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The '12 NBA Finals earned a 10.1 rating on ABC over the five-game Heat-Thunder series, down 1% compared to last year’s 10.2 rating over the six-game Mavericks-Heat series. ABC averaged 16.855 million viewers for this year’s Finals series, down around 3% from last year’s 17.339 million average for Mavericks-Heat (John Lombardo, SportsBusiness Journal). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir noted the Thunder “proved emphatically that their small-market status did not hurt viewership” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/23).
REVIEWS ARE IN: Also in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes, “Don’t know how much ESPN pays for Magic Johnson’s presence, and it doesn’t matter how big a promotional push his presence is given, other than the obvious, he just doesn’t have much to say and takes too long to say it” (N.Y. POST, 6/25). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS’ Bob Raissman wrote ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy “had a fine, if at times whiny, NBA Finals” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/24).
SHIFTING ROLES? THEBIGLEAD.com’s Jason McIntyre cited a source as saying that ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose “is likely going to be added to ESPN’s College Basketball Gameday show" for the '12-13 season. Rose would replace Hubert Davis, who left in May to become an assistant coach at the Univ. of North Carolina. Rose has become “one of ESPN’s most visible NBA analysts.” McIntyre also reported that former Virginia Tech basketball coach Seth Greenberg is “joining ESPN full-time, and an announcement is expected this summer” (THEBIGLEAD.com, 6/21).
NASCAR plans to open a social media center at its offices in Charlotte that will monitor and respond to digital, social and traditional media, much as Gatorade's "Mission Control" operation does. The property has partnered with HP Enterprise Services for the effort. HP will develop a software and hardware system that allows NASCAR employees to monitor and engage with fans and media in real time. NASCAR said that the system and staff will measure the tone, volume and other aspects of social media. The center will be in a 500-square-foot, glass-enclosed area with touch screens, television monitors and work stations. It will be staffed by NASCAR Integrated Marketing & Communications employees who will work on the same floor as NASCAR.com and collaborate with NASCAR Digital Media (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). MARKETWATCH’s Arti Patel noted the center will be “staffed 18 hours a day by a dedicated communications team.” NASCAR Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes said, "There’s a massive amount of volume of conversation around our sport. How can you engage and connect faster? That’s the gap we are trying to close.” HP VP/Communications, Media & Entertainment Rob Vatter said that the technology company is “banking on audience engagement on mobile platforms to drive the collaboration.” Vatter: “Soon almost every fan will have a smartphone at the track” (MARKETWATCH.com, 6/22).
BUZZ WORD: In S.F., Lindsay Riddell noted on Friday at the NASCAR council meeting in the city, “everyone was talking about one thing: engagement.” The NASCAR partnership is “a sign that HP, too is making the transition from hardware and software to cloud computing, to take on competitors like IBM that have invested billions into big data analytics in the cloud.” Vatter said, "We see this as a great way to expand on our traditional analytics business, to help NASCAR drive a better brand experience across its platforms." Both Vatter and NASCAR Senior VP & CMO Steve Phelps “declined to say how much NASCAR was investing in data and analytics” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/22). FORBES' Victoria Barret noted 250 brand managers, including execs from Coca-Cola, Sprint and Toyota, were on hand for NASCAR's “Fuel For Business” Council Meeting on Friday in S.F. The meeting “happens four times a year,” with NASCAR bringing “top sponsors together.” One attendee said that Ford reportedly has done about $200M in sales "thanks to hand-shakes made at past events.” The “particular focus” of Friday’s meeting was social media, which featured speakers including Ford Dir of Social Media Scott Monty (FORBES.com, 6/22).
In Phoenix, Bob McManaman noted D'Backs TV play-by-play announcer Daron Sutton "was not in the broadcast booth at Chase Field" for Friday night's game against the Cubs. D'Backs Senior VP/Communications Josh Rawitch said, "We made a change in the broadcast talent lineup and Daron will be taking some time off." Sutton "disputed any notion that he had been suspended and called the entire matter 'a personal situation.'" Sutton said, "I'm fine. I've got some personal stuff going on in my life that I need to get straightened out." Sources confirmed that Sutton "isn't facing any legal trouble" and is "still being paid while he is absent" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/23).
OUTLOOK UNCERTAIN: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes Showtime Sports Senior Dir of Communications Chris DeBlasio yesterday "had no comment on Antonio Tarver's future as a Showtime boxing analyst and whether he'll appear for his next scheduled assignment" July 28. Tarver "tested positive for an anabolic steroid in a sample taken before his June 2 fight," and "didn't work Showtime's Saturday boxing coverage" (USA TODAY, 6/25).
FAUX PAS? In Tampa, Tom Jones writes, "I like Sun Sports analyst Brian Anderson, but I wasn't a fan Saturday evening when he slammed his own crew, even though he might not have realized how badly he was doing so." During the Rays-Phillies broadcast, "a graphic appeared on the screen showing that Rays first baseman Carlos Pena led all interleague batters in walks." Anderson said, "That's just a waste of my time and everybody else's." Jones writes, "Anderson shot a hole in all of it and undermined the credibility of the broadcast in general and a few individuals in particular" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 6/25).
SUNDAY NIGHT HOCKEY? The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin notes the "possibility of a second network night in the next Canadian TV broadcast contract due in 2014 might be the NHL's solution to extending its brand in Canada while keeping as many Canadian TV partners in the game." The idea "emerged after a discussion this weekend" at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh with NHL COO John Collins. Collins said, "I like the fact that Sunday Night Football has become the No. 1 show on television in the U.S. ... That gives us lots of hope for our upcoming Canadian TV rights discussions" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/25).
TIGER BLOOD AND ADONIS DNA: Actor Charlie Sheen appeared in the broadcast booth, along with former MLBer Todd Zeile, during Fox’ coverage of Braves-Red Sox Saturday afternoon with broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. In the fourth inning, Buck said, “Sitting in with the band tonight is Charlie Sheen.” Buck: “You’re here because we showed a clip from a show you have debuting at the end of the month called ‘Anger Management.’” Sheen then said, “I brought you a gift,” and gave Buck and McCarver baseball hats with “Anger Management” on the front and said, “Shameless plug.” McCarver asked, “Is there going to be a ‘Major League 5?’” Sheen: “Well, we’re working on three first. I’d probably be too old to do the fifth, or at least I’d be a manager and owner at that point. But we’re definitely working on the third because the third one that happened wasn’t really the third. It was some other version" (“Yankees-Mets,” Fox, 6/23).