Sunoco Debuts "Essence Of Racing" Campaign Executive Transactions Isiah Thomas Expected Backlash Over Hiring FanDuel Brings On Most Of Zynga Sports Team Georgia Approves Increased Athletic Budget Kentucky Adding Ribbon Boards At Rupp IndyCar Ponders How To Attract Fans Long Term Jeff Gordon Hired As Full-Time Analyst For Fox Danica's Sponsorship Status To Be Telling For NASCAR Classified Advertisements
SBD/September 23, 2011/MediaPrint All
In the lead-up to Friday’s premiere of “Moneyball,” movie critics and sports writers offered their reviews of the film based on Michael Lewis’ book of the same name. At presstime, the film had a 94% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes among 118 reviews (THE DAILY). ROLLING STONE’s Peter Travers writes it is “one of the best and most viscerally exciting films of the year.” Travers: “‘Moneyball’ is a baseball movie like ‘The Social Network’ is a Facebook movie, meaning it isn’t. Both are about how we play the game of our lives, and the excuses we make in the name of winning” (ROLLING STONE, 9/22 issue). Film critic Roger Ebert gave the movie four stars, calling it a "smart, intense and moving film that isn't so much about sports as about the war between intuition and statistics." Ebert: "'Moneyball' is not a traditional sports movie, and indeed should be just as gripping for non-sports fans. It's not a series of Big Games. When it goes to the field, it's for well-chosen crucial moments. Its essence is in terse, brainy dialogue by the two accomplished screenwriters Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian" (ROGEREBERT.com, 9/21). The BOSTON GLOBE's, Carlo Rotella wrote the film “may well be the quietest, most contemplative big-time sports movie ever made.” It is a “rare attempt to make a movie about being smart -- not smart in an action-movie way, like James Bond or Jason Bourne, but smart like people who do well in school” (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/16).
GRAND SLAM: The N.Y. POST's Lou Lumenick writes it is "probably the finest baseball movie since 'Bull Durham' back in 1988" (N.Y. POST, 9/23). The ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH's Joe Williams: "'Moneyball' is one of the best baseball movies imaginable" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/22). The CHICAGO TRIBUNE's Michael Phillips: "The best sports movie in a long time, period, as well as honestly inspirational" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/22). The Colorado Springs GAZETTE's Roger Moore writes the movie "takes a dry story about numbers and no-name ballplayers and turns it into something funny, deep and illuminating" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 9/23). ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark wrote he would “recommend it highly,” adding viewers will “come away thinking it was fun, thoughtful, well-written, well-acted and, for the most part, as real a depiction of the dawn of the Moneyball era as Hollywood is capable of” (ESPN.com, 9/16). The CONTRA COSTA TIMES' Randy Myers wrote the movie "scores as one of the sharpest, most entertaining films of the year" (CONTRA COSTA TIMES, 9/22).
NOT JUST FOR BASEBALL FANS: SI's Austin Murphy writes one of the many "pleasant surprises" about the film is how much "humor director Bennett Miller smuggles into the picture." Murphy: "Like all enduring sports movies, this one transcends its genre. 'Moneyball' is a movie about baseball the way 'The Sopranos' was a series about the waste-management business" (SI, 9/26 issue). The N.Y. POST's Mike Vaccaro writes "Moneyball" is an "enjoyable, funny, smart movie that is about baseball in the way that 'The Social Network' is about computers: as background, as a soundtrack of sorts" (N.Y. POST, 9/23). The NEW YORK OBSERVER's Rex Reed: “‘Moneyball’ is not your grandpa’s baseball movie. Even if you don’t know a fly ball from a snowball and couldn’t care less how great American pastime turned into the great American religion, this is a great American movie that will leave you cheering” (NEW YORK OBSERVER, 9/21). FOX SPORTS’ Ken Rosenthal noted baseball fans “and non-baseball fans alike will get something out of it.” Rosenthal: “Is the film faithful to the spirit of the book? Yes. Are there baseball inaccuracies that make me cringe? A few. But overall, did I like the film? Absolutely” (FOXSPORTS.com, 9/15). The Illinois DAILY HERALD's Dann Gire: "'Moneyball' is so masterfully told that even if you know the real story, you'll still be on cleats and needles anticipating what happens next" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 9/22).
