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ABC earned an 11.8 overnight Nielsen rating for Game One of the Heat-Thunder NBA Finals last night, marking the net's best overnight since it acquired NBA rights prior to the '02-03 season. The rating is also the best for an opener since NBC earned a 12.9 overnight for Lakers-Nets Game One in '02. Heat-Thunder is up 10% from a 10.7 overnight for the Mavericks-Heat opener last year. The rating peaked at a 14.1 during the 11:30-11:45pm ET. The game earned a 44.3 local rating in Oklahoma City, setting a record for an NBA telecast in the market. It drew a 30.5 rating in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). MULTICHANNEL NEWS’ Mike Reynolds wrote the “number of casual sports fans and viewers that come to the screen and check out Team Next, root against Team Loathe from South Beach and witness an on-court confrontation that is both highly competitive and sufficiently lengthy (e.g. at least six games) will ultimately determine ABC’s audience” for the NBA Finals (MULTICHANNEL.com, 6/12). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said the NBA “is better served by a great series, a long, dramatic series with the best these two teams can offer which is considerable" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/12).
SOLID START: In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht writes ABC “didn’t miss a shot and was particularly effective with the cameras behind the basket getting amazing shots” of Thunder F Kevin Durant and Heat F LeBron James. ESPN’s Mike Breen “turned in his normal solid play-by-play, and Jeff Van Gundy had his usual oddball comments that make him one of the most unpredictable analysts in the NBA.” In his TV debut, former NBA ref Steve Javie "stuck by game officials." He defended a blocking call on Thunder F Nick Collison "that replays showed what appeared to be a charge" by Heat G Dwyane Wade (OKLAHOMAN, 6/13).
HOT HOT HEAT: ESPN averaged a 3.9 U.S. rating and 6.2 million viewers for its 21 telecasts of the NBA Playoffs, marking the net’s highest-rated and most-viewed NBA Playoffs in 10 years of coverage. The figures were also up 26% and 24%, respectively, from a 3.1 rating and 5.0 million viewers last year. The Heat-Celtics Eastern Conference Finals earned a 6.2 U.S. rating and 10.1 million viewers, which is tied with last year’s Heat-Bulls series on TNT as the highest-rated NBA Playoffs series ever on cable TV. Heat-Bulls averaged 10.4 million viewers and remains cable TV’s most-viewed NBA series ever. This year’s Heat-Celtics series is also up 44% and 46%, respectively, from ESPN’s Mavericks-Thunder Western Conference Finals last year. Game Seven of the Heat-Celtics series on Saturday night averaged a 7.7 U.S. rating and 13.3 million viewers, marking the highest-rated and most-viewed NBA game ever on cable TV. The Heat-Celtics series delivered the three highest-rated games ever on cable TV (Karp).
NBC and NBC Sports Network combined to average a 1.8 U.S. rating and 3.0 million viewers for the six games of the Kings-Devils NHL Stanley Cup Final, marking the lowest audience for a Cup Final since Ducks-Senators in ’07 averaged a 1.2 rating and 1.8 million viewers over five games. Kings-Devils is also down 33% from a 2.7 rating (4.6 million viewers) for the seven-game Bruins-Canucks series. The series-clinching Game Six on Monday night drew a 3.1 rating (4.9 million viewers), down slightly from a 3.2 rating (5.5 million viewers) for the comparable Bruins-Canucks Game Six last year. Game Six drew a 13.6 local rating in L.A., which is the best rating for any NHL game in the market on record (dating back to ’76). That figure surpassed a 10.0 rating for the Ducks-Devils Stanley Cup Final Game Seven in ’03. The game also earned a 5.0 local rating in N.Y. (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
THE GOOD & THE BAD: MARKETWATCH’s Russ Britt noted the “bad news” for NBC’s Game Six telecast was that it was “fourth worst when compared with the 12 other prime-time shows that were broadcast on Monday among all age groups.” The “good news is that the telecast managed the fourth-best average viewership of 2.5 million among the highly desirable" adults 18-49 demos (MARKETWATCH.com, 6/12).NHL STANLEY CUP FINAL AUDIENCE TREND
(NBC/NBC SPORTS NETWORK)YEARMATCHUPGAMESRATINGVIEWERS (000)'12Kings-Devils61.83,000'11Bruins-Canucks72.74,590'10Blackhawks-Flyers62.95,170'09Penguins-Red Wings72.74,906'08Red Wings-Penguins62.64,555'07Ducks-Senators51.21,800
COMPLETE LOOK: For the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs across NBC, NBC Sports Network and CNBC, the NHL averaged a 0.8 U.S. rating and 1.2 million viewers for 81 telecasts. Last year, 76 telecasts across NBC and NBCSN averaged a 0.8 rating and 1.4 million viewers. However, excluding games placed on CNBC this year, NBC and NBC Sports Network averaged a 0.9 rating and 1.4 million viewers, up 7% and 3%, respectively, from last season. NBC Sports Network alone averaged 1.0 million viewers, marking the best audience for a single cable net since ESPN averaged 1.3 million viewers during the '02 playoffs. NBC's 16 telecasts this postseason saw a 16% drop in ratings and a 21% drop in viewership compared to the '11 playoffs (Karp).
