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TBS yesterday announced details of its MLB postseason coverage, which will begin Friday with exclusive coverage of the AL and NL Division Series. Lead play-by-play announcer Ernie Johnson will not be part of the net's postseason coverage and will be replaced by Brian Anderson for the LDS and NLCS. Johnson is absent from the broadcasts due to the illness of his son. Anderson has called postseason games on TBS for the past three years and has been a part of the net's "Sunday MLB on TBS" coverage the past two years (TBS). Turner Sports Senior VP & Exec Producer Jeff Behnke said that “as in the past, TBS has no problem assigning announcers who also call local team games -- such as Boston Red Sox announcer Don Orsillo -- to call those teams’ playoff games.” Behnke: “All of our announcers are professionals" (USA TODAY, 9/28).
TBS POSTSEASON ANNOUNCING TEAMS
PLAY-BY-PLAY ANALYST(S) Brian Anderson* Ron Darling, John Smoltz* Dick Stockton Bob Brenly Don Orsillo Buck Martinez Victor Rojas Joe SimpsonTBS POSTSEASON REPORTERSTom Verducci, Craig Sager, Jaime Maggio, Sam RyanTBS POSTSEASON PREGAME, POSTGAME TEAMMatt Winer (host), Dennis Eckersley, Cal Ripken, David Wells
DIGGING DEEPER INTO THE STATS: Bloomberg Sports today announced that it has reached a new licensing agreement with Fox and TBS to provide custom-designed enhanced statistical analysis, professional analytical tools and a data feed of in-depth pitch analysis for each postseason game this year. The new features include predictive tools for pitcher-batter matchups and will give broadcasters the ability to provide viewers with the likelihood that a player will reach base, based on count, bases occupied, inning and number of outs. The tools are a version of the same analytics system that Bloomberg built for MLB teams. Bloomberg built a feature exclusively for Fox that is a state-of-the-art on-base percentage predictor for each batter that updates with each pitch. The technology is customized to any matchup and the circumstances of the game (Bloomberg Sports).
WHAT'S YOUR ANGLE? TBS and MLBAM for the LDS and NLCS are again collaborating on Postseason.tv, the subscription-based package which streams alternate camera angles and allows fans to customize online viewing experiences. Postseason.tv will be available on MLB.com and its mobile app platforms (TBS).
Fox’ NFL national window featuring Packers-Bears on Sunday led all Week Three NFL game telecasts with a 14.1 final Nielsen and 24.0 million viewers. That audience figure ranked as the second-best rating and viewership on all of TV last week, pacing only behind CBS’ season premiere of “Two and a Half Men,” which drew a 16.7 rating and 28.7 million viewers. Compared to CBS’ national window in Week Three last year, Fox was up 0.7% and 3.7%, respectively, from a 14.0 rating and 23.1 million viewers for coverage featuring Colts-Broncos. Fox’ telecast also marked the No. 1 show of the week among males 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54, as well as adults 18-34. NBC’s Steelers-Colts “SNF” telecast also saw a year-over-year audience gain compared to Jets-Dolphins in Week Three last year. Steelers-Colts finished with a 12.2 rating and 20.4 million viewers, up 8.0% and 12.2%, respectively, from an 11.3 rating and 18.1 million viewers. NBC also won primetime on Sunday night. Meanwhile, ESPN finished with a 10.6 U.S. rating and 17.1 million viewers for Cowboys-Redskins, marking the net’s best “MNF” audience to date this season. "MNF" also led ESPN to a win for the night among all networks -- broadcast and cable -- in viewership and among all key adult and male demos. However, after overnight ratings originally indicated a year-over-year gain, Cowboys-Redskins ended up down 1.9% and 2.0%, respectively, from Packers-Bears in Week Three last year. ESPN has now seen the audience for each of its four “MNF” telecasts drop compared to last year.
If distributors push for a la carte programming, as was reported by Reuters last night, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Craig Moffett predicted nothing would happen any time soon. In a research note sent out this morning, Moffett said, "It's an appealing idea. But don't hold your breath. The impediment to a la carte has always been programmers, not distributors, and there is precious little the distributors can do to force them to unbundle" (John Ourand, THE DAILY). REUTERS' Yinka Adegoke in the initial report noted U.S. cable operators are "privately working on a plan to force programmers to unbundle their networks and allow customers to subscribe to channels on an individual basis." The plan "represents a complete reversal from cable operators' long-held opposition" to a la carte programming. Suddenlink CEO Jerry Kent said, "We feel that some of those expensive channels should be offered a la carte so only those people who want to watch them actually pay for them." Adegoke noted the plan is "motivated in part by the high cost of sports programming rights, which have skyrocketed in recent years" (REUTERS, 9/27).
ESPN earned a 2.7 U.S. rating and 4.235 million viewers for last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which was the second race in the Chase. Those figures are up 12.5% and 6.8%, respectively, from a 2.4 rating and 3.966 million viewers for last year's second Chase race, which was held at Dover Int'l Speedway (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee noted the "combination of competitive racing and (sorry, 48 fans) the possibility of a new champion in the mix could keep ratings trending upward for the rest of the Chase" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/27).
LOOKING IN: SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said that the conference's "15-year TV contract with ESPN has a look-in clause, meaning there are times during the contract that all concerned parties can look-in for possible changes to the contract if things happen like conference landscape or technology concerns." Slive added that the league is "in the process of scheduling a negotiation with CBS sometime this fall" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 9/28).
MORE ICE TIME: ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose will "be blogging for NHL.com throughout the 2011-2012 season." Melrose will also be appearing "as an analyst for NHL Network during every League-wide NHL event," starting with Monday's '12 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic announcement in Philadelphia. His video blog, "Melrose Monday," will appear on NHL.com and will feature a "look ahead at the biggest days on the NHL calendar that week" (NHL.com, 9/26).
WOMEN'S IMPACT IN SPORTS: ABC's Robin Roberts will host the new series, "In the Game with Robin Roberts," on espnW.com, ABC News Digital and ESPN.com. ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer said that the series is the first ever dual network, cross platform effort for ABC News Digital and ESPN.com. The series is set to debut later this fall and will feature Roberts interviewing top female athletes who have had an impact on the world of women's sports, including WNBA Lynx F Maya Moore, former WNBAer Lisa Leslie, former U.S. softball pitcher Jennie Finch, former boxer Laila Ali, U.S. women's soccer G Hope Solo and Univ. of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt (THE DAILY).