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ABC earned a 5.2 overnight Nielsen rating for Game One of the Pacers-Heat NBA Eastern Conference Semifinal series yesterday, marking the top-rated sports telecast of the weekend, but down from the comparable Heat-Celtics opener last year, which drew a 7.0 overnight. Earlier in the day, ABC drew a 3.8 overnight for Clippers-Grizzlies Western Conference First Round Game Seven. There was no comparison to last year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
NICE COVERAGE: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes he was “struck by the excellent camera work of both” TNT and Altitude Sports & Entertainment during their coverage of the Lakers-Nuggets playoff series. The play-by-play talent and analysts “were basically on the same game page.” Both nets “provided up-close replays of key plays along with scenes of the big guys battling under the basket.” TNT occasionally “used a wide-ranging floor angle camera, which provided viewers with an electronic ‘you are there’ first-row view of the action.” In previous playoff years, TNT and ESPN “too often treated Denver as a poor NBA cousin arriving late to a family party dominated by famous, well-heeled members.” Saunders also writes, “Credit ‘homers’ Scott Hastings and Chris Marlowe of Altitude for not going overboard in their obvious desire to see the Nuggets win” (DENVER POST, 5/14).
NBC earned a 3.4 overnight Nielsen rating for the final round of The Players yesterday, which saw Matt Kuchar win the PGA Tour event by two strokes. That figure is flat compared to last year, when K.J. Choi defeated David Toms in a playoff, and up from a 3.3 overnight in ’10, when Tim Clark won. NBC also earned a 2.5 overnight for coverage of the third round on Saturday, which was up 56% from a 1.6 rating last year. Meanwhile, Golf Channel averaged 1.8 million viewers for coverage of the second round on Friday, which included the majority of Tiger Woods' round. That marks the net’s best early-round audience ever for the event and is up 86% from last year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes NBC's coverage of the tournament yesterday "was what TV golf might have to grapple with for awhile: Selling the sport without getting much help from star power." Neither Tiger Woods nor Phil Mickelson were in contention, but the net "at least had Rickie Fowler ... around to hype." Fowler went on to finish in a four-way tie for second. Meanwhile, NBC "had some sideshow" in Kevin Na's consistent hitches in his swing (USA TODAY, 5/14). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes NBC “again gets the nod for best sporting event coverage of the weekend” for The Players. Jones: "NBC can just hand Johnny Miller a microphone, let him talk and you have the best golf coverage on TV, as far as I'm concerned” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/14).
ISLAND LIFE FOR ME: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's John Paul Newport wrote NBC and Golf Channel “added a few tricks to their coverage” with the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in mind. The networks used “Actioncam,” a sliding camera “suspended from a cable above the lake to monitor the players' ashen-faced plank-walks from the 16th green over to the 17th tee.” Also, a new "remote-control mini-helicopter is providing flyover coverage” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/13).
Fox and ESPN yesterday combined to air all 10 EPL matches as part of Survival Sunday, and fans can "expect an encore next year," as the coverage shows the "power of presenting something in a package," according to Ed Sherman of SHERMANREPORT.com. All the "promotion and the idea that this day was unique in the Premier League" likely piqued a lot of interest among casual soccer fans. Fox aired nine of the 10 matches on various outlets, with ESPN2 airing Manchester City-Queens Park Rangers. However, Fox "should have told viewers that Man City game was on ESPN2" during the coverage of its games, as Man City entered the day on the verge of winning its first EPL title. Even following the conclusion of the Sunderland-Manchester United game on FX, the net "still didn't direct viewers to ESPN2 so they could catch the final minutes of the ... unbelievable comeback" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 5/14). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes the "best part of Sunday's coverage on ESPN2 might have been cutting to the Man U game to show the real-time despair of its fans." Jones: "Brilliant stuff" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/14). The GUARDIAN's Martin Kelner wrote of EPL Survival Sunday coverage in the U.K., Sky "may have slightly undersold the massive event." Sky "kept me pinned to my seat, remote by my side, untouched." The Sky telecast yesterday included shots of Man City coach Roberto Mancini "looking a beaten man," and the "obligatory close-up of supporters in tears" as the club trailed QPR in the second half. City scored twice in stoppage time to defeat QPR and secured its first championship since '68. The "incredible ending ... topped everything before." Kelner: "Who better to reflect City joy than co-commentator [and former City F] Niall Quinn, seemingly on a free transfer from the Fanzone?" (GUARDIAN.com, 5/13).
GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE...: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Lilly Vitorovich reports the auction of EPL broadcast rights in the U.K. "is likely to be a two-horse race" between BSkyB and ESPN. BSkyB "secured the lion's share of rights in the last auction and has dominated coverage over the past two decades," while ESPN "could be looking to extend its share." Interested parties "have until Wednesday to apply for a copy of the invitation to tender," and the auction process "is expected to be wrapped up in June." Numis Securities media analyst Paul Richards "expects BSkyB to retain the majority of the packages, but he estimates competition this time round could push up the price" by 10-15%. Meanwhile, UBS analysts Polo Tang and Tamsin Garrity "have forecast a 15% increase," and Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Claudio Aspesi "predicts a 20% rise" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/14).
