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Fox earned a 17.6 final rating and 29.8 million viewers for its NFL national window on Sunday, which featured the Packers improving to 12-0 with a last-second victory over the Giants, marking the highest-rated regular-season broadcast on any net since CBS’ Week 14 national window in ’07. That telecast earned an 18.4 rating (30.3 million viewers) for a window which featured the Patriots remaining undefeated against the Steelers. However, viewership for Fox' national window, which showed Packers-Giants in 77% of markets, finished below the Thanksgiving Day game audiences for both CBS (30.9 million viewers) and Fox (30.2 million viewers) this season. Those games were aired nationally. The Week 14 national window also marked Fox’ highest-rated regular-season broadcast since a 17.8 rating (27.6 million viewers) for a telecast featuring Cowboys-Giants in ’06. Meanwhile, NBC earned an 11.5 rating and 18.9 million viewers for the Lions-Saints “SNF” telecast, down 14% and 16%, respectively, from a 13.4 rating and 22.5 million viewers for Steelers-Ravens in Week 13 last year. ESPN finished with a 6.1 U.S. rating and 9.5 million viewers for the Chargers-Jaguars “MNF” telecast, marking the second-smallest “MNF” audience this season, just ahead of the other Jaguars' Oct. 24 "MNF" game against the Ravens (6.1 rating, 9.3 million viewers). Chargers-Jaguars is also down 39% and 43%, respectively, from a 10.0 rating and 16.5 million viewers for Jets-Patriots in Week 13 last year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
MOONVES, BEWKES TALK NFL: ADWEEK's Anthony Crupi reported CBS President & CEO Les Moonves during yesterday's UBS Global Media and Communications Conference said that the network "hopes to be in business with the NFL for a long time to come, though he stopped short of confirming that a new deal was in the works." Moonves said, "The NFL is an unbelievable property. You see it in the ratings: Even a bad football game out-rates most programming. So, we love our relationship with the NFL." However, with reports that rights fees for NFL games will increase more than 60% with the new TV deals, Moonves "acknowledged that CBS will have to ante up if and when it renews its current eight-year deal, which expires in 2013." He said, "We're aware that when a new deal gets made the price of poker is going up -- and it should go up." Meanwhile, Crupi reported Time Warner Chair & CEO Jeff Bewkes "pump-faked his way through a question about his company's interest in a proposed eight-game Thursday night package." Bewkes: "We don't think if we were to do something like that that we would do it with a plan to losing any money, so the question of whether that would fit with what the NFL wants to do and our desire to make money would be an open question." He added that while he is not "ruling anything out, the pressure a mega-million NFL contract would place on Turner's affiliates could be a deal-breaker" (ADWEEK.com, 12/6).
ESCALATING COSTS: Bloomberg TV’s Betty Liu said there is “frustration growing within the media business over the rising cost of sports programming," even causing some "backlash from some of the media companies which are afraid that customers will drop services as prices escalate.” Horizon Media Dir of Research Brad Adgate said ESPN charges "far and away more than any other cable network,” and the net claims to have the largest audience. Adgate: “The flip side of that is the average home has 150, 200 channels and maybe they watch 15% of them. So you have all sorts of users who are paying for ESPN, and couldn’t even find it on the dial.” He added, "The cable operators are very concerned about people cutting their cord. All these leagues now have the ability to watch shows online … and there’s nothing really to stop consumers to go in and watch shows. … The bubble can be bursting sometime soon” (“In the Loop,” Bloomberg TV, 12/6).
The NFL today is expected to announce "which network will carry" the Dec. 18 Patriots-Broncos game after CBS and NBC spent yesterday “engaged in a tug-of-war over which will ultimately show” the game, according to Chad Finn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Despite a midnight deadline last night "to determine whether it would be ‘flexed’ from a 4:15 p.m start on CBS’s Sunday schedule to NBC’s prime-time ‘Sunday Night Football’ time slot, the matter was not settled.” NBC “wants to utilize its contractual right with the NFL to move the game” to its "SNF" broadcast, replacing the previously scheduled Ravens-Chargers matchup. It became “increasingly evident Tuesday as the hours passed without an announcement that CBS was attempting to keep the game and a stalemate had occurred.” Since flex scheduling was implemented in ‘06, there are “no other documented instances of a decision being held until a Wednesday.” CBS and Fox “can protect one game per week from being flexed under league rules, but the catch is that CBS protected Sunday’s Eagles-Jets matchup weeks ago, when that game had considerably more luster." Finn notes Patriots-Broncos “is certain to be a ratings blockbuster for whichever network carries it” (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/7). In Denver, Mike Klis writes CBS is “considered the ‘AFC network,’ yet it was not able to capitalize on telecasting a Tebow-led Broncos comeback" against the Vikings last Sunday. Fox was “handed the ratings bonanza because of an NBC flex game" that broadcast Lions-Saints (DENVER POST, 12/7).