MORE THAN A GAME: CBS movie critic David Edelstein said, "On one level, it's a rousing sports underdog story. On another, a movie about thinking outside the batter's box. It's the 'Bad News Bears' for MBAs. The movie is too long, but it's full of fast, cynical talk and it's very enjoyable" ("Sunday Morning," CBS, 9/18). NBC's Matt Lauer: "I thought the movie was really good. I'm a baseball fan and I like the intricacy of the baseball part of it, but it's a good movie" ("Today," NBC, 9/22). ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's Owen Gleiberman wrote the "supersmart and rousing 'Moneyball,' which may be the best baseball movie since 'Bull Durham,' is also about talk, but in a coolly heady and original inside-the-front-office way." The movie is "a little long, with one too many endings, but it's a baseball drama about something novel and rich (EW.com, 9/21). The Portland OREGONIAN's Shawn Levy: "'Moneyball' does a splendid job of taking a wonkish subject matter, a well-known recent history and some traditional movie world settings and characters and blending them into a subtle, engaging and funny human drama" (Portland OREGONIAN, 9/23). USA TODAY's Claudia Puig: "This is a riveting tale of a man defying conventional wisdom -- and winning" (USA TODAY, 9/23). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Joe Morgenstern writes never before "have statistics added up to such electrifying entertainment." The movie "renews your belief in the power of movies." Brad Pitt "plays -- to perfection -- Billy Beane," and from "top to bottom, the casting is inspired" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/23). The OAKLAND TRIBUNE's Joe Stiglich wrote, “I give it a thumbs up.” It is a “very well-made movie and Brad Pitt, not surprisingly, gives a strong performance as Billy Beane” (IBABUZZ.com, 9/19).
UP THE MIDDLE: ESPN.com's Jim Caple wrote he "enjoyed it for the most part," and the "acting is excellent." Caple: "I just wonder whether I would like the movie more or less if I weren't a baseball fan. That's because one issue bothers me. Like the book, the movie gives far too much credit to Beane's 'Moneyball' strategy and not nearly enough to the players on the team." Director Bennett Miller said that he "didn't intentionally hit that aspect but that there wasn't enough time for it and it would have been a distraction from the movie's main storyline" (ESPN.com, 9/21). CNBC's Darren Rovell wrote "Moneyball" is a "movie that satisfies, but doesn't leave you with the feeling that you have to tell your friends about it." Rovell: "Sony executives are selling this as more than just a baseball money movie. It's about valuing people in different ways, they say. They do that because they have to. But there's really nothing that redeeming about Beane that makes his character bigger than the story itself" (CNBC.com, 9/21). NEWSDAY's Neil Best wrote the film does "as well as could reasonably be expected given the writing challenge, with a script that evolved radically after the project was halted in 2009." Best: "As with all based-in-truth sports films, fans will search for inaccuracies, and find some. But more than untruths, the movie for dramatic purposes emphasizes conflict and sharpens gray areas into black and white" (NEWSDAY, 9/20). The BOSTON GLOBE's Ty Burr writes the film is "an infield single but the one that wins the game." It is a "hilarious and provocative change-up, entertaining without feeling the need to swing for the fences" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/23). The K.C. STAR's Jon Niccum gives "Moneyball" two and a half stars, noting the film is an "intriguing but often dry account of Beane's overhaul of Major League Baseball's long-standing tenets" (K.C. STAR, 9/23).
WAIT TIL' NEXT YEAR? AP movie critic Christy Lemire wrote under the header "'Moneyball' Doesn't Quite Knock It Out Of The Park." Lemire: "What's most pleasing about the film doesn't really have to do with baseball. ... Yes, they're talking about baseball, but the intelligence of their interactions and the bond they forge transcend sport." Similarly, the "things that are wrong with the movie have nothing to do with baseball." Lemire: "'Moneyball' never feels like it's building toward anything, even if you know how the A's season unfolded that year. ... Whatever the cause, the end result often feels disjointed" (AP/ 9/20). The S.F. Chronicle's John Shea said he enjoyed the movie, but wondered if "people outside the Bay Area and people outside the baseball world enjoy it and appreciate it?" Shea said "maybe 50/50" of MLB GMs will like it or not like it and "a lot of scouts are not going to enjoy it" ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 9/19). The N.Y. TIMES Adam Sternbergh noted the "Moneyball" philosophy "ultimately triumphed, but Billy Beane never quite did." The movie "struggles with this inconvenient reality; certainly it's odd to watch a sports movie that doesn't -- and can't -- end with that rousing ninth-inning game-winner" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/22).