ESPN's Michelle Beadle early this week is expected to “make it official -- she’s going to NBC and joining the entertainment TV show 'Access Hollywood,'” according to Jason McIntyre of THE BIG LEAD. Beadle on Thursday said the initial report on Sports by Brooks about her move to NBC was "not accurate.” However, sources said that it is "virtually a done deal.” CAA's Andy Elkin, Beadle's agent, would not comment when reached Thursday. Sources estimate that Beadle “was making $250k-300 a year at ESPN.” With "Access Hollywood," she “is expected to have a salary in the $750k range.” Other responsibilities, including features for "Today," Olympic assignments and appearances on NBC Sports Network are “still being ironed out.” ESPN sources believe that the net “may have bricked in underestimating her value.” One source said, “It’s very difficult to find chemistry on TV, and other than Mike & Mike and Tony & Mike (on 'PTI'), who has better chemistry than Colin [Cowherd] and Michelle?” McIntyre noted once Beadle leaves the net, Cowherd will continue to co-host "SportsNation" "for the rest of the year while ESPN looks for a new tandem to take over in 2013.” Meanwhile, it “seems unlikely" anchor Scott Van Pelt will leave ESPN. McIntyre wrote, "Expect ESPN to announce he's staying early [this] week" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 5/11). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes ESPN is "so big that it can lose anybody and move along just fine, but losing Beadle would sting a little." She is "smart, funny, quick and has great chemistry with co-host Colin Cowherd” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/14).
BONNER LEAVING ESPN: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand notes ESPN yesterday announced “an on-air staffer exiting: Michelle Bonner, an ESPNews anchor and occasional 'SportsCenter' anchor since 2005.” ESPN VP/PR Josh Krulewitz said Bonner “is moving on and we wish her the best in her new endeavors” (USA TODAY, 5/14).
HBO Sports reported that 1.5 million PPV buys were generated by the May 5 Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto fight at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas. That number of buys resulted in a total of $94M in PPV revenue. Mayweather-Cotto becomes the second-highest grossing non-heavyweight PPV event in boxing history, trailing only the $137M generated by the Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya fight in '07 (HBO Sports). Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer said that the 1.5 million figure “will grow once all of the numbers are accounted for.” Schaefer: "The 1.5 million number is actual reported numbers. The final number will definitely be bigger than what it is now." HBO reported in “nine HBO PPV main events, Mayweather has generated 9.6 million buys and $543 million in television revenue.” ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael noted Mayweather's knockout of Victor Ortiz in September “sold 1.25 million subscriptions and generated $78.4 million.” The higher revenue for the Ortiz fight is “because the cost of the pay-per-view was higher.” Schaefer: "Floyd Mayweather's numbers are getting bigger and bigger and this number shows you the kind of draw he is." He added, "He has broken out of the boxing following and now has a mainstream following that is unmatched in the sport. The numbers keep getting bigger and bigger" (ESPN.com, 5/11).
THE BEST THAT NEVER WAS? In N.Y., William Rhoden writes Mayweather for now is “just a guy who boxes well, who owns 29 cars and has made truckloads of money.” Boxing “needs a great moment, and Floyd Mayweather and to a lesser extent Manny Pacquiao are robbing the sport of the moment it desperately needs” by not staging a fight against each other. Rhoden writes Pacquiao “needs the fight with Mayweather, but Mayweather needs it more” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/14).
Univ. of Texas AD DeLoss Dodds Friday said that he and the school “expect to have at least two and possibly three football games broadcast on the Longhorn Network this fall.” A third game “would be an increase from last year, when his office received widespread complaints about fans’ inability to watch two games on LHN.” Dodds said that he is “prepared for mass outrage" if LHN isn’t picked up by most major cable providers in time for the football season. In Houston, Nick Mathews wrote UT “isn’t involved in ESPN’s negotiations with cable and satellite companies, but Dodds said the school understands LHN is less likely to be carried if it doesn’t offer programming viewers covet” (CHRON.com, 5/11).
OFF TRACK: In Toronto, Raju Mudhar wrote when the CBC's Ron MacLean “sticks to the game, he is one of the best hosts and set-up men out there,” which is part of what made his comparison of players in the Rangers-Capitals series to the 9/11 first responders last week "so strange.” MacLean is “supposed to be the source of sober second thought compared to his Coach’s Corner partner in crime -- Don Cherry is the one who constantly sticks his foot in his mouth and is known for jingoistic outbursts.” After being “slightly singed by the uproar here’s hoping MacLean will stick to the business at hand, and like the good announcer he usually is, let the magnitude of the game speak for itself” (TORONTO STAR, 5/13).
YES, DEAR: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes the return of Yankees P Andy Pettitte yesterday “was treated by YES, in its pregame by Bob Lorenz then at the top of the telecast by Michael Kay, as no less significant or dramatic than Gen. MacArthur’s return to the Philippines” (N.Y. POST, 5/14). Also in N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote YES’ David Cone turned in “a masterful performance during the Kansas City series" last week working with Ken Singleton. Cone must “ignore all other baseball analysts because his insights are unique.” And “unlike other YES yakkers he doesn’t repeat the same stories over and over and over again” nor does he “laugh at his own lame jokes” (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 5/12).
NO ROUND TWO: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Chris Herring cited a source as saying that the NFL Jets “turned down the opportunity to be on the upcoming season” of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” The Jets were featured on the show in ’10 and “were interested in having the spotlight again -- especially following the New York Giants’ attention-grabbing Super Bowl win” (WSJ.com, 5/11). The N.Y. Daily News' John Harper said, "Maybe it tells you that Rex Ryan understands he has some issues with this team that he has to work out and the cameras being there wouldn't help the situation. ... It is a good sign that they’re not going to have the ‘Hard Knocks’ show” ("The WheelHouse," SportsNet N.Y., 5/11).
JOINING THE CLUB: NFL Media hired former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah to contribute to NFL.com, NFL Network and NFL Mobile. Jeremiah, who spent eight seasons with the Eagles, Ravens and Browns, will analyze players and trends, and he will be used heavily for the NFL Draft. His first NFL.com column was published this morning and declares that the NFC South has the best QBs (John Ourand, THE DAILY).