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TBS is averaging a 2.9 overnight Nielsen rating through four days of MLB postseason coverage (eight games), up 4% from the same period last year. The net is also seeing growth among all key adult demos, with the biggest gains among males 25-54 (+15%). Last night's Yankees-Orioles ALDS Game 2 earned a 3.6 overnight up against ESPN's Texans-Jets "MNF," which drew an 11.0 overnight (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
STRONG START: TBS is averaging a 2.3 U.S. rating and 3.6 million viewers through the first three days of MLB postseason coverage, up 15% and 14%, respectively from the net’s coverage through the same period last season. Excluded from TBS’ average was Reds-Giants NLDS Game 2, which was moved to TNT after Yankees-Orioles ALDS Game 1 had a long rain delay. That Reds-Giants game earned a 0.9 U.S. rating and 1.5 million viewers. On Sunday, TBS averaged a 2.0 U.S. rating and 3.2 million viewers, up 11% in both metrics compared to the third day of playoff coverage last season. Nationals-Cardinals NLDS Game 1earned an 8.4 local rating in DC, marking the best MLB game rating in the market since the club relocated in ’05. Yankees-Orioles Game 1 earned a 20.4 local rating in Baltimore, marking the best figure in the market for any Orioles game since the ’97 ALCS (TBS). MLB network averaged 1.3 million viewers for A’s-Tigers ALDS Game 2 on Sunday afternoon, marking the net’s best audience ever. The four-year-old network’s first postseason game beat out the previous high audience set last Tuesday for a Red Sox-Yankees telecast (MLB).
CAPITAL GAINS: In DC, Dan Steinberg noted TBS’ Nationals-Cardinals Game 1 “went head-to-head with the end of a Redskins game and a full slate of late-afternoon NFL contests” on Sunday and still set a local ratings record. The “previous high this season came on Oct. 1, the night the Nats clinched their first NL East title.” MASN earned a 7.4 local rating in DC for that telecast. Despite the superlative for the Nationals’ game, Fox’ Redskins-Falcons “received a far larger local audience.” That telecast earned a 25.4 local rating in DC (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/8).
TALKING HEADS: In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes TBS’ Craig Sager last night during the Yankees-Orioles Game 2 last night said that Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez’ “offensive woes could be ending” after a single in the third inning. Sager “claimed this was a result of some added time Rodriguez spent” with hitting coach Kevin Long. Raissman: “Outside of Sager’s report, the TBS voices didn’t really dissect A-Rod’s swing. Or even try to explain why he’s fall off an offensive cliff.” The TBS voices “were interested in the shrewd defensive play” Rodriguez pulled off in the third inning when Orioles OF Adam Jones singled under SS Derek Jeter’s glove. Orioles SS J.J. Hardy, “who was on second, should have scored easily but lost sight of the ball.” TBS “nailed this on replay” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/9).
NO AFTERNOON DELIGHT: The WASHINGTON POST's Steinberg notes Cardinals-Nationals NLDS Game 3 is set for 1:07pm ET tomorrow on MLB Network, and both the game time and the network "were quickly met by howls of outrage by some Nats fans, who argued their top-seeded team deserved better during the city's first major league playoff appearance in 79 years." Some viewers "may discover that they don't have the proper subscription package to receive the network." The early-afternoon start time "wasn't surprising for Wednesday, when the A's-Tigers will be in the Western time zone if Oakland avoids a sweep Tuesday night and the popular New York Yankees virtually locked into a prime-time slot" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/9). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes putting the Cardinals-Nationals game on MLBN "could help build awareness of the channel, but MLB should do what the NFL does for NFL Network games: allow local over-the-air-coverage in markets of the teams playing" (USA TODAY, 10/9).
PAYING A PRICE FOR PLAYOFFS: In Sacramento, Tom Couzens writes when MLBN officials announced the net's first game would be A's-Tigers ALDS Game 1 on Sunday at 12:07pm ET, "they made it clear they were not putting the interest of the fans first." It could be understood "if there had been a conflict Sunday, if two games were scheduled at the same time." But that "wasn't the case, so there was no reason to push the A's from TBS, which is part of most basic TV packages, to the MLB Network -- other than greed." There was "nothing exclusive about Sunday's A's-Tigers game, other than it was too 'exclusive' for fans who were unable to watch it" (SACBEE.com, 10/9).
MLB this year doubled its media rights haul, however several network partners saw record-low viewership figures. Fox averaged a 1.7 rating and 2.5 million viewers for its Saturday regionalized telecasts, marking the net’s lowest MLB audience since it acquired TV rights prior to the ’96 season. Fox had been steady at a 1.8 rating and around 2.7 million viewers over the last three seasons. Hurting Fox and other national TV partners' numbers this season were a range of issues. This season marked the fifth straight summer Olympic year that Saturday baseball has declined on Fox. A lockout also pushed the NBA postseason deeper into MLB season, which impacted some MLB primetime dates. Fox also saw two key Saturday telecasts affected by rain. The July 28 telecast, which was to feature Red Sox-Yankees in most of the country, was delayed by hours and instead aired head-to-head with Olympic coverage in primetime. Additionally, the net's final Saturday telecast, which was to feature an Angels-Rangers game with playoff implications, was rained out.
