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ESPN registered a 2.3 overnight rating for its coverage of the NBA Draft Thursday night. That figure is down 8% from last year's 2.5 overnight rating, and it is even with the mark from two years ago. With six players from the Univ. of Kentucky selected, including Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the first two picks, Louisville was the top market. Cleveland ranked second, while Raleigh-Durham, which had six local college products selected in the first round, came in third. The rest of the top 10 are K.C., Memphis, Columbus, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Indianapolis and Charlotte (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
COVERAGE REVIEWS: AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Ryan Yoder writes in place of Stuart Scott's "stumbling, uneven performance last year," host Rece Davis "was a breath of fresh air." Yoder: "It makes you wonder how much better ESPN's NFL Draft coverage would be with a simple swap of Chris Berman for Trey Wingo." However, the "lack of a true NBA studio host (see Patrick, Dan or Johnson, Ernie) could have provided some extra depth" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 6/29). SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote on his Twitter feed, "When ESPN makes an assignment that respects viewers, this feed will always praise. Bravo, for making @ESPN_ReceDavis your NBA Draft host. ... What you just saw from @ESPN_ReceDavis is the reason I'll never stop crushing ESPN for Berman hosting the NFL draft. Viewers won tonight." ESPN's Scott Van Pelt wrote, "Fun to watch @ESPN_ReceDavis expertly handle role of host. Hard to do well,unfair to make it appear this easy." However, THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre writes ESPN's draft coverage was "boring TV," as the "trio of Jay Bilas, Jeff Van Gundy and Chris Broussard rarely got into disagreements or challenged one another." Broussard "spoke in broad generalities for 95 percent of the broadcast," and after the top 10 picks, "you could see ESPN going to him less and less and Fran Fraschilla more and more." Meanwhile, McIntyre asks, "Why is Van Gundy even on the telecast? He essentially admits to watching very little college hoops, and offers nothing but the occasional moment of deadpan humor" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 6/29).
SHOT CLOCK: Bilas during the draft made a passing reference to the "Jay Bilas Drinking Game," in which viewers are supposed to take a drink everytime he uses words like "wingspan," "potential" and "upside." Following the Hornets' selection of Davis, Bilas said, "With Anthony Davis you’re thinking wingspan, wingspan, wingspan. So tip it back three times, America” (“NBA Draft,” ESPN, 6/28). SB Nation's Tom Ziller writes on his Twitter feed, "Check out @JayBilas flogging the word 'wingspan' in an effort to get America hammered."
NBCUniversal President & CEO Steve Burke addressed a group of reporters at a press conference in N.Y. this week to discuss his network's plans for the Olympics. Below is an edited transcript of his remarks:
* On winning the Olympic bid last year, "It feels like yesterday, although it was probably about 15 or 16 months ago, right after the NBCUniversal deal with Comcast was done. We got in a conference room in this building to figure out what our presentation would be to the International Olympic Committee for future Games. We came to the conclusion that we had so many talented people with so much great experience that we should bring a very large group to the pitch. We started off the presentation to all the International Olympic Committee members by having everyone talk about how many years they've been associated with the Olympics, and how many Olympics they had broadcast. As we went around the room, people would say, 'I've done 12 Olympics, I've done 14 Olympics, I've done eight Olympics.' Embedded in this organization is an experience base. After a while, you get very, very good at what you do. It's unlike anything that I think exists anywhere else."
* On NBC's plans for the Olympics, "We're going to try to stay very true to what got us here, but also do some things that are new and different. We're also trying to amplify some of the assets that the Comcast deal brought. NBC Sports is doing this in general with our NBC Sports Channel and Golf Channel. I'm starting to become convinced that we're doing things for sports like golf and hockey and horse racing and the NFL, because we have all these assets, we're bringing those sports to a different level. Our dream would be to do that with the Olympics. I see that when I watch the swimming trials, and you can go back and forth between channels and different assets."
