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NBC Sports Group Chair Dick Ebersol "resigned abruptly on Thursday after negotiations on a four-year contract collapsed," according to a front-page piece by Sandomir & Carter of the N.Y. TIMES. Ebersol has been "best known for his work with the Olympics, and his departure could significantly change what is expected to be a vigorous battle for the television rights for the next two Games." Ebersol said, "If I wasn't going to produce them, I wasn't going to be part of the process." Ebersol "had been negotiating a contract extension" with NBC Universal President & CEO Steve Burke for months. But Ebersol last week "was sensing a deal might not be done." He said, "I went to see Mr. Burke [Wednesday], and I said I thought we were here, and it turns out we really aren’t, and I think it would be better if we split. He asked for the night to relook at things, and we met this morning, and we were too far apart.” A longtime NBC colleague said that Ebersol "had been unhappy with some aspects of how the negotiations with Mr. Burke had been handled." The colleague said that Ebersol "believed he had concluded a verbal agreement on the new contract." But the colleague said that when the agreement was put on paper, Ebersol "concluded the terms had been altered in ways he could not accept." Ebersol said, "They made me a very, very, by their terms and mine, a very healthy offer, but it wasn't as high as I wanted to go" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/20). In L.A., Flint & James note Ebersol is "leaving at the end of June." Sources close to Burke said that it "was perhaps Ebersol's ego and demand for control that alienated Comcast executives." Ebersol, from Comcast's perspective, "wasn't conforming to the new corporate structure, which values teamwork over star personalities." Asked if he thought there was a clash of cultures between him and Comcast, Ebersol said that "there wasn't." But he added, "It's their company, they are entitled to feel that way" (L.A. TIMES, 5/20). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Marisa Guthrie cites sources as saying that Ebersol “became increasingly marginalized post-merger,” and a source said that Burke “had previously expressed frustration that ‘Dick is such a broadcast guy,’ suggesting that Ebersol's notions about presenting the Olympics -- not just the price tag -- did not sit well with the Comcast regime.” One source chalks up Ebersol's exit to "a fundamental disagreement over the approach to the [IOC]. And that's Dick's legacy” (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 5/20).
NOT SEEING EYE TO EYE: Ebersol said that he "decided to leave because NBCUniversal refused to meet his demands for more money and because he was growing tired of his increased bureaucratic duties under the new management." The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Vascellaro & Schechner cited sources as saying that Ebersol and Burke "clashed both personally and over business." Sources added that Ebersol was "frustrated by his loss of autonomy." But Ebersol said that he had "retained autonomy to operate NBC Sports in 'all the things that matter to me.'" He added that his departure is "not related to 'programming or production or talent.'" He also said that a "personality clash was not at play." Ebersol: "There isn't anything here other than a difference in opinion on what I am worth." But Ebersol also acknowledged that NBCU "had adopted a Comcast culture with 'much more layered' financial oversight, and that there is sometimes 'debate' about financial questions." Ebersol: "For a guy who loves to sit in the control room, it was different" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/20). In N.Y., Claire Atkinson reports while Ebersol's nine-year contract "doesn't expire until the end of 2012," sources hinted that he "tried to wring more out of his boss -- figuring he had leverage ahead of the crucial Olympic negotiations -- and that Burke balked at his demands." There also were "signs that Ebersol and Burke disagreed when it came to spreading sports programming across NBCU's cable networks rather than concentrating it at the flagship NBC network" (N.Y. POST, 5/20). In Philadelphia, Bob Fernandez notes though Ebersol "seemed to emerge politically intact in the restructuring of NBCU when Comcast assumed control, there had been persistent speculation that he would chafe at Comcast's oversight" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 5/20). Ebersol "had given little, if any, public indication of a rift" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/20). Bloomberg TV's Michele Steele said, "Talk to media executives and you'll hear one theme over and over: The timing took everyone by surprise here" ("Inside Track," Bloomberg TV, 5/20). NBC's Bob Costas talked to Ebersol Thursday and said, "He sounded very much at peace with his decision" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/20).
