.5 million who watched ... but it felt like the gestalt of the above-mentioned factors should have pushed the 2011 Winter Classic's Nielsens higher" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 1/3).
LIGHTS, CAMERAS, ACTION: YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski wrote the "universal gripe" over NBC's coverage of this year's Winter Classic "centered around the creative camerawork from NBC; in the sense that most readers found 'creative' synonymous with 'appalling.'" Wyshynski described the different looks from the cameras and wrote, "I'd give the camerawork a mild FAIL because of the ill-timing of its usage but would give the overall coverage a PASS because they covered the hell out of that game." He added, "I'm excited and hopeful when I see something like CableCam. ... I give NBC credit for taking a made-for-TV event and making it their own" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/3).
Carlson Believes Presence Of HBO
Around Team Was Great For Hockey
FITTING FINALE: In DC, Tracee Hamilton writes Saturday's Winter Classic "provided a perfect exclamation point to HBO's storytelling arc." When filming began on the series, the Capitals "were embarking on their longest losing streak in years, while the Penguins were in the midst of an impressive winning streak." By the third episode, the Caps "were coming out of their funk, the Penguins' streak had ended and the scales were evening a bit." Penguins C Sidney Crosby was "hot on the ice and the perfect all-Canadian boy off it," and Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin was "none of those things." Hamilton: "I'm sure producers hoped those two would have epic performances Saturday night, so the finale would be a Crosby-vs.-Ovechkin battle. That's where the players went off script; neither superstar scored Saturday night. But HBO being HBO, it had an alternate ending ready: redemption. There the Capitals delivered, and the filmmakers had to have been pleased, especially after being at least partly blamed for the team's slump by worried fans" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/4).
NBC averaged a 13.0 final Nielsen rating and 21.8 million viewers for its 18 NFL telecasts this season, marking the net's best audience figures since it began airing "SNF" five seasons ago. This year's numbers are also up 11% and 12%, respectively, from an 11.7 rating and 19.4 million viewers for 17 telecasts last season. From the start of current TV season (Sept. 20) through the end of the NFL regular season, "SNF" has been the No. 1 primetime show on all of TV among viewers and all key male and adult demos, marking the first such accomplishment for an NFL primetime program since Nielsen began its people-meter measurements in '87. NBC's 18 telecasts were also the No. 1 show in primetime on all of television for the night they aired. Eleven telecasts topped the 20-million viewer mark; last season, only seven "SNF" telecasts topped 20 million viewers. Additionally, seven of the top 10 most-viewed "SNF" games on NBC occurred this season. New Orleans led all markets with a 25.0 local rating over the 18 telecasts, followed by Milwaukee (21.9) and Las Vegas (20.8). NBC finished this past Sunday night with an 11.3 rating and 19.4 million viewers for the Rams-Seahawks game, which marks the best NFL finale since Patriots-Dolphins earned a 21.8 rating on ABC in '97. Compared to Bengals-Jets in Week 17 last year, Rams-Seahawks is up 13% and 19%, respectively (THE DAILY).NBC "SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL" RATINGS, VIEWERSHIP TRENDYEARGAMESRATINGVIEWERS (000)'101813.021,800'091711.719,418'081710.216,638'071710.015,964'061711.017,504
IS THIS SEATTLE OR SOUTH BEND? NBC announced that Mike Mayock will be the booth analyst for the Saints-Seahawks playoff game Saturday at 4:30pm ET, the first game of the net's NFL Wild Card doubleheader. Mayock will join play-by-play announcer Tom Hammond in the booth; the pair also calls Notre Dame football games for NBC. Alex Flanagan will be the sideline reporter. The "SNF" team of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Andrea Kremer will call the 8:00pm Jets-Colts game (NBC Universal).
AUSSIE RULES FOOTBALL: In Dallas, Rainer Sabin notes Cowboys P Mat McBriar will provide "analysis that will air on ESPN Australia" during Super Bowl XLV. McBriar, an Australian native, said, “I’m not going to talk X’s and O’s. I’ll talk like, ‘This guy is really good. Watch him catch the ball.’ It should be fun. It was an opportunity that was presented to me and I was like, ‘This may never happen again’” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/4).
Following yesterday's debut of Golf Channel's two-hour "Morning Drive" show, GOLFWEEK's Martin Kaufmann offered a "few observations about the first day's efforts" under the header, "Morning Drive Starts Out In The Slow Lane." Co-host Gary Williams "seems way too serious," and there is "not a natural rapport" between Williams and co-host Erik Kuselias. Kaufmann: "I had questions as to whether Kuselias and Williams could carry a two-hour show; it's still early, but the first day didn't do anything to alleviate those questions." Also, Holly Sonders "didn't get much air time," only providing "Golf Central Updates" that totaled "about three minutes out of the two-hour show." She "seemed nervous and uncomfortable." There were "no surprises in the first show, nor any laughs," and the second hour "started very much like the first: a discussion of 2011 expectations, then on to the upcoming NFL playoffs." Golf Channel "might have been better off pushing back the first show" to next Monday, which "would have allowed the hosts to talk about the outcome" of this week's PGA Tour Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Kaufmann wrote "Morning Drive" is "going to need more guests than the three who appeared on the first show." Otherwise, the show is "going to need additional on-camera hosts or occasional features" (GOLFWEEK.com, 1/3).
