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ESPN earned a 3.1 overnight Nielsen rating for Roger Federer’s win over Andy Murray in yesterday’s men's final at Wimbledon from 9:00am-2:15pm ET, up 48% from a 2.1 overnight last year on NBC for Novak Djokovic’ win over Rafael Nadal. The 3.1 rating is also up from a 1.9 rating in ’10 for Nadal’s win over Tomas Berdych. Meanwhile, ESPN earned a 2.5 overnight for Serena Williams’ defeat of Agnieszka Radwanska in the Wimbledon women's final on Saturday from 9:00am-12:00pm ET, up 14% from a 2.2 rating on NBC last year for Petra Kvitova’s win over Maria Sharapova. For the complete Saturday Wimbledon window from 9:00-2:00pm, ESPN earned a 2.0 overnight, up from NBC’s 1.8 rating last year. The ’10 final, which saw Williams defeat Vera Zvonareva, also earned a 1.8 for the entire window (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).AN OVERALL WIN FOR ESPN: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand writes during Murray’s post-match talk, ESPN “should have stayed focused on the Scotsman,” but instead “cameras were scanning the crowds -- even fans outside the stadium -- to show faces trying to keep from breaking down.” Hiestand: “If you were on hand at Centre Court, you wouldn’t have taken your eyes off Murray to check out how the guy sitting behind you was handling it all. So it seemed odd when ESPN’s eye kept wandering.” Still, ESPN “offered up nice touches on Murray, including a moving feature on him being a student who survived a shooting spree at his school in his hometown of Dunblane.” The net yesterday had a camera “focused on the crowd in a pub in that Scottish town.” ESPN’s handling of Wimbledon’s final weekend “wasn’t too big of a change partly because it had enlisted [John] McEnroe, NBC’s old lead Wimbledon analyst" (USA TODAY, 7/9). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes ESPN's Patrick and John McEnroe “were splendid throughout the fortnight.” While Chris Evert was “steady enough on the women’s matches, the coverage really missed Mary Carillo, who no longer works for ESPN." Jones also writes it is "time to put the name of ESPN’s Chris Fowler among the elite broadcasters in the business.” His work at Wimbledon over the weekend, “as well as the past two weeks, was first-rate.” Fowler’s “greatest strength calling tennis ... is his economy of words” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 7/9). In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes ESPN’s first venture into complete Wimbledon coverage “was a success because most viewers tuned in to the All England Club responded positively to the ‘all matches live’ format.” John McEnroe “was at the top of his game this year” and Evert “continues to gain momentum” (DENVER POST, 7/9).
SETTING RECORDS: The GUARDIAN’s Mark Sweney notes the men’s final “attracted a peak audience of 16.9 million, the highest viewing figure since at least 1990 and a record for a British player at the tournament.” An “average audience of 11.4 million tuned into BBC1's coverage" from 1:00-6:45pm local time yesterday, a 58% share of total TV viewing across that time period. The 16.9 million peak “is a new record for a British player at Wimbledon, surpassing the previous mark of 13.1 million set by" Tim Henman-Michel Kratochvil in the fourth round in '02 (GUARDIAN, 7/9). In London, Grace Dent notes the BBC's post-match credits ran to the Beatles song, “Let It Be,” and although Murray lost, the net's "live sports coverage still felt like a winner” (London INDEPENDENT, 7/9). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Georg Szalai notes the finals match "wasn't as widely watched as some of the Euro 2012 soccer tournament games last month and the Queens recent jubilee concert" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 7/9). Meanwhile, the GUARDIAN’s Owen Gibson noted the audience for Murray's defeat of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Friday in the semifinals “peaked at 11.4 million viewers, the highest ratings for any of the four consecutive semi-finals that the Scot has reached since 2009” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 7/8).
QUESTIONABLE BENEFIT: The GUARDIAN's Martin Kelner writes Sunday's match was the "first men's final to be broadcast in 3D, which in my view remains a questionable benefit." The view in 3D was "less than satisfying." With fewer cameras for 3D than for "conventional coverage, the director struggles for different angles." For the most part viewers are "behind the server, or we are receiving the serve." Kelner: "I watched the ladies' final in 3D, and seemed to spend most of the afternoon shuffling around on the sofa, as Serena Williams fired serves of up to 120mph out of the TV set at me" (GUARDIAN, 7/9).
SportsNet N.Y., the TV home of the Mets, has taken over the signage at the Yankee Stadium subway stop in the Bronx to promote its "Geico SportsNite" show. The campaign kicks off today and will last through August. Riders on the B, D and 4 lines will see images for SNY as they enter and exit the Bronx subway stop at 161st Street and River Avenue (John Ourand, THE DAILY). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reported the campaign "makes its case for the 'SportsNite' show’s half-hour of local sports coverage by using dolls and figurines wearing real or ersatz New York team uniforms." The eight ads "show the little tchotchkes extremely distressed that fans wait for a few minutes of local sports coverage at the end of the 10 or 11 p.m. news; sift through ESPN’s 'SportsCenter' for news of their teams; or watch MSG or the YES Network, which focus on the teams they carry but have no local news show like 'SportsNite.'" In all, 117 posters "will be plastered throughout the station in July and August -- some as small as 31 inches by 19 inches and some as large as 56 by 176." SNY President Steve Raab: “Why wouldn’t we go to that subway station? In the summer, if we’re going to do an outdoor campaign, we want to go where the sports fans are.” He added, “This isn’t about the Mets’ network trying to co-opt Yankee fans. This is a regional sports network that has always positioned itself as the home of all things New York sports, taking the program that is most representative of that positioning and going for sports fans.” Sandomir noted, "There is room for more viewers for 'SportsNite.'" Since January, the show has "averaged about 40,000 viewers each night, from 10:30 p.m. Eastern, its first live showing, to 1:30 a.m., after its four live updates" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/8)."Toothbrush""Bobblehead""Neptune""Cake"
NBC Sports' plans for its Houston RSN are taking shape, as the company has hired a management team for Comcast SportsNet Houston and developed a programming strategy beyond games involving the Astros and Rockets, which own the majority of the channel. The RSN, which launches in October, sublicensed 11 Conference USA football games from CSS, including three appearances by the Univ. of Houston, the Univ. of Memphis and Southern Miss. The network is seeking distribution in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico. CSN Houston President & GM Matt Hutchings has solidified his management team, which will include Timothy Brown as VP/Production and Exec Producer; Joseph Ward as VP/Operations & Engineering; Donna White as VP/Finance & HR; and Helen Wilson as VP/Marketing.
