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Tribune Broadcasting and DirecTV last night reached a deal "on retransmission fees, ending a four-day blackout that cut off programming to millions," and allows DirecTV subscribers to watch today's Opening Day Nationals-Cubs game on WGN America, according to Robert Channick of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The agreement "put 23 Tribune stations back on" DirecTV after the programming had been off the satellite provider since Saturday. The new agreement "is for five years," but financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. DirecTV Exec VP/Content Strategy & Development Derek Chang said, "We're pleased that Tribune and their creditors now recognize that all DirecTV wanted from day one was to pay fair market rates for their channels. It's unfortunate that Tribune was willing to hold our customers hostage in an attempt to extract excessive rates, but in the end we reached a fair deal at market rates." Tribune claims that it was seeking "less than a penny a day per subscriber" from DirecTV to carry its local TV stations. It was seeking "an undisclosed amount for WGN America" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/5). In Chicago, Channick writes the resolution of the Tribune-DirecTV blackout "ended in a mad scramble for subscribers trying desperately to catch the Cubs' opening-day game" against the Nationals at Wrigley Field. Carried by WGN, the game "would not have been available via the satellite provider -- even in Chicago" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/5). In Chicago, Anna Marie Kukec writes the deal "is good news for Major League Baseball officials, too." MLB Media Relations Dir John Blundell said, "It really stinks for the fans when there's a contract dispute like this" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 4/5).
ESPN averaged 4.2 million viewers for Baylor’s 80-61 win over Notre Dame in Tuesday night’s NCAA women’s basketball national championship game, marking the most-viewed women’s title game since ’04 and fifth most-viewed since the net began airing the event in ‘96. The ’04 telecast on the net drew 5.6 million viewers for UConn’s win over Tennessee. Baylor-Notre Dame was also up 11% from 3.8 million viewers for Texas A&M-Notre Dame last year. For ESPN’s three women’s Final Four telecasts, the net averaged 3.6 million viewers, marking the most-viewed Final Four since ’04. The Final Four was also up 13% from 3.2 million viewers last year. Overall, the NCAA women’s basketball tournament was the second most-viewed ever for ESPN/ESPN2, averaging 1.8 million viewers, which was just behind last year’s record-setting numbers. The ’11 tournament across the two networks averaged 1.9 million viewers (ESPN).NCAA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP VIEWERSHIP TREND SINCE ESPN ACQUIRED RIGHTSYEARNIGHT
MATCHUPVIEWERS (000)'12Tues. Baylor-Notre Dame4,24411Tues. Texas A&M-Notre Dame3,831'10Tues. UConn-Stanford3,531'09Tues. UConn-Louisville2,668'08Tues. Tennesee-Stanford3,858'07Tues. Tennesee-Rutgers2,918'06Tues. Maryland-Duke3,587'05Tues. Baylor-Michigan State3,235'04Tues. UConn-Tennessee5,583'03Tues. UConn-Tennessee4,369'02Sun. UConn-Oklahoma5,681'01Sun. Notre Dame-Purdue3,730'00Sun. UConn-Tennessee3,676'99Sun. Purdue-Duke5,137'98Sun. Tennessee-Louisiana Tech3,943'97Sun. Tennessee-Old Dominion4,586'96Sun. Tennessee-Georgia3,515
CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said data showing an older-skewing age demographic for The Masters "didn’t come as a big surprise," according to Bob Wolfley of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. McManus continued, "I wouldn’t say I’m concerned about that. It kind of is what it is. But when you look at the amount of people who tune in to Augusta, and the amount of people who talk about it, I wouldn’t call it a major concern. It obviously has not been a concern for the advertisers or the partners either." McManus noted The Masters remains the highest-rated golf tournament of the year. He added, "I’m hoping, when you look at some of the younger players out there ... (they) are really starting to resonate, whether it’s Rory McIlroy or Dustin Johnson or Rickie Fowler. With some of the excitement some of those golfers are generating, it wouldn’t surprise me if that had some effect on the younger audience. I think they are appealing golfers. They are young. There is a kind of hipness to them we haven’t seen in awhile" (JSONLINE.com, 4/2).
BORING TV: GOLFWEEK's Martin Kaufmann writes when Ahmad Rashad greeted Tiger Woods for the first interview of his new show, "The First Word," by asking, "What's up, brother man?" that question "arguably was the toughest that Rashad put to Woods." The segment "illustrated what happens when you combine a bad interviewer with a subject who is programmed not to say anything interesting." Kaufmann: "You get bad TV. If you missed it -- it ran opposite of the NCAA Final Four Saturday -- I wouldn't recommend seeking out a rerun" (GOLFWEEK, 4/6 issue).