Sunoco Debuts "Essence Of Racing" Campaign Executive Transactions Isiah Thomas Expected Backlash Over Hiring FanDuel Brings On Most Of Zynga Sports Team Georgia Approves Increased Athletic Budget Kentucky Adding Ribbon Boards At Rupp IndyCar Ponders How To Attract Fans Long Term Jeff Gordon Hired As Full-Time Analyst For Fox Danica's Sponsorship Status To Be Telling For NASCAR Classified Advertisements
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The NFL’s first Sunday of games saw several overnight ratings records set among the league’s broadcast partners. NBC earned an 18.0 overnight rating for QB Peyton Manning’s debut with the Broncos against the Steelers, marking the net’s best regular-season NFL primetime overnight ever. NBC’s previous best was a 17.7 overnight for the Vikings-Saints NFL Kickoff in ’10. The figure is also the NFL’s best regular-season primetime game in 15 years, dating back to Broncos-49ers in Dec. ’97. Denver drew a 44.2 local rating for last night’s game, the best NFL regular-season rating in the market on any net since a 44.5 rating for Raiders-Broncos in Sept. ’03. The Pittsburgh market drew a 51.5 local rating for the game. Steelers-Broncos also delivered NBC a win among all nets in primetime. The game peaked at an 18.7 rating from 9:30-10:00pm ET. Meanwhile, Fox earned a 17.2 overnight for its NFL national window, which featured 49ers-Packers in 87% of markets. That figure marked a Week 1 record for the net. Fox also earned its best Week 1 regional window overnight, which featured Redskins-Saints in 56% of markets (45.6 local rating in New Orleans). That window also marks the NFL’s best Week 1 early window in 11 years. “Fox NFL Sunday” earned a 3.7 overnight, which marked the best figure for any Sunday regular-season NFL pregame show in nine years. The only net to see a Week 1 decline was CBS, whose singleheader in the early window earned a 10.4 overnight, down 2% from last year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).NFL WEEK ONE: SUNDAY OVERNIGHT RATINGSNET'12 GAMERAT.'11 GAMERAT.% +/-CBS(single)10.4(single)10.6-1.9%Fox(regional)10.2(regional)8.914.6%Fox49ers-Packers (87%)17.2Giants-Redskins (63%)17.10.6%NBCSteelers-Broncos18.0Cowboys-Jets16.96.5%
IN THE RED CORNER: The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin writes the "heavyweight champion of morning shows remains" "Fox NFL Sunday," and the star of the panel “remains the volatile Terry Bradshaw.” Bradshaw is “mercurial, funny, moody and a good ol’ boy wrapped into one package” (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/10). Sunday’s edition of the “Fox NFL Sunday” pregame show began with Fox’ Curt Menefee noting the broadcast’s brand-new set and how it was not "just state-of-the-art, but groundbreaking.” Menefee: “This desk actually spins around 360 degrees, we’ve got 179 high-definition monitors, a couple of which are over 100 inches. Plus touchscreens and all kinds of gadgets that will usher a brand-new era here at Fox. In fact, the set is so cool we even have TV up above our heads.” Fox’ Howie Long told Bradshaw, “The set spinning 360 degrees is a lot like being in your head, right?” (“Fox NFL Sunday,” Fox, 9/9).
SHOW ME THE FUNNY: Comedian Rob Riggle made his debut on “Fox NFL Sunday” this weekend, replacing Frank Caliendo as the show's comic relief. The segment was called “Riggle’s Picks” and Riggle, a K.C. native and wearing a Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles jersey, said, “I’m Rob Riggle, the new, I guess you could say, star of ‘Fox NFL Sunday.’ I’m a simple guy with a simple life and now you guys are my bros.” As Riggle was speaking, he was standing in front of large mansion next to a butler and two scantily-clad, attractive women. More Riggle: “There’s nothing I like more than hanging out and talking football with my bros.” At one point, Riggle read in the newspaper there were 31 arrests this offseason for the NFL. He said, “Things are improving. Man, it’s a shame you can’t get fantasy points for DUIs.” The end of the segment featured an appearance by MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham, who asked about the numerous people playing in and around the pool, “Riggle, what’s going on man, and who are all these people?” Riggle: “Becks! Hey, working for the NFL now so I just made myself at home, you know. They told me some football player lives here.” Beckham replied, “Some football player does live here. Me!” Laughing, Riggle said, “No, no, no. Like a real football player.” Looking perturbed, Beckham said, “I am a real football player. … I’m going to call the cops” (“Fox NFL Sunday,” Fox, 9/9).