* On what the Olympics mean to NBC, "Whether you work at NBC primetime, USA, Bravo, CNBC, the Olympics are both a catalytic event in terms of how the company thinks about itself, but also a catalytic event in terms of how we promote other parts of the company. There's a real magic that goes into getting 20 cable channels, primetime, news, all different parts of our company, Telemundo, focused on an event like the Olympics for 17 days. We're going to try to set up the fall launch on NBC primetime as well as we can. We're going to launch 'The Lorax' DVD. We're going to launch other things that are going on in other parts of the company. We're going to revitalize the 'Today' show. We're going to hopefully get the entire company to work together in a way that I think is unique to NBCUniversal."
Comcast SportsNet Chicago on Sunday is premiering "The Batter's Box," a new game show that pits "either two Cubs fans or two White Sox fans against each other, with questions ranging from the easy to the difficult," according to Tina Akouris of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The half-hour show, which will debut Sunday "immediately after the Cubs postgame show," will run for 15 weeks "after that day's baseball broadcast." Contestants are eliminated "until one Cubs fan and one Sox fan remain." They will then "square off in the final show." Each finalist "wins an autographed jersey and tickets to either the Cubs or Sox convention." The overall champion "will receive the 'ultimate game experience': a suite at U.S. Cellular Field or Wrigley Field for the winner and guests, a visit to the broadcast booth and the opportunities to throw out the first pitch and watch batting practice on the field at a 2013 game to be determined." CSN Chicago VP/Programming Greg Bowman said that he is "always looking for more and varied programming." Akouris noted Bowman last year "came across a similar game show in the Boston area for Red Sox fans." He "contacted the production company, StarPilot Productions in Boston, and put a proposal together in November 2011" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/29).
ESPN's Chris Berman said he was “a little surprised” when told he and Trent Dilfer will call the Sept. 10 Chargers-Raiders game as part of the net's "MNF" doubleheader. Berman said he, ESPN President John Skipper and Exec VP/Programming & Acquisitions John Wildhack were together recently and "about midway through an interesting evening, they said, 'We'd like you to call the second Monday night game.'" Berman: "I went, 'Wow, now there's something I never really thought about.' ... It's nice to be surprised after 32 years, it really is" (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 6/29). However, in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes, “Exactly how did ESPN think such news would be received by a public that long ago recognized Berman as a career self-promoter?” (N.Y. POST, 6/29). In Chicago, Dan McNeil writes he “won't be alone in begging for the first week's conclusion.” McNeil: “On the medals stand of blowhards, Berman gets the gold. He is a boorish lout. Huffing and puffing, zigging and zagging.” Berman “long ago jumped the shark, but the wonks who make the big calls don't get it” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/29).
FULL FORCE: In Buffalo, John Vogl reported Sabres play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret will “call all 82 games for the 2012-13 season.” Jeanneret had “cut back on his travel schedule the past few seasons,” doing play-by-play for 57 of 82 game in '11-12. He had “already planned to do more games than last year, but the release of the schedule last week made him decide to go all in.” The Sabres are “playing on back-to-back nights a franchise-low 11 times, so the city-to-city grind won't be as arduous.” The team also “recently announced changes that will leave Jeanneret alone in the booth during home games.” Harry Neale, Jeanneret's “color man the last five seasons, will become a studio analyst.” Rob Ray, who had “previously covered games from ice level between the benches, will be the full-time color analyst” (BUFFALO NEWS, 6/28).
IN RECOGNITION: In K.C., Randy Covitz notes Pro Football HOFer Len Dawson will "re-enter the shrine as a broadcaster." Dawson will receive the HOF's '12 Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award for "longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football." The 77-year-old Dawson "will be recognized on Aug. 3, the night before the Hall of Fame induction ceremony." It will "mark the 25th anniversary" of his '87 introduction into the HOF as a player (K.C. STAR, 6/29).
LINEUP CHANGES: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley reported D’Backs announcer Daron Sutton, who was scheduled to call Saturday's D’Backs-Brewers telecast for Fox has “been replaced.” The net decided “to replace Sutton with Eric Collins because Sutton has been taken off Diamondbacks telecasts by the team” (JSONLINE.com, 6/28). In Phoenix, Nick Piecoro cited a source as saying that Sutton was taken off the air by the D'Backs because he has "lobbied to wear suits" on-air instead of the club-preferred "polo shirts adorned with the Diamondbacks logo." Sutton "made at least one veiled reference to the dispute on the air during the last game he called," a June 20 game against the Mariners (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/28).
