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Fox earned a 4.3 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's Cardinals-Giants NLCS Game 2, down 7% from the net's Rangers-Tigers ALCS Game 2 last year, which also aired on a Monday night. The telecast peaked early (10:00pm ET) with a 5.0 rating as the Giants opened up a 5-1 lead in the fourth inning and eventually won 7-1. The game, which aired up against ESPN's Broncos-Chargers "MNF" telecast, led Fox to its best Monday primetime average for the current TV season. In the S.F.-Oakland-San Jose market, the telecast earned a 19.1 local rating, while in St. Louis, the game earned a 36.2 rating (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
MARKET WATCH: The ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH notes the local rating for Cardinals-Giants NLCS Game 1 on Sunday “exceeds any figure" for the market during the '11 Cardinals-Brewers NLCS. It is the “best rating for the first contest" of any of the seven NLCS matchups that the Cardinals have played in since '00. Sunday's telecast earned a 41.5% local rating in St. Louis, up 33% from a 31.2 rating for TBS' NLCS Game 1 last season. St. Louis was “by far the best-rated market in the country, more than doubling the 20.6 rating in second-place San Francisco” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/16). In New Jersey, Jeff Roberts noted Fox' Giants-49ers game on Sunday earned a 16.1 local rating in N.Y., which “comfortably beat” the 9.7 rating TBS' Tigers-Yankees ALCS Game 2 (NORTHJERSEY.com, 10/15).
BUCK-ING A TREND: SI.com’s Richard Deitsch noted Fox' Joe Buck had “previously called doubleheaders as a Cardinals broadcaster, but he'd never experienced the kind of Sunday he had in San Francisco” when he handled play-by-play duties for the Giants-49ers NFL game and NLCS Game 1. Fox Sports co-President & co-COO Eric Shanks “brought up the idea of the two-sport, same-day doubleheader if both the Giants and Cardinals won their divisional series.” Had Buck “arrived late for the baseball game, his longtime partner, Tim McCarver, would have handled the action until he got there.” After the NLCS game, Buck's voice “remained strong, and he announced that he was off to grab some pizza and a seltzer.” Buck said, “I'm fine; it's not like I was in the pentathlon. I just sat there and talked. It's cute for Fox, but beyond that, people just want to watch the game” (SI.com, 10/15). In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes, “This was a stunt, a publicity grab. Does anyone think Fox’s cameras would follow Buck to work on a normal day?” Whether Buck “made the call here, or was just following orders, can’t erase the perception this was a case of big-footing.” Preparation "is important for a broadcaster," so "maybe the Foxies had the Double Duty contingency plan in mind weeks ago.” Raissman: "But if Buck didn’t know about the football assignment did he actually prepare? Or did he decide he could get by working the game off the cuff?” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/16).
BYE-BYE BIRDIES: In Baltimore, David Zurawik offered “some final thoughts” on the Yankees-Orioles ALDS broadcasts on TBS. The team of play-by-play man Ernie Johnson and analysts Cal Ripken Jr. and John Smoltz “was outstanding.” Johnson “sets a table as well as anyone this side of Al Michaels,” and was “superb all series long at drawing the best out of Ripken and Smoltz, who provided original and insightful analysis.” Zurawik wrote, “I also want to stress what fine work the production crew at TBS did in making viewers feel as if they were part of what was happening at Camden Yards and Yankee Stadium." The shots of Manhattan "at sunset and twilight that the producers used as they came back from commercials were fantastic” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 10/15).
CANADIAN BEEF: The GLOBE & MAIL’s Bruce Dowbiggin asks, “Why should Major League Baseball deny its fans the proper decision when a better alternative exists?” That is how Canadian baseball fans “feel watching the MLB international feed of the American League Championship Series on Sportsnet instead of the TBS broadcasts.” MLB wants to provide "clean feed devoid of U.S. graphics and advertising." Dowbiggin: "Thanks for nothing." This "works for Sportsnet perhaps, but these broadcasts annoy fans and lack the authority of the host broadcasters.” When Yankees SS Derek Jeter fractured an ankle during Saturday's ALCS Game 1, MLB producers “provided no replays of what happened till well after a commercial break.” But perhaps “our biggest beef is the absence of the virtual strike zone widget” (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/16).