CALLED OUT ON STRIKES: The S.F. CHRONICLE's Peter Hartlaub writes the film adaption is "filled with compromises." Hartlaub: "Someone crammed 'Major League' -style sports cliches into a more nuanced story about baseball and progress - and then tried to fit a Brad Pitt star vehicle inside of the that. The result is an interesting but frustrating near-miss." The '02 A's story is "arguably more of a moral victory than an actual one, but the narrative squeezes in a moment straight from 'The Natural' anyway," and baseball fans "who follow the game closely will question whether the team and its forward-thinking executives have accomplished all that this movie suggests they did" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/23). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan wrote the "chasm between the real story of Billy Beane and the manufactured one in the 'Moneyball' movie keep it from reaching the plateaus of its forbearers, no matter how slick the production, interesting the dialogue or arresting the cinematography." It is "disingenuous to show how cheap the A's were by suggesting players had to pay for soda -- and, even worse, having Beane negotiate a supply of carbonated beverages in a player trade." It is "misleading to villainize A's manager Art Howe as an abject insubordinate to make Beane look smarter" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/20).
WHAT DID YOU THINK? Have you seen or are planning on seeing “Moneyball” this weekend? If so, send us your brief review in less than 20 words to email@example.com.
Critics and writers offered their opinions on the "Moneyball" cast, and the AP's Christy Lemire wrote Brad Pitt is at his "charismatic best" portraying A's GM Billy Beane in the movie. Pitt is a "little weary, a little weathered, but that complexity only makes him more appealing” (AP, 9/20). CBS’ David Edelstein said Pitt “is shockingly good,” adding he “doesn’t play against his movie star handsomeness.” Edelstein: “His Billy Beane is a man who knows he’s handsome and also knows it's not enough. It’s the first time Pitt has been more than enough” (“Sunday Morning,” CBS, 9/18). The WASHINGTON POST’s Ann Hornaday writes Pitt “exudes a careless, almost slovenly lack of vanity.” It is a “tribute to his nuanced physical performance that Brad Pitt can make audiences believe a woman would ever leave a guy who looks like Brad Pitt” (WASHINGTON POST, 9/23). The SAN JOSE MECURY NEWS’ Daniel Brown wrote Pitt “captures Beane’s blend of arrogance and charm, as well as his swings from fiery to pensive” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/20). The N.Y. TIMES’ Manohla Dargis writes Pitt gives “the quintessential Brad Pitt performance” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/23). Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman wrote Pitt is in “classic, game-on movie-star mode.” Jonah Hill as Peter Brand, a character based on former A's Assistant GM Paul DePodesta, “brings his whole deadpan-geek thing to a new height of pinpoint timing.” Philip Seymour Hoffman, as A’s manager Art Howe, “does a character turn that’s as fresh for him as the crew cut that makes him look like a grizzled old-timer” (EW.com, 9/21). SI’s Austin Murphy writes Hill’s "depiction of Brand, the savant Yalie, is a masterpiece of understatement” (SI, 9/26 issue).
SUPPORTING CAST: CNBC’s Darren Rovell wrote while Pitt and Hill “work nicely together,” Hoffman’s portrayal of Howe “will disturb traditionalists.” Rovell: “As long as they bothered naming him the same name as the A’s manager, Hoffman should at least have tried to be more like Howe or maybe it was just the script who turned the more reserved real life Howe into a stubborn character” (CNBC.com 9/21). The OAKLAND TRIBUNE’s Joe Stiglich called Hoffman’s performance an “eyebrow-raiser,” and wrote, “I can't imagine that Howe was quite as confrontational and aggressive with Beane as he’s made out to be” (IBABUZZ.com 9/19) But sports writer Joe Posnanski wrote, “Hoffman is so good that part of me wished the movie was actually about Art Howe” (JOEPOSNANSKI.com, 9/21). CSNBAYAREA’s Casey Pratt wrote actor Chris Pratt plays former A’s 1B Scott Hatteberg “so well you can hardly tell them apart,” adding the “runner up would be” Hoffman as Howe. Casey Pratt: “I never thought that choice would work, but from the first Howe scene on, you never question the Academy Award-winner as the manager” (CSNBAYAREA.com, 9/21). MLB.com’s Jane Lee wrote Hill’s “presence was largely overshadowed by that of his mega co-star, but words weren’t necessarily needed, as his genuine excitement for the film and what it stands for was largely apparent.” Lee: “The same could be said of Chris Pratt, who entertains the crowd as Hatteberg” (MLB.com, 9/20). The FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM’s Jeff Wilson wrote Rangers manager Ron Washington, who was the A’s 3B coach in ’02, left Monday’s premiere of the movie “with a flood of memories and a favorable review of the movie … and the actor who portrayed him.” Washington said, “The few lines I had, I thought the guy handled them well. He was very decisive in his answers, which is what I am” (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 9/20).
