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ESPN earned a 13.8 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's BCS National Championship game, which saw Alabama defeat LSU 21-0. That figure is down 14.3% from a 16.1 overnight for last year's Auburn-Oregon matchup, ESPN's highest-rated telecast ever. Last year's game came down to Auburn kicking a field goal on the last play to win. When fast-national data comes in later today, the Alabama-LSU game will likely rank as the net's and cable TV's fourth largest audience ever, behind only Auburn-Oregon and two "MNF" games. The BCS National Championship led ESPN to a win for the night among all nets. Birmingham topped all local markets with a 61.2 rating, while New Orleans earned a 53.3 rating (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). CBS’ Tim Brando said, "This rating in the game is not going to be very good. When you're doing a championship game, you've got to get those people outside the inner sanctum of college football to watch. It's those people that look at this and say, ‘Wait a minute. Didn't we see these two teams play before? Why are we watching this boring game?’ … This is the pushback. This is the reaction that you get from those people that claim, ‘Do you know what? Why do I care to watch?’” CBS’ Brian Jones said, “You've got to bring in some new eyeballs when you're talking about your big Super Bowl, if you will, on the collegiate level. I don't think that matchup did that. Yeah, here in the South we loved it. … If you want to knock it out of the park, you got to get interest around the country” ("The Tim Brando Show,” CBS Sports Network, 1/10).
CARRYING THE GAME: FOXSPORTS.com's Brian Lowry writes ESPN's coverage of last night’s game "came up stronger than the game itself, with Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit living up to what, despite the 21-0 shutout, almost certainly will register as the most-watched cable telecast of 2012." Musburger "was in fine form, repeatedly capturing key moments with almost the perfect phrase." ESPN also could "point to a solid performance by Herbstreit, whose insights are sharp and blissfully free of the hysteria and buffoonery characteristic of so many of the channel's college analysts." Lowry writes, "The pregame hype went on forever, but what else is new? On its face, this game had 'ratings killer' written all over it" (FOXSPORTS.com, 1/10). In Birmingham, Doug Segrest writes in "terms of drama, in terms of the broadcast, ESPN couldn't capture the electricity Alabama and LSU provided CBS on Nov. 5." Segrest: "Don't blame ESPN, and don't blame the veteran announcing team of Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit. Blame Alabama for taking all the air out of the building with a dominant BCS Championship game performance." ESPN "captured visual images throughout the night that told the story without narrative, such as the shot of an LSU fan with a gold-and-purple mohawk and Alabama defensive end Jesse Williams decked out in war paint" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 1/10).
TWITTER REAX TO MUSBURGER: Musburger's call of the game drew numerous reactions on Twitter last night. The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre wrote, "Musburger is hilarious tonight. Seriously. Great job by him." ESPN's Tony Reali wrote, "Just had to hear that again. Brent actually put a roll in there, too. 'McCarron is going to roll and dump it off. And that is Smelley.'" ESPNLA.com's Arash Markazi wrote, "Brent Musburger screaming 'can he get to the 50' as if midfield is the endzone. Might as well be for LSU tonight." FoxSportsOhio.com's Pat McManahon wrote, "Brent almost exploded his pancreas saying the guy almost made the 50. ... The Brent Musberger comedy hour is building to its ending crescendo here." CSNNE.com's Rich Levine wrote, "After tonight, the only clear cut National Champion is Brent Musburger." But The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt wrote, "Could Brent Musberger say 'Honey Badger' any more than he has? Does the dude even have a real name?" The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Dave O'Brien wrote, "Doesn't it sound silly for 70-something national broadcaster to repeatedly refer to player as 'Honey Badger'? Use actual name once or twice?" The AP's Tim Reynolds wrote, "Brent Musberger just said 'Honey Badger' four times in 29.9 seconds. Yes, I timed it." Awful Announcing's Twitter feed posted, "If you drank every time Brent Musburger said Honey Badger... well, you're surely dead by now." KTCK-AM's Bob Sturm wrote, "America strongly considers never using term 'honey badger' again after Brent decides to ruin it over and over again." Jets FB Jim Leonhard wrote, "They need to get over this whole Honey Badger thing. It's starting to get annoying. Call the man by his real name."