SCHOOL'S IN SESSION: In West Palm Beach, Edgar Thompson reported golf instructor Martin Hall "will preside over the Golf Channel's newest instructional series," titled "School of Golf." Hall, who serves as Dir of Instruction at Ibis Golf & Country Club in West Palm Beach, "will begin the weekly, 30-minute interactive show on Jan. 25 in Orlando." Hall was "one of three finalists to host the show, beating out Wayne Player, son of Gary Player, and Karen Palacios-Jansen, wife of Olympic speedskater Dan Jansen" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 1/3).
ESPN college football announcer Ron Franklin "apologized Monday for comments to colleague Jeannine Edwards that got him pulled from Saturday's radio broadcast" of the Oklahoma-Connecticut Fiesta Bowl, according to Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. Franklin in a statement said, "I said some things I shouldn't have and am sorry. I deserved to be taken off the Fiesta Bowl." Edwards in an e-mail yesterday said that Franklin, during a production meeting before the Chick-fil-A Bowl, called her "sweet baby" and "a--hole." She added that a "colleague reported the incident to ESPN management" (USA TODAY, 1/4). In DC, Paul Farhi notes the Franklin incident is the "latest in a long string of episodes in which ESPN hosts have demeaned or engaged in sexual-harassing behavior toward the Disney-owned network's female employees." ESPN last year suspended "PTI" co-host Tony Kornheiser for "critical comments he made on his local radio program about 'SportsCenter' host Hannah Storm's clothes." In addition, baseball analysts Harold Reynolds and Steve Phillips lost their jobs at ESPN in '06 and '09, respectively, for incidents with female colleagues. But Dan Lebowitz, Exec Dir of Northeastern Univ.'s Sport in Society program, said that "despite its track record, ESPN is no more hospitable to harassing behavior than other male-dominated workplaces." Lebowitz believes that "ESPN 'has sent a message' that such conduct won't be tolerated by firing or suspending employees whose behavior crossed the line" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/4). In Orlando, Shannon Owens noted this is Franklin's "second run-in" with a female co-worker, following an '05 incident with sideline reporter Holly Rowe. Owens: "A one-time violation is a mistake and warrants a warning. A second time violation deserves a harsher punishment, but if this is allowed to happen again, then Ron Franklin needs to go" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 1/3).
WE'VE GOT SOME THINGS TO TALK ABOUT: SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted Don Ohlmeyer's 18-month tenure as ESPN Ombudsman is "scheduled to end next month, and should he write a final column or two, he won't have to look far for issues." The Franklin-Edwards exchange was the "second high-profile incident involving an ESPN on-air talent recently." The network last week suspended ESPNews anchor Will Selva for "plagiarizing several sentences of a Lakers story" published in the Orange County Register. Deitsch added, "The question remains whether ESPN (or Ohlmeyer) will investigate Selva to determine if this was a one-time occurrence or part of a pattern of plagiarism. Traditionally in newspapers, other staff reporters would be assigned to investigate such transgressions. It will be interesting to see where ESPN goes with this in the days ahead" (SI.com, 1/3).
Guns & Ammo released its first mobile gaming app this week with Point of Impact, a free shooting game that allows users to select different guns to compete on shooting ranges and galleries. The app carries a presenting sponsor, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and several supporting sponsors -- Bushmaster, Ruger, Remington, DPMS, Stag Arms, Springfield Armory and Caldwell Shooting Supplies. The gaming elements, from firearms and ammunition to shooting ranges, are patterned after real-life products and places. One of the shooting ranges, for example, is modeled after Arizona's Scottsdale Gun Club. The magazine developed the game in conjunction with Up&Atom. Guns & Ammo's parent company, InterMedia Outdoors, is supporting the free app's launch with promotions on its websites, magazines and spots on its Sportsman Channel TV network. InterMedia Outdoors President & CEO Jeff Paro says he expects to introduce several other mobile and digital offerings this year.
EPL club Manchester United and Sirius XM Radio announced a multiyear media rights deal that makes Sirius XM the official U.S. radio broadcaster of ManU. Sirius and XM subscribers will have access to live play-by-play coverage of every ManU EPL match and will hear the official club broadcast. The deal includes rights to stream ManU's EPL matches to subscribers via Sirius.com, XMRadio.com and the radio provider's mobile app (Sirius XM Radio).
LET'S TALK ABOUT STATS: The Asian Football Confederation's Asian Cup Qatar '11, beginning this weekend, will be using Stats LLC's SportVU player tracking technology during TV and online broadcasts of the event following a new deal between the AFC, Stats and World Sport Group, the AFC's exclusive marketing and media partner. The SportVU technology tracks every player in real time, yielding a wide variety of location-based statistics such as player run comparisons and player and ball heat maps. Consumer electronics giant Samsung will sponsor the deployment of the enhanced on-air graphics (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
FINAL FAREWELL: In DC, Leonard Shapiro wrote “after 41 years and more than 7,400 bylines, it’s time to blow a farewell smooch to the newspaper and its Web site that kept me gainfully and so happily employed" since ’69. Shapiro will “head out to the University of Wisconsin to teach a course in sports journalism” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/30).