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Fox earned a 46.0 fast-national Nielsen rating and 111.0 million viewers for their broadcast Sunday of Super Bowl XLV, marking the most-viewed program in TV history. Only eight of 45 Super Bowl telecasts have had a higher rating than the Packers-Steelers game. The game is up 2.2% and 4.2%, respectively, from a 45.0 rating and 106.5 million viewers for the Saints-Colts game on CBS last year. It also marks the fourth consecutive Super Bowl to set a viewership record, as well as the sixth straight year that the Super Bowl has seen viewership increase. The telecast peaked at a 49.2 rating and 117.2 million viewers from 9:30-10:00pm ET. Super Bowl XLV also set a TV record for total viewership with 162.9 million viewers watching all or part of the game. The Super Bowl XLV pregame show on Fox averaged an 11.5 rating and 22.2 million viewers from 2:00-6:34pm, marking the highest-rated and most-viewed Super Bowl pregame show in nine years. The halftime show featuring the Black Eyed Peas earned a 44.7 rating from 8:00-8:30pm, marking the highest-rated halftime act since Michael Jackson’s performance averaged a 45.5 rating in ’93. Fox’ postgame coverage earned a 28.4 rating (66.0 million viewers), down 14% from last year’s 33.0 rating. When including the numbers for "Glee," which aired immediately after the Super Bowl, Fox became the first network ever to average over 100 million viewers in primetime for a night (THE DAILY). In N.Y., Bill Carter noted the 162.9 million total viewers "puts the number watching the game well past one half of the total population" of the U.S. (NYTIMES.com, 2/7). Super Bowl viewership "has increased by nearly 25 million viewers" since '05 (FANHOUSE.com, 2/7).TOP FIVE ALL-TIME MOST-VIEWED TELECASTSTELECASTDATENETRATINGVIEWERS (000)Super Bowl XLV: Packers-Steelers2/6/11Fox46.0111,010Super Bowl XLIV: Saints-Colts2/7/10CBS45.0106,476
"M*A*S*H" finale2/28/83CBS60.2105,970 Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers-Cardinals2/1/09NBC42.098,732 Super Bowl XLII: Giants-Patriots2/3/08Fox43.197,448
FOOTBALL PULLS FROM ALL WALKS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Sam Schechner writes the NFL "continued to reel in an otherwise fragmented TV audience." Analysts suggested that a "close matchup, popular teams and cold weather across much of the U.S. helped boost viewing" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/8). In Houston, David Barron writes viewership was "boosted by the competitive nature of the game and the fact that bad weather socked much of the Midwest, boosting the percentage of people at home watching television" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/8). In Dallas, Barry Horn reports the game earned a 53.7 local rating and about 1.4 million HHs in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market. Pittsburgh and Milwaukee tied for first with 59.7 local ratings (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/8). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand in a front-page piece notes Super Bowl XLV "did not score the highest Super Bowl rating," but it ranked as the "highest-rated Super Bowl since" Cowboys-Steelers in '96. Nielsen Co. Senior VP/Insight & Analysis Pat McDonough: "The Super Bowl continues to be in a category of its own, with an appeal that transcends sports and extends even to the commercials" (USA TODAY, 2/8). DAILY VARIETY's Rick Kissell wrote the record viewership is "hardly a surprise for a sport that is clearly on a roll." This was the "best regular-season ever for the primetime packages on NBC and ESPN, while CBS and Fox had their best tune-in for afternoon games in years" (VARIETY.com, 2/7). In L.A., Joe Flint wrote the Super Bowl viewership "caps a huge year for the NFL" (LATIMES.com, 2/7).
SINGING THE BLUES: Fox' post-Super Bowl airing of "Glee" earned a 13.6 rating and 26.8 million viewers, marking the show’s best rating ever. However, the rating is down from a 19.1 and 38.7 million viewers for "Undercover Boss" on CBS following last year's Super Bowl. "Glee" did earn an 11.1 among adults 18-49, marking the highest-rated scripted show on all of TV in three years in the demo (THE DAILY). ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's James Hibberd wrote while Super Bowl viewership "has been going up to record highs in recent years ... the number of people who stick around afterward has been trending more-or-less down." Postgame ratings peaked in '96 "for an episode of NBC’s 'Friends' that drew a stunning 52.9 million." Fox had the "lowest retention in 2005 with an episode of 'American Dad'" (EW.com, 2/7).