UNDER THE LIGHTS: After a successful run of three primetime telecasts last season, Fox increased its slate of Saturday night games this season to eight. Those telecasts from May 19 through July 7 averaged a 2.0 rating and 3.2 million viewers, down 23% and 24%, respectively, from the net’s three primetime telecasts last season.However, Fox did perform well in primetime against other TV competitIon. The net's Saturday night telecasts outperformed entertainment programs on those nights by 17% in households and 14% among males 18-34.
FOX MLB SATURDAY REGULAR-SEASON TRENDYEARRATINGVIEWERS (000)'121.72,500'111.82,744'101.82,700'091.82,700'082.02,900'072.33,312'062.43,348'052.63,606'042.73,727'032.73,600'022.53,445'012.63,377
MLB REGULAR-SEASON GAMES ON ESPNYEARVIEWERS (000)'121,156'111,449'101,386'091,607'081,693'071,775"SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL" ON ESPNYEARVIEWERS (000)'121,784'112,294'102,177'092,458'082,617'072,752TBS SUNDAY MLB TELECASTS
(EXCLUDES TIEBREAKERS)YEARVIEWERS (000)'12448'11556'10557'09614'08624BIGGEST LOCAL MLB RATINGS INCREASES
NET TEAM'12'11% +/- MASN/MASN2 Nationals2.561.4477.8% FS Prime Ticket Dodgers1.911.1467.5% MASN/MASN2 Orioles4.943.2253.4% FS Southwest Rangers5.883.8951.2% FS Detroit Tigers9.216.5440.8%SHARPEST LOCAL MLB RATINGS DECLINES CSN Philadelphia Phillies5.479.15-40.2% FS San Diego Padres1.863.05-39.0% FS Wisconsin Brewers4.998.01-37.7% SportsTime Ohio Indians3.886.21-37.5% FS Houston Astros0.981.50-34.7%
CBS Radio yesterday announced an agreement to purchase N.Y.-area station 101.9 FM from Merlin Media for $75M, and later this fall will begin operating the system as a simulcast of sports-talk station WFAN-AM under the call letters WFAN-FM (CBS Radio). CBS Senior VP Don Bouloukos said that the “exact date for the launch of the WFAN-FM simulcast depends on the speed of the regulatory process.” He said that he “expects it will happen by the end of the year, with some speculation CBS has a mid-November goal.” Bouloukos said WFAN would simulcast “for as long as we can.” In N.Y., David Hinckley notes ESPN Radio has “added listeners since it moved to FM in New York, but WFAN has remained comfortably ahead in the ratings -- including among the 25- to 54-year-old men who form the core of the sports-talk audience.” CBS holds the radio rights for the Mets on WFAN and the Yankees on sister station WCBS-AM, but there “has been speculation ESPN will make an aggressive play when their contracts expire.” Bouloukos: “We’ve had no coverage problems with either team. I don’t think a simulcast adds any value for the rights holder” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/9). Also in N.Y., Richard Sandomir noted the “possibility exists that after a period of simulcasting, WFAN’s voices could vanish from its AM digs.” CBS Radio President & CEO Dan Mason said that if the format at WFAN-AM changes, it "would not happen for a while.” Sandomir wrote sports “might never actually leave WFAN-AM, which has one of the strongest brands in news media and has advertising billings that place it among the top 10 of all radio stations nationally.” Mason said that unless WFAN “converts to something else,” CBS Radio’s primary reason for buying the FM station was to “complement the booming signal” of the AM station (NYTIMES.com, 10/8).