Lazarus will now be the top sports
executive at NBC Universal
ONE OF A KIND: In N.Y., Bob Raismann writes a "major personality has split the scene." Ebersol "wasn't just a producer and negotiator, he was a master communicator." He "knew how to work the room and all the people in it." Through his "words, and spin strategy, he could infuriate other network executives." Yet there "always seemed to be respect, albeit often begrudging." There "was also a certain wariness." Through the years you "never heard much about the other guys running network sports operations." They "were basically faceless." Even "his enemies were obsessed with him" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/20). In Houston, David Barron writes, "No figure in sports TV was more intimidating, and none was more encouraging or ingratiating if the moment were suitable" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/20). 3WIRESPORTS.com's Alan Abrahamson wrote, "The culture that Ebersol created at NBC Sports was everywhere NBC Sports was. He had one hard-and-fast rule: no jerks" (3WIRESPORTS.com, 5/19). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes Ebersol "always tried to stay a step ahead." His "eye for on-air talent was visionary." He "grasped the inevitable merger of sports and entertainment before it became obvious." Hiestand: "What a run. You'll never see anything like it again" (USA TODAY, 5/20). In DC, Cindy Boren writes Ebersol was one of the "most powerful and enduring figures in sports television for decades" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/20). In Miami, Barry Jackson writes Ebersol was "one of the towering figures in TV sports" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/20).
WHAT COMES NEXT? Ebersol said that he "would be open to new jobs, but only as a producer." He said, "I don't ever want to be an executive again" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/20). Ebersol added, "I'm going to take at least a year off. Or maybe forever" (L.A. TIMES, 5/20). THE WRAP’s Brent Lang writes: “Few within the television industry expect the most powerful name in sports broadcasting to ride off quietly into the sunset. … Will he move to rival CBS or Fox? Migrate to cable and the ESPN empire? Or use his fortune and name recognition to launch his own venture? With over 40 years of experience, Ebersol’s options seem vast.” Lang: “Some in the industry speculate that Rupert Murdoch might be inclined to bring Ebersol on board simply to dig the knife in Comcast’s side.” But Pilson Communications President Neal Pilson speculates, “My guess is Dick may very well create some new TV enterprise that could include sports, or it could bring him back to his entertainment experience” (THE WRAP, 5/20). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "Ebersol's 63 years old. Does he strike you as a 'sit around and do nothing' kind of guy? You think he's retired now? Because I don't" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/19).
NBC Sports Group Chair Dick Ebersol's "surprising resignation" Thursday "does not end the network's interest in acquiring U.S. rights to the Olympics after 2012," according to Philip Hersh of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Ebersol said, "I think they will be all in. I wouldn't be surprised to see [Comcast Chair & CEO] Brian Roberts lead the group that goes" to Switzerland for the IOC's June 6-7 TV rights auction. Ebersol: "I fully expect with Roberts there they will have a terrific bid." Pilson Communications President Neal Pilson said, "I always felt NBC was the leader in the clubhouse and still do now. They view the Olympics as a franchise" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 5/19). In L.A., Flint & James confirmed Roberts "plans to fly to Switzerland as part of Comcast's delegation to assure" the IOC that the company "is interested" in the Games (L.A. TIMES, 5/20). Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis "will join" Roberts and Mark Lazarus, who is succeeding Ebersol, in Switzerland (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 5/20). IOC President Jacques Rogge said that he talked to Roberts, NBC Universal President & CEO Steve Burke and NBC Sports President Gary Zenkel after news of Ebersol's resignation broke. Rogge said, "The three reiterated the full support of NBC/Comcast for the Olympic movement and the Olympic Games. They said they would come for the bidding. They ... made it very clear that the resignation of Dick had absolutely nothing to do with the bidding" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 5/20). IOC Finance Commission Chair Richard Carrion on Thursday said, "I just had a call from Brian Roberts reassuring me they are extremely interested in continuing the relationship" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 5/19). Carrion added, "We’re not crazy about the timing. I’m a little saddened by the news. I can’t tell you I’m happy. Dick is a great friend of the Olympic movement; he understands it, and knows how to tell the stories." Fox Sports Media Group Chair & CEO David Hill said, "I love Dick to death, but I don’t think his absence will make a skerrick of difference. They have a natural leader in Mark Lazarus; he’s smart, savvy and experienced" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/20). Rogge said Ebersol's announcement "was a shock for me." 3WIRESPORTS.com's Alan Abrahamson reported Ebersol "did not call Rogge in advance of the news breaking out to tell him about the resignation." Rogge said that as of Thursday evening, he "had still not spoken to Ebersol" (3WIRESPORTS.com, 5/19).