As the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' bestselling book “Moneyball” hits theaters this weekend, Sony Pictures is “hoping to buck the Hollywood wisdom that star-driven sports dramas have limited appeal in this country and do virtually no business overseas,” according to Fritz & Sperling of the L.A. TIMES. Sony “isn't selling a baseball movie,” it is “selling Brad Pitt,” who stars as A’s GM Billy Beane. It is an “unusual move in an age when movie stars no longer guarantee huge box-office returns and are often upstaged by such brand names” as "Transformers" and "Harry Potter." But Pitt “remains one of the few actors who is a brand unto himself.” Fritz & Sperling note it is “no wonder that the superstar's face and name are as prominent as the film's title on the posters and billboards.” The trailers and most of the commercials promoting the movie “focus almost entirely on the emotional journey” of Pitt's character and the “romance of baseball.” Plot points “about Beane's use of statistical analysis to field a team by focusing on players' ability to get on base are intentionally minimized in the marketing campaign.” A Sony spokesperson declined to discuss "Moneyball" marketing efforts. But the movie's promotional materials “make clear that the studio believes audiences will connect with Pitt's Beane, a single father and charming underdog who triumphs over adversity.” Still, in promoting the picture Sony is “making sure to cover all its bases.” It is running ads on ESPN “during sports games that lean more heavily on the film's baseball elements, and is sponsoring fantasy baseball websites.” In addition, before "Moneyball's" premiere Monday night in Oakland, the cast did interviews at the A's O.co Coliseum. To help “draw in women, the studio is also running TV spots on the Lifetime Network” and during Fox' "Glee." Sources who have seen pre-audience surveys estimate that "Moneyball" is “expected to open with a box-office take between $15 million and slightly more than $20 million.” That means the film “will have to generate strong word of mouth to keep it in theaters for many weeks to come to be a sizable hit” (L.A. TIMES, 9/23).
BOX OFFICE HIT: In L.A., Amy Kaufman wrote the film will “fight for the No. 1 spot against last weekend's surprise winner,” the 3-D version of “The Lion King,” and a new family film, “Dolphin Tale.” "Moneyball," which some pundits “have already singled out as an awards contender, has so far earned exceptionally positive reviews from critics” (LATIMES.com, 9/22). DAILY VARIETY’s Andrew Stewart wrote the film “could attract enough adult moviegoers to win the weekend,” and it “should appeal to primarily over-25 male” audiences. Sony is “de-emphasizing the opening weekend's impact to the overall prospects” for "Moneyball." As with "The Social Network," the studio “anticipates that ‘Moneyball,’ budgeted at a reported $50 million, will develop similar legs, based on strong reviews coming out of the Toronto Film Festival” (VARIETY.com, 9/22). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Pamela McClintock noted tracking shows the movie is “in the lead heading into the weekend, with a projected opening gross in the high teens to low $20 million range.” The film “benefits from strong interest among males and older females” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 9/22).
THE POWER OF PITT: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin wrote people will buy tickets “because Pitt has the starring role, not because they're captivated by a small-market franchise and a clever GM who almost developed a formula for toppling the rich and powerful New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, etc” (SACBEE.com, 9/20). “Moneyball” Director Bennett Miller said of Pitt appearing on the cover of SI this week, “I'm not that much of a marketer, but it would seem that it's a great thing. … When I heard that (Pitt would be on the cover), I think that actually excited me more than any other news like that. I thought that was really cool” (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/22).