CBS earned a 24.0 final Nielsen rating and 42.4 million viewers for its coverage of the Broncos' 29-23 OT win over the Steelers in AFC Wild Card round during the late window Sunday, marking the highest-rated Wild Card game on any net in 18 years and most-viewed Wild Card game in at least 24 years (as far back as CBS records go). The 24.0 rating is up 9% from the comparable Packers-Eagles game in the late window last year, and up 40% from CBS’ Ravens-Chiefs Wild Card last year. The Broncos-Steelers game peaked at a 29.7 rating and 54.3 million viewers as the game concluded during the 8:00-8:13pm ET window. Fox finished with a 17.3 rating and 27.7 million viewers for its Giants-Falcons NFC Wild Card in the early window Sunday, up 1% in ratings, but down 2% in viewership compared to the 17.1 rating and 28.4 million viewers for Ravens-Chiefs on CBS in the early window last year. The 17.3 rating marks the best rating for a Sunday early window Wild Card game since Packers-Seahawks earned a 19.1 rating (29.3 million viewers) in ’04. Last year’s Packers-Eagles NFC Wild Card on Fox in the late Sunday window averaged a 22.1 rating and 39.3 million viewers, marking the net’s best Wild Card audience ever. The audience for Giants-Falcons peaked at a 19.3 rating in the 3:00pm window. Atlanta led all markets with a 30.6 local rating, while N.Y. earned a 24.8 rating. Milwaukee topped all non-home markets with a 29.5 rating (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said that he "‘can’t imagine’ Fox without the NFL -- and he raised the specter of retrans fees when acknowledging that sports costs in general continue to escalate.” Reilly: “It was a big reason why we feel that retrans was an important initiative for us. We’ve been getting the value out of retrans, and the retrans has, to a certain amount, allowed us to compete with what it takes to get live sports, which are going to be so critical going forward. It is a big part of live viewing” (CABLEFAX DAILY, 1/10).
SATURDAY FEVER: NBC averaged a 15.7 rating and 26.6 million viewers for its Wild Card doubleheader on Saturday, which was down 11% and 13%, respectively, from last year’s record-setting 17.6 rating and 30.6 million viewers. The average, however, ranks as the third-best Saturday Wild Card doubleheader since ’99. Saints-Lions on Saturday night earned an 18.2 rating and 31.8 million viewers, down 3% and 5%, respectively, from an 18.7 rating and 33.4 million viewers for Jets-Colts last year. Saints-Lions, however, ranks as the fourth-best Saturday Wild Card game audience ever (started in ’91). Earlier in the day, Texans-Bengals finished with a 13.5 rating and 21.9 million viewers, down 19% and 23%, respectively, from a 16.7 rating and 28.3 million viewers for Seahawks-Saints last year (Karp).NFL WILD CARD WEEKEND RATINGS, VIEWERSHIP TREND
WINDOWNET MATCHUPRATINGVIEWERS (000) Saturday afternoonNBC Texans-Bengals13.521,900 Saturday primeNBC Saints-Lions18.231,780 Sunday earlyFox Giants-Falcons17.327,700 Sunday lateCBS Broncos-Steelers24.042,371'11 WILD CARD Saturday afternoonNBC Seahawks-Saints16.728,304 Saturday primeNBC Jets-Colts18.733,350 Sunday earlyCBS Ravens-Chiefs17.128,384 Sunday lateFox Packers-Eagles22.139,274'10 WILD CARD Saturday afternoonNBC Jets-Bengals15.225,048 Saturday primeNBC Eagles-Cowboys18.032,124 Sunday earlyCBS Ravens-Patriots16.927,413 Sunday lateFox Cardinals-Packers19.634,406'09 WILD CARD Saturday afternoonNBC Falcons-Cardinals13.120,953 Saturday primeNBC Colts-Chargers16.127,792 Sunday earlyCBS Ravens-Dolphins15.023,893 Sunday lateFox Eagles-Vikings17.630,026'08 WILD CARD Saturday afternoonNBC Redskins-Seahawks14.022,994 Saturday primeNBC Jaguars-Steelers15.025,736 Sunday earlyFox Giants-Buccaneers15.122,973 Sunday lateCBS Titans-Chargers16.726,628