CANADIAN RECORD: Super Bowl XLV drew 7.3 million viewers in Canada, ranking as the most-watched Super Bowl ever on Canadian television and the most-watched broadcast in Canada since the Vancouver Games last February. The 7.3 million viewers were up 5.3% over 6.9 million viewers for Super Bowl XLIV last year. CTV drew 6.54 million viewers (up 4% from '10) and French-language network RDS drew 754,000 viewers (up 21%). Audience levels in Canada peaked at 8.9 million viewers during the halftime show (CTV).
ESPN Digital Media Senior VP & GM John Kosner chatted with Nicholas Carlson of BUSINESS INSIDER about "where ESPN.com will be in 5 years ... and what he makes of Yahoo and all its turmoil." The following is a portion of the interview:
Q: What does ESPN and ESPN.com look like 5 years from now?
Kosner: You're going to have the content you want delivered on any device you can imagine, customized to the screen and the context of that screen. Using the Australian Open as an example, you'll be able to watch that on any screen, call up replays, talk to your friends about it, share clips. All of these things are coming and more, and there appears to be a fairly insatiable demand.
Q: Yahoo's gone through lots of turmoil over the past maybe five or six years. They were once the biggest sports site on the Internet. Are they still? What's the state of that competition?
Kosner: They continue to be the biggest in terms of uniques. I think for the last month of December they had 52 million uniques and we had about 40. The metric that we think matters is more of a television metric, computed through multiplying the total minutes we have against our total number of uniques and then looking at our share of category. And under that metric, ESPN had, I think, about 29% of the sports audience in December and was clearly bigger than Yahoo. ... They are worthy competition, but there's no other ESPN. And if you take a look at any sort of fan surveys about other top sports sites, if you look at the surveys that other sports websites do, ESPN is clearly number one. And one of the reasons I believe is that all the different media that ESPN brings including TV, radio, print, the quality of that brand, and sports is just one thing that Yahoo focuses on. I'm actually more concerned with the guy and the gal in the garage and what startups can bring out than some of the traditional competition, which while formidable, is almost more predictable.
Q: In sports right now you have all these collective bargaining agreements between the leagues, the owners, and players. How is ESPN Digital planning for either contingency? Is it bad news, or is it good news because it means lots more stories?
Kosner: Well, it's bad news if the games aren't played or if there's a bunch of time and attention focused on off the field negotiations, because no matter what anyone says, fans in general don't care about that. They just want to see the games (BUSINESSINSIDER.com, 2/4).
Sky Sports "has been rapped" by U.K. media regulator Ofcom "following complaints after 'blatant' and 'irrelevant' logos for technology partner EA Sports appeared on Sky Sports 2 match facts graphics," according to Mark Banham of MEDIA WEEK. The breach occurred in September during live coverage of an EPL match between Everton and Manchester United. During "both the game and the pre- and post-match comment, graphic on-screen displays of statistics and match facts, which appeared a total of 14 times, were accompanied by a logo for the video games manufacturer, attracting a complaint from a viewer." Sky Sports confirmed that the branding was "not linked to any programme sponsorship arrangements it had entered into with EA." The broadcaster "explained that EA was contracted to the Premier League as the 'Official Sports Technology Partner' and the broadcaster understood that this arrangement included sponsorship of the league itself, a sponsor presence at matches, and in other Premier League-controlled properties, including the overseas broadcast feed." Sky Sports added that "as part of its contractual agreement with the Premier League for the live broadcast of certain matches, it is required, subject to applicable laws and the Ofcom codes, to provide an on-screen credit" for the "Official Technology Partner." Ofcom said that "in its view the inclusion of the logo could not be described as an editorially justified means of indicating to the audience who had been the technical provider of the statistical information in question." Due to the "14 repeated appearances of the logo," Sky Sports was "found in breach of Rule 10.3 of the Broadcast Code, which prohibits undue prominence of a product in programming" (MEDIAWEEK.co.uk, 2/7).