ESPN averaged a 9.2 overnight Nielsen rating for the Broncos' 35-24 win over the Chargers on "MNF" last night, flat compared to the Dolphins-Jets matchup in Week 6 last year. The broadcast peaked at an 11.3 overnight from 11:30-11:45pm ET as the Broncos concluded its comeback from a 24-0 halftime deficit. In Denver, the game earned a 15.2 local rating on ESPN and a 21.1 rating on KTVD-Ind. In San Diego, the game earned a 14.0 local rating on ESPN and a 21.1 rating on KFMB-CBS (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
NIGHT MOVES: In Houston, David Barron wrote NBC's "SNF" in its sixth year is "pulling away" from ESPN’s "MNF" in audience numbers. During the first year of the current NFL TV rights deal in '06, "SNF" averaged 17.5 million viewers, compared to 12.3 million for "MNF." Last year, "the spread" was 21.5 million to 13.3 million. So far this season, "SNF" leads "MNF" 22.5 million to 14.0 million. "SNF" Exec Producer Fred Gaudelli said, "I didn’t think there was any way to reverse 35 years of tradition. But tastes have changed. There aren't as many sitcoms or scripted dramas. There are more reality shows. ... Add to that the fact that the NFL keeps getting bigger and that NBC made such a push to make Sunday a big night, and it’s all come together. That has shocked me. That we would become the No. 1 prime time show, I don’t think anybody saw that coming" (CHRON.com, 10/13).
BETTER THAN MOST: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote Fox' play-by-play announcer Thom Brennaman and color analyst Brian Billick "delivered smart, smooth and informative coverage" of Sunday's Cowboys-Ravens game. The "entire production -- from Laura Okmin’s sideline reports to the myriad and sharply focused angles from which the cameras closely followed key plays -- was so vastly superior to what Ravens fans usually get with second- and third-string CBS Sports crews that the telecast felt like a gift from the sports gods." However, the "Fox NFL Sunday" pregame show "is a disgrace." The net's pregame analysts are "lazy, slow, cornball and downright moronic at times" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 10/15).
SAFETY TALK: NFL Network reporter Andrea Kremer said of what kind of statement the net made by hiring her to cover player health and safety issues, "I sense the network is fully aware that this is a huge issue. They have not fully dealt with it." Regarding any concern that viewers will doubt her objectivity, she added, "I'm sure not being given any special treatment. I'm not going to get people just because I work for the NFL Network. I've been trying to work on a story, and I've put in requests and I've been rebuffed" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 10/15).
MUSICALLY INCLINED: In Boston, Jed Gottlieb noted "Fox NFL Sunday" last month got "some extra thump" when the broadcast began featuring rock band Prospect Hill and its song "Come Alive." The Fox licensing deal is an opportunity for the group to take "a big step forward." After NBC's London Games women's gymnastics coverage "repeatedly featured Phillip Phillips' 'Home,' the single jumped from No. 84 to No. 9 on the Billboard charts." Prospect Hill manager Dan Roberge said, "Not only do these placements expose the band to a national audience, but it makes everyone else take you seriously. Our first deal with ESPN helped us get our Fox NFL deal, now our Fox deal makes us look better to labels and radio" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/14).
Fox Sports Networks said it will not distribute the "The Dan Patrick Show" after tomorrow. The two sides failed to reach an agreement that would have FSN continue to distribute the radio show simulcast to more than two dozen affiliates. Fox Sports VP/Communications Chris Bellitti said, "We thought we were a good fit for the show considering our broad distribution across the country, but unfortunately, we couldn't agree on terms for a new deal. Instead, we view this as an opportunity to develop a consistent block of collegiate programming featuring the best games from the prior weekend." DirecTV produces the show, but it has relied on FSN to distribute it to RSNs across the country. A source says the show still is in talks with other potential distributors, including NBC Sports Group, but nothing is finalized. In August, NBC Sports Group dropped all FSN programming, including "The Dan Patrick Show" from its Comcast SportsNet RSN.
One question in a "growing U.S. soccer media market" is whether Al Jazeera-owned, English-language soccer channel beIN Sport "will make a push to acquire" the U.S. EPL rights for three seasons starting in '13-14, according to Grant Wahl of SI.com. The deadline for bids is “expected to come in the next two weeks, with beIN Sport's potential competitors including Fox, ESPN and perhaps NBC/Comcast and Univision.” Apple and Google also were “thought to be in the race at one point, though that possibility has cooled somewhat.” The increase in competition for U.S. soccer rights “should be a good thing for consumers and the sport itself, as long it remains a rational economic market." However, "a number of questions have been raised.” Wahl: “Why is Al Jazeera investing millions on soccer in America? Is Al Jazeera using live sports to try to leverage its hard-to-find English-language news channel onto more U.S. distribution platforms? And is beIN Sport overpaying for soccer rights as a Qatari vanity project that doesn't make business sense?” BeIN Sport Managing Dir Yousef Al Obaidly said that the net is “independent from Al Jazeera's news channel and is simply trying to grow as a sports channel.” Al Obaidly: "We're looking at all sports, not just soccer.” He added that rugby, tennis, motorsports, track and field, volleyball and handball are among "the channel's other potential interests.”
ACCESS IS EVERYTHING: FocalSport consultancy President Mark Noonan, who previously served as MLS Exec VP, said, "The true test for beIN Sport is they've acquired some premium content, if you will, so now can they get the distribution to support that content and business model?” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said, "The issue with beIN Sport that some of our fans have is they don't have access to it. That's the only issue. They'll get greater distribution, there's no doubt about that, given the investments they're making and the properties they have." Wahl noted both beIN Sport and the net's Spanish-language channel are “currently available on the top two satellite providers, DirecTV and DISH, while Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, is carrying only beIN Sport's Spanish-language channel for now.” Al Obaidly said that “more than 13 million U.S. homes (out of an available 54 million) are now receiving the beIN Sport signal.” Al Obaidly: "We're in the process of negotiating and hopefully reaching agreement with another platform, but we're only 47 days old, a very young sports network." Al Obaidly “denied reports that beIN Sport was paying Comcast for carriage.” Meanwhile, he said that beIN Sport has “no plans to offer" online live-stream subscription services "a la Watch ESPN or FoxSoccer2Go" (SI.com, 10/12).
THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre cited sources as saying that ESPN's Jalen Rose has "been selected as the 4th member" of the net's "NBA Countdown" program. Rose will be paired with Bill Simmons, Magic Johnson and Michael Wilbon. A source said that Basketball HOFer Isiah Thomas "was briefly in the picture" to appear on the show, but Simmons "favored Rose" over Thomas. The source said that Simmons "thought the Isiah-Magic pair might skew old with viewers." McIntyre noted Rose will "be a busy man this winter" -- he has joined the "College GameDay" set for its basketball coverage and will "remain a co-host" of "Numbers Never Lie" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 10/15).
CUP HALF EMPTY: In Milwaukee, Dave Kallmann wrote if there was "concern about the future of NASCAR’s value to television, then the media rights extension announced Monday should help allay some fears." But there are reasons to "urge caution." There is "no assurance the Cup races will be on Fox, only on the Fox family of networks." There is "no guarantee that TV will even work in 2022 the way it does today, and I’m not convinced even the TV folks (or NASCAR) know what shape it will take." Also, "someone has to pay for all this programming," so fans should "keep an eye on your cable bill" (JSONLINE.com, 10/15).
NET GAINS: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds writes YES Network "is already seeing the benefits of the Nets' relocation on Madison Avenue." While Senior VP/Ad Sales Howard Levinson "reports that YES is in the process of finalizing deals with other clients, Verizon Wireless, Verizon FiOS, Cadillac, Geico, Nissan and, not surprisingly, Barclays will all expand their presence on Nets' game telecasts this season." The New York State Lottery also is "now part of YES's account roster" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 10/15 issue).
ROGER THAT: The FINANCIAL POST's Jamie Sturgeon reports Score Media shareholders yesterday approved "the sale of the company's television network and related properties to Rogers Communications," moving the C$167M deal a "step closer to completion." The vote was "unanimously in favour of the transaction." Passage of the vote "sets the stage for approval from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, expected later this week, and a final nod from regulators at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission." For Rogers, the deal "bolsters its Sportsnet group of regional channels with a third national platform behind Sportsnet One and Sportsnet World" (FINANCIAL POST, 10/16).