IMPACT ON THE BIDS: In N.Y., Claire Atkinson writes under the header, "Shocking Ebersol Exit Creates NBC Olympian Choas." The timing of Ebersol's departure "couldn't be worse," as NBCU now is "left without its chief negotiator as it prepares to pitch" the IOC next month (N.Y. POST, 5/20). But CABLEFAX DAILY writes, "Maybe given NBC's $230mln loss on the '10 Games, Comcast is OK being less aggressive on bidding for the '14 and '16 Games." Ebersol's departure "has many expecting it to be more of a showdown between ABC/ESPN and Fox" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 5/20). In L.A., Bill Dwyre writes, "If you are part of the Olympic movement, anywhere in the world, you don't care as much about why as you do about what. It is simple. Your sugar daddy is gone." Former USOC Chief Communications Officer Mike Moran: "This is a severe setback, really a blow to the Olympics. Ebersol leveled the playing field. Now, it's like trying to run the Indy 500 with two flat tires" (L.A. TIMES, 5/20). BUSINESS INSIDER's Dashiell Bennett wrote Ebersol's exit sends a signal that Comcast is "not willing to break the bank." ESPN, on the other hand, "can and will" (BUSINESSINSIDER.com, 5/19). However, if ESPN wins the rights, Pilson "did not think Ebersol would be a good fit to join the network." Pilson: "They have their own talented group of executives" (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 5/19).
LORD OF THE RINGS: CNBC's Darren Rovell noted while Ebersol "has accomplished plenty in his career, he will be most remembered for his association with the Olympics." He "was responsible for negotiating every Olympics on NBC from 1996 through 2012" (CNBC.com, 5/19). In Boston, Chad Finn writes, "His legacy at NBC Sports is intertwined with the Olympics more than anything else. ... The way the Olympics are covered is all but certain to change without Ebersol's involvement" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/20). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes Ebersol was the "single-most important figure in NBC Sports' movement to be the network of the Olympics for a span of two decades" (L.A. TIMES, 5/20). DAILY VARIETY's Stuart Levine noted Ebersol's influence at NBC "extended well beyond sports, but he most personifies the network's investment in Olympic rights" (VARIETY.com, 5/19). ESPN's Steve Bunin: "Ebersol's biggest footprint at NBC: Committing billions of dollars to the Olympics" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 5/19). In N.Y., Sandomir & Carter write Ebersol followed late ABC News and ABC Sports President Roone Arledge's "lead in personalizing Olympics athletes, believing that viewers would be attracted to stories about competitors from around the world" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/20). The L.A. TIMES' Flint & James write, "A tall and imposing presence, Ebersol rewrote the rules for television sports, paying huge broadcast fees for marquee events and pioneering a drama-heavy narrative version of the Olympics that often set ratings records but also rankled sports purists for its focus on sentimentality rather than the actual competition." Ebersol said, "I was never afraid, I never feared for a job, I never cared what I was paid" (L.A. TIMES, 5/20).
