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TBS yesterday featured a tripleheader of MLB LDS games, with Cardinals-Phillies Game Two in primetime earning the top audience with a 2.8 overnight Nielsen from 8:45pm-12:08am ET. The game earned a 21.9 local rating in Philadelphia and a 21.4 rating in St. Louis. Tigers-Yankees Game Two earned a 2.3 overnight earlier in the day (Detroit 13.1 local, N.Y. 7.2 local), while D’Backs-Brewers Game Two earned a 1.6 overnight (Milwaukee 5.8 local, Phoenix 5.7 local). The first Sunday of LDS coverage last year featured all Games Threes and Fours. The best audience for the '11 LDS to date remains Tigers-Yankees Game One, which earned a 3.3 overnight on Saturday.
RAIN, RAIN: Turner Sports averaged a 2.0 U.S. rating and 3.1 million viewers for the first five games of the MLB LDS through Saturday across TBS and TNT. Those figures are down from a 2.9 rating and 4.4 million viewers for the first two days of LDS coverage last year on TBS, which featured six games on Wednesday/Thursday. Turner’s audience numbers this year were hurt by the suspension of Tigers-Yankees Game One on Friday night, which featured a Justin Verlander-CC Sabathia pitching matchup. The net also had two games overlapping on Saturday, with TBS’ Yankees-Tigers Game One at 8:30pm ET and TNT’s Rays-Rangers Game Two at 7:00pm (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Bob Raissman cites sources as saying that for Sunday's Tigers-Yankees Game Two, TBS "wanted a 1 p.m. start but both managers objected because of the short turnover." MLB execs "interceded and the 3:07 start was agreed on, pushing the two NLDS series back to later start times" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/3).
DREADED GLITCH AWARD: The DAILY NEWS' Raissman noted during the sixth inning of Tigers-Yankees Game One Saturday, viewers "suddenly were switched momentarily" from the game to Rays-Rangers. Raissman: "Glitches are part of live TV. Yet for this to happen in prime time, in baseball's postseason, is hard to fathom. It's also darn embarrassing." Meanwhile, after Tigers RF Magglio Ordonez "hit into a double play, a TBS camera lingered in the Tigers dugout," and while this "totally meaningless, gratuitous shot aired, viewers heard play-by-play man Brian Anderson shrieking about a 'diving' catch" by Yankees RF Nick Swisher. While Anderson, "in other national appearances, has rocked steady," Saturday night he "needed to take a breath and come up for air." Raissman: "He talked too much. And in a three-man booth, working with [John] Smoltz and Ron Darling, this wasn't a great idea" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/2). In Albany, Pete Dougherty noted TBS' switch from the Tigers-Yankees game over to the Rays-Rangers lasted "for 14 seconds" and when the net switched back, "no explanation was given" (TIMESUNION.com, 10/1).
STRIKING OUT: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick reviews TBS' coverage of the MLB playoffs and writes, "Excessive talk, excessive use of gizmos, graphics and tape machines quickly turns good TV forgettable." Mushnick: "TBS's all-time, off-to-the-side computerized pitch-box, while less intrusive and annoying than ESPN's version that it pastes around home plate during live pitches, appears to portray all batters as the same -- same size, same batting stance, same strike zone" (N.Y. POST, 10/3). Mushnick yesterday wrote "three of the coverage networks seen here did a great job" covering last Wednesday's final day of the MLB regular season as four teams contended for wild cards. Mushnick: "Predictably, the night's only failure was ESPN, which figured that Red Sox-Orioles ... was the perfect time to shove its virtual strike zone gizmo endlessly over live pitches and down America's better baseball senses" (N.Y. POST, 10/2).
TV TREASURE: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones noted the Rays-Yankees series to end the regular season was "TV ratings gold for Sun Sports" last week. Tuesday night's game drew an average 9.1 rating, a "little more than 163,000 homes," while Monday night's numbers "were almost as solid with an average of 135,000 homes tuned in" (TAMPABAY.com, 9/29). Jones today writes Sun Sports "saved the best for last." Jones: "Its coverage of the final nights of the Rays' regular season was equal to that of the team it was covering. ... The direction and production were first-rate, the announcing of Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson were equally informative, stirring and entertaining and sideline reporter Todd Kalas showed great hustle and knowledge" (TAMPABAY.com, 10/3).