FASCINATING 'PHINS: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote the latest season of HBO's "Hard Knocks" featuring the Dolphins “sizzled,” and was a “riveting roller coaster ride featuring a team with no superstars, no larger-than-life coach, and no meddling owner." Viewers "came away caring about these players, especially the ones who got cut." After a year hiatus, the show “came back strong, again proving it’s the gold standard of sports reality programming” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/9).
ESPN will not bring back a musical open for "MNF" tonight, continuing the themed openings it used last season after the network fired Hank Williams, Jr. ESPN tonight will open its telecast of Bengals-Ravens with video of the teams' players, interspersed with footage shot from a Ravens bar to signify the excitement around Monday night football. "The thought was that rather than chase the next artist and the next song, what we have is pretty good and very high-end and could be water cooler talk," ESPN "MNF" Senior Coordinating Producer Jay Rothman said. "At the end of the day, fans are tuning in for a football game. No matter the match-up, if the scoreboard is close in the second half and particularly in the fourth quarter fans are sticking around." Part of the reason for not bringing back a musical open stems from the response ESPN received last season when its more dramatic opens gained praise, Rothman said. Taking out the musical-themed intro will give game analysts Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden more time to set up the game from the booth before kickoff. ESPN fired Willams last year after the musician compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler during a TV interview. Rothman said he had considered dropping the entertainer in the years before Williams made those comments, but the singer's "Are You Ready for Some Football" scored well in focus groups. "Candidly, and I don't think I stood alone, I was getting a little bit tired of it for the last couple of years," Rothman said. "That was something I took to focus groups, not only a year ago but four years ago. ... Hank had legs. He stood the test of time."
CHECK THE ROSTER: One other change viewers can expect tonight deals with announcing the starting line-ups -- ESPN is not going to do them. Rothman: "I've always felt they are these rote things that you have to do at the start of the game. It shuts the analyst out. It hits people over the head, bombarding people with names in a short amount of time. When I did it in focus groups, fans really couldn't give a crap whether you did it or not. They felt it was white noise." Rather, ESPN plans to ID key personnel expected to have an impact on the game. "No longer are they stop signs for the analysts to have to sit up in the booth with their hands on their mouth because the production folks have to get through this checklist of 44 names," he said.
CBS earned a 3.9 overnight Nielsen rating for Serena Williams' three-set defeat of Victoria Azarenka yesterday in the women’s final at the U.S. Open, down 7% from a 4.2 overnight for Sam Stosur's defeat of Williams last year. On Saturday, CBS earned a 1.3 overnight for Andy Murray’s semifinal win over Tomas Berdych from 12:00-4:30pm ET, down from a 1.9 rating for the comparable Novak Djokovic-Roger Federer semifinal last year. CBS earned a 1.4 overnight Djokovic’s semifinal against David Ferrer from 4:30-5:15pm before it was postponed due to inclement weather. The match finished yesterday on ESPN2 (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
YOU'RE CUT OFF: USA TODAY's Chris Chase reported CBS did not allow Williams "to finish her victory speech" on air yesterday, “likely due to time constraints involving the network's lucrative Sunday night prime-time schedule.” Williams’ victory extended into the 7:00pm time slot occupied by "60 Minutes." CBS "appeared to rush through the trophy presentation" due to the overrun. The net aired a "brief interview” between Williams and CBS' Mary Carillo, then “showed Serena receiving her trophy and $1.9 million winner's check.” Williams asked Carillo, "Do I get to say anything else?” Carillo answered, "One second.” Williams was then “whisked away for a photo" with Azarenka and CBS "cut to commercial.” The coverage returned “only for a quick wrap-up and brief plug" for today's Djokovic-Andy Murray men's final and “ended without Serena getting to say what she wanted” (USATODAY.com, 9/9).