RUN THE TAPE BACK: The CHICAGO TRIBUNE's Hersh noted Ebersol had a "philosophy of delaying broadcast of some events to put them in a prime time package." Ebersol said, "No matter how much anyone was going to moan about that, I was never going to move it. The advertisers don't pay $750,000 for 30 seconds for (part) of the audience. They want it all at one time, not live at 4 a.m. I'm always amused by the ESPN crowd saying, 'If we get them, we will put them on early in the morning.' I always said to my group, 'Just like they put it (the 2010 soccer World Cup) on early in the morning from South Africa and averaged 3 million viewers at same time when Vancouver (2010 Winter) was 24 million and Beijing (2008 Summer) was just shy of 30 million'" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 5/19). YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase wrote under Ebersol, NBC "has stubbornly utilized tape delay to show sports, the anachronistic equivalent of using a rotary phone or VHS machine" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/19). The AP's Bauder & Cohen wrote Ebersol has "had a profound effect on what the nation has watched on television since the 1970s -- and his exit could portend big changes in the TV landscape in the next decade" (AP, 5/19).
TNT earned a 6.1 U.S. rating and 10.0 million viewers for Wednesday's Heat-Bulls Eastern Conference Finals Game Two from 8:34-11:17pm ET. While Game Two did not top the 11.1 million viewers for Game One on Sunday night, the rating is up 38.6% from a 4.4 rating (7.0 million viewers) for the net’s Lakers-Suns Western Conference Finals Game Two last year. The telecast helped TNT out-deliver all of cable television, as well as the primetime average of CBS, ABC and NBC. Only Fox' "American Idol" beat the game in primetime (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). In Miami, Barry Jackson notes the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals "drew two of the four largest audiences for a basketball game in cable TV history." Sunday's Game One had the largest viewing audience "for a basketball game on cable," while Game Two "ranked fourth" behind the '03 NBA All-Star Game and Game Three of the '09 Magic-Cavaliers Eastern Conference Finals. Heat-Bulls Games One and Two earned 23.3 and 22.4 local ratings in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market. By comparison, Super Bowls "often draw in the high 30s locally, and Dolphins games averaged an 18.3 rating last season" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/20). In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal noted TNT averaged a 24.6 local rating in Chicago for Game Two, "consistent with" the 24.3 local rating the net earned for Game One. Game Two "easily trounced the next most-popular show;" "American Idol" averaged a 13.2 local rating in Chicago (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 5/19). Meanwhile, ESPN earned a 25.1 local rating in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night for Game One of the Thunder-Mavericks Western Conference Finals, marking a record-high rating in the market. The Thunder "broke its mark of 24.0 for Game 5 of Thunder-Grizzlies playoff series" on TNT (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 5/18).
REASONS FOR THE INCREASE: ESPN's Steve Bunin noted ratings for this postseason are "up about 30% from last year," and the increases come "despite the early elimination of perennial playoff staples" like the Celtics, Lakers and Spurs. ESPN.com's Jackie MacMullan said Heat F LeBron James "has a lot to do with" the increased ratings following his highly publicized offseason signing. There also are "still lots of big stars playing, guys that haven't won it before, and that's always attractive to the viewer." ESPN's Jalen Rose noted there is "more promotion" of the NBA than ever before. Rose: "We have social media. We have multiple media outlets to talk about basketball in a 24-hour, 365 cycle and the game is more exciting." He added, "Players have personality, they have style, they have flavor. They bring you into their world, so now the fans are intrigued to see them once they get on the floor." Daily Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson added, "It has a lot to do with the exposure and the personalities. I think these players have always had great personalities, but now you can follow Kevin Durant on Twitter. You can follow Russell Westbrook on Twitter. You can follow all of these guys around and feel like you know them more" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 5/19).
NO CONTEST: In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote the quality of Heat-Bulls is "killing" ESPN's coverage of the Thunder-Mavericks Western Conference Finals "from a TV production standpoint and an entertainment perspective." Engel: "That has everything to do with the on-air talent TNT has collected." TNT's studio team of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley "remains the very best because it is so loose, so unscripted, so honest, and so funny." On the other hand, ESPN's crew "just seems to try too hard" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 5/19).
