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NBC Sports Network will use boxing, soccer, college football and college basketball games "as replacement programming for nine NHL telecasts" that were erased due to the ongoing lockout, according to a network official cited by R. Thomas Umstead of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. The net has 100 live NHL broadcasts "scheduled for the upcoming season." The lockout also is leaving many RSNs in the U.S. "scrambling to find replacement programming" for NHL games (MULTICHANNEL.com, 10/4).
SATURDAY NIGHT SPECIAL: The GLOBE & MAIL's Steve Ladurantaye reports the CBC Thursday announced that it will "continue to broadcast old NHL games on Saturday nights rather than turn to alternative programming to fill the time usually occupied by 'Hockey Night in Canada.'" The net is "asking viewers to vote for which 'classic' games it will air, giving them a choice between five games a week." CBC Exec VP/English Services Kirstine Stewart said, "Advertisers are always interested in hockey fans, but we’re humble about the numbers we are expecting for these games." Ladurantaye notes a hit to the CBC's viewership, and any "subsequent loss in advertising, would come at an already perilous time for the public broadcaster." Stewart said that analyst Don Cherry currently "isn't part" of the CBC's replacement plan. However, she added that Cherry and other "HNIC" regulars "could be integrated into the broadcast if the lockout runs for an extended amount of time." Meanwhile, Sportsnet officials have already lined up "a steady stream of" AHL games on Saturday nights to "try and pry viewers away from CBC." TSN plans to "stick to its original plans to air live events on Saturday nights." Those events include "CFL and NFL playoff games, football and NASCAR." TSN also has exclusive rights to Wednesday-night NHL games, and will "look to the past to fill the slot." A series called "Team Canada Rewind" will "feature the country's national team in various games." TSN tested the idea in September when it aired "Game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and Russia that drew close to 3 million viewers" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/5).
TBS analyst Cal Ripken Jr. will make his postseason debut in the broadcast booth for Friday's Orioles-Rangers Wild Card game, and the Baseball HOFer said the move came about through "a quirky sort of way," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. Ripken said as he would watch games on Sunday afternoons from the TBS studio, he would "sit in the green room and chatter about all kinds of things that wouldn't make our post-game show -- which is about soundbites and moving fast." Hiestand notes TBS MLB Producer Tim Kiely "thought Ripken's chatter deserved a broader audience." He put Ripken, with Ernie Johnson and John Smoltz, on a regular-season Yankees-Orioles game "as a test -- which led to that trio being assigned to playoff games." Ripken said, "I know I'm not polished or experienced in the booth. But I'm a very analytical person and player, and maybe that can come out more than in the studio." Meanwhile, Hiestand notes MLB Network will add Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins and retired MLBer Omar Vizquel as "guest playoff analysts" (USA TODAY, 10/5).
THAT NEW TOY SMELL: Turner Sports Senior VP/Production Craig Barry said of TBS' postseason broadcasts will "have some new technology." The studio show will have "some holographic pitching technology," while a "new predictive game application" will be available. Barry: "We'll also increase our super slo-mo cameras in every broadcast to double what we have, so we'll have three in the division series and six on the championship series. So we're excited" (Albany TIMES UNION, 10/5). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes TBS analyst Joe Simpson, who will call the Reds-Giants NLDS, "shows up prepared and alert without delivering lectures." Simpson is "breezy and easy, ... a stranger you would hope to have seated beside you at a game" (N.Y. POST, 10/5).
BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes the Yankees "are the only marquee attraction, the only entry with legitimate ratings juice" in the postseason. While this "provides comfort for TBS and Fox, the two networks benefiting most from the Yankees’ presence, the suits are holding their breath until they see pinstriped uniforms in the World Series." The networks "will pay gratuitous lip service to the other clubs, but if the Yanks are ousted in the ALDS, someone better keep these honchos away from their high-rise windows." TBS is "guaranteed step one, the ALDS," and is "positioned to ride the Yankees through the ALCS" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/5).
BIRD WATCHING: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes with MLB Network airing LDS games Sunday and Wednesday, there will be "two postseason games on an outlet a lot of people don't have." Unlike the NFL, "which has the games on its NFL Network outlet also carried on an over-the-air station in the markets of the competing teams, MLB does not have such an arrangement despite having nearly the same number of subscribers as NFL Network." However, Caesar writes this is "not a knock on MLB Network's product, just its distribution," as the net "does a superb job of covering the sport and those who buy it figure to receive high-quality productions" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/5). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes MLB may have "every logical business reason to want to put playoff games on ... MLB Network, but don't expect a warm embrace from fans" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/5).
