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HBO’s “Hard Knocks” featuring the Dolphins premiered last night and “all things considered, it was an opening episode with the seeds planted for storylines to grow, including the highly monitored quarterback battle,” according to Izzy Gould of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. There is a scene at the end of the show where coach Joe Philbin “enters the quarterback room and all four players are seated." They appeared “nervous at his presence,” and then Philbin “delivered the order of the Dolphins' first depth chart: David Garrard, Matt Moore, Ryan Tannehill and Pat Devlin.” Garrard, Moore and Tannehill and “their families were shown in the first episode.” The show also “captured Tannehill's late-night meeting with Philbin at the team's training facility July 28 when he broke a two-day holdout to sign his rookie deal.” In addition, the audience was “treated to some bits and pieces of the negotiation as scene from the Dolphins' offices” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/8). In Miami, Adam Beasley notes CB Vontae Davis, the “former first-round pick who was expected to start at corner, is for now a second-stringer, and ‘Hard Knocks’ showed us why.” Davis “didn’t enter camp in good enough shape to hang with Joe Philbin’s up-tempo practice.” And, he “apparently has a small bladder, getting called out for leaving a 75-minute walkthrough to use the men’s room” (MIAMI HERALD, 8/8).
THE REVIEWS ARE IN: ESPN.com’s James Walker wrote the first episode was “a good start to what should be an interesting season” (ESPN.com, 8/7). PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Mike Florio wrote the show “delivered what it always has: Behind-the-scenes access and insight that’s uncommon even in the NFL.” The reason the show “works, in fact, is that it isn’t really about the news but about the people” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 8/7). In N.Y., Michael Shain writes Philbin likely will “end up being the show’s biggest star when the four-week series ends” (N.Y. POST, 8/8). In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin writes WR Chad Johnson was “one of the big stars of the show” (PALM BEACH POST, 8/8).
WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE: While previous HBO behind-the-scenes shows have thrived due to the salty language used by coaches, specifially Jets coach Rex Ryan and former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, no coaches used foul language in the initial episode. Philbin at one point told the coaching staff Johnson "met with the media today and dropped the f-bomb about seven times." Philbin: "You represent the organization, you represent everybody and it’s not the way we’re going to do it.” Philbin later told Johnson, “We’re glad you here, like what you’re doing, but we all want to be on the same page as to how we portray this organization to the public. You have a responsibility, just like I do. I have sometimes a better sense of humor than I let out too … but I temper my comments at times. You catch what I’m saying?” Johnson said, “I was just keeping it loose, having fun.” Philbin replied, “It’s just like me being a coach. If you drop one f-bomb, maybe in the right setting, it has an impact. When you say it six times, it’s like, ‘Clean up your language’” (“Hard Knocks,” HBO, 8/7).
The audience for MLS games, which started off this season “as little more than a flat line, have sprung to life in the past few months -- perhaps surfing on a wave from the UEFA Champions League, Euro 2012 and a bit of fairy dust from the London Olympics,” according to Jack Bell of the N.Y. TIMES. Six of the seven largest audiences for MLS games on NBC Sports Network “have been in the past six weeks, and all seven are larger than was the top-rated MLS game on Fox Soccer in 2011.” Six games have “drawn an average audience of more than 200,000 viewers," and the July 28 FC Dallas-Galaxy match "drew an audience of nearly 400,000.” About twice as many people are watching MLS on NBCSN “than watched it on Fox Soccer to this point in the 2011 season -- and the numbers have been increasing.” MLS CMO Howard Handler “declined to be critical of the league’s former TV partner in Fox Soccer.” Bell wrote the channel “often treated MLS like a poor relation compared to its commitment to all things Premier League and European.” Handler said, “We don’t think Fox failed. We’re still big fans.” But he added that the audience for MLS games on NBCSN “are 97 percent ahead on average of viewership during 2011 on Fox Soccer” (NYTIMES.com, 8/4).
COMING TO YOUR TOWN: In N.Y., Ian Thomson wrote some of the challenges issued by MLS Commissioner Don Garber in order for Orlando to receive an MLS team are “increasing its average attendance and sponsorship." These are among the demands that USL Pro club Orlando City’s board has been "quietly addressing.” Orlando City President Phil Rawlins, whose club plays in the third tier of U.S. soccer, said, “We are working very, very hard on the stadium solution.” He added, “The political backing we’ve had from both the city and the county has been fantastic. We’re looking forward to finding the right solution, the right location, putting a soccer-specific stadium here and bringing MLS to central Florida.” Thomson noted on-field results also have “aided Orlando’s development,” as the team has seen attendance rise “15 percent this season and its sponsorship revenue jump 50 percent.” Rawlins: “If you look at our facilities and our structure, it’s fair to say we are as well off, if not better off, than most MLS clubs at this point in time” (NYTIMES.com, 8/4).
“UFC on Fox 4” Saturday night finished with a 1.4 rating and 2.44 million viewers from 8:00-10:22pm ET for a card highlighted by Shogun Rua’s win over Brandon Vera. While the rating is down slightly from a 1.5 for Fox' previous broadcast on May 5, which was headlined by Nate Diaz’ win over Jim Miller, the viewership is up slightly from 2.42 million viewers. Both metrics from Saturday night are down significantly compared to Rashad Evans' defeat of Phil Davis in January and first "UFC on Fox" telecast last November. However, Saturday night's broadcast went up against NBC's coverage of the London Games and Michael Phelps' last Olympic swim. Fox did see a 19% increase among males 18-34 compared to the May telecast. For the week ending Aug. 5, “UFC on Fox 4” ranked ninth among all primetime TV shows among in the 18-34 demo, behind only Olympic programming. Saturday night’s rating peaked at a 2.0 rating and 3.3 million viewers in the 10:00pm window. Through four teleacsts, “UFC on Fox” is averaging a 2.0 rating and 3.5 million viewers. Meanwhile, Fuel TV averaged 194,000 viewers for the UFC prelims on Saturday night from 5:00-8:00pm, marking the net’s best audience for any UFC prelims to date."UFC ON FOX" AUDIENCE TO DATEDATE
HEADLINE FIGHTRATINGVIEWERS (000)11/12/11 Junior Dos Santos-Cain Velasquez*3.15,6751/28/12 Rashad Evans-Phil Davis2.64,6615/5/12 Nate Diaz-Jim Miller1.52,4188/4/12 Shogun Rua-Brandon Vera1.42,436 NOTE: * = Telecast was only one hour. Subsequent telecasts were at least two hours.