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ABC's coverage of the Thunder-Heat NBA Finals Game Five pulled a 12.6 overnight rating, even with last year's Mavericks-Heat NBA Finals Game Five. ABC earned a 40.3 overnight rating in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market, and a 39.8 in Oklahoma City. The five-game series averaged an 11.8 overnight rating, up 5% from last year's rating through five games. The Heat-Thunder matchup is the NBA Finals' highest five-game overnight rating average since '04. ABC's "Kia NBA Countdown" pulled a 4.6 overnight, up 12% over last year's Game Five pregame show. For the Heat-Thunder series, the pregame show averaged a 3.9 overnight rating, up 8% over last year's 3.6 overnight rating average through five games (THE DAILY).
MISSING OUT? ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser on Thursday said if the series were to end in five games, NBA Commissioner David Stern “can’t be at peace because he would miss Game Six and Game Seven which would be the highest-rated games of the series, they always are.” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “Why would you be pleased with five (games), when you can have seven? Two more games of the advertising dollars brought in by games, that would be your highest-rated games” (“PTI,” ESPN, 6/21).
BEST OF THE BEST: In Oklahoma, Mel Bracht writes, "Among the best shots of the telecast was series MVP LeBron James jumping up and down in the closing minutes and poignant shots of Kevin Durant hugging his mother and brother and Thunder owner Clay Bennett hugging his players." ABC's Jeff Van Gundy "wrapped up the series with his usual strong performance, showing why he is the league's most entertaining game analyst" (OKLAHOMAN, 6/22).
GIVE ME A BOOST? In N.Y., Bill Carter noted ABC's "all-out commitment to pushing Jimmy Kimmel's late-night show during its coverage of the NBA Finals paid off last week with the best ratings for the show in five years, and a first: Mr. Kimmel topped both Jay Leno and David Letterman in the most important late-night ratings category," viewers ages 18 to 49. For the week, "Jimmy Kimmel Live" averaged 934,000 viewers in that group, "his best total" since October '07 (NYTIMES.com, 6/21).
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Fox Sports Media Group Chair David Hill said the 18-34 demographic had "disappeared a bit with the NBA, (but) they’ve come roaring back with the NBA.” Young adults “weren’t there for the NBA like five, six years ago.” Hill said the NBA’s “digital initiatives” are a big reason why the league “has drawn that audience sector back” (MULTICHANNEL.com, 6/20).
FAR AND WIDE: In N.Y., Harvey Araton notes the global reach of the NBA and writes there has been a “noticeable contraction in the way the league finals are covered by old print media at home, but also no disputing that the NBA universe continues to expand.” The "evolution of the sport is reflected in the foreign stars who play at the world’s highest level and by who watches, and why” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/22). Also in N.Y., Rob Mahoney wrote, "What began in a Christmas Day fervor has ended with a gift; an exhausting regular-season schedule was upstaged by riveting playoff theater, and has culminated in an unforgettable display of artistry and grandeur in the NBA finals." With the "brutal scheduling quirks of regular season filtered away, the NBA found itself again." Things "may not have been pitch-perfect from the start, but every bit of momentum and magnitude has been regrown in the triumphs of James and Durant, among others" (NYTIMES.com, 6/21).
The first 24 matches of UEFA Euro 2012 on ESPN have averaged 784,000 HH and just over one million viewers, up 79% and 82%, respectively, versus the group stage matches in ’08. Those matches garnered 439,000 HH and 552,000 viewers. ESPN Deportes averaged 161,000 HHs and 228,000viewers, up 123% and 138%, respectively, compared to '08. The group stages in '08 had 73,000 HHs and 96,000 viewers for ESPN Deportes. Below is a chart listing the ratings for the Euro 2012 group stage on ESPN for the top ten metered markets in the U.S.RANK
MARKETRATINGRANK MARKETRATING1 N.Y.1.66 Richmond, Va.1.12 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale1.67 Atlanta1.13 Providence1.38 S.F.14 L.A.1.29 Jacksonville15 DC1.210 Austin1
CBS Sports is launching a 24/7 national sports talk radio network called CBS Sports Radio that is set to debut Jan. 2, 2013. CBS is using Cumulus Media as its distribution and sales partner. As part of the deal, Cumulus will make CBS Sports Radio programming available on 67 of its stations. At launch, CBS Sports Radio will be in nine of the top 10 markets. Starting Sept. 4, it will make CBS Sports updates available to network affiliate stations. Earlier this month, NBC Sports partnered with distributor Dial Global for a sports talk radio network that is expected to launch in September with two three-hour weekday shows (John Ourand, SportsBusiness Journal). USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand asks, "Why is CBS ... jumping into sports yak now?” CBS Radio President & CEO Dan Mason said that it is "because Cumulus Media’s deal with ESPN Radio is expiring -- making Cumulus available to bring its 67 stations into a partnership with CBS." Mason: “This is something we’ve wanted [to] do for three years. But to do this, you have to have the affiliates.” He added that the radio network will “try to capitalize on CBS Sports’ existing TV announcers.” Mason: “We look at this sector as unchallenged -- beyond ESPN” (USA TODAY, 6/22).