The team cited "philosophical
differences" with Sutton (l)
A STONE'S THROW AWAY: In Chicago, Mark Gonzalez cited a source as saying that the D'Backs have White Sox TV analyst Steve Stone "on a very short list of candidates." Stone is "under contract with the Sox, but he is immensely popular" in Arizona. It is possible Stone could "receive permission to get out of his contract if he receives a lucrative offer elsewhere" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 10/4). Stone Thursday said he was "pretty sure" he would return to the White Sox' booth next year, but added, "You never know what next year is going to hold." Stone: "You have to enjoy what you’re doing and you have to realize the time is getting away from you.” He added, “I love what I do. I have loved what I’ve done. ... I work for perhaps the best owner in all of sports, and that’s Jerry Reinsdorf.” Stone: “I want baseball and broadcasting to be a part of my life as long as possible. I have a contract with the Chicago White Sox. They’ve been wonderful to me and I fully expect that nothing is really going to change” (“The McNeil & Spiegel Show,” WSCR-AM, 10/4).
GET ON THE MIC, MIKE: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes Yankees TV play-by-play announcer Michael Kay this season "often confused big league baseball for a fantasy league kind that apparently is played only in his head." Kay during the broadcast of Monday's Red Sox-Yankees game said, "It’s also an interesting debate -- and we don’t want to get your minds spinning -- but do you even want to finish with the best record? You have to sit around and wonder where you’re going." Mushnick: "That's 'an interesting debate'? For whom?" (N.Y. POST, 10/5).
Primetime games are seeing an audience increase through Week 4 of the ’12 NFL season, while the league’s Sunday afternoon telecasts are seeing drops in viewership. NBC’s “SNF” is off to its best start since the net acquired NFL rights prior to the ’06 season. The net is averaging 23.3 million viewers through five games, marking the best viewership for an NFL primetime package since ABC averaged 24.0 million viewers for “MNF” in ’96. NBC’s 14.2 average rating for its games also marks the best primetime package rating since “MNF” in ’99. NFL Network’s early start to live games has also paid dividends. The net is averaging a 5.1 U.S. rating and 7.9 million viewers, marking its best audience through three telecasts since it began airing regular-season games in ’06. The net last season did not begin its slate of games until Nov. 10. Meanwhile, ESPN is seeing gains after a drop-off last season. Through five “MNF” telecasts, the net is averaging an 8.9 U.S. rating and 14.0 million viewers, up 7% in both metrics compared to the same period last year.
SUNDAY AFTERNOONS: Fox’ Sunday afternoon telecasts are averaging an 11.5 rating and 18.9 million viewers through Week 4, down 6% and 8%, respectively, from last year. The net’s two national windows have averaged a 14.4 rating and 24.3 million viewers, compared to CBS' average of a 13.3 rating and 22.0 million viewers. CBS is averaging a 10.2 rating and 16.8 million viewers for all NFL telecasts through Week 4, down 3% and 4%, respectively, from last year.
POWER OF THE PIGSKIN: Despite declines to date for Sunday afternoons, NFL game telecasts rank as the eight most-watched shows on TV since Labor Day and are the only programs -- along with the season premiere of CBS’ “NCIS” -- to draw more than 20 million viewers. “SNF” continues to flex its muscles against primetime competition. The program has won Sunday night for four straight weeks, including the first official week of the ’12-13 TV season. “MNF” remains on pace to be the No. 1 program on cable TV for the seventh straight year.NFL GAME VIEWERSHIP THROUGH WEEK FOUR
NET'12 (000)'11 (000)'10 (000)'09 (000)'08 (000) NBC*23,32023,16822,85320,75617,814 Fox18,90020,50019,67717,91615,192 CBS16,80017,50018,69915,67115,221 ESPN13,96913,08714,78615,68412,972 NFLN7,895n/an/an/an/a
NOTES: * = Includes NFL Kickoff, which aired on a Wednesday night this year to accommodate the Democratic National Convention. The '08 NFL Kickoff started at 7:00pm ET on a Thursday night to accommodate coverage of the Republican National Convention.
