SBD/July 9, 2012/Media

Federer-Murray Wimbledon Final Gives ESPN 48% Overnight Ratings Bump

This year's match was up 48% over last year's Novak Djokovic-Rafael Nadal men's final

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).
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