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Fox earned a 7.9 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's MLB All-Star Game from 8:30-11:30pm ET, marking the event's lowest overnight rating ever. The telecast did lead Fox to its best primetime rating since the "American Idol" finale in May and also gave Fox a win among all nets in primetime last night. The 7.9 overnight is down 13.2% from a 9.1 rating last year and down 24% from the game in '09. St. Louis topped all markets with a 17.8 local rating, marking the fourth straight year the market has been the highest-rated city for the game. Philadelphia ranked second last night with a 14.7 local rating (THE DAILY).ALL-STAR GAME OVERNIGHT
RATINGS TREND ON FOXYEARRATING'117.9'109.1'0910.4'0811.0'0710.0'0610.6'059.8'0410.3'0311.1'0211.4'0112.6
STRAIGHTFORWARD PERFORMANCE: FOXSPORTS.com's Brian Lowry writes Fox announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver "were customarily sober and professional, if a little boring," during last night's broadcast. McCarver is "as good as it gets when it comes to discussing balls and strikes or previewing the second-half pennant race, but he exhibited little interest in discussing any of the broader issues surrounding the game." Lowry writes the "best moment" came when a Fox camera operator "chased reliever Heath Bell as he ran from the bullpen onto the field and slid toward the mound" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/13). In Detroit, Steve Schrader noted Buck in doing "player intros for Fox's broadcast and the stadium" introduced Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera as Mariners P Felix Hernandez. Cabrera "laughed, pumped his fists and tipped his cap to cheers as Buck then gave the correct intro" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/13).
Buck has been suffering
from voice problems
HEY, SAY WHAT? Buck and McCarver in the bottom of the third inning discussed the fact several high-profile players selected to play in the game did not show up due to injuries. Buck noted Baseball HOFer Willie Mays is tied for the most All-Star Game appearances with 24 and said, “Willie Mays had some interesting quotes (Tuesday) in the Wall Street Journal with regard to guys not showing up for this All-Star Game. He said, ‘I was rewarded 24 times as an All-Star and I went 24 times. It’s not jury duty. Guys should show up’” (“MLB All-Star Game,” Fox, 7/12). However, blogger Larry Brown noted Mays "was not interviewed and he never made those remarks." Jason Gay, the author of the article Buck cited, "was merely making the point that other players could learn from Willie Mays who played in 24 All-Star Games." Brown: "I know there are plenty of staff members who assist the broadcasters during these games, so it’s possible someone else screwed up. ... If it was Buck who skimmed the story and thought that Mays made the quotes, then he deserves all the ridicule he’ll receive for misinterpreting it" (LARRYBROWNSPORTS.com, 7/12). HARDBALL TALK's Craig Calcaterra writes, "Just sloppiness by Buck and/or his production team as they looked for material to paint current ballplayers as lazy and entitled" (NBCSPORTS.com, 7/13).
THERE'S A GAME GOING ON, SOMEWHERE: YAHOO SPORTS' Rob Iracane writes entertainer Justin Timberlake "proved to be the most talked-about participant on an otherwise tame broadcast." Timberlake "went off the reservation just a bit when it came to Fox broadcaster Joe Buck ... while being interviewed by Mark Grace to promote his upcoming film 'Friends With Benefits,'" saying, "Joe Buck, you're calling a great game, Joe!" Meanwhile, Iracane writes Fox reporters Grace and Eric Karros are "terrible analysts and even worse interviewers, seemingly leaning on their subjects to provide both the answers and the questions" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/13). FOXSPORTS.com's Lowry writes there were a "handful of crass promotional detours, among them an awkward interview" with Timberlake. The net also ran a promo for the upcoming series "The X Factor" before the game (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/13). The broadcast began with a segment narrated by actor Brad Pitt, who is starring in the upcoming theatrical release of "Moneyball," and SI’s Richard Deitsch wrote, “We want to thank Brad Pitt by giving him a free promo from our broadcasters. #thefoxsportsway.” The N.Y. Times’ Richard Sandomir wrote, “Buck and McCarver hype BPitt; JTimberlake smooches Buck. Oy!! … OK, america, Timberlake not all-time worst ingame celeb intview but it's in top 10.”
FORMAT HERE TO STAY: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday "reiterated his support for tying home field advantage in the World Series to the outcome of the All-Star Game." Selig said that both he and Fox execs "like the World Series link." He joked, "Doing things that help your television partners is not an unconstitutional act" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/13). In L.A., Bill Shaikin notes "under the 'This Time It Counts' format, ratings have generally increased, and Fox sells out advertising at rates rivaling those charged for the league championship series." Fox Sports Media Group Vice Chair Ed Goren: "Madison Avenue absolutely loves the All-Star product" (L.A. TIMES, 7/13).
MLB's use of social media during Monday's Home Run Derby resulted in a combined 121,428 new Twitter followers for the 23 players who tweeted from the event, or an average increase of 17%. Yankees 2B Robinson Cano, who won the event, led the way with an 84% increase in followers in the 18 hours around the "Social Media Derby." The players sent a combined 223 tweets, generating more than 18,000 @ mentions. MLB league and team Facebook and Twitter accounts gained a combined 52,375 new fans/followers in the 18-hour period. The MLB Facebook account garnered 190% more "likes" than on an average day (THE DAILY).