NOTES: In Minneapolis, Chris Miller noted KFAN-AM will simulcast Vikings games on KARE-NBC during the preseason, with former NFLer Ben Leber serving "as a sideline interview man.” The KFAN crew “includes play-by-play guy Paul Allen and color commentator Pete Bercich and veteran sideline reporter Greg Coleman” (STARTRIBUNE.com, 6/28)....WMAQ-NBC officials on Thursday said that sports anchor Mike Adamle, who “has been off the air since mid-May for personal reasons, may be returning to the station within the next two weeks.” In Chicago, Robert Channick noted Adamle “quietly took a leave of absence with the support of station management.” He has “grappled with personal troubles in recent years” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 6/28).
The chart below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings listed are U.S. ratings (THE DAILY).
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RATING NCAA College Basketball Spring Highlight Show: Part ll6/23CBS2:00-3:00pm0.3 PGA Tour: Travelers Championship: Third Round6/23CBS3:00-6:00pm1.1 MLB: (regional)6/23FOX7:00-10:00pm2.6 U.S. Olympic Trials: Diving6/23NBC4:00-6:00pm1.3 U.S. Olympic Trials: Track & Field6/23NBC8:00-9:00pm2.5 Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model - Show Me 1006/24CBS2:00-3:00pm0.5 PGA Tour: Travelers Championship: Final Round6/24CBS3:00-6:04pm1.6 F1: European Grand Prix6/24FOX12:00-2:00pm0.8 U.S. Olympic Trials: Diving6/24NBC3:00-6:00pm1.6 U.S. Olympic Trials: Track & Field6/24NBC7:00-8:00pm2.9
With the NFL announcing it is pushing back the start of late-afternoon doubleheader games by 10 minutes this year, the BOSTON GLOBE's Chad Finn writes, "Perhaps someone can find a few football-indifferent fans of '60 Minutes' or 'The Simpsons' with a grievance, but otherwise it’s hard to believe there will be much disagreement." The change "may cause Sunday night programming to start later, but for football fans, the tradeoff is well worth it," as the later start times "mean it is far less likely that viewers will miss out on the final minutes of an exciting early game on Fox or CBS" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/29). The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin writes, "If the late games go over into the lucrative prime-time viewing hour, garnering higher ratings, that’s something the NFL will just have to accept (cough)" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/29). SportsNet N.Y.'s Jonas Schwartz said, "A network TV decision actually helps fans. ... Look at that, we don't have to stay up later and it makes things better. Who would have thought?” (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 6/28). ESPN's Michael Wilbon: “Is ’60 Minutes’ ever going to appear? They just keep pushing it and pushing it” (“PTI,” ESPN, 6/28).
INTERESTING DILEMMA: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes while the loss of Yankees Ps Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia earlier this week to the DL "is serious business, it makes the Yankees a more intriguing, compelling property." Once the Yankees "got in a groove, their season was becoming all too predictable," and now "it’s not." There are "pitching questions," and the "possibility of seeing young guys taking advantage of an opportunity and trying to make it with the most storied franchise in sports." Raissman: "This is a baseball mystery worth watching" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/29).
HAPPY ACCIDENT? In L.A., Tom Hoffarth reports U.S. Olympic hopeful sprinters Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh may have to compete in a match race to qualify for the London Games after the two finished in a dead heat during time trials last Saturday. Officials "want that to happen Sunday, a day after the two finish their competition in the 200 meters qualifying and finals." Bob Kersee, the coach for both runners, is "lobbying to have it take place Tuesday." Hoffarth: "Imagine the possibilities for an NBC reality show-like sendoff Sunday." Olympic Gold Medal-winning U.S. sprinter Maurice Greene said earlier this week, "You tell me, NBC couldn't sell that to all its sponsors and put on a 30-minute show about it? ... Tell NBC to give them $2 million and have a runoff" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 6/29).