ESPN Radio N.Y. has “made some impressive ratings gains since migrating to its new FM home (98.7) in late April -- and is giving perennial all-sports champ WFAN a run for its money,” according to Michael Starr of the N.Y. POST. ESPN Radio N.Y., which “will continue to be simulcast on 1050 AM through early September, saw its combined (AM and FM) audience nearly double -- from 725,000 listeners in May 2011 to 1.3 million listeners last month.” WFAN-AM averaged 1.5 million listeners last month, down 80,000 listeners from May '11. Meanwhile, ESPN Radio N.Y. “averaged a 3.6 daytime rating last month in its target demo of men 25 to 54," up from a 2.3 rating in May '11. WFAN-AM averaged “a 5.1 daytime rating last month in men 25 to 54," up from a 4.7 in May '11. ESPN Radio N.Y. was "led by 'Maxed Out in the Morning with Jared Max,' which averaged a 5.1 last month, good for seventh among all daytime shows” (N.Y. POST, 6/12).
The CBC is "considering a series of concerts" across Canada during the '12-13 NHL regular season to celebrate the 60th anniversary of "HNIC," according the CP. The concerts would be held on Saturdays "to co-ordinate with its hockey broadcast schedule" and see shows in seven Canadian NHL markets, as well as an unspecified "Eastern location." The shows would run from November-April. A CBC spokesperson said that should the plan go through, it "won't cost the broadcaster anything because the shows would be sponsored." The anniversary comes as "punishing budget cuts have some wondering whether the CBC can afford to hold onto its lucrative hockey franchise." The net's rights expire after the '13-14 season, and Rogers Media has indicated that it "would consider chasing the rights" (CP, 6/12).
It has been 20 years since the Gold Medal-winning ’92 U.S. men’s basketball team traveled to Barcelona, putting on one of the most iconic performances in Olympics history. With interest still high for the only team that included Michael, Magic and Larry, NBA Entertainment has produced “The Dream Team” presented by Right Guard, a 90-minute documentary set to debut tonight on NBA TV at 9:00pm ET. The documentary features exclusive interviews with all 12 players, as well as never-before-seen footage of the selection of the team and the team-building experiences in training camp and exhibition games. NBA Entertainment Exec VP and Exec Producer/Production, Programming & Broadcasting Danny Meiseles said, “Everybody was just so open and so excited to talk about their experiences from that time. It shows in the documentary. You see how proud they were, how excited they were to form friendships that you never would think would happen.” The production crew asked each player for a half-hour of time to reflect on their experiences, but most interviews ran over two hours. There were no preconditions for the interviews. Meiseles said, “Every question that we wanted to ask was asked, and every story that we researched and wanted to talk about was talked about.”
A GREATER GOOD: More than just showing how the relationships of the players go from competitor to teammate to friend, the documentary demonstrates how the Dream Team became ambassadors for the game of basketball to the world. Meiseles said, “The one angle here that we didn’t realize when we started was the affect that this team had on the game of basketball. That it really brought the NBA game to a global level.” The film indicates that current players, such as Mavericks F Dirk Nowitzki and Spurs G Tony Parker, got their first taste of basketball through the Dream Team. Meiseles said, “Putting that historical layer on it makes this a very interesting story, deeper than just the greatest players of our game at the time coming together to play the game.”
Q: Tell me a little bit about what went into the making of this documentary. When did work really begin to take shape on it?
Meiseles: It’s definitely been a passion project for us at NBA Entertainment and NBA TV. Twenty years ago, we had film cameras covering the Dream Team, getting access that you don’t get on an everyday basis, with potentially the greatest players to ever play the game. It’s just been something that we’ve known that we wanted to put together and we felt now was the right time. We’ve got the right format to show it and the audience seems to be excited about it. We felt about a year ago that this was the right time, and when we started looking through the footage we knew we were sitting on very robust, incredible content that we knew we were going to have a great film.
Q: What are you hoping fans get out of this film? When people are done watching it, what do you want them to walk away thinking about or remembering?
Meiseles: I do love the personal stories that you hear and I love that we tell those stories, but my takeaway is that this Dream Team will have an effect on the game of basketball that will last hundreds of years. When we sit here another 20 years from now, the game of basketball internationally will have grown another “X” percent, and it all started with the Dream Team.
Q: There has been a lot of talk about the footage from the scrimmage Team USA played against the college all-stars. What’s your favorite thing about that scene?