BOOMER SAYS: ESPN averaged 6.686 million viewers for coverage of the Home Run Derby, up 4.2% from 6.418 million viewers for the event last year, according to fast-national Nielsen data. The audience peaked in the 9:30-10:00pm ET window. Boston topped all local markets with a 10.3 local rating, followed by Milwaukee (9.3), Providence (8.4), St. Louis (7.8) and Hartford-New Haven (7.5). Host market Phoenix earned a 6.3 local rating (THE DAILY). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel noted Chris Berman is one of the “original voices on ESPN” and despite the backlash following his commentary on Monday’s Home Run Derby, the network “is never going to jettison a founding father until he decides” to leave. Engel: “He has earned that right. His voice embodies what the four-lettered has become about” (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 7/12). Meanwhile, Rogers Sportsnet set a record in Canada Monday with 935,000 viewers tuning in to watch the Home Run Derby. The viewership marks a 55% increase over the net’s previous best of 602,000 viewers in ’10. Audience levels peaked at 1.4 million near the end of the first round when Blue Jays RF Jose Bautista made his way to the plate (Rogers Sportsnet).MLB HOME RUN DERBY
VIEWERSHIP TREND ON ESPNYEARVIEWERS (000)'116,686'106,418'098,250'089,116'076,778'066,787'056,330'047,713
AMERICA'S PASTIME: CABLEFAX DAILY writes baseball’s national success “demands notice.” The Home Run Derby posted year-over-year "improvement after 2 declining years, TBS’ post-season ad sales are pacing ahead of last year by more than 20%, and MLB Net has gained notable traction in ’11, including a 51% rise in 2Q total prime viewers.” MLB Network President & CEO Tony Petitti noted that an increase “in live weekday afternoon programming has goosed total day numbers, too (+42% in 2Q).” Petitti: “We have 35 new advertisers for 2011, our revenue is up over 40% in 2011 and we are pacing nearly three times ahead in upfront commitments over last year. It’s a sign that advertisers believe in the quality of the content and long-term future of the network” (CABLEFAX DAILY, 7/13).
The Southern Conference "has agreed to a three-year deal with public over-the-air networks in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina that will put the league's football games in nearly 11 million households, about 20 percent more than what the conference is used to having," according to Michael Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Fox SportSouth, "which is in just under 9 million households, had been the longtime home for the conference's football games." But Fox "has acquired more college content through new agreements with the Pac-12, Big 12 and Conference USA to go with what it had already," and there "wasn't as much room for the Southern Conference." In the spring, Atlanta-based sports marketing firm CSE "agreed to manage the conference's multimedia and marketing rights." CSE Senior VP/Programming & Media Services Ned Simon said that the decision to "pursue a deal with over-the-air public television networks came as CSE brainstormed alternative methods of distribution for smaller conferences." Simon: "Public TV struck us as an untapped area with a very broad reach. We thought it offered more possibilities than syndication." Smith notes public TV gives the conference a "consistently weekly start time of 3 p.m. on eight fall Saturdays, meaning the conference won't have to move games to weekdays." It also "lets the Southern Conference retain the rights to stream these televised games live on SoConSports.com, something it didn't have the right to do in past years with Fox" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/11 issue). Georgia Public Broadcasting "will cover the Chattanooga, Tenn., market," and the conference said that it is "exploring additional distribution outlets in Alabama and Tennessee" (THETIMESNEWS.com, 7/11).
ORIGINAL IDEA: SoCon Commissioner John Iamarino said that ADs "weren't happy with the Fox arrangement because the network wasn't able to guarantee game windows, wasn't paying a rights fee and wouldn't allow the conference to stream games on its website." Under the new deal, ad spots "would have to conform to strict public broadcasting underwriting rules, making revenue potential for the deal uncertain." Iamarino: "This is kind of out of the box for us. I don't know of any statewide networks doing this" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/12). He added, "It's a leap of faith for us to do this. And it will be incumbent upon us to do a good job educating the public on where the games can be found. But in this age of 500 digital channels, we all rely on information in order to find what we want to watch" (Charleston POST & COURIER, 7/12).
SI Group Editor says selecting Jeter's hit
for cover over WWC was matter of timing
RISING TO THE OCCASION: USA TODAY’s Michael McCarthy writes ESPN’s Ian Darke, the net's lead play-by-play announcer for the Women's World Cup, is “not some understated British sportscaster.” Darke “gets as amped as” Fox’ Gus Johnson, and he “makes no bones about becoming as excited as fans.” Darke: “When you get a moment like Abby Wambach’s equalizer, or the Landon Donovan goal last year, clearly there’s almost a license to go through the roof with it.” Darke said that if sportscasters “can’t rise to the occasion at big moments like that, ‘they probably need to find some other form of employment’” (USA TODAY, 7/13).