TIME TO PLAY THE GAME: Game Three of the Heat-Bulls series is on Sunday, four days following Game Two. Barkley asked, "Why is Game Three on Sunday? Why is this stretched out and why aren't they playing every other night?" Barkley: "I think that's stupid. ... We just had the most-watched game in cable history, and then you go make the fans wait until Sunday. ... They should be playing Friday-Sunday because the thing that's stupid about it is they make you wait until Sunday. Then they play every other day after that. The players want to play every other day. This is unnecessary and I'm very disappointed" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/19).
There will be "no 3D broadcasts of the Stanley Cup final this year" on the CBC, and CBC GM of Media Operations & Technology Fred Mattocks said that he is "no longer as confident in broadcasting in three dimensions, due to the 'exorbitant' cost and low viewership numbers," according to Michael Oliveira of the CP. Mattocks "still believes in 3D and was pleased with how the CBC's first two 3D hockey broadcasts turned out." But he said, "At the end of the day right now, I'm not as bullish on 3D as I was a year ago." Mattocks added that the "massive costs to stage those productions and the poor ratings so far ... makes it untenable for the CBC to go gung ho with 3D." He said that producing 3D content is "almost twice as expensive as a standard broadcast ... with a need for twice the staff, twice the equipment, twice the bandwidth and then there's the added complexity of the production." Oliveira noted the "pace of 3D adoption has been slow." Mattocks: "When it comes to people actually using 3D that level is very, very low, so until that level starts to grow we can't afford to move massively into 3D production, it just doesn't make any sense." Mattocks believes that the biggest problem with 3D adoption is the "need to wear glasses while viewing." Mattocks: "My own view is until the glasses problem is solved we won't see the kinds of adoption we saw with other high-quality forms of immersive experiences in the living room" (CP, 5/19).
MORE THAN WAS INTENDED: In Toronto, Sarah Millar notes a woman "flashed her breasts" during Wednesday's Game Two of the Sharks-Canucks Western Conference Finals, and the CBC "broadcast everything ... on its 'Hockey Night in Canada' telecast, which airs the game live, without a delay." Canucks Sports & Entertainment Coordinator of Media Relations & Publications Jen Rollins Thursday in an e-mail said the fan was "evicted from the game without incident." Rollins: "We are following up with her today to help ensure incidents of this nature don't happen again." Versus VP/Communications Meier Raivich noted that his net "did not broadcast the flashing" (TORONTO STAR, 5/20). CBC Head of Media Relations Jeff Keay said that the footage "was picked up by an in-house camera that the broadcaster doesn't control." Keay added that the net has "'no plans at this time' to institute a tape delay to prevent similar images hitting the airwaves in future" (VANCOUVER SUN, 5/20).
DAN THE MAN: The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin reported NBC is "bringing back Dan Patrick to host Games 5-7 of the Stanley Cup final." However, the net is "not bringing back" analyst Jeremy Roenick (GLOBESPORTS.com, 5/18).
Jim Miller and Tom Shales' upcoming release “Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The World at ESPN” has “already cracked the Top 5 best-sellering books on Amazon.com, and it won't be released to the public until Tuesday,” according to Tom Hoffarth of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. Excerpts published “under a cloak of secrecy in GQ and Entertainment Weekly magazines created such a stinging buzz earlier this week, the publishers lifted a media embargo on further paragraph extractions.” Review copies were “rushed out to more reviewers, hoping to keep the salivating chatter going.” Former ESPN anchor and current Dodgers radio announcer Charley Steiner is “one of the 500-plus people who talked to the authors for his take on the company.” Steiner: "I'm absolutely fascinated by the interest, and how many may buy it and what impact it has on anything. It's just mindboggling to me." Dan Patrick, who spent 18 years at ESPN as a host on both TV and radio, said, "I don't think people are going to read the book and come away with what they want. The previous book by Mike Freeman ("ESPN: The Uncensored History" in 2000) had a lot of sexual harassment stories in it. I think that you will find with these writers is they did their homework. And the story after the book is out will be: What wasn't in the book?” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/20). CNBC's Darren Rovell, who worked at ESPN from '00-06, writes the "genius of the book are the little surprises that come at least once every 10 pages." That is largely because Miller and Shales "somehow got ESPN's blessing and got former and current employees to open up about their experiences." Rovell notes he also was "gripped by the most behind the scenes negotiations of TV deals that has ever been compiled from the insiders themselves" (CNBC.com, 5/20).