DATE TIME (CT) GAME Oct. 6 TBA North Texas-Houston Oct. 13 12:00pm SMU-Tulane Oct. 13 3:30pm Memphis-East Carolina Oct. 20 6:00pm UCF-Memphis Oct. 27 12:00pm Southern Miss-Rice Oct. 27 3:15pm UTEP-Houston Nov. 3 6:30pm UAB-Southern Miss Nov. 10 TBA Marshall-UAB Nov. 17 11:00am Houston-Marshall Nov. 17 2:30pm SMU-Rice Nov. 24 2:30pm Southern Miss-Memphis
Twitter is "changing how ESPN's reporters and personalities break news and talk to fans, the relationship they have with their employer, and how ESPN manages its brand," according to Jason Fry in the latest entry for ESPN as part of the Poynter Review Project. Those changes "are happening right now, and are threatening to outrun both ESPN's policies and its assumptions about itself." As a result, "the news cycle has been jammed on permanent fast-forward." When news organizations "went digital, the news cycle sped up, moving the goalposts to the time required to publish a story to a Web site." Twitter "moved them again, to how quickly a tweet can be composed and posted." But that speed "is straining the traditional safeguards for how professional reporters gather, assess and publish information." Eventually, "new standards and expectations will emerge for how we report and read developing stories at Twitter speed, but we're not there yet." That brings up "unsettled questions for ESPN: Who owns a reporter's Twitter account? Must reporters surrender their accounts if they change employers?" ESPN's Brian Windhorst abandoned his Cleveland Plain Dealer account "when he came to ESPN, as did Adam Rubin" when he left the N.Y. Daily News for ESPN N.Y. On the other hand, Michelle Beadle "changed her screen name but kept her account" when leaving ESPN for NBC. Fry: "It seems to us that ESPN has long been a reluctant sports-media starmaker, wary of big personalities taking attention away from the institutional brand. ... What benefit does the network derive from a reporter's rapport with his or her followers?" ESPN's Jemele Hill said, "There's a perception that ESPN is a cold, ruthless factory and they've told their minions to never show any personality and always follow the corporate line. I think when readers get these glimpses of our personalities, they have a different perception of what happens at ESPN." Fry noted, "A lot of determining Twitter's value is guesswork." One potentially "valuable avenue for ESPN is fans' use of Twitter as a 'second screen' during games and other live events" (ESPN.com, 7/6).
Root Sports Pittsburgh Senior VP & GM Shawn McClintock said that compared to the same time a year ago, "viewership for Pirates games is up 18 percent." In Pittsburgh, Michael Sanserino noted those numbers "were up 50 percent compared to the same time period in 2010." The audience "has grown each month this season, and of the 12 most-watched games since 1995, when the network started keeping track, four have been from this season." McClintock said that a lot of the growth "has been in the 18-49 demographic, which includes a lot of fans who are not old enough to remember some of the Pirates' best seasons, and for some, a winning season" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 7/7).
BASKETBALL JONES: In Memphis, Kyle Veazey noted the city's TV market "fared among the top markets in the country across about every measure of basketball that was broadcast -- including finishing No. 1 in one category." Memphis "finished atop Nielsen's 56 largest markets in viewership of NBA regular season games on ESPN" with a 2.7 local rating. The market was TNT's "fourth-highest rated market for regular season games, with a 3.1." For regular season games broadcast on ABC, "Memphis was fifth with a 5.7 rating." Memphis also was the "11th-highest rated market in ESPN's coverage of college basketball with a 1.6 rating." Louisville was "the No.1 market in the nation" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 7/8).
EARNING KUDOS: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes, "Nice work by former golf star Annika Sorenstam as an analyst for NBC's U.S. Women's Open coverage." She sounded "extremely comfortable for someone with so little broadcasting experience." NBC's coverage of the event was "an outstanding weekend." It also was "no surprise that Dottie Pepper, among the best analysts, golf or otherwise, made the smooth transition from on-course walker to lead analyst" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 7/9).
SAYING GOODBYE: Two veritable sportswriters are saying goodbye to their current jobs. The S.F. CHRONICLE's Gwen Knapp noted her last column for the newspaper came on "nearly the same date 17 years after” she first started working for the paper. Knapp noted she is “going to work for a website called Sports on Earth, due to launch in seven weeks” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/8). Meanwhile, the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER's Don McKee today writes his last column for the paper after 38 years (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/9).