Panasonic of North America and NBC Sports Group yesterday announced prior to the official start of the '12 Int'l Consumer Electronics Show that they will partner to make the ’12 London Games available in 3D to all U.S. distributors who carry Olympic coverage on cable or satellite. The effort will mark the first time that the Olympics will be distributed in the U.S. in 3D. Panasonic, a longtime Official Worldwide Olympic Partner in the Audio & Visual Equipment category, last year announced it would partner with the IOC and Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) to make the London Games the first ever 3Ds (Panasonic/NBC). NBC will show more than 200 hours of the Games in 3D, a first for American television. NBC will show the Games in the enhanced format on a next-day, tape-delayed basis, retaining its primary focus for live events online and the always-critical 2D primetime windows. Distribution is also still uncertain, though Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, and DirecTV are among the likely candidates. Still, network officials said the effort represents an important milestone for the Olympics. 3D coverage, developed from the core OBS feed and distributed to broadcasters around the world, will be focused on many key Olympic sports, including track and field, gymnastics and basketball. "The Olympics are clearly a marquee event that merits all forms of distribution, including 3D," said NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
The '12 Int'l Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas opens today poised to challenge or set event records, even amid an uneven economy. The show, produced by the Consumer Electronics Association, has sold more than 1.851 million square feet of event space to exhibitors, second only to the '08 CES which featured 1.857 million square feet of exhibits. Attendee pre-registrations are sharply above last year, suggesting that the audited attendance for the '11 event of 149,529 people could be surpassed. The bullish numbers are happening even as transformative product announcements appear to be light compared to prior years, some technology industry powers such as Apple no longer participate formally in CES, and others such as Microsoft have also recently said they plan to curtail their show involvement in future years. ESPN is involved in unprecedented fashion at this year's CES, staging its first-ever booth on the show floor and holding a number of high-profile events this week. The network held an invitation-only party for several hundred industry execs last night to watch the Allstate BCS National Championship game in 3D, while "SportsNation" will be filmed tomorrow from the show floor in 3D, marking the network's first studio show to be broadcast in the enhanced format. Thursday will bring the staging of five Top Rank Boxing matches from the CES show floor, also shown in 3D. ESPN Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Sean Bratches said, "We think 3D has delivered on our mission to serve the sports fan. We are putting the marketing might of ESPN behind 3D." THE DAILY takes a look at some other announcements yesterday from the CES Press Day.
LG: ESPN was involved here, too, as the consumer electronics giant said it has partnered with the network on its new smartphone, the Spectrum, that will feature HD-quality video on a mobile device, something the companies say is unprecedented in the industry. The Spectrum, due for release later this month, will also be sold preloaded with ESPN's popular ScoreCenter application.
MONSTER: The company, best known for its high-end audio equipment, announced a partnership with the Lance Armstrong Foundation in which iSport LiveStrong branded in-ear headphones will hit the market beginning next month. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts will be the target market for the product, and a portion of the sales will be reverted to the cancer-oriented foundation.
DURACELL POWERMAT: The joint venture of the two prominent battery companies announced a marketing deal in which it will become the official wireless charging partner of MSG, the Knicks, NHL Rangers and WNBA Liberty. The deal will place wireless mobile charging stations at various points throughout the arena, and Duracell Powermat receivers will be sold at MSG merchandise stands.
Clayton discusses company's change in its
consumer marketing during CES presentation
SPORTS SIGHTINGS: As is always the case, sports celebrities and executives are widely present at CES. Haier, the NBA's official HDTV partner, will feature former players Robert Horry and John Salley. Basketball HOFer Dennis Rodman is slated to show Thursday in support of social messaging outfit Paltalk. ESPN will conduct an autograph signing with former MLBers and current broadcasters Terry Francona and Orel Hershiser. And execs speaking on various CES panels include ESPN VP/Strategic Business Planning & Development Bryan Burns, Pace/Cameron Group co-Chair Vince Pace, Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow and SI Group Creative Dir Chris Hercik.
