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NFL Network earned a 4.9 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's Jets-Broncos game that featured the Broncos winning on a last-minute touchdown. The game marks the third-best overnight for any game on the net since it began regular-season matchups in '06. Jets-Broncos trails only Cowboys-Saints from December '09 (5.9 rating) and Packers-Cowboys from November '07 (5.5 overnight). Compared to Bears-Dolphins in Week 11 last year, Jets-Broncos is up 26% from a 3.9 overnight (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). SI’s Richard Deitsch wrote on his Twitter feed during last night's game, “I'm not sure I can quantify with words how much better Mike Mayock is than Matt Millen and Joe Theismann.” FoxSports.com’s Jason Whitlock wrote, “Brad Nessler is great. Mike Mayock was awful. And not just awful bcuz he never figured out Jets out of timeouts.”
TOO MUCH, TOO SOON: Thursday's game in Denver came after the Jets played a Sunday night game at home last weekend, and Jets S Jim Leonhard said, "I don't think Thursday night games are good ever, let alone in a situation like this. A big thing going into the (NFL labor) talks this last time was player safety. You don't get much more unsafe than playing two games in five days or whatever." He added, "I get it. You can't tell me it's about anything other than money. It is not about anything other than being on TV and generating revenue" (N.Y. POST, 11/18).
NOTHIN' BUT A GOOD TIME: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Friday morning, and the net's Joe Kernen noted that the league is “scoring a ratings touchdown so far this season: Games on average [are] bringing in more than twice as many viewers as regular prime-time programs.” Kernen said of the highest-rated shows in ’11, “I wouldn't know what to do as a network executive because it's like 19 out of 20. NFL is delivering it. That's about it on network TV.” Goodell replied, “Joe, you're right, 18 of the top 20 shows have been NFL shows.” Goodell: “It's the magic of the game and it’s the passion and diversity of our fan base. They love football and our game is so unpredictable.” He added the “league is so competitive now” and “competitiveness is what fans want, the unpredictable nature of our game” ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 11/18).
LOCAL MARKETS: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted the Vikings-Packers "MNF" game "had the highest rating for a regular-season Packers telecast since" '97 (JSONLINE.com, 11/15)....In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes Rams' games are averaging a 20.2 local rating in the market, marking the second-best average through nine games since '06, behind only last year's 25.0 rating at the same point (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/18).
Time Warner Cable Sports' 10-year, $55M deal for rights to the MLS Galaxy will be made official later Friday at a press conference in L.A. Time Warner Cable Sports President David Rone said the MLS games will be produced for the two new RSNs, which will be called Time Warner Cable Sportsnet and Time Warner Cable Deportes. "Soccer, in general, is becoming more and more prevalent in the States," Rone said. "Spring and summer programming, which we're in the process of building out; a relationship with AEG; and resonance with the Hispanic community: all of that comes together and it creates enormous value for our networks." When asked about other rights that interest TWC, Rone said the Dodgers were at the top of his wish list. "If we had the opportunity, we would be highly desirous in acquiring the media rights to the Los Angeles Dodgers," he said. "My interest hasn't waned."
Q: Why does the Galaxy deal make sense for you?
Rone: We are launching not just one, but two 24/7 RSNs. They will be two separately programmed regional sports networks that will have at their core some foundational programming that we will share across both networks. That foundational programming began with our partnership with the Lakers and now extends to this partnership with the Galaxy. When you think about this historic first-ever Spanish-language RSN that we're calling Time Warner Cable Deportes, there's nothing from a sports standpoint that resonates with the Hispanic community more than soccer. With the Galaxy being the brightest of the bright teams in the MLS -- and now being a championship team with stars like David Beckham and Landon Donovan -- it made all the sense in the world to us to have at our core a partnership that really centers itself in soccer, parlay it across two networks and, as importantly, strike the kind of relationship we have now with AEG, given their prominence in the sports world overall but in particular in Los Angeles.
Q: Explain why having a relationship with AEG is so important.
Rone: I've know [President & CEO] Tim Leiweke, [COO] Dan Beckerman and the group at AEG for 12-15 years now. No one's more aware of their prominence in L.A. than I am. [TWC Sports Senior VP/GM] Mark Shuken and I had a responsibility for appropriately programming and bringing these networks to life. The Galaxy was a natural. Tim knew we were there. I knew Tim was there. This was one of the first calls we made. The combination of the programming and who owns it . Mr. Anschutz and the AEG organization it made a lot of sense for us on a lot of different levels.
Q: Reports are that the deal is for $55M over 10 years.
Rone: I can't comment on the rights fees. We have confidentiality agreements.
Q: How did you value these rights?
Rone: The rights are very valuable to Time Warner Cable Sportsnet and Time Warner Cable Deportes. These two networks are on the rise. Soccer, in general, is becoming more and more prevalent in the States. Spring and summer programming, which we're in the process of building out; a relationship with AEG; and resonance with the Hispanic community: all of that comes together and it creates enormous value for our networks.
Q: Given the reports, the Galaxy now have the highest rights fees in all of MLS.
Rone: I think that's probably correct. And I think that was probably correct prior to our deal. I believe they were already the highest earning media rights team in MLS. Nothing will have changed there.
Q: Other than the amount they're getting paid.
Rone: Yes. That changed.
Q: What does that say about the value of MLS rights?
Rone: The league is on a rise in general. What this deal should say about MLS and soccer rights in general is that we're rapidly getting to a point, particularly with the launch of a 24/7, fully dedicated regional sports network to Spanish language programming, where soccer is going to become more and more valuable to the marketplace. We now are creating for that community and market, we are creating language-specific programming and a platform that you can therefore amortize and multi-platform rights like the Galaxy.