Having football on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays is not enough for Packers fans in Wisconsin, as a new program airing Friday nights throughout the state focuses on players’ wives. “The Better Half” is a 60-minute show that features Courtney Finley (wife of TE Jermichael Finley), Betina Driver (wife of WR Donald Driver) and Geeta Bishop (wife of LB Desmond Bishop), along with WLUK-Fox’ Rachel Manek. The program, which show creator Brian Lammi described as a mix between “The View” and “The Chew,” is produced by WLUK, Fox’ Green Bay affiliate. It airs mainly on Fox affiliates in the state, though it has been picked up by at least one CBS station. Kwik Trip serves as the show's presenting sponsor, while Wendy's, Menards, the Wisconsin Dental Association and Goodwill of Southeastern Wisconsin have signed on to air adds during the broadcasts. Lammi stressed the show is not a precursor to “The Real Housewives of Green Bay.” “There are no reality TV elements and no drama,” he said, “just an interesting look at these wives’ lives focused on family, food, fashion, fun and giving back to the community.” After the taping of four episodes, nine Packers wives have been on the show. Lammi said one of the largest challenges was “thinking about what content would best appeal to the female demo that we certainly are not used to producing television shows for.” Still, the show has brought immense attention to the stations airing it. Lammi said “The Better Half” has generated the most hits to WLUK’s website “other than when the Packers where in the Super Bowl two years ago.”
ONTO THE NEXT ONE: Lammi hopes to run 16 episodes of “The Better Half” in tandem with the NFL season. Should the Packers make the playoffs, the wives will not be expected to make a postseason encore. Lammi said, “Because so many wives are not living in Green Bay year-long, we plan on it pretty much ending at the end of December. So we’ll go through the remainder of this calendar year, and then we plan on starting up again next fall closer to when the season starts again.” He noted ratings for the show have been hard to gauge because of the small markets. “It’s a little bit tough to say in Wisconsin because you only get overnights in Milwaukee. So we’ll have sweeps coming up in November, and then we’ll have a better idea we think of what our true viewership levels are.” He also hopes to expand the reach of “The Better Half” outside the Wisconsin state border. “We thought about expanding for next season and seeing what kind of wider distribution we might be able to figure out,” Lammi said. He is making the foray into women television after debuting shows such as “One on One with Ryan Braun,” “Inside The Huddle” and “Green Bay Nation” through Lammi Sports Management.
THE FINAL SAY: Lammi said he wanted the Packers and the NFL “to be aware of the concept” during development, but since the show is not particularly about sports, he is not “looking to utilize logos or NFL Films footage.” He added, “We’re really looking at this as a separate project that the wives can feel good about telling their stories and sharing their experiences, rather than being really a true sports show. It’s really been a separate property from the Green Bay Packers.” A Packers spokesperson said that the team was contacted during development and made aware of the show, but the Packers have no involvement or input into the content aired. The team also is not able to track a spike in women’s sales nor interest through increased web traffic thus far.
Media organizations today “face a host of new pressures, from the growing number of rivals reporting news to the increasing importance of social media in disseminating and sharing that news,” and amid such “rapid change, news outlets such as ESPN face challenges in taking their editorial standards beyond familiar pages and airwaves to new platforms,” according to Jason Fry in the latest entry for ESPN as part of the Poynter Review Project. ESPN.com VP & Editor-in-Chief Patrick Stiegman said that ESPN’s standards and practices “require ‘appropriate and proper credit’ when an ESPN report references another news organization’s story.” Stiegman said that ESPN “doesn’t have a specific policy about attribution in tweets, but noted that ESPN’s standards and practices apply to all of its journalistic efforts.” There is “no exception for social media such as Twitter.” But ESPN’s standards are “less clear-cut about when to provide a Web link to another news organization’s report.” Stiegman said that ESPN stories “generally include such links, particularly in its many blogs or when referencing a report that relies on anonymous sources -- but that every situation is different.” Still another “bone of contention was over divergent U.S. and European journalistic standards.” ESPN Italian soccer correspondent Adam Digby argued on Twitter it was very “rare to see credit” for quotes on social media, especially tied to European media sites. Stiegman acknowledged “there are, unquestionably, cultural journalistic differences,” adding ESPN editors from various regions had been engaged in “a healthy and fair debate” about them. He said plans are under way for "a much deeper alignment" of philosophies and standards with those of ESPN's U.S. operations. Fry wrote ESPN’s policies “for attribution and credit strike us as sound, and ESPN is right to apply them to social media, as well.” Fry: “We would suggest, however, that ESPN re-examine its standards for linking to other organizations’ stories. ESPN’s argument that it can be confusing to send readers to stories with potentially contradictory information strikes us as well-intentioned but not terribly helpful” (ESPN.com, 10/3).