Universal Sports Network was "removed from free over-the-air TV in the Philadelphia area and 51 other cities on Jan. 1," and the channel is now available "only behind the pay wall on cable and satellite," according to Bob Fernandez of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Part of the "boom in 24-hour sports programming, Universal Sports is partly owned by Comcast/NBCUniversal." Universal Sports' rights portfolio "comprises deals with 16 international and six U.S. sports federations." It "presents 1,200 hours a year of skiing, figure skating, track and field, and swimming." Universal Sports CEO David Sternberg said that the channel had "built an audience through its multicasting and always had planned to pursue the pay-TV model." He "estimated Universal Sports reached about 36 million homes through over-the-air multicasting." Though Universal Sports now will "reach fewer homes, the pay-TV model offers a dual revenue stream through subscriber fees and advertising." Sternberg said that Universal Sports is "not averse to being put in a sports package" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/10). Sternberg said that Universal Sports has been "working diligently to close carriage pacts with distributors throughout the multichannel universe and expects to announce a pact, perhaps as early as this week." MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds noted the net "inked its first license fee deal with satellite-TV provider DirecTV last summer." Through the multicast agreements and the DirecTV deal, Universal Sports was "in front of some 63 million homes in 52 markets last year." However, since the net was "retransmitted on digital cable in only a selected number of the markets -- and lacked such rights in many others -- it only counted 30 million actual cable subscribers, plus another 6 million over-the-air only households." Sternberg said the net was "pretty far along" with two or three others cable companies. Sternberg: "We could get to the finish by the end of the month" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 1/9).
NESN set a regular-season ratings record for Saturday’s Canucks-Bruins game with an 8.9 local rating in Boston. The net’s previous best regular-season rating was set on Nov. 23 with an 8.4 rating for a Bruins-Sabres game (NESN). Rogers Sportsnet also had its biggest audience ever for the same Canucks-Bruins game, with an average of 746,900 viewers. This was a 20% increase over the previous high of 624,900 viewers, which was set in Oct. ’09 against the Stars (Sportsnet).
RELIABLE SOURCES? Baseball writer Murray Chass wrote about MLB.com and how their coverage is a system he has “a problem with.” The website “serves a purpose, even for baseball writers, for whom it can serve as a 30-team research site in one location and a source of comprehensive statistics.” But then there are the “self-congratulatory articles that can induce nausea.” Chass: “I guess we don’t have to read them, but they are there as propaganda for fans to see and be taken in by.” Not that MLB.com “would acknowledge it, but [MLB Commissioner Bud] Selig was a common denominator in the labor strife that produced five strikes and three lockouts and preceded two decades of peace.” MLB.com “doesn’t post columns that deal with this nasty stuff,” as it has “only praise for the commissioner.” But Chass wrote, “I am not suggesting that Selig doesn’t deserve praise for his and baseball’s accomplishments in his 19 years as commissioner” (MURRAYCHASS.com, 1/8).
VIVA LA UNIVISION: MULTICHANNEL NEWS’ Mike Reynolds noted Univision has “signed its first affiliate deal for its trio of telenovela, sports and news channels, as part of [a] far-reaching distribution pact with Dish Network.” Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it calls for Dish “to launch Univision Deportes, Univision telenovelas and Univision Noticias.” The provider “will also offer exclusive access to Deportes Dos, a second sports network.” The rollouts will occur “during the first half of the year” (MULTICHANNEL.com, 1/9).
LEAVING THE PRINT WORLD: Denver Post sports columnist Dave Krieger “is leaving the newspaper to join KOA-850 AM radio full time, as co-host of the Dave Logan afternoon talk show.” Krieger joined the paper in March ‘09 following the closure of the Rocky Mountain News. His last column in the Post will be Jan. 19 (DENVERPOST.com, 1/6).
EXPECTING A BIG WEEK: Vox Media chairman Jim Bankoff last night said he is expecting company record traffic this week, thanks to a content confluence of CES-related coverage for the company's technology site, The Verge, and spikes in consumer interest for SB Nation centered around the BCS National Championship game, Baseball HOF voting and NFL Playoffs. The company hosted a CES party in Las Vegas last night, with bartenders wearing Verge and SB Nation-themed shirts reading "the unholy alliance between jocks and nerds" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).