MANIC MONDAYS: USA TODAY Friday published an excerpt from the book where ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said, “The whole time I was on ‘Monday Night Football,’ Chris Berman never mentioned my name. He loathes me, in part because of the stuff I used to write about him.” Berman: “In the mid-90s, somebody said I was in a bar and used a pickup line on a woman wearing a leather bra and she left with me. … Kornheiser, chose to run with it, and the Internet chose to run with it for years. I don’t even know what ‘it’ is, but it’s a very dangerous thing, especially when a colleague piles on and gives credence to it.” Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Bill Simmons said "MNF" play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico “never wanted to work with Tony. He made a decision that he wasn’t going to sell him at all and that he was going to undermine him as subtly as he could” (USA TODAY, 5/20).
SUBTLETY IS A VIRTUE: In the intro to the 6:00pm ET edition of ESPN's "SportsCenter" Thursday, anchor Steve Levy said, "We've got you for the next two hours or so right up until 'Kia NBA Countdown.' That's not to say we're going to let those guys have all the fun preparing for Game Two of the Western Conference Finals" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 5/19).
Carillo will begin her role with Tennis
Channel this weekend
HOMETOWN CALL: In Baltimore, Kevin Cowherd noted new NBC Sports announcer Larry Collmus will be calling the 136th Preakness Stakes Saturday for NBC after making his Triple Crown debut two weeks ago at the Kentucky Derby, and "calling Triple Crown races is something he dreamed of doing since he was a kid in Ellicott City." Collmus: "Everybody in this business wants to do this. And I'm one of the few lucky guys who has been given the opportunity." He added, "I think getting the Derby out of the way is going to help. But you're still going to be nervous. If you're not nervous, you're not doing your job properly. Because this is the middle jewel of racing's triple Crown, a big, big deal. And you really want to be on edge for a race like this. There will be nerves. There's no doubt about that" (Baltimore SUN, 5/19).
EXCHANGE PROGRAM: In L.A., Mike DiGiovanna noted as part of the Angels' 50th anniversary celebration, the team invited Braves radio broadcaster Don Sutton, who played for the Angels from '85-87, to “do two innings of play by play for the Angels’ radio network” for Sunday’s game against the Braves. Sutton will “call the third and fourth innings” for KLAA-AM, and Angels broadcaster Terry Smith will call the same innings for the Braves’ radio network (L.A. TIMES, 5/19).
A ROUND OF APPLAUSE: The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin wrote Blue Jays broadcaster Alan Ashby is “so unique,” and he “may be just as good on TV as he is working” with Jerry Howarth on radio. Ashby during last Friday’s Rogers Sportsnet broadcast “was terrific.” Dowbiggin: “He doesn’t have screaming fit when a Toronto hitter finds a gap in the outfield, he paces the game properly, and he can tell a fly ball from a home run off the hitter’s bat” (GLOBESPORTS.com, 5/18).
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings listed are U.S. ratings (THE DAILY).