Golf Channel saw its most-viewed September and most-viewed Q3 in the net’s history. This past quarter also marked the fourth consecutive quarter of record audience delivery for the net. September marked the seventh of nine months this year to reach record viewership, and the ninth of 11 months to be most-viewed dating back to November ’11. September’s audience was helped by the Ryder Cup, which averaged 5.5 million viewers last Sunday, up 30% from the last time the event was held in the U.S. That figure is the best for a Ryder Cup Sunday since 6.9 million viewers watched in ’99. Golf Chanel also scored its most-viewed documentary with “War By The Shore” on Sept. 25, which averaged 241,000 viewers (Golf Channel).
IF IT AIN’T BROKE: ESPN averaged a 1.7 U.S. rating and 2.7 million viewers for the premiere of “Broke” on Tuesday, marking the net’s second-best audience ever for a documentary. The top audience remains “The Fab Five,” which premiered on March 13, 2011. “Broke” was the first of ESPN’s “30 for 30” Vol. II. The top audience among the original “30 for 30” films was 2.5 million viewers for “Pony Excess,” which debuted on Dec. 11, 2010 (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).MOST-VIEWED ESPN DOCUMENTARIES
PREMIERE FILMRAT.VIEWERS (000) Sunday, March 13, 2011 "The Fab 5"1.82,746 Tuesday, Oct. 02, 2012 "Broke"1.72,700 Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 "Pony Excess"1.62,517 Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009 "The U"1.62,368 Tuesday, Nov. 09, 2010 "The Best That Never Was"1.52,229
EASTERN FRONT: YES Network averaged 733,000 viewers in N.Y. for the Red Sox-Yankees regular-season finale on Wednesday night, tying the same matchup on Sept. 1, 2011 as the net’s most-viewed program over the last two years despite competition from the Presidential debate. The record dates back to the Yankees-Red Sox season opener in ’10, which averaged 1.1 million viewers (YES).
The chart below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings listed are U.S. ratings.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "Sunday Night Football": Giants-Eagles9/30NBC8:31-11:42pm14.122,765 "NFL on Fox": Saints-Packers (87%)9/30Fox4:15-7:30pm13.422,300 "NFL on CBS": (single)9/30CBS1:00-4:05pm8.9n/a "NFL on Fox": (regional)9/30Fox1:00-4:15pm8.713,800 "Football Night in America"9/30NBC7:30-8:15pm5.07,932 Golf: Ryder Cup9/30NBC12:00-6:30pm3.85,500 NCAA Football:
Ohio State-Michigan State9/29ABC3:30-7:00pm3.34,975
Golf: Ryder Cup9/29NBC9:00am-7:45pm3.04,200 NCAA Football: Tennessee-Georgia9/29CBS3:30-7:30pm2.9n/a NCAA Football: Wisconsin-Nebraska9/29ABC8:06-11:48pm2.74,258 NCAA Football:
"The NFL Today"9/30CBS12:00-1:00pm2.3n/a MLB: (regional)9/29Fox4:00-7:00pm1.01,500 PBR 15/15 Bucking Battle9/30CBS5:00-6:00pm1.0n/a "College Football Today"9/29CBS3:00-3:30pm0.7n/a "College Football Confidential:
"MLB 2012: Down the Stretch"9/29CBS2:00-3:00pm0.4n/a TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "Monday Night Football":
"Thursday Night Football":
"Thursday Night Football Pregame"9/27NFLN8:00-8:30pm2.84,225 NASCAR Sprint Cup:
AAA 400 (Dover)9/30ESPN2:00-5:31pm2.23,581
NCAA Football: Ole Miss-Alabama9/29ESPN9:21pm-12:42am2.13,496 "Monday Night Countdown"9/24ESPN6:30-8:30pm1.92,887 NCAA Football: Stanford-Washington9/27ESPN8:55pm-12:21am1.42,116 "Sunday NFL Countdown"9/30ESPN10:00am-1:00pm1.42,029 Golf: Ryder Cup9/28ESPN8:00am-7:30pm1.51,985 NCAA Football: