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The NBA Thursday night released its '12-13 schedule, and TNT will see its NBA broadcast slate increase to 52 games from last season’s lockout-shortened 45 games. Beginning with the net’s opening season broadcast of Celtics-Heat, TNT will air 10 Heat games throughout the season. The Knicks and Thunder also will have 10 games on TNT, followed by nine appearances each by the Lakers and Clippers. The Celtics and Mavericks will have eight appearances each on TNT. The number of NBA games during the upcoming regular season on ESPN, ABC, and NBA TV is the same as last season. ESPN will air 75 games beginning on Nov. 2, with a doubleheader broadcast of Heat-Knicks followed by Lakers-Clippers. ABC’s 15-game broadcast schedule begins on Christmas Day with a doubleheader starting with Lakers-Knicks followed by Thunder-Heat. The first of NBA TV’s 96 games to be aired will be on Oct. 31 with Hornets-Thunder followed by Lakers-Trail Blazers (John Lombardo, SportsBusiness Journal).
ALL OUT OF MAGIC: ESPN.com's J.A. Adande wrote, "The appetizers spread across the season's first four nights are more appealing than the full plate Christmas Day." The "greatest wild card in the NBA season is the location" of Magic C Dwight Howard. Schedulers "are acting as if he won't be on the Orlando Magic come January." The Magic have "one game on ESPN in November, one ESPN game in December and nothing at all on the slate for ABC or TNT." As much as Howard's "name and face have been on TV all summer, maybe it's better that he stays in Orlando and off our screens." The "best part of the schedule is what isn't there this season: the dreaded back-to-back-to-back games." Adande: "In other words, back to normal" (ESPN.com, 7/26). In Orlando, Josh Robbins writes the Magic's schedule "says plenty about how NBA officials view the franchise's immediate future." However, all Magic games will "be televised locally" on FS Florida. That is the "first time in team history that one channel has handled all the local broadcasts" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 7/27).
SUBWAY SERIES: On Long Island, Al Iannazzone writes the Nets' move to Brooklyn and busy offseason have "raised expectations as well as the interest level in the team." The Nets will begin their "inaugural season in Brooklyn on Nov. 1 and christen the Barclays Center against the Knicks in a nationally televised TNT game." If that "isn't significant enough, it's the first of 12 games Deron Williams and the Nets will play on TNT and ESPN." The Nets will "host the Celtics at noon on Christmas Day on ESPN" and "all four of" their games against the Knicks "will air on TNT, ESPN or NBA TV." The Nets "didn't appear on TNT or ESPN last season and were on a major national TV network once during" the '10-11 season (NEWSDAY, 7/27). NEWSDAY's Iannazzone notes the Knicks' game against the Nets on Nov. 1 is the "first of 25 nationally televised games" for the team across TNT, ABC and ESPN (NEWSDAY, 7/27). In N.Y., Stefan Bondy notes Rockets G Jeremy Lin's "first game in New York ... will be as big, if not bigger, than the Knicks' home opener on Nov. 2 against the Heat." Lin's "first visit will certainly be the most hyped game of the year" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/27). NBA TV’s Matt Harpring said when Lin returns to MSG “that place is going to be crazy. I don’t think he’s going to get booed. I think he’s going to get a lot of applause.” NBA TV's Dennis Scott added, “We’re talking about New York. He doesn’t have a New York Knick uniform anymore so they’re going to applaud him, thank him, and then they’re going to boo" (NBA TV, 7/26).
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: In Miami, Ira Winderman notes that of the Heat's 82 regular-season games, 31 will be nationally televised, "a total which could increase based on NBA TV's fan-night voting for Tuesday broadcasts." The Heat "will play 14 of their first 22 games at home." Conflicts against the Dolphins "will be limited," with "no home date conflicts." The "only times the teams play the same day" are Nov. 11 and Nov. 15. However, there are "nine home-date conflicts with the Florida Panthers, including three in November and three more in February." Additionally, the Heat "are scheduled to play on consecutive nights only 16 times" in '12-13 (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/27).