ESPN.com returned to the top of the monthly comScore reach rankings for just the second time since '08, heading the list in September with a total of 47.07 million unique visitors. Yahoo Sports fell to second with 42.98 million uniques. The latest totals repeated a dynamic seen last September when ESPN broke Yahoo's hold of 41 consecutive months leading the chart. Turner Sports Digital rose from 11th in August to seventh last month, as its total of 18.93 million uniques included for the first time the traffic of Bleacher Report, which Turner purchased over the summer. NBC Sports, without the sizable traffic bump from the Summer Olympics, fell from fourth in August to ninth last month with a total of 14.63 million uniques, less than half its total from the prior month. The NFL Internet Group continued its ascent with the arrival of football season, rising from 12th in July and sixth in August to fourth last month. In addition to the reach win, ESPN.com retained its usual large lead in consumption with an average of 95.7 minutes per visitor.TOP SPORTS SITES FOR SEPTEMBER RANKED BY UNIQUE VISITORSRANK
SITE(S)UNIQUES (000)1 ESPN.com47,0722 Yahoo Sports*42,9783 FoxSports.com on MSN36,4924 NFL Internet Group28,0285 USA Today Sports Media Group**24,0366 CBSSports.com23,3067 Turner Sports Digital***18,8628 MLB13,6069 NBC Sports^12,43010 SB Nation10,11311 Sports Illustrated sites10,02612 Sporting News on AOL8,63013 Active.com sites6,35014 Jump TV/NeuLion5,19515 Big Lead Sports by FSV5,093
Baylor Univ. and Fox Sports on Friday announced a new multiyear agreement to televise the school's athletic events and related programming on FS Southwest, FS Southwest Plus and Fox College Sports. Per the agreement, all available Baylor men's basketball games will be televised, along with mutually agreed upon Olympic sports, including women's basketball, baseball, softball, soccer and volleyball. Beginning in '13-14, Fox Sports also will televise one football game annually for the remainder of the deal. Telecasts of Baylor football games will be produced by Fox Sports (Fox Sports). In Texas, John Werner noted FS Southwest, which reaches approximately 9 million homes, "will be the flagship network" for Baylor athletics, with distribution "through Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas." Fox Sports had "previously reached similar agreements with Texas Tech, TCU and Oklahoma for programming as part of the Big 12’s third-tier television rights package." The agreement will "supplement a television deal finalized in September in which the Big 12 announced it will partner with ESPN and Fox for a 13-year contract for a reported $2.6 billion" (WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD, 10/6).
Former NBAer Shaquille O'Neal's original content YouTube comedy channel "is the centerpiece of a growing online network that also will offer original series targeting the 18- to 34-year-old males who will drop by Comedy Shaq for laughs," according to Dawn Chmielewski of the L.A. TIMES. The Comedy Shaq Network has "enlisted veteran writers Michael Anthony Snowden ('White Chicks,' 'In Living Color') and Rodney Barnes ('Boondocks,' 'Everybody Hates Chris') to develop original programs featuring popular talent from film, live comedy and television." Noted comedians Kevin Hart, Gary Owen and Katt Williams "already have had stand-up segments featured on the channel." O'Neal said, “We all know where the world’s going. People are always on their phones, on their laptops, on their iPads. When YouTube made the announcement (last fall) that they wanted to do original channels, I thought it would be good to do a Shaq comedy channel.” O’Neal’s business partner, Codeblack Entertainment CEO Jeff Clanagan, said that Comedy Shaq "is the outgrowth of an entertainment strategy that began three years ago with Shaq’s All-Star Comedy Jam tour." Chmielewski notes film of the first live All-Star Comedy Jam show "was licensed as a Showtime comedy special and later sold 350,000 DVDs" (L.A. TIMES, 10/9).
Disney XD has “teamed up with the NBA for a special titled ‘My Life as an NBA Rookie’ that will give viewers an inside look at some of the biggest basketball stars in their first year in the league,” according to Kimberly Nordyke of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The special will be hosted by actor Billy Unger, and “features exclusive footage” of Hornets F and No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis practicing with the '12 USA Basketball team. It also will “take fans behind the scenes at the NBA Draft Combine and NBA Draft, show how players mentally and physically prepare for training camp and opening night, reveal entertaining rookie duties and show how they sometimes get pranked by returning players.” Lakers G Kobe Bryant and C Dwight Howard, Heat F LeBron James, and Clippers F Blake Griffin and G Chris Paul are “among the NBA stars who will appear in the special” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 10/8).
ESPN earned a 10.0 overnight Nielsen rating for the Texans-Jets "MNF" telecast last night, down 11.5% from an 11.3 overnight for the comparable Bears-Lions in Week 5 last year. Last night's game peaked at an 11.1 rating from 11:30-11:45pm ET. In N.Y., the game earned a 9.5 local rating on ESPN and a 4.3 rating on WWOR-Ind. Those figures combined to top the 11.0 local rating TBS earned for the Yankees-Orioles ALDS Game Two. In Houston, "MNF" earned a 12.0 local rating on ESPN and a 22.4 rating on KHOU-CBS (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
DREAM JOBS? In Phoenix, Paola Boivin wrote the D’Backs TV announcer openings “have become quite the coveted jobs,” since the vacancies give announcers the “chance to work for a well-regarded organization." There also is the "reality that many Major League Baseball announcers already live” in the area. Some "names to consider" include Dodgers announcer Steve Lyons, Rays announcer Brian Anderson and former Rays announcer Kevin Kennedy (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/7).
PUTTING UP STAKES: In Miami, Douglas Hanks cites sources as saying that Univision and ABC “will base their new English-language cable network in the Miami area, ending the possibility that the venture into Hispanic broadcasting might head for California, New York or Texas.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott is “scheduled to announce the decision” tomorrow at the annual meeting of the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County’s economic development agency. With Univision “already headquartered in Doral, Miami-Dade County was seen as the likely site for the network and online operation Univision is launching with ABC” (MIAMI HERALD, 10/9).