ENOUGH ALREADY: YAHOO SPORTS’ Matthew Darnell wrote he is “not sure” what NBC and CBS are “fighting about -- there are clear-cut rules for how this works.” NBC can “indeed swap its game for another game, but only after Fox and CBS have both chosen to ‘protect’ one of their games.” Either CBS “protected the Broncos vs. Patriots game or it didn't.” Darnell did mention Patriots Owner Robert Kraft “can have considerable influence over anything he wants to influence” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/6).
The CBC announced yesterday that after two cancellations, "Hockey Night In Canada" will "restart its Punjabi-language hockey broadcasts this week after finding a sponsor in Chevrolet," according to Chris Zelkovich of the TORONTO STAR. While the Punjabi community "launched an online Facebook campaign that may have played a role in resurrecting the show last year, this time they used phone calls and emails." CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson said that the community's comments "played a role, though the network has always known the value of airing games in Punjabi." He said, "We never gave up looking for a sponsor." Thompson added that "without a sponsor the show would be too costly." Zelkovich notes the CBC will carry Punjabi broadcasts "every Saturday night" starting with a doubleheader this weekend, as well as "one series per playoff round" (TORONTO STAR, 12/7). Play-by-play announcer Harnarayan Singh said, "It's been quite a ride but we're ecstatic to be back on the air. ... I'm really amazed how passionate the south Asian community is about the show" (TORONTO SUN, 12/7).
INCREASED RATINGS: Through the first two months of the NHL season, unique visitors to NHL.com are up 17% over last season's record numbers. Video starts have increased 45%, while page views are up 8% and articles read are up 27%. Through November, NHL Mobile web saw page views increase 93% year-over-year with Canada up 73%, the U.S. up 39% and outside of North America up 357%. Also through November, the league experienced a 5.2% increase in its social communities, Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare (NHL).
In London, Kevin Eason noted David Croft will be Sky Sports' main F1 commentator next year, with Martin Brundle "leaving the BBC to return to his old role as pundit and analyst." Along with Bundle, Ted Kravitz "joins Sky from his role in the pitlane for the BBC, along with Natalie Pinkham, who leaves BBC Radio Five Live to join the satellite channel." Kravitz will also "present a new magazine show on Sky's dedicated Formula One channel with Georgie Thompson, a Sky Sports presenter." Simon Lazenby, a "regular on Sky Sports, particularly on the channel's rugby presentations, will be the host with Jake Humphrey remaining at the BBC." Steve Rider, who "hosted Formula One for ITV, returns to conduct big interviews, including pieces with former drivers and team owners." Sky has "won the rights to broadcast all 20 races live next season" (LONDON TIMES, 12/7).
KING ME: The NBA Kings and KHTK-AM reached a long-term agreement that will see the radio station call the team's games for the 19th consecutive season. The station will carry all preseason, regular-season and playoff games. Gary Gerould will return as the Kings play-by-play announcer for his 26th season, while Fat Lever will serve as an analyst for the third season. Jason Ross enters his 11th season as host of the pregame, halftime and postgame shows (Kings). In Sacramento, Tom Couzens writes this is "great news for Kings fans, considering how the station has moved away from sport in the morning" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 12/7).
HONEST ANALYSIS: In Boston, Peter Abraham notes ESPN's Terry Francona said yesterday that he "plans to be honest" when in analyzing the Red Sox next season. Francona: "It's my personality to be respectful and also honest. I have no problem watching the game and telling the truth." Astros manager Brad Mills said, "Every time I talk to him now, I say, 'Is this off the record or on the record?' I've always told him, too, that if he's on TV, he might have to spend two hours in makeup just to be on" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/7).
AWARDS TELEVISION: In N.Y., Mark Feinsand notes MLB Network agreed to a deal with the Baseball Writers Association of America "to air the announcement of the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Manager and Rookie of the Year awards live beginning next November." The awards will be "announced over a four-day period known as 'BBWAA Awards Week.'" The BBWAA had previously "made its award announcements on its website, so this will mark the first time they are revealed live on television" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/7).