SPORTS TALK SHOWDOWN: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s William Launder wrote CBS’ radio network is “highlighting broadcasters' latest efforts to monetize lucrative sports content.” A source said that Cumulus “will end its existing ad sales and distribution arrangement with ESPN, and won't renew syndication deals with ESPN at its own radio stations.” The source added that ESPN's relationship with its affiliates "won't be affected” (WSJ.com, 6/21). MARKETWATCH’s David Wilkerson noted CBS is "encouraged by its success in the sports-talk format in recent years.” The move “sets up a showdown with ESPN’s radio unit, which also is established in the largest metropolitan areas, and has made good use of the popular TV network’s on-air personalities.” Mason said, “In the past three or four years, we’ve been launching a lot of live, local sports radio stations. The question we had was, Now that we have these great entities on the air, where can we take them? What’s the next level?” (MARKETWATCH.com, 6/21).
L.A. STORY: In L.A., Meg James notes CBS' radio network will “launch early next year in most major markets -- although not immediately in Los Angeles.” The company currently “has 17 all-sports radio stations and, in August, plans to add another in Tampa.” The company “has not identified a station in L.A., although it would eventually like to add a station in the market here to its sports lineup.” CBS currently “does not have play-by-play rights for individual games" (LATIMES.com, 6/21).
TEXAS TWO-STEP: In Houston, David Barron notes the network will air in the city “on the daytime-only KIKK, which will become Houston's fifth all-sports station.” CBS will “no doubt work over the next few months to pry away new affiliates from ESPN Radio, Fox Sports Radio and David Gow's Yahoo! Sports Radio.” However, the local impact “will be slight.” KILT-AM's local programming “will remain in place, augmented by CBS Radio Sports overnight shows to replace the current overnight programs from Sports Byline USA” (CHRON.com, 6/21).
QUEEN CITY: In Charlotte, Mark Washburn reports the city "will get a third sports radio station next year" when CBS launches its sports radio network. CBS Sports Radio will "take over the signal of WBCN-AM." CBS Radio owns both WBCN and WFNZ-AM, which is currently an all-sports station. WFNZ will "continue to carry locally focused sports shows, but it will be picking up some ingredients offered by the network." WZGV-AM, owned by HRN Broadcasting, also "serves Charlotte with sports programming" as an ESPN Radio affiliate (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/22).
The chart below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings listed are U.S. ratings (THE DAILY).
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RATING Izod IndyCar Series: Milwaukee IndyFest (rain)6/16ABC1:00-3:03pm0.6 Izod IndyCar Series: Milwaukee IndyFest6/16ABC3:03-4:00pm1.0 NASCAR Nationwide Series: Alliance Truck Parts 2506/16ABC4:00-6:16pm1.6 MLB: (regional)6/16Fox7:00-10:00pm1.8 Red Bull Signature Series: Nike Lowers Pro6/16NBC1:00-2:00pm0.4 AMA Motocross6/16NBC2:00-3:00pm0.6 Live from the U.S. Open6/16NBC3:00-4:00pm2.0 2012 U.S. Open Golf Championship: Third Round6/16NBC4:00-10:00pm5.0 NBA Countdown6/17ABC7:31-8:05pm2.4 NBA Finals: Thunder-Heat: Game Three6/17ABC8:05-11:00pm8.8 Champions of the NCAA: Spring Highlight Show, Part 16/17CBS4:00-5:00pm0.3 The 1962 U.S. Open: Jack's First Major6/17NBC2:00-3:00pm0.7 Live from the U.S. Open6/17NBC3:00-4:00pm2.0 2012 U.S. Open Golf Championship: Final Round6/17NBC4:00-10:30pm6.0
In Houston, David Barron noted former CBS and ESPN football analyst Craig James, who “placed fourth in the nine-man Republican Primary race for the U.S. Senate, will not return to ESPN this fall but said he has been contacted by other networks to gauge his interest in returning to TV” (CHRON.com, 6/21). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel predicted James will be hired at “a regional network, like a Fox Sports Southwest.” Considering James' “political bend towards the right, Fox certainly makes sense in that regard.” James said he "loves sports" but he wants to stay involved in "fighting for public policy." James is “under the impression that his political bid now puts him on the political platform, too.” Engel: “Because talking about the BCS is virtually no different than talking about Iran” (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 6/21).
WINNING! USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand noted actor Charlie Sheen will be alongside Fox’ Tim McCarver and Joe Buck for the net's broadcast of Yankees-Mets on Saturday. Sheen will “plug his sitcom, ‘Anger Management,’ which premieres June 28” (USA TODAY, 6/22). In California, Jim Carlisle writes the interview “figures to be more entertaining than the game” (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 6/22).
MIC CHECK: In Boston, Chad Finn cites sources as saying that Gil Santos is “expected to be behind the microphone for his 36th season as the radio play-by-play voice of the Patriots.” His return is “an extraordinary development given his health problems over the winter.” Still to be determined is “whether Santos will work a full schedule,” and whether Santos’s longtime partner Gino Cappelletti “will return as well" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/22).
NO SLEEP 'TIL BROOKLYN: NEWSDAY is launching a Nets blog, and Roderick Boone wrote it will seek to be a "one-stop shop for everything Nets related.” With the Nets’ move to Brooklyn complete, "they're once again in play for us and it's time to get back into the game” (NEWSDAY.com, 6/21).