WARM AND FUZZY: In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw writes under the header, “If The U.S. Women’s Team Wins, So Will Soccer As A Whole.” Cowlishaw refers to the U.S. World Cup wins in '91 and '99, writing, "I'm not sure how much the interest level in soccer was advanced by those triumphs. It was probably some, to be sure, but I think it was minimal." Cowlishaw: "It just feels different now. ... More and more soccer is finding its way onto television" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/13).
Showtime tonight debuts its series "The Franchise," which chronicles the MLB Giants, and it "promises viewers drama, humor and an unprecedented level of access in the traditionally closed baseball clubhouse," according to front-page piece Monday by Peter Hartlaub of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The show was "viewed as both an investment and a risk" by the Giants and the team's fans. Showtime President of Entertainment David Nevins said that the Giants were a "hard sell." Part of the agreement with the team was a "promise that filming would end before August, to avoid distractions during a pennant race and possible playoff run." Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, "It couldn't have gone smoother, I think. What a great job they've done on their side, to not be intrusive, and yet hopefully they've gotten a lot of what they do need." Nevins and Bochy both indicated that there "haven't been problems with boundaries." The Giants are currently leading the NL West, and Nevins added the "only way this show could have gone bad is if the Giants were 15 games out of first place at the All-Star break." Meanwhile, Giants President & COO Larry Baer said that the "upside for the team was apparent immediately." The team's home games run "so late on the other side of the country," and "players on West Coast teams ... don't get the exposure of their Red Sox or Yankees counterparts." Hartlaub notes Producers Jason Katz and Danny Field have "worked on other productions involving" the White Sox and Phillies, but they said that this show "blows them away in terms of scope." They also "bristle at the obvious comparisons" to HBO's "Hard Knocks" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/11).
ELEMENT OF TRUST: BROADCASTING & CABLE's Ben Grossman "spent a game day in San Francisco with the team and the crew," and he notes Showtime "hopes 'The Franchise' will be compelling due to the access its cameras have and the trust level with the players and team staff." Giants Senior VP & GM Brian Sabean said that he and the team "have a very good understanding of the goal of the show, so they are giving the cameras significant access, even more so than they expected." He added that the Giants have "tossed out the cameras only a few times, for things like meetings with medical staffers." Showtime execs are "bullish on the new show because the Giants are a group comprised of some serious camera-ready characters and a couple of major league whack jobs" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 7/11 issue). Bochy and the Giants players insisted that filming for "The Franchise" has "gone smoothly." In California, Chuck Barney noted viewers "won't see a trashy, 'Real Housewives'-like production, but rather an unprecedented behind-the-scenes slice of major league life that is bristling with raw emotion, offbeat humor and colorful personalities" (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 7/11).
INSIDE THE MAKINGS: Exec Producer Mike Tollin, when asked how "The Franchise" differs from "Hard Knocks," said, "It is somewhat groundbreaking to do a show during the regular season. Here the games count. The access has been extraordinary." He added the biggest hurdle "was to get everyone comfortable with us and the cameras." Tollin: "We are approaching this as a documentary, not a reality show. We feel responsible to recognize where the line is drawn. The Giants are out there playing for real, with a lot on the line. We can't intrude" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/9). Nevins said, "I want the show to feel really immediate, but I also want it to feel like it's got deep access and you're getting a piece of these guys you don't get on ESPN" (USA TODAY, 7/13). The show is produced by MLB Productions, and in N.Y., Mike Hale noted the show's staff "may be part of the Major League Baseball family, but that doesn't mean that the players are much more than polite to them while striding by on their way to the trainer's room or the batting cage." The show is occurring "thanks to Major League Baseball's evolving effort at getting its brand in front of as many eyeballs as possible." MLB Productions "came up with the concept for 'The Franchise' and shopped it to various networks" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/10).
TAKING A SNEAK PREVIEW: A preview screening of "The Franchise" in Phoenix yesterday prior to the All-Star Game showed a more serious yet family-friendlier feel than shows like "Hard Knocks" or "24/7." Baer said, "This is not meant to be a reality series. We didn't think a show full of F-bombs would fit what the Giants are about. That's not meant to be critical of 'Hard Knocks,' or whatever. But we are seeking to be something different, and are telling more of a story, one that we think is multi-dimensional and multi-generational." Picking up the narrative from a preview episode shown in April, the full debut of "The Franchise" chronicles the Giants' early regular-season struggles, serious injuries to several key players including C Buster Posey, and the life-threatening assault of Giants fan Bryan Stow in L.A. Baer: "We're telling the story of our players, who we obviously believe are really great and will appeal to a national audience" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). In California, Cam Inman writes the debut episode "is a quality product" and "isn't a dud." Tim Lincecum is "relatively scarce" in the episode, as "about a dozen teammates are featured in quick-hit segments." Inman: "Heartwarming segments came from [Jeremy] Affeldt, Matt Cain, Cody Ross and Ryan Vogelsong inviting cameras to document their family lives. ... Flamboyant closer Brian Wilson didn't hog the show. Producers could have exploited that angle" (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 7/13). In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht writes networks "often break out alternative programming the night after the All-Star Game because there are no baseball telecasts to compete against." The debut of "The Franchise" "is the best of the lot" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 7/13).