Fox led all Sunday NFL game windows with a 14.9 overnight Nielsen rating for its singleheader coverage, marking the net's best singleheader window in 12 years, dating back to a 15.2 overnight in Week Seven of the '99 season. The window was also up 25.2% from CBS' singleheader last year. CBS’ national window featuring Broncos-Packers earned 13.6 overnight, down 14.5% from a 15.9 rating for Fox’ comparable Week Four national window last year, which featured Redskins-Eagles. CBS’ regional window earlier in the day earned a 9.3 overnight, flat compared to ’10. NBC saw its overnight audience down for the Jets-Ravens “SNF” game. The telecast earned a 12.7 overnight, down 10.6% from Bears-Giants in '10. However, the game still led NBC to a win among all nets in primetime last night. Baltimore led all markets with a 38.8 local rating, while N.Y. finished 11th with a 15.4 rating (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).OVERNIGHT RATINGS FOR NFL WEEK FOUR SUNDAY TELECASTSNET'11 TELECASTRAT.'10 NET'10 TELECASTRAT.% +/-Fox(single)14.9CBS(single)11.925.2%CBS(regional)9.3Fox(regional)9.30.0%CBSBroncos-Packers (59%)13.6FoxRedskins-Eagles (94%)15.9-14.5%NBCJets-Ravens12.7NBCBears-Giants14.2-10.6%
PROFESSIONAL JOB: In Baltimore, David Zurawik writes NBC’s "SNF" crew was "textbook in showing how to do a winning telecast.” Producer Fred Gaudelli and his crew “did so many little things so well that from the pre-game straight through the first half, it seemed as if there was something special happening almost every minute.” Zurawik: “What a pleasure to see and hear play-by-play man Al Michaels and analyst Cris Collinsworth focus our attention in all the right places before and right after the opening kickoff” (Baltimore SUN, 10/3).
THE BEST COVERING THE BEST: In Denver, Dusty Saunders wondered why CBS' top announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms called Broncos-Packers yesterday, noting that “logic might dictate that the Patriots-Raiders clash in Oakland, competing on the late network schedule, would be a logical choice because it was more of a marquee attraction.” However, the assignment "was based on the fact that the Packers-Broncos clash gave the network an opportunity to cover the champions, who play most of their NFL schedule on Fox” (DENVER POST, 10/3).
SUNDAY'S STAR: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes Fox' Terry Bradshaw was the "television MVP of the weekend," as he "took two topics that have been beaten to death and came up with two new theories that make lots of sense.” Bradshaw spoke about “the gunslinger style of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo” and “the controversy of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick being hit so often” (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/3).
The Raiders and team Chief Exec Amy Trask "have been lobbying quietly with network crews in preproduction meetings to present a more balanced picture" of the fan experience at O.co Coliseum, according to Mark Purdy of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Purdy noted the "opening shot last Sunday was of two fathers and their young kids moving through the turnstiles." Minutes later, "before an early commercial break, viewers saw more children getting their faces painted in a family theme area" at the stadium. Trask said of the images, "It dispels so many myths." Purdy wrote following the preseason game against the 49ers at Candlestick Park during which several fans were shot in the parking lot, there is no doubt Trask "has been on a mission to (A) eradicate bad behavior and (B) convince the world that Raiders home games are not war zones." Trask "regularly emails members of the media with photos of fans wearing the jerseys of opposing teams as they sit among Raiders followers with no apparent bloodshed or violence." Trask keeps "pictures of families with their children" in a "virtual scrapbook." Trask: "We have thousands of pictures like that." Purdy wrote he applauds the "campaign to discourage NFL game broadcasts from being a Festival of Fan Knuckleheads." Cameras at games "seem to find the wildest fans in the house, shirtless and wobbly, shouting indecipherable words." Purdy: "Trask is right to gently (or loudly) encourage a different approach." When asked when "she'll know she has won the battle," Trask said, "I don't think one should ever declare victory in this sort of thing. It's an ongoing evolutionary process" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/2).
There is "no more polarizing figure in New York sports broadcasting than the idiosyncratic and eccentric" Yankees radio play-by-play announcer John Sterling, according to Bill Pennington of the N.Y. TIMES. Sterling is "unquestionably popular among the cosmic community of Yankees fans." The ratings for the team's radio broadcasts on WCBS-AM "are strong," and the club’s management and players "routinely and unwaveringly praise" Sterling. But he also "has spawned more than 100 Web sites dedicated to denigrating his emblematic calls and his anomalous broadcasting style." And he is the "regular whipping boy of two New York tabloid sports media columnists." The N.Y. Post's Phil Mushnick said, "He's a waste of a great voice." But Pennington noted as Sterling "has endured and prospered -- with a radio contract, expiring this year, that pays him about $375,000 with ancillary income of nearly $100,000 -- he has handled disparaging remarks with more aplomb." He said, "You would like everybody to love you. That's not possible in life. ... Anyone doing baseball for four hours talking extemporaneously is going to make mistakes, and I make my share. I’m not reading a script up there. And, yes, it is my style to be ahead of the play. You can do play-by-play after the fact, but I choose not to" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/2).
SIGNAL STRENGTH: In N.Y., Bob Raissman noted the "knock against" ESPN Radio N.Y. 1050, one of the outlets looking to gain Yankees radio rights after this season, is "its weak signal." But an MLB source said that ESPN execs "have taken a huge step to rectify that problem." The source said that "several weeks ago during a presentation, ESPN execs told Yankee brass if they acquire the radio package all Bomber games will be simulcast on powerhouse WABC-AM Radio and ESPN-1050" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/2).