ESPN Begins Laying Off Around 100 Personalities Where Does NASCAR Go With Dale Jr. Leaving? Manfred: Bush-Jeter Deal For Marlins Not Done David Abrutyn's Career Intertwined With Caps History FedEx Signs Multiyear NFL Extension Learfield Brings On Gil Beverly, Jack Patterson Officials Break Ground On Pro Football HOF Village Hotel Woods' Endorsement Deals Suffer From Layoff Minding My Business: Williams Martini Racing's Richard Berry ESPN Cuts Drive Discussion On Twitter
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TBS wrapped up the ALCS Thursday with the Tigers’ sweep of the Yankees. The four-game set, which included two day games and two primetime games, averaged a 4.5 overnight Nielsen rating, up 36% from the six-game Cardinals-Brewers NLCS last year on the net. That series had five primetime games and only one day game. Thursday afternoon’s ALCS Game 4 drew a 4.1 overnight from 4:00-7:45pm. The game drew a 30.6 local rating in Detroit, which is the market’s best figure for a postseason game this year. N.Y. earned an 8.7 local rating. Meanwhile, a non-competitive game and competition from “Thursday Night Football” led to a sharp drop for Fox’ NLCS Game 4 on Thursday night. The Cardinals’ 8-1 win over the Giants earned a 4.2 overnight Nielsen rating, down 30% from the comparable Rangers-Tigers ALCS Game 4 last year, which aired on a Wednesday. The Giants-Cardinals matchup was also 29% lower than the 5.4 overnight earned by NFL Network’s Seahawks-49ers game Thursday night. Giants-Cardinals peaked at a 4.8 rating in the 10:00pm ET half-hour. In the S.F.-Oakland-San Jose market, the game earned an 11.9 local rating, while in St. Louis, the game earned a 41.2 rating (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).WEATHERING THE STORM: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes KTVI-Fox “tried to do the right thing Wednesday afternoon and took a major step in the right direction with restrained use of weather-related gizmos” during the telecast of Giants-Cardinals NLCS Game 3. Storms were “in the forecast when the pregame show aired, and weather info appeared on the screen.” But when “play began, KTVI soon removed the weather graphics and inserted them only briefly during the early stages of the telecast.” It was a “nice touch of self control.” As the game “progressed the weather became worse, and KTVI did end up with the map and scroll at times, but they weren't on the screen constantly” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/19).
TASTE TEST: In Albany, Pete Dougherty compares the postseason coverage from Fox and TBS and writes Fox has an "advantage" in play-by-play announcers. Fox “may be the only network that has a signature broadcaster the stature of the late Curt Gowdy.” When you hear Joe Buck's voice, “you figure it's a big event.” Ernie Johnson's fame “came from the NBA studio show on TNT.” While he has a “recognizable voice and is a smooth operator in the booth, Johnson doesn't have the baseball experience of Buck.” In examining both nets’ MLB analysts, Dougherty writes, “More voices isn't always better in a broadcast booth, but it seems to work for TBS.” Ron Darling may be “emerging as baseball's best analyst on a national stage.” While John Smoltz is “OK, TBS would be better not having two former pitchers as analysts.” TBS has the advantage, in part, because viewers are “getting far more insight from them" than Fox' Tim McCarver. When it comes to production, Fox “lost a lot of points with me for its center-field camera angle in St. Louis.” Dougherty: “The camera should never be directly in line with home plate, as the pitcher's head blocks the view. It's like trying to watch a game with someone walking in front of you before every pitch.” TBS “rates lower, though, because of frequent errors in graphics and what I perceive as a lack of experience in doing big games” (Albany TIMES-UNION, 10/19).