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NFL Network earned a 6.2 overnight Nielsen rating for the Browns-Ravens “Thursday Night Football” telecast, marking the net’s second-best overnight ever. The net’s first game telecast this season, which featured Bears-Packers, remains No. 1 with a 6.3 overnight (THE DAILY). In Baltimore, David Zurawik writes, "I love the energy and sense of camaraderie” among NFL Network studio host Rich Eisen and analysts Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin and Steve Mariucci. And while there is “nothing spectacular" about either play-by-play announcer Brad Nessler or analyst Mike Mayock, they “come together to form one of the steadiest and most informative teams you will find anywhere this side of NBC’s Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth.” NFL Network's cameras are "among the best in TV football," as they "seem to get more field level shots than any other network.” The net also is “superb when it comes to audio.” Ravens QB Joe Flacco’s audibles Thursday night sounded "as if I was standing on the sidelines” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 9/27).KEEPING FOCUSED: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes NFL TV game analysts "deserve plenty of credit" in their criticism of the replacement referees. After the first week of the season, they "micro-analyzed every call or non-call and highlighted every misreading of the rules" by the replacements. Raissman: “Will the analysts continue along this righteous path? Will they apply the same intense scrutiny to the regular officials who returned to work Thursday night in Baltimore as conquering heroes?” They “must,” because anything less will “call their own credibility into question.” They “set a new standard for analyzing officials” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/28). In Miami, Barry Jackson noted a source said that the NFL “did not complain to ESPN about some of its scathing criticism of the officials.” Sources said that NBA Commissioner David Stern and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig “typically voice displeasure privately to rights-holders about negative comments and stories more than the NFL’s Roger Goodell does” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 9/27).
BIG NUMBERS FOR "SPORTSCENTER": ESPN averaged a 4.5 U.S. rating and 6.5 million viewers for the 90-minute “SportsCenter” following the Packers-Seahawks “MNF” telecast, marking the show’s most-viewed episode on record (airing 20 minutes or longer). Those records date back to ’90. The show’s previous high was an episode on Nov. 14 last year following the Vikings-Packers "MNF” game that averaged 5.9 million viewers (ESPN).
ON THE MARTZ: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar profiles Fox analyst and former Rams coach Mike Martz, who is “working primarily on telecasts that are seen by small audiences.” Although the exposure is “narrow, it’s good training in the business for Martz -- who was recommended" to Fox Sports President & COO Eric Shanks by one of the net's NFL TV producers, Bob Stenner. Shanks said, “Mike has a good football reputation. He’s an interesting, recognizable football talent." He added, “We were testing a bunch of people. ... The analysis he was doing was in a tough situation, but the things coming out of his mouth were really interesting. Coaches always have a leg up in this business -- they motivate, they give a lot of speeches, they have to see everything on the field." Shanks: “He says very insightful things” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/28).
THE NEW LATE SHOW: In Albany, Pete Dougherty asks Eisen whether there are things on his “wish list” that he would like to do, or for NFL Network to do, in the future. Eisen said, “A late-night talk show that involves sports -- I'm sort of doing it already with the podcast -- there's a great spot for that. So many folks living out here in Los Angeles, whether they want it for both their movies or their TV shows or anything like that, they love talking sports. … There's a ripe opportunity for that” (Albany TIMES UNION, 9/28).