Meiseles: I do like that part because it shows the genius of [coach] Chuck Daly and what he was doing there. How do you motivate and how do you focus a group of players that are champions and are MVPs and probably think they can walk into any gym and win any game? To actually swing a game to make it that it ends up motivating the team to band together, to realize there is a possibility you can lose -- and if you do lose what will that mean for this so-called Dream Team. Chuck Daly’s strategy and motivation to bring together this collective group of men in such a way that was, in no other word, brilliant. I think that was just incredibly interesting in the film.
Q: What else does this film provide to fans?
Meiseles: Truthfully, I think this is just a great example of the work that we’re able to put on NBA TV. This is the first of many NBA TV originals that we’re going to produce and I think because of our rich library at the NBA and the access that we have, we’re able to produce content that is really interesting for our fans to see and to get a peek behind the curtain that you can’t see anywhere else.
Q: How hard was it to cut the film down to just 90 minutes?
Meiseles: This could have been a seven-part series. Luckily, with the outlet that we have on NBA.com, everything that didn’t make the movie that we felt was something deserving of making the movie -- those “director’s cuts” or “outtakes” -- those are going to be on NBA.com after the documentary airs.
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge has signed a new broadcast agreement with the NBC Sports Group that will see NBC and NBC Sports Network televise the race through '14. The race, which debuted in '11 and runs Aug. 20-26 through Colorado, will receive 29 total hours of coverage, including four hours of live coverage on NBC. “The partnership demonstrates how much we believe in the sport,” said NBC Sports President of Programming Jon Miller. Coverage of the race begins on Aug. 19 with a one-hour preview show on NBC Sports Network. The cable channel, which also broadcasts the Tour de France, will air a 30-minute preview show before each stage. The final two stages, held Aug. 25 and Aug. 26 in Boulder and Denver, respectively, will each receive two hours of live coverage on NBC, starting at 2:00pm ET. The four hours of network coverage is the most of any bicycle race. Universal Sports will re-air the final two stages on Aug. 27-29. The coverage is a boost from '11 when Versus broadcast 25 hours of the race. “We took what was a good first year and made it bigger,” said Pro Cycling Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter (Fred Dreier, Correspondent). Hunter said, “The guys are big supporters of the sport and supporters of the event. Very early on in our process, they believed in our vision and supported our vision" (DENVER POST, 6/13).
In Buffalo, John Vogl reported the Sabres made "numerous changes to their television and radio broadcasts.” Rick Jeanneret has signed “a multiyear contract and will do play-by-play for more games than he did last season, when he took several breaks.” Rob Ray “will replace Harry Neale as the lead color analyst.” Neale will join Mike Robitaille “as a regular analyst on the pregame show and intermission reports, while Robitaille will continue to do the postgame show.” Most of Kevin Sylvester's duties “will be on the radio.” Brian Duff “has signed a full-time deal to serve as the host for all the television broadcasts on MSG” (BUFFALO NEWS, 6/12).
KICKED TO THE CORNER: The U.S. men's national soccer team tied Guatemala 1-1 last night, and in Houston, Jose de Jesus Ortiz wrote the television situation for the game made it “sad day in America and a definite step back for soccer in the U.S." The game was only available on PPV in the U.S. -- CONCACAF rules stipulate the host country owns the television rights to games played on its home soil, and Guatemala was unable to come to terms a U.S. outlet. By contrast, Mexico’s World Cup qualifier yesterday aired for free on Televisa. Ortiz: “If soccer is going to make greater strides in the U.S., we need to have the World Cup qualifiers over the air. Free.” MLS and the U.S. Soccer Federation “should buy the rights and use the games as giant infomercials for MLS.” It would be “a great investment in soccer in America” (CHRON.com, 6/12).
NOT THEIR JOB: In N.Y., Tim Rohan asked NCAA President Mark Emmert if he worries conferences “may someday have too much power, leading to a splintering of the NCAA.” Emmert said, “I don’t want athletic conferences to simply be aggregators of media rights. They have a greater responsibility than just that.” He added, “We need them to not just see themselves as people who aggregate media rights. That’s not their job” (NYTIMES.com, 6/12).
MAKING THE GRADE: SI.com’s Courtney Nguyen gave ESPN and Tennis Channel a “B-plus” for their coverage of the French Open and wrote the networks “on the whole … did a great job covering the event.” Nguyen: “I enjoyed the additions of Mary Carillo and Rennae Stubbs, and Lindsay Davenport continues to improve as an analyst.” Tennis Channel’s “French Open Tonight” wrap-up show “finally hit its stride with this tournament, with a good balance of match replays, player interviews, and fun features.” Nguyen gave NBC's coverage a “D,” and wrote, "There was nothing more frustrating than enjoying wall to wall coverage from ESPN and Tennis Channel throughout the first week, only for the weekend to come … and find NBC black out coverage for all the other stations and choose to air a Novak Djokovic blowout, as opposed to a more interesting match” (SI.com, 6/12).