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NBC Sports Network earned a 1.1 overnight Nielsen rating for yesterday's NHL All-Star Game from 4:00-7:00pm ET, flat compared to game last year. While viewership numbers are not yet available for this year's game, the '11 game ranks as the most-viewed All-Star game ever on cable TV (THE DAILY). In Tampa Bay, Tom Jones notes when Rangers coach John Tortorella was interviewed during yesterday's All-Star Game, he "joked about fining a player $1,000." NBC analyst Pierre McGuire "told Tortorella that the NHL Players Association might not like that." The coach deadpanned, "They don't like anything.'' Jones writes it was the "best moment of, sadly, a boring game." Jones adds what made the broadcast "somewhat annoying is listening to the analysts rave about such moves as if this were a game with real checking and defense" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/30).
GOING STRONG: In Ottawa, Tim Baines asked the CBC's Don Cherry, who is 77 years old, "how long can you keep this going?" Cherry responded, "I'm going to keep it going as long as I'm having fun. I'm as excited now as I was for the very first Coach's Corner." Baines asked Cherry if there is a point when the CBC "offers you a lifetime contract." Cherry: "No. In fact, a few years ago, the boss of CBC called me reprehensible and despicable. So they tolerate me now. That's all I can say." Baines asked Cherry if the net gives him "feedback on comments you make?" Cherry: "They said to me this thing with (Stu) Grimson and the two other guys, you've got a right to say it, but we don't agree with you. I've got to admit CBC has been pretty good to me. I said to them: 'When I go and you're going to fire me, it won't be because I misinterpreted something. I mean what I say'" (OTTAWA SUN, 1/29).
AIRING BEEF: The OTTAWA SUN's Baines noted Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke is "steamed with Cherry for frequent criticism of Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson." Sources said that Burke is so mad that he is "considering airing his beefs with CBC." Cherry said, "I like Brian Burke. I have nothing against Brian Burke. But Brian Burke doesn't like me." Cherry added, "Brian Burke doesn't like what I say about the Leafs. But what am I supposed to say about them? They haven't made the playoffs in (seven) years" (OTTAWA SUN, 1/29). In Toronto, Steve Simmons noted the list of Burke’s battles "is ever growing and frankly, it says much more about Burke than it does about the people [he] is squabbling with." Simmons: "I can count seven national media people of prominence, including Cherry, who have been frozen out, cut off, or had their bosses contacted by Burke over what was said about the Toronto Maple Leafs" (TORONTO SUN, 1/29).
Fox earned a 2.7 overnight Nielsen rating for its second UFC telecast on Saturday night, a two-hour tripleheader featuring Rashad Evans' defeat of Phil Davis. That rating is down 23% from a 3.5 overnight for Fox' first UFC telecast on Nov. 12, a one-hour telecast featuring Junior Dos Santos' defeat of Cain Velasquez for the heavyweight title. Fox should win the night among adults 18-49. Saturday night's telecast grew throughout the night, with the first match featuring Chris Weidman-Demian Maia earning a 2.3 overnight, followed by the Chael Sonnen-Michael Bisping bout earning a 2.9 overnight and the Evans-Davis finale earning a 3.4 overnight. Las Vegas and Louisville topped all U.S. markets with a 4.1 local rating, followed by Indianapolis, Greenville-Spartanburg, Tulsa and Knoxville with a 3.9 overnight (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). In Tampa Bay, Tom Jones writes Fox has had “some rotten luck,” as Saturday featured three fights that “all went the distance, making for a boring night.” That comes after the first in November “featured one fight that lasted less than one round.” Fox needs to “use these prime-time events to give us more of the up-close-and-personal stories that we used to see on old Olympic coverage” of boxing (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/30).
MUCH OBLIGED: ESPN.com’s Josh Gross reported days after “dismissing a cyber attack launched against UFC.com, UFC president Dana White said he welcomed another assault on the online hub of his promotion.” White on Thursday said, "Keep hacking our site. Do it again. Do it tonight. These guys look like terrorists now, and a bill that was about to die is about to come back." Just after 3:00am Friday morning, Anonymous -- the “collective responsible for online attacks against corporations and U.S. government websites -- hacked into the back-end of UFC's web page.” The “incursion, Anonymous promised, was Round 1 to #OpUFC, a topic that ... trended globally overnight on Twitter.” The online attack on UFC.com was “apparently prompted by UFC parent company Zuffa's support for two pieces of federal Internet anti-piracy legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA)” (ESPN.com, 1/27).
FanTab Corp., a Boston-based startup that measures fan confidence on various teams, athletes and college programs in real time, has signed a partnership with Sporting News to supply its fan sentiment ratings to the media outlet's various online, tablet and mobile properties. FanTab ratings work like an index of fan opinion on each team, moving up or down based on a variety of factors, including on-field performance, upcoming schedules, roster moves and business strategy. In addition to charting fan opinions, the site is aimed to expand the realm of sentiment-based targeted marketing within sports. Sporting News is owned by American City Business Journals, parent company of THE DAILY and SportsBusiness Journal. In addition, Celtics President Rich Gotham has joined FanTab's BOD. Gotham has a background in digital properties, having run sales and business development for several entities, including Lycos Inc., before joining the Celtics in '03.
The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Sam Schechner writes NBC “long has languished in fourth place among U.S. television networks in prime-time ratings,” but a crush of more than 100 million viewers on Sunday for the Super Bowl XLVI broadcast “could push NBC to No. 3," ahead of ABC in the season ratings race. The “biggest upside -- and biggest challenge -- for NBC is whether it can effectively use the game to promote itself.” NBC during the game “will air many promotions for its shows, most notably for ‘The Voice’ and its musical series ‘Smash.’" Sources said that the network also is “shooting a top-secret promo that involves nearly all the network's stars and has musical elements” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/30).
MANNING THE MAN FOR TV NETS: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote if Colts QB Peyton Manning decides to retire and enter TV, he is "not going to start as some fourth-string studio analyst on ESPN or working regional game telecasts for CBS or Fox,” but instead would “start high on the ladder.” We have “no idea if Manning even wants a post-playing career in television,” but if he “wants to yak, there will be plenty of competition for his services.” The network “fortunate enough to hire Manning would not ‘just’ be getting an X’s-and-O’s guy or an iconic star who transcends the game." It would be getting “a man with a personality, too,” and guys like Manning “don’t come along that often” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/29).
GETTING A THUMBS UP: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes Knicks radio and TV announcer Spero Dedes for a second straight Friday worked MSG’s Knicks telecast with Walt Frazier and Bernard King, filling in for Mike Breen. Dedes “made it work, and work well.” There was “no stepping on one another, plenty of good basketball chit-chat, a few laughs and Dedes kept a close eye on the game.” Dedes, for a “second straight week, conducted an intelligent basketball telecast for intelligent basketball fans” (N.Y. POST, 1/30).
WITH THE FIRST PICK....: Stats LLC has signed a deal with First Round Exchange, a Tennessee-based developer of interactive games, to create a new NFL fantasy draft game entitled "Play The Draft." Users pick prospective draft picks in advance of the chart, with scoring then determined by their actual selection order in April's NFL draft. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. is serving an adviser to First Round Exchange in "Play The Draft," and will participate in the game (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).