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ESPN earned a 2.6 overnight Nielsen rating for yesterday afternoon's U.S.-Brazil FIFA Women's World Cup quarterfinal, which the U.S. squad won in penalty kicks. The net's top overnight for the tournament to date had been a 1.3 rating for the U.S.-Colombia match on July 2 in the same time window. The 2.6 overnight is behind the net's 3.2 overnight for the U.S.-Brazil World Cup semifinal from '99 (THE DAILY).
THE DARKE KNIGHT: USA TODAY's Michael McCarthy writes ESPN's telecast of U.S.-Brazil was "hands down, the most stirring sports TV of the weekend." Announcer Ian Darke "earned whatever big bucks ESPN is paying him by rising to the occasion with a great call" (USA TODAY, 7/11). In Atlantic City, James Clarke writes "thank goodness" ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer Jed Drake and Exec VP/Content John Skipper "had the guts (and the massive checkbook) to hire Ian Darke," who yesterday "found himself serving as the voice of record for a seminal moment in U.S. soccer history" (ATLANTIC CITY PRESS, 7/11). CBSSports.com’s Bryan Fischer wrote on his Twitter feed, “Ian Darke's performance calling this game was just as good as the game itself. Masterful.” ABC’s Josh Elliott: “Ian Darke's call of the US run through this Cup has been equal to that of his work in South Africa last summer. Tremendous.” CSN Bay Area’s Ray Ratto: “Hand to God, Ian Darke may be one of five broadcasters on planet who knows how to break down a game with criticism instead of drooly worship.” WSOC-ABC's Bill Voth: “Ian Darke should be on the call for every single American sporting event.” KBME-AM’s Matt Jackson: “BTW someone should hire Ian Darke to call NFL or hoops games. The guy is closing in on Gus-gasm as the dominant broadcaster of this era” (TWITTER.com, 7/10).
MEDIA MONITOR: The U.S.-Brazil game was featured in the opening headline stories of ABC’s “GMA” and NBC’s “Today,” but not on CBS’ “The Early Show” this morning. “The Early Show” co-hosts did begin the broadcast after the opening headline stories with comments on the victory. The “GMA” headline during the opening credit segment was “The Thrill of Victory.” Co-hosts George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts discussed the game briefly in the beginning of the show, then aired a report on the game 15 minutes into the broadcast. During the second hour of the broadcast, U.S. F Abby Wambach and G Hope Solo appeared live via satellite to discuss the game. Stephanopoulos said the game “could be the most exciting win ever in American soccer.” Solo: “It’s one of the greatest victories of all-time in American sports.” The “Today” show’s opening segment headline was “Drama Queens!” and then aired a report in the news segment on the game at about 10 minutes into the broadcast and again early in the second hour’s news hole. NBC’s Natalie Morales: “Facebook is exploding with congratulations again for the U.S. women’s soccer team.” “The Early Show” aired a report on the game about 18 minutes into the broadcast. CBS’s Chris Wragge said of the game in the intro of the broadcast, “Everybody is talking about it” (THE DAILY).
Recently retired NBAer Shaquille O’Neal has “agreed in principle” to join Turner Sports’ NBA coverage, according to sources cited by CNBC's Darren Rovell (TWITTER.com, 7/9). The speculation is that O'Neal “would replace” TNT’s Chris Webber, although the network “has not made an announcement” (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 7/10). USA TODAY’s Michael McCarthy writes it is “better for TNT to grab him before ESPN tries to turn him into the next” Charles Barkley. McCarthy: “But would the studio be big enough for the egos of Shaq and Barkley? Stay tuned” (USA TODAY, 7/11). CBSSPORTS.com’s Royce Young wrote it “really was just a question of where Shaq would go.” With his “big personality, popularity and knack for being great on camera, it really was going to come down to ESPN or Turner.” O'Neal decision to join TNT "just means the best is only getting better.” With Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Barkley and Webber -- who “was terrific in his first year as an analyst -- Turner has the market cornered on excellent NBA studio commentary” (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/10).
A's TV broadcasters Ray Fosse and Glen Kuiper "have been criticized by viewers for their joking tone" when Rangers fan Shannon Stone fell to his death "while trying to catch a baseball" during Thursday's A's-Rangers game, according to Susan Slusser of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Fosse at the time of the incident said, "For a baseball," and there were "some chuckles in the booth." It was "clear that the broadcast team had no idea that Stone had sustained fatal injuries." Neither Fosse nor Kuiper have been made available "to answer questions" about the coverage (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/9). In Dallas, Barry Horn wrote he "still can't fathom" what Kuiper and Fosse "were thinking." Horn offered a transcript of Fosse's and Kuiper's reactions to a replay of the incident, and he noted the two were "giggling." Comcast issued a statement that read, "This is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to everyone involved in this incident. Our coverage reflected our concern as soon as the severity of the situation became apparent." Meanwhile, FS Southwest paid the incident "no mind" during Thursday's game. The net "didn't show a replay or report anything happened during the game." Horn: "Not a mention. They played let's pretend a man didn't fall out of the stands headfirst in full view of almost everyone in the stadium and was rushed to the hospital." The net's decision was "on the instruction of producer Kurt Deichert as per company policy." FS Southwest PR Dir Ramon Alvarez: "We didn't show a replay or mention it because of the sensitivity of the situation. We didn't know the severity of the fan's injury." But Horn wrote, "How FSSW could have ignored it in this Twitter world is remarkable" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/9).