EA Sports said late Thursday it will not release a title for its troubled basketball franchise "NBA Live" at all this year, extending its absence from the simulation basketball gaming market to a third full year. The video game publisher announced plans two weeks ago to delay a retail release of "NBA Live 13" from an expected early October date after continued problems with the game surfaced. Following further review, company officials elected to sit out the entire year and instead focus on developing "NBA Live 14" for release in fall '13. "Making great games is not easy, and we're just not there yet," EA Sports Exec VP Andrew Wilson said in a statement. "Having continued to look at the game over the past few days, it's clear that we won't be ready. ... I'm disappointed we have not yet met our high expectations with 'NBA Live,' but I remain motivated about where we're going." The further setback for EA Sports with "NBA Live" arrives after the company spent two years and an undisclosed eight-figure sum seeking to retool the title following a similar cancellation of "NBA Elite 11." Steps pursued then included a shift of game production from its EA Canada studio outside Vancouver to its Tiburon facility in Orlando, the arrival of a new development team and the signing of a multiyear license extension with the NBA. Such efforts, however, have failed to generate any lasting momentum or retail-ready product. Rival publisher 2K Sports, maker of highly popular "NBA 2K" series, in recent weeks conversely has aligned with hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and two U.S. men's Olympic basketball teams, further building buzz for its title. The NBA, for its part, remains steadfastly behind its long-term business partner despite the recurring issues. "We are obviously disappointed that EA will not be releasing 'NBA Live 13' this year," said NBA spokesperson John Acunto. "We have been assured by EA that the next release of 'NBA Live' will meet our mutual standards of excellence." EA Sports officials declined to comment when asked about potential leadership changes to the "NBA Live" development team.
BIG DAY FOR SOCCER TITLE: EA Sports also announced it sold 353,000 copies of "FIFA Soccer 13" in North America on its launch day Tuesday, up 42% compared to the release day of last year's edition. Users of the title also played more than 1.4 million games in the initial 24 hours of release, up 35% compared to the same period last year. The initial sales numbers continue a recent run of momentum for the company following strong starts for "Madden NFL 13" and "NHL 13," though sales have comparatively lagged for "NCAA Football 13." "FIFA Soccer 13" will release globally Friday with more than 1.3 million pre-orders already recorded.
NBC Sports Network averaged 292,000 viewers for its nine Izod IndyCar Series race telecasts this season, down 27% from last year and marking IndyCar’s worst mark since it moved to NBCSN. IndyCar’s cable TV viewership is also down 62% from the series’ final year on ESPN/ESPN2 in ’08. IndyCar’s five telecasts on ABC averaged 2.5 million viewers, down 17% despite an increase for the series marquee race -- the Indianapolis 500. The end to two ABC races this season were moved to ESPNews: the June 3 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix had long delays due to the track coming apart and the June 16 Milwaukee Indyfest had a long rain delay (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
OLYMPIC SHINE: NBC’s primetime ratings were up 79% in Q3, and even “taking out the Olympics, NBC’s ratings were still up 5% from the prior year.” NBC’s gains were “big enough to put the Big 4 broadcasters in positive territory, despite drops at the other networks.” ABC was “down 29%, CBS was down 24% and Fox was down 11%” (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 9/26). The Olympics also drew “roughly 217 million people” across all NBC’s family of networks during the two-week event, while “eight million people downloaded NBC’s mobile apps for the Olympics.” Watching video on tablets also “surged and the most popular events on any device were women’s gymnastics and the women’s soccer final” (NYTIMES.com, 9/26).
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: In L.A., Joe Flint wrote under the header, “TV’s Rush To Ratings Judgment Is A Dangerous Game.” Nielsen every morning “issues a ‘fast nationals’ ratings report, which is a projection of the previous night's numbers.” Then later in the day, “the official numbers are released.” Even within those two reports “there are sometimes big discrepancies.” The networks “pounce on the early numbers and do their best to spin them.” The media, “eager for news, then rush out stories and make pronouncements on Twitter and elsewhere about what's working and what's not.” The problem is that “there is a ripple effect.” If the media “declares a show is a failure or a disappointment, based on early numbers that do not factor in all the other platforms and ways to consume content, the programs become tainted in the eyes of the audience.” This is “not to suggest that early ratings should be ignored.” Those numbers can “certainly be a good indicator of whether a show has potential, is starting to show its age or will be dead on arrival, and are perfectly legitimate to report” (LATIMES.com, 9/27).