THE THUNDER ROLLS: In Oklahoma City, Berry Tramel writes the '12 NBA Finals were "sufficiently entertaining -- four riveting games before Miami's closing blowout -- to leave pro basketball wanting more." Tramel: "Not just more Thunder-Heat. More Thunder in general." The Thunder have the "league-maximum 25 nationally televised games." The team will be nationally televised "more often than the Lakers (24)." The release of the NBA schedule "has become affirmation of what we think we know but aren't always sure that basketball's bluebloods have figured out, too." That "this Thunder is the height of hoops entertainment." The Thunder's national TV appearances "are rising like its payroll: 15 in 2010-11, 17 in 2011-12 and the max 25 in 2012-13" (OKLAHOMAN, 7/27).
CLIP & SAVE: The SPORTS XCHANGE notes after "years of operating under the radar, probably for good reason, the Clippers will be one of the most featured teams in the NBA, playing a combined 23 games on ABC, ESPN and TNT." The team's "previous high for nationally televised games was 22, set last season" (SPORTSXCHANGE.com, 7/27). ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy said of the Clippers and Nets being among the teams featured on Christmas Day, “Years ago this thought would have never crossed in your head that both would be so transformed as to be featured and I think it’s great” (NBA TV, 7/26).
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM: In Houston, Jonathan Feigen noted for the "second consecutive season, the Rockets will be on ESPN just twice and not on TNT or ABC at all." Even NBA TV "seems to be looking the other way, with just four broadcasts getting picked up." With "no TNT games, the Rockets can have all of their games on their new station, Comcast SportsNet Houston" (CHRON.com, 7/26). CBSSPORTS.com's Ben Golliver wrote the "biggest Christmas question mark, by far, is the Rockets/Bulls match-up, as 2011 MVP Derrick Rose is not expected to play as he recovers from a knee injury." That leaves Lin "as the headliner, unless you were really intrigued by Omer Asik's restricted free agency move from Chicago to Houston" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/26).
ADDITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: In L.A., Ben Bolch notes while the Lakers "have a full season's worth of dates at their disposal, they will endure 16 back-to-back situations, only two fewer than they did last year." The Lakers will "be home for Christmas for a sixth consecutive year" (L.A. TIMES, 7/27). In Indianapolis, Mike Wells notes after "years of being an afterthought on the national television scene, the Pacers will play seven games on TNT and ESPN during" the '12-13 season (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/27). In Ohio, Jason Lloyd notes the Cavaliers "return to national television with a Dec. 5 home game against" the Bulls on ESPN. The Cavs "did not have any games on ESPN or TNT last season" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 7/27). The SPORTS XCHANGE notes the Grizzlies will "be on national TV a franchise-record 15 times this season (seven on ESPN, one on TNT, seven on NBA TV)" (SPORTSXCHANGE.com, 7/27).
NFL Network is about to lose more than to 600,000 subscribers on Tuesday, as its contract with Insight Communications ends and Time Warner Cable -- Insight's new owner -- has opted not to renew the deal. NFL Network says TWC has not negotiated to extend the deal and expects it to expire July 31. In a statement, NFL Network said, "We are disappointed that Time Warner Cable has taken away NFL Network and NFL RedZone from the many Insight customers who have enjoyed both channels for many years. There are no current negotiations with Time Warner Cable." Insight has subscribers in Ohio (Cincinnati and Columbus), Kentucky (Louisville, Lexington and Bowling Green) and Indiana (Evansville). Insight has carried NFL Network since '05 and NFL RedZone since its '09 launch. TWC last August announced a deal worth a reported $3B to buy Insight and its 679,000 subscribers. NFL Network has 59.5 million subscribers in the U.S. In its statement, NFL Network notes that TWC is "the only TV provider among the top eight in the country which refuses to offer its customers NFL Network." The country's ninth biggest distributor, Cablevision, also has not cut an NFL Network deal.
CBS Sports Network and the UFL Thursday announced an agreement that will bring the league’s games back to national TV. CBS Sports Network will televise two games live per week every Wednesday and Friday throughout the UFL’s eight-week season, culminating with the Championship game in late November (CBS). In Las Vegas, Mark Anderson reports the two sides “agreed to what appears to be a multiyear contract and throwing a lifeline when serious questions were raised about the league's continued viability.” Questions remain as the “number of league franchises hasn't been disclosed.” Five teams “are expected to play;” the UFL returns defending champion Virginia, Omaha and Sacramento “and is expected to add an expansion team.” San Antonio “appeared to be the front-runner for the fifth club.” Anderson writes it is “still great news for a league that lost more than $120 million over three years.” Las Vegas Locomotives coach Jim Fassel said that the league “still needs to improve some areas, such as marketing, but the network deal is crucial.” He said, "The great thing is CBS wants us, and they're interested. People like to watch football on television. It's been hard for our fans to follow a lot of times” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 7/27).
The chart below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings listed are U.S. ratings (THE DAILY).
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT. "30 Greatest NBC Olympics Moments"7/21NBC8:00-9:00pm1.8 MLB: (regional)7/21Fox4:00-7:15pm1.6 "Open Championship Today"7/22ABC3:00-6:00pm1.4 "Open Championship Today"7/21ABC3:00-6:00pm1.2 F1: German Grand Prix (taped)7/22Fox12:00-2:00pm0.7 Tour de France recap show7/22NBC1:00-3:00pm0.7 Golf: American Century Championship7/22NBC3:00-6:00pm0.7 Golf: American Century Championship7/21NBC3:00-6:00pm0.6 Golf: "Training for Tahoe"7/21NBC2:00-3:00pm0.3 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) British Open: Final Round7/22ESPN8:00am-1:55pm3.14,227 British Open: Third Round7/21ESPN9:00am-2:33pm2.63,545 NASCAR Nationwide Series:
Olympic basketball exhibition:
"NASCAR Countdown"7/22ESPN1:55-3:00pm1.21,849 British Open: Second Round7/20ESPN7:00am-3:15pm1.41,771 MLB: Rangers-Angels7/22ESPN7:57-11:18pm1.21,752 British Open: First Round7/19ESPN7:00am-3:14pm1.11,343 British Open: Third Round
"HBO Boxing After Dark"7/21HBO10:01-11:30pm0.81,172
The GUARDIAN's John Plunkett reports the BBC has "lost exclusive radio rights to the FA Cup, sharing the world's oldest domestic football competition for the first time with a commercial rival, TalkSport." The FA Cup matches will be split after TalkSport signed a "six-year deal which also includes England friendly internationals." TalkSport also has "bagged the rights to broadcast FA Cup games around the world as part of its new global broadcast operation due to launch at the beginning of next season" (GUARDIAN, 7/27).
GO PACK GO: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted former NFLer Mark Tauscher "has been hired by the Journal Broadcast Group to provide pre- and post-game commentary on Packers radio broadcasts, and pre-game commentary on the Packers TV network this season" (JSONLINE.com, 7/25). The Packers Thursday announced the official team website, Packers.com, will add Pro Football HOFer and broadcaster Larry McCarren to its coverage. McCarren will offer insight and analysis through videos on a daily basis during training camp. His video work also will include interviews with players and coaches, game previews and game observations (Packers).
DEPARTURES: Thunder sideline reporter Kelly Crull said that she "is exploring other career options and will not be returning for her third season" with the team. In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht notes Crull joined the Thunder in August '10 "after spending the previous two years as a sports reporter" for KOCO-ABC (OKLAHOMAN, 7/27). The CHICAGO SUN-TIMES wrote the city "will lose one of its own" when Comcast SportsNet Chicago reporter Sarah Kustok "signs off" the net in the coming weeks. Kustok began her career with CSN in '09 and "more recently has performed fill-in anchor and studio work for" WMAQ-NBC. There is "no word yet as to where" Kustok is headed (SUNTIMES.com, 7/26).