Q: What was your pitch to get the Galaxy rights?
Rone: Our approach to these foundational programming partnerships is that we're going to provide the fans and viewers with greater depth around these teams than they've ever had before. That certainly was very interesting to the Galaxy as it was to the Los Angeles Lakers. In past relationships, they've been very fortunate to get their events on the air. But there wasn't much other programming outside of Lakers and Galaxy games on television. You'll see more Lakers and Galaxy programming and a greater depth and access into those teams and organizations than viewers and fans have ever seen on television before. It's clear to me that's why the Galaxy came.
Q: What other rights are on your wish list?
Rone: The Los Angeles Dodgers are at the top of that wish list, as you can fully imagine.
Q: What's going on with that right now, given the events of this week?
Rone: I don't think it has changed in the past week at all. I [was at SBJ's Media and Technology conference] almost a week ago. You asked me if we had an interest and what was our interest level in the Dodgers. I told you, 'Absolutely, we had an interest.' If we had the opportunity, we would be highly desirous in acquiring the media rights to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That remains the same today.
Q: Have you had talks with the Dodgers yet?
Rone: No. My understanding is that it won't be the Dodgers that we will be having discussions with.
Q: The Dodgers top your wish list. What other rights are out there?
Rone: I'd like to decline commenting on that. As you know, these things are most successfully done when they are done under the radar. But you can suffice it to say that we plan on being continually active as it relates to the acquisition and creation of programming for these networks.
USA TODAY has released the results of its third annual NFL TV announcers poll as voted on by readers, and the paper's Michael McCarthy noted there were some "surprises as the online voting went down to the wire Thursday night." ESPN’s Ron Jaworski “made a charge at the end to nab best game analyst for the first time,” beating out NBC's Cris Collinsworth by a 23%-22% difference. NBC's Al Michaels earned 39% of the vote for best play-by-play announcer, winning the category "for the third consecutive year” CBS’ Jim Nantz finished second with 19%. NBC's "Sunday Night Football" team of Michaels, Collinsworth, and sideline reporter Michele Tafoya "won best game crew for the third consecutive year (34%), with ESPN's 'Monday Night Football' crew of Jaworski, Jon Gruden, Mike Tirico and Suzy Kolber coming in second (22%).” "Fox NFL Sunday" won best pregame show for the third straight year with 33%, ESPN's Chris Berman with 26% “won best pregame show host for the third consecutive year” and ESPN's Adam Schefter with 33% “won best ‘insider’ for the third consecutive year” (USATODAY.com, 11/17).
EXPERTS PICKS: USA TODAY’s McCarthy and Michael Hiestand listed their personal picks for the NFL TV announcers poll. Hiestand is "with the voters’ pick" of Michaels for best play-by-play announcer, while picking Fox’ Troy Aikman as best analyst, "although NBC’s Cris Collinsworth brings desperately needed glib humor to coverage of America’s secular religion.” Schefter is his choice for best reporter “mainly because he churns out on-air tonnage all week, although runner-up Jay Glazer of Fox has the most memorable TV presence and scores scoops.” McCarthy picks CBS’ Nantz "by a nose" over Michaels, as both "give games a big-event feel.” CBS' Phil Simms is the "top game analyst in my book,” as he “rips players and coaches when they deserve it and points out what they’re doing right without using TV jargon.” Glazer is McCarthy's pick for best reporter, as he "consistently gets the most scoops.” ESPN's Schefter, Chris Mortensen and John Clayton “split the insider vote three ways," the same with NBC’s Peter King and Mike Florio (USA TODAY, 11/18).
The Lions hired Tim Twentyman, who covered the team for the Detroit News, to run the club’s editorial operations at DetroitLions.com. He had reported for the newspaper for eight years. In addition to Twentyman’s daily news coverage, he will also appear on online and traditional media outlets. On gamedays, he will report live from the stadium on the Ford Lions Report, the Lions' pregame show that airs on WXYZ-ABC at 11:00am ET and on the Lions Radio Network’s pregame show. The team's flagship station is WXYT-FM. Lions President Tom Lewand in a statement said, “He will not be an extension of our public relations department. Tim will cover our team and offer timely, compelling content in much the same manner as any beat writer would but with better and unique access.” The Bengals have had their own beat writer for years, and most teams have ramped up their own internal sites with reporters who are billed as independent.
ESPN Films wrapped up its fall slate of documentaries last week with “Roll Tide/War Eagle,” a film about the Alabama-Auburn football rivalry. The telecast averaged 1.7 million viewers on Nov. 8, marking the most-viewed of the fall films. In the context of “30 for 30” broadcasts, “Roll Tide/War Eagle” would have ranked fifth overall in viewership. The film also continues a trend of strong audiences for ESPN’s college sports documentaries. “The Fab Five” remains the most-viewed ESPN doc with 2.7 million viewers last March, followed by “Pony Excess” last December (2.5 million viewers), “The U” in December ‘09 (2.4 million viewers) and “The Best That Never Was” in November ‘10 (2.2 million viewers).ESPN FILMS: FALL SLATE OF DOCUMENTARIESPREMIEREFILMRATINGVIEWERS (000)11/8"Roll Tide/War Eagle"1.21,69810/25"The Real Rocky"1.01,3869/27"Catching Hell"1.01,37911/1"Unguarded"1.01,37710/11"The Dotted Line"0.681010/18"Charismatic"0.567210/4"Renee"0.4508