The NFL "has decided to take a 'fresh look' at their secondary market television rules and will 'likely' show the ending of close games in Los Angeles instead of sticking to league policy by cutting away from a televised game before it is finished to the show the start" of a Chargers road game, according to Arash Markazi of ESPN L.A.. A league source said Thursday that if the L.A. market "were airing a close game with the outcome still in the balance there was a 'very good chance' the local affiliate wouldn't leave the game until it was decided." Markazi noted it is the "first time the league has decided to tweak what had been a very non-negotiable rule regarding primary and secondary television markets for over 35 years." L.A. is the secondary market for the Chargers and NFL policies state "all secondary markets must carry in their entirety all road games of their local team." NFL Dir of Corporate Communications Dan Masonson said the Chargers are deemed L.A.'s "local team" and therefore a "secondary market" because "its affiliates' TV signals reach within 75 miles of the Chargers stadium." The NFL "decided to re-think its television rules after it forced local station KCBS 2 in Los Angeles to leave the final 27 seconds" of last Sunday's Raiders-Bills game (ESPNLA.com, 9/22). In California, Jim Carlisle writes under the header, "Worst Decision Over Best Finish." Carlisle: "Maybe the league's TV policy makes sense in places like Dallas or Green Bay where no game could be as important as the Cowboys' or the Packers.' But here it's ludicrous. ... The NFL's solution always involved paying more money and seldom involves common sense" (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 9/23).
READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL? Time Warner Cable and NFL Network are still having meetings to negotiate a carriage deal that could end their eight-year impasse. Sources said a deal is not imminent, but the two sides still are talking (John Ourand, THE DAILY). In N.Y., Claire Atkinson reports TWC and NFL Network have made "substantial progress" in their carriage negotiations "and could be heading toward an agreement that will bring the football channel's full slate of eight games to the TV sets of their 12.1 million subscribers" (N.Y. POST, 9/23).
INJURY UPDATE: NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello on Twitter wrote an NFL.com fantasy football ad featuring Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles being carted off the field after suffering a season ending injury "was a mistake by fantasy football marketing" and was "taken down immediately" (THE DAILY). In DC, Cindy Boren noted the ad included the text, "Injury ruined your fantasy season?" Vikings P Chris Kluwe "was appalled." He tweeted, "Great job NFL.com using a player's season ending injury to promote fantasy football" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/22).
CASE OF THE MONDAYS: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes for "ESPN, 'The Worldwide Leader in Sports,' to have presented a worse production of a national primetime NFL game than Monday's Rams-Giants is unfathomable, maybe even impossible" (N.Y. POST, 9/23).
Facebook at its annual F8 conference Thursday unveiled several changes to its interface, including a new timeline feature that will now be synonymous with what was formerly known as a user’s profile page. Although Facebook has immediately identified media -- music, movies, TV-- as the primary industries that will experience the biggest changes to its business models as a result of this year’s announcements, the sports industry is closely aligned with these categories and is likely to experience tangible benefits as well. Staff Writer Theresa Manahan caught up with Paciolan Dir of Social Media & Consumer Marketing Matt Kautz, who attended the conference to chat about what the changes mean for the sports industry.
Kautz: The changes announced at the conference center around adding verbs and time to the user experience on Facebook.
What was formerly called the “profile” is now synonymous with “timeline.” Users now maintain a virtual scrapbook of their lives arranged in chronological order, and categorized by applications. So, a team application could allow a user to go back in time and see how their lives intersected with the team’s -- the photos they took when they went to the game, their comments on a player’s amazing catch, video of the buzzer beater -- all instantly at their fingertips. Where “like” was formerly used to describe every interaction a fan had with their team, now teams can customize those verbs to give the fan a more meaningful interaction. “Watch,” “listen” and “read” are the standard verbs Facebook will add at launch, but a team will also able to add “consider,” “cheer,” “tailgate,” or anything else they decide. The team now has a much richer trove of data with which to tailor their interactions with their fans.
The other major change is the ability to ask users for “canvas permissioning,” meaning that rather than asking every time they do the same kind of action for their permission to add it to their timeline (for instance, watch a highlight film), users can give permission once and share automatically after that. This will make it easier for fans to stay connected to the team and fellow fans. To accommodate the heavy increase in fan sharing that will occur as a result, Facebook has also created two categories: light sharing that appears in a “ticker” in the upper right hand corner of a fan’s profile page, and the standard newsfeed sharing we’re all accustomed to. The light sharing is intended to allow fans to build out their virtual scrapbook of activities without annoying their friends with redundant updates. So, a fan that is checking stats on a team repeatedly may want to make the team’s performance a part of their own virtual scrapbook, but doesn’t necessarily want to make their friends read that update over and over again.
Q: What will be the biggest impact on how sports teams use social media?