RUGBY RIGHTS: The GUARDIAN's Andy Wilson reported ESPN "could enter the market to televise" Super League rugby in the U.K. Rugby Football League Chair Richard Lewis predicted the "most intense and competitive bidding process" for rights to air the Super League and the Challenge Cup beginning in '12. The "existing deals for both competitions, with Sky and the BBC respectively, expire at the end of this season, in addition to Super League's title sponsorship with Engage Mutual Assurance" (GUARDIAN, 2/7).
In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer immediately after Sunday's Packers-Steelers Super Bowl XLV was "given the unenviable task of going on the air, without the aid of game highlights, and answering questions from the two ESPN anchors in the Bristol studio." However, Dilfer was "not just killing time before 'NFL Primetime,' he was making an impact." On a night "during which many analysts tried to diminish" former Packers QB Brett Favre's accomplishments, Dilfer said there is a "flip side" to the situation. Dilfer: "We can't cheapen what Brett Favre did in Green Bay for all those years by saying that now [QB Aaron] Rodgers has replaced him as the best Packers quarterback." Raissman writes Dilfer "deserves a permanent seat at the big boy's table on ESPN's Sunday 'NFL Countdown'" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/8).
PARTING WAYS: The GUARDIAN's Matt Scott reported former Sky Sports soccer analyst Andy Gray "has reportedly agreed [to] a settlement with Sky following the termination of his contract after videos of his sexist behaviour were leaked on the internet." Gray "had been suspended following an off-air conversation with his co-presenter, Richard Keys, in which they questioned the ability of women" to officiate games. There had been "talk of Gray expecting to receive a payment of between" about US$4.8-6.4M from Sky, but a London Daily Mail report stated Gray was "offered and accepted a much smaller sum from his employer of 20 years." A Sky source said the payout to Gray "really is a mere fraction" of $6.4M (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 2/6).
ON THE BRINK OF AN EXIT: Sports columnist John Feinstein on his blog noted his last column for The Sporting News "appears in the next edition of the magazine." Feinstein noted he got a call last Tuesday from someone who "told me that now that Sporting News has acquired AOL Fanhouse, the company wants to, 'maximize our assets,' by using the fulltime columnists working at Fanhouse in the magazine." Feinstein wrote, "I'll get over it. But I will hold a grudge" (FEINSTEINONTHEBRINK.com, 2/3).
CONFLICTED ANALYST: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote it is "bothersome that ESPN did not have an issue with" new college football analyst Urban Meyer "working for the network while having financial ties with Florida," which have since been cut due to concerns of NCAA violations. Every analyst "of a team sport on television played or coached somewhere," but the "difference is those analysts are not still being paid by their former teams." Jones: "Just the appearance of a conflict undermines the credibility of an analyst and the network, and there's no bigger conflict than an analyst being paid millions by the program they occasionally analyze" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 2/4).
The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin reported the CBC, with its "recent loss" of MLS rights, "has industry insiders wondering if it is going out of the sports business." Dowbiggin: "CBC is left to compete against well-capitalized communications giants that can amortize rights purchases and talent raids against their cellphone or cable TV businesses. Plus, the federally subsidized broadcaster is finding it hard to justify to the Conservative government using tax money to take assets from the private side. The CBC talks brave, but the clock is running on its traditional model of having 'Hockey Night' underwrite its other operations" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/7).
TIME FOR A CHANGE: GOLF WORLD MONDAY's Ron Sirak writes new Golf Channel President Mike McCarley "understands sweeping changes are not likely to occur until next season." But the "fact a 10-year veteran of NBC and developer of the network's 'Big Event' strategy emphasizing top-drawer competitions ... is running the show is a clear indication of the impact the peacock network is going to have on the 16-year-old golf network." NBC's golf programming will be rebranded as "The Golf Channel on NBC," and Sirak writes, "Think of the ESPN/ABC synergy and apply it to golf. Should be interesting days ahead, with next year even more fascinating" (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 2/8 issue).
NBA All-Star Game will feature the T-Mobile
Magenta Carpet at Staples Center