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NASCAR Sprint Cup: FedEx 400 (Dover)5/15Fox1:30-4:34pm4.47,391 NBA Western Conference Semifinals:
Thunder-Grizzlies: Game Seven5/15ABC3:22-6:05pm4.47,141
PGA Tour: The Players: Final Round5/15NBC2:00-7:32pm3.14,672 MLB: (regional)5/14Fox7:11-10:23pm2.64,103 PGA Tour: The Players: Third Round5/14NBC2:00-8:13pm1.42,132 National Heads-Up Poker
National High School Slam Dunk,
3-Point Contest (taped)5/14CBS5:00-6:00pm0.71,082
NCAA Women's Gymnastics
Global Golf Adventure (taped)5/14NBC1:30-2:00pm0.3460 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NBA Eastern Conference Finals:
Heat-Bulls: Game One5/15TNT8:03-10:37pm6.211,109
NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals:
Heat-Celtics: Game Four5/9TNT7:00-9:56pm4.77,824
NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals:
Heat-Celtics: Game Five5/11TNT7:00-9:40pm4.36,777
NBA Western Conference Semifinals:
Thunder-Grizzlies: Game Four5/9TNT9:56pm-1:43am3.55,592
NBA Western Conference Semifinals:
Thunder-Grizzlies: Game Five5/11TNT9:40pm-12:13am3.45,462
NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals:
Bulls-Hawks: Game Five5/10TNT8:15-10:54pm3.35,100
NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals:
Bulls-Hawks: Game Six5/12ESPN7:58-10:36pm3.15,085
NBA Western Conference Semifinals:
Thunder-Grizzlies: Game Six5/13ESPN9:02-11:44pm2.94,750
MLB: Red Sox-Yankees5/15ESPN8:00-11:52pm2.13,294 NASCAR Nationwide Series:
5-Hour Energy 2005/14ESPN2:04-6:24pm1.31,908
SCORING OPPORTUNITY: ESPN2 earned a 0.2 U.S. rating and 328,000 viewers for last Saturday's Timbers-Sounders FC match from 11:00pm-1:06am ET, which was the first match in the new MLS Cascadia Cup series (THE DAILY). The game earned a 3.0 local rating in Seattle-Tacoma and a 2.2 rating in Portland. No other market registered higher than a 0.7 local rating (OREGONLIVE.com, 5/17)….The FA Cup final featuring Manchester City-Stoke City last Saturday averaged 6.8 million viewers on ITV1, marking the "best FA Cup final audience" since the tournament returned to the network two years ago (GUARDIAN, 5/16).
NOTES: Speed averaged 1.023 million viewers for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 200 from Dover Int'l Speedway last Friday night from 8:30-11:02pm ET, up 37% from 745,000 viewers for the same race last year. Through six NCWTS races, Speed is averaging 1.144 million viewers, up 15% from 998,000 viewers at the same point last season (THE DAILY).
In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes ESPN is showing Cubs-Red Sox over Mets-Yankees on "Sunday Night Baseball" this weekend, and the "fact ESPN is passing on the Subway Series is further evidence some of the juice has leaked out of the bottle, especially considering these TV schedules are set in advance." It is "now reasonable to suggest ESPN suits do not hold the Mets -- or the Mets-Yankees matchup -- in such high regard." However, Mets-Yankees "will get some national love Saturday night with Fox airing Game 2 of the series in prime time." Mets-Yankees, "one of four regional prime time games on Fox, will be seen in 36% of the country," while Cubs-Red Sox will be seen in 32%. Raissman writes it will be the Yankees, and not the Mets, who are "responsible for the ratings," as when a net "can punch the Bombers ticket for a nationally televised appearance ... it's a no-brainer" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/20).
SELLING HAWAII: In Honolulu, Ferd Lewis reported the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the Big West Conference "are exploring the possibility of televising some University of Hawaii sports events into California as a cross-promotion venture." UH joins the Big West in '12 "for most sports and the Mountain West Conference in football." Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell said that he met with HTA VP/Brand Management David Uchiyama and UH AD Jim Donovan recently "to discuss some possible models" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 5/19).
LET FREE SPEECH REIGN: In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan writes in the aftermath of the firestorm generated by T'Wolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn's joking comments following the NBA Draft Lottery, "We've got to stop parsing everything every public figure says." Souhan: "We've already gotten to the point where teams issue canned statements through their public relations departments to ensure that their big-name employees don't cause exactly this kind of firestorm." Souhan writes he would "much rather live in a world where" White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen "says something offensive while trying to be entertaining than a world in which someone like Kahn is afraid to speak publicly" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/20).