Kautz: The biggest change for teams is the addition of verbs to the fan experience. This means that a team, with some customization to their website, can invite fans to share what they’re watching, the events they’re attending, the merchandise they’re buying, and aggregate that data to create a profile for future messaging. From a CRM perspective, the potential is huge. Rather than just segmenting based on purchase, a team can now segment their outbound call list, e-mail database, or multi-channel marketing campaigns based on actions taken -- a game that was watched on TV, an event that was considered online, a T-shirt that was liked. In addition, since this data is being collected by Facebook, Facebook ads can be segmented by these intents.
Q: What should the sports industry know about the new technologies being developed?
Kautz: These new technologies will fundamentally change what teams know about their fans. With this more specific knowledge about what a fan is doing, including their preferences, teams will be able to deliver more targeted messaging and deepen their levels of engagement for increased revenue and loyalty.
Q: Which new feature created the most buzz at the event?
Kautz: The change from “profile” to “timeline” generated the most buzz at the event because it so completely changes the user experience on Facebook. While almost all of the feedback was positive, it will be interesting to see user response over time.
Q: What is the most important thing we should know coming out of the conference?
Kautz: If the results since last year’s F8 conference are any indication, this year’s changes will have a profound effect on the way fans interact with their team, and each other, online. Implementing custom verbs, similar to the like button, on a team’s website, and using those verbs to fuel the team’s interaction with a fan’s Facebook timeline, will have significant upside by allowing for deeper engagement and more knowledge about each individual fan.
Fox is averaging a 12.2 final Nielsen rating and 20.5 million viewers for its NFL game coverage to date, marking the net’s best two-week audience figures ever. The figures top last year’s record-setting 11.7 rating and 19.6 million viewers. The net also set two-week records among males 18-34, 18-49, 25-54 and adults 18-49. Fox had NFL singleheader coverage this past weekend, averaging a 13.2 rating for the window featuring Bears-Saints in 38% of markets and Cowboys-49ers in 30%. The rating marks Fox’ best Week Two singleheader window since ’94 (13.4 rating). The “Fox NFL Sunday” pregame show is also off to a strong start, averaging its best two-week audience figures since ’01 (Fox). Meanwhile, ESPN averaged a 7.8 U.S. rating and 11.9 million viewers for its Rams-Giants “MNF” telecast, down 17% and 21%, respectively, from a 9.4 rating and 15.1 million viewers for the comparable Saints-49ers game in Week Two last year. ESPN has now seen the audience drop for each of its “MNF” telecasts to date (THE DAILY).
IN WITH THE NEW: ESPN2 and Versus began a slate of new sports shows this fall. ESPN2’s “Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” which airs in the 4:00pm ET window, averaged 149,000 viewers during its first week. In the 3:30pm window, the new “Numbers Never Lie” averaged 140,000 viewers in its first week. Compared to the same week in ’10, the net’s audience was down slightly from a combination of programming that included “College Football Live,” “SportsNation” and simulcasts of “The Scott Van Pelt Show,” as well as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying. On Versus, “NFL Turning Point,” a highlight show hosted by Dan Patrick at 10:00pm on Thursdays, saw the best audience among the net’s new slate of programming with 126,000 viewers for its Sept. 14 premiere. Versus averaged only 36,000 viewers for the premiere of “College Football Talk” on Sept. 12 at 5:00pm. The net’s “CNBC Sports Biz: Game On” featuring Darren Rovell averaged 32,000 viewers for its second episode, down from 36,000 viewers for the show’s Sept. 9 premiere. Versus’ weeknight highlight show, “NBC Sports Talk,” averaged 20,000 viewers during its first full week in the 6:00-7:00pm window (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
NOTES: Fox averaged a 1.0 final rating and 1.6 million viewers for its tape-delayed broadcast of Manchester United-Chelsea on Sunday afternoon. It marked the first EPL match to ever air on broadcast TV in the U.S. An additional 456,000 viewers watched live coverage of the match on Fox Soccer from 10:54am-1:03pm ET, while Fox Deportes averaged 430,000 viewers (Fox)….ABC’s Oklahoma-Florida State game Saturday night averaged a 5.8 final rating and 9.3 million viewers, marking the net’s highest-rated and most-viewed regular-season college football telecast since the Texas-Nebraska Big 12 Championship in ’09 drew a 7.5 rating and 12.7 million viewers (ESPN)….The Patriots-Chargers game on CBS earned a 35.3 local rating in Boston, marking a record in the market for a Week Two Patriots game. The previous record was a 34.96 set last season for the game against the Jets. The team’s game against the Dolphins also set a local Week One ratings record (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 9/22)….The Packers-Panthers game earned a 26.0 local rating in Charlotte, up 8.3% from last year’s 24.0 local rating for the Buccaneers-Panthers game in Week Two (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/20)….YES Network averaged a 7.01 local rating in N.Y. for the Yankees’ AL East-clinching win over the Rays on Wednesday night, marking the net’s second-best Yankees audience of the year and best non-Red Sox audience since April 1, 2008 (YES Network).