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings listed are U.S. ratings. Figures for select telecasts on NBC and Fox were unavailable at presstime.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "NFL on CBS":
"Sunday Night Football":
"NFL on CBS": (regional)9/23CBS1:00-4:15pm9.0n/a NCAA Football:
"Football Night in America"9/23NBC7:30-8:15pm3.65,928 NCAA Football: Clemson-FSU9/22ABC8:06-11:58pm2.94,774 NCAA Football:
NCAA Football: (regional)9/22ABC3:30-7:01pm2.3n/a "The NFL Today"9/23CBS12:00-1:00pm2.3n/a NCAA Football:
"College Football Today"9/22CBS3:00-3:30pm0.6n/a "College Football Countdown"9/22ABC3:00-3:30pm0.5n/a Drag Boat Racing (taped)9/22CBS2:00-3:00pm0.5n/a PBR 15/15 Bucking Battle9/22CBS1:00-2:00pm0.4n/a Liga MX:
Chivas de Guadalajara-UNAM9/23Telem.5:55-8:00pm0.4757
Liga MX: Cruz Azul-Club America9/22Aza.5:56-8:00pm0.3591 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "Monday Night Football":
"Thursday Night Football":
"Thursday Night Pre-Kick"9/20NFLN8:00-8:31pm2.73,956 NCAA Football: LSU-Auburn9/22ESPN7:00-10:30pm2.43,768 NASCAR Sprint Cup: Sylvania 3009/23ESPN2:00-5:05pm2.23,517 NCAA Football: Arizona-Oregon9/22ESPN10:30pm-1:55am2.03,035 "Monday Night Countdown"9/17ESPN6:30-8:30pm2.12,975 NCAA Football:
"Sunday NFL Countdown"9/23ESPN10:00am-1:00pm1.52,189 NCAA Football: BYU-Boise State9/20ESPN8:56pm-12:05am1.42,069
In California, Jim Carlisle writes in “less than two months, Time Warner has become the TV provider to go to for sports.” Not only has TWC “cornered the Lakers, it is one of the few companies to carry the 6-week-old Pac-12 Networks and -- after a bitter, nine-year dispute -- agreed last week to add NFL Network to its lineup.” It has also “recently made CBS Sports Network more available, putting it on its Variety Tier as well as its Sports Pass tier” Carlisle: “Once, any time a new sports network was launched, DirecTV would put it on immediately and Time Warner would be leery about adding anything for which customers would eventually have to pay higher prices. Now it's the other way around” (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 9/28).
I AM IRON MAN: Turner Sports yesterday unveiled its announcer lineup for the MLB postseason. For the first-ever Wild Card matchups, TBS will use two three-person announcing teams. One trio will include Baseball HOFer Cal Ripken Jr., who will be in the booth for the playoffs for the first time after serving as a studio analyst in recent years. Ripken will join John Smoltz and play-by-play announcer Ernie Johnson. The trio also did an Orioles-Yankees telecast on TBS on Sept. 9. Also new to Turner's MLB postseason studio show will be use of 3D hologram technology (Turner).
CALM IN THE STORM: In Boston, Chad Finn writes NESN studio host Tom Caron this season “expertly interacted with an eclectic group of analysts" including Dennis Eckersley, Jim Rice, and Peter Gammons, and they "never wavered in finding the appropriate tone” for a disappointing Red Sox season. As the team “took on water this season, anyone bracing for an all-is-well, nothing-to-see-here approach had to be pleasantly surprised.” Caron said, “This wasn’t a bland bad team. This was a bad team that had a manager who would say things that created a news cycle, and players would say things, and then the traded players who would say things. We had news to cover almost every night” (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/28).
COMINGS AND GOINGS: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes former NBAer Isiah Thomas is a “candidate for a studio position with ESPN.” Meanwhile, Kelly Tripucka, “a reasonable/credible MSG/Knicks’ studio man and backup in-game analyst the last four seasons, apparently won’t be re-hired” (N.Y. POST, 9/28). Meanwhile, former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said that he “won’t be joining ESPN,” contrary to a report. Van Gundy said that ESPN “decided not to hire him.” Van Gundy and the net reportedly "couldn’t agree on assignments” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 9/27).