ESPN Exec VP/Production Norby Williamson and Senior VP & Dir of News Vince Doria both "look back on 'The Decision' as a unique beast without a lot of bearing on the day-to-day choices at the network," according to Poynter Institute Ethics Group Leader Kelly McBride in the latest entry to ESPN.com as part of the Poynter Review Project. The July '10 special surrounding LeBron James' choice in free agency was "one of the most viewed, and one of the most hated, moments of ESPN television." McBride wrote, "No one we spoke with at ESPN suggests that if they had a do-over, they would reject 'The Decision' outright." Instead, they "talk about doing it better." Williamson, one of the architects behind the show, said, "I don’t have any regrets. It was a huge news event. We were committed to covering it. We would go after it with the same energy and passion." He acknowledged that he "would execute the broadcast differently today," but did not "want to go into detail." Doria said, "We could have done everything right and people would still be angry about LeBron." McBride: "Sure, but fans wouldn’t conflate their anger toward LeBron with their anger toward ESPN. No matter how normal ESPN tries to make 'The Decision' appear, it will forever remain in the minds of fans a target of deserving scorn" (ESPN.com, 7/8).
Tennis Channel scored an important victory at the FCC, when the agency's Enforcement Bureau "told an administrative law judge that he should mandate Tennis Channel carriage on a 'widely viewed' -- though not necessarily most widely penetrated -- Comcast tier and fine the cable operator the maximum for that program carriage rule violation," according to John Eggerton of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. The fine could be as much as $375,000. The bureau believes Comcast discriminated against the channel. Eggerton noted, "The bureau recommends that the judge force Comcast to carry the channel 'across Comcast's cable systems nationwide on a broadly distributed tier' within the next 30 days and at a price on par with Golf Channel or Versus, both of which are owned by Comcast." The full FCC would vote on the administrative law judge's recommendation (MULTICHANNEL.com, 7/9).
YES averaged a 6.6 local rating and nearly 635,000 viewers in the N.Y. market for Saturday's Rays-Yankees game, in which Yankees SS Derek Jeter reached and surpassed the 3,000 hit mark. The numbers marked "season highs." The net earned a peak rating of 8.3 and audience of 827,200 viewers from 2:00-2:15pm ET, the "quarter-hour after Jeter homered for his milestone hit" (NEWSDAY, 7/11).
LEAVE ROOM FOR BIKERS: The GUARDIAN's William Fotheringham reports a car "driving personnel from the French channels that cover" the Tour de France yesterday "collided with the cyclists in the winning escape," knocking one cyclist to the ground and another into a barbed wire fence." The car and its driver "were thrown off the race, which was the minimum possible sanction." Stage winner Luis-Leon Sanchez said that "in his view there were too many cars getting too close to the riders." Sanchez: "It's terrible. There were guest cars following us all day and they were often overtaking us to try and follow the race more closely" (GUARDIAN, 7/11).
SOLID CREDENTIALS: In K.C., Mike DeArmond wrote the "ascension of Gerry Ahern of Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com to the position of first vice-president of the Associated Press Sports Editors association looks to be a game-changer for the way universities and the NCAA look at supposed dot.com journalists." Memberships in organizations like the APSE "have long been recognized as benchmark qualifiers for handing out credentials to cover the two major sports of the college scene." Reporters "applying for those credentials as representatives of Rivals.com sites ... often were denied credentials to cover games." But Ahern's "status with APSE -- the first vice president becomes the president of APSE the following year -- provides a distinction that could go a long way toward changing the media playing field" (KANSASCITY.com, 7/10).
ROAD SHOW: In N.Y., Kathryn Shattuck noted the logistics of televising NASCAR races in yesterday's Arts & Leisure section and noted it "takes a lot of work and coordination effectively to bring a NASCAR race into a living room." A "caravan of 37 tractor-trailers and some 500 employees crisscross the nation from track to track to erect the compound known in NASCAR circles as TV City," which "provides the technical wherewithal for Cup Series coverage by TNT, Fox, ESPN and ABC." The compound is "made up of 22 mobile production units and 15 support trailers valued at nearly" $50M, and it "will travel more than 35,000 miles this season." Shattuck noted a "typical Cup Series broadcast can pull from as many as 80 cameras on the track and in the pits" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/10).