The chart below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings listed are U.S. ratings.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "Sunday Night Football":
"NFL on CBS":
"NFL on Fox": (single)9/18Fox1:00-4:05pm13.222,530 "NFL on CBS": (regional)9/18CBS1:00-4:15pm8.513,558 "Football Night in America"9/18NBC7:30-8:15pm6.710,766 NCAA Football:
"Fox NFL Sunday"9/18Fox12:00-1:00pm3.45,100 NCAA Football: Tennessee-Florida9/17CBS3:30-7:30pm3.04,616 NCAA Football: Auburn-Clemson9/17ABC12:00-3:35pm3.14,410 NCAA Football: (regional)9/17ABC3:35-7:05pm2.84,355 "The NFL Today"9/18CBS12:00-1:00pm2.7n/a NCAA Football:
Michigan State-Notre Dame9/17NBC3:30-7:01pm2.63,831
MLB: (regional)9/17Fox4:00-7:00pm1.52,167 EPL: Chelsea-Manchester United9/18Fox4:32-6:32pm1.01,611 PGA Tour: BMW Championship:
PGA Tour: BMW Championship:
"College Football Today"9/17CBS3:00-3:30pm0.6n/a Lucas Oil Off Road
Pro2 & Pro4 (taped)9/17CBS2:00-3:00pm0.3384
"CBS College Football 2011"9/17CBS2:30-3:00pm0.3n/a Golf: "Big Break 101" (taped)9/18NBC1:30-2:00pm0.2n/a TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "Monday Night Football": Patriots-Dolphins9/12ESPN7:00-10:30pm9.114,568 "Monday Night Football":
NCAA Football: LSU-Mississippi St.9/15ESPN8:00-11:11pm4.06,250 NCAA Football: Ohio State-Miami9/17ESPN7:27-10:35pm2.23,646 NCAA Football: Boise State-Toledo9/16ESPN8:00-11:36pm1.92,725 "Sunday NFL Countdown"9/18ESPN10:00am-1:00pm1.82,458 NCAA Football: Stanford-Arizona9/17ESPN10:45pm-2:10am1.62,411 NCAA Football: Penn State-Temple9/17ESPN12:01-3:11pm1.41,953 "College GameDay"9/17ESPN10:00am-12:01pm1.41,909 NCAA Football: Navy-South Carolina9/17ESPN26:04-9:05pm1.01,618
Richard Childress Racing Thursday unveiled a revamped website, RCRRacing.com, that offers a shop video feature and allows visitors to customize the sponsor car color they prefer for their favorite driver. The enhancements were just two of several improvements made to the site. RCR also expanded its driver profiles, incorporated live twitter feeds and posted a slideshow showcasing the history of the team. The work on the site was done by Racersites, a digital media agency that has done work for the Izod IndyCar Series, Penske Racing and others (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
CHANGING PLACES: On Long Island, Neil Best reported Deb Placey and Rob Carlin, “who shared hosting duties for Islanders telecasts on MSG Plus last season, have left the team, Placey for the Devils and Carlin for the Capitals.” With two weeks until the season starts, MSG is “looking to fill those roles, probably with a single person for both home and away games” (NEWSDAY.com 9/22). Meanwhile, Kevin Kurz has joined Comcast SportsNet as a Sharks Insider. In his new role, Kurz will cover the Sharks for CSNBayArea.com and CSNCalifornia.com, plus contribute to "SportsNet Central," "Chronicle Live," "Sharks Pregame Live" and "Postgame Live," as well as other NHL related programming (Comcast SportsNet).
SIMULCAST AGREEMENT: Boston's WBZ-FM radio hosts Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti of “have scored a TV deal to simulcast their popular radio show" on Comcast SportsNet New England. No start date was announced but “the simulcast will start sometime over the coming months when their new set at the radio station’s" Brighton, Mass., studios is complete (BOSTONHERALD.com, 9/22).