The Pac-12 Network and Dish Network Saturday reached a multiyear deal allowing the satellite operator to carry the net's programming. As part of the deal, Dish gains exclusive category sponsorship for Pac-12 programs, including stadium signage and logo rights with the schools (Dish). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth noted the deal leaves DirecTV, Charter, AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS "as the other major cable and dish operators who have yet to work out a distribution deal.” Dish joins Time Warner Cable, Cox, Comcast and Bright House “as the major carriers for the Pac-12 Network.” The exclusive sponsorship on Pac-12 campuses that the deal gives Dish “could be a perceived advantage over rival DirecTV when it comes to getting the word out about one product versus the other.” Despite not having all major providers signed up, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, "If you look at it, we're three weeks into it and we have four out of the top five distributors. ... I think it's on par, if not better than any other launch that's taken place." Scott added DirecTV has been "offered the same deal that Dish has been offered, so no doubt it's a fair deal." Hoffarth noted Dish has put the Pac-12 channels on its America's Top 120+ package and above "for customers who live in the six states with a conference school,” while they are “available nationwide in the Multi-Sport Pack” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/9). Scott said, "I don't know if there's ever been a network, at least in recent history, that has launched with every distributor on board right away. In fact, there are some well-known networks and other sports that don't have one yet. Frankly, for anyone who studies these things, you see that distribution is a process. You never have it perfectly wrapped up in a bow from day one” (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/8).
SHORT-TERM FIX: The Big Ten Network and Dish Saturday also announced an agreement in principle for Dish to continue carrying BTN and the two sides expect to finalize a long-term agreement soon (BTN). In Indiana, Mike Carmin noted this is the "second straight week" the parties reached a carriage agreement (JCONLINE.com, 9/8).
Pro Basketball HOFer Julius Erving “has signed to write his autobiography” in what is “believed to be a $1 million deal,” according to Keith Kelly of the N.Y. POST. The book, tentatively titled “Dr. J,” will be co-written by SI's Phil Taylor and is "scheduled for publication in May 2013.” HarperCollins Exec Editor David Hirshey “acquired worldwide rights to the book from Erving’s business manager, Alan Rubin, and his literary agent, Matthew Guma.” Kelly wrote Erving “suffered a couple of well-publicized personal setbacks,” and since that time has “all but disappeared from the limelight.” Erving said, “I’m ready to talk about all those stories. People may have read some things, but they haven’t really heard about them in my voice. I want this to be Julius Erving, the good and the bad, flaws and all” (N.Y. POST, 9/7).
BOOK SHELF: In N.Y., John Williams reported Mets P R.A. Dickey has “signed a deal to publish three children’s books with Dial, an imprint of the publisher Penguin.” The first book, to “appear in fall 2013,” will be an adaptation of his memoir “Wherever I Wind Up.” That will be followed “by two picture books.” The first, slated for spring ‘14, will be titled “Knuckleball Ned.” Penguin said that the book is “in the early stages and still awaiting an illustrator” (NYTIMES.com, 9/7). Meanwhile, Gold Medal-winning U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas announced Thursday that she will write an "inspirational memoir," planned for December publication. The book will be titled “Grace, Gold and Glory, My Leap of Faith.” Zondervan “acquired the book” (PEOPLE.com, 9/6).
Viggle, a free app that "allows viewers to check into their favorite TV shows, is branching out into the sports world by launching their new sports-themed app, MyGuy," according to Anthony Sulla-Heffinger of the N.Y. POST. MyGuy is "designed to engage viewers in a variety of sporting events by having them not only check into which game they are watching, but play along by selecting players to earn them points on each play, fantasy football-style." MyGuy, which "went through beta testing during the NBA playoffs and officially launched" with the Cowboys-Giants game on Wednesday, "offers users not only the option to select players as the game is going on, but also provides leaderboards and a chat room where participants can trash talk to each other while competing for points and prizes." The introduction of pro and college football with MyGuy is the "first major foray into the sports world for Viggle," but the company "continues to expand the brand." MyGuy is built "completely in HTML 5, making it compatible with the vast majority of web browsers, but it is also available for tablets, iPads and Android devices as a standalone app." Viggle President & COO Chris Stephenson said, "When you look at what drives social TV, the thing that really drives it is sports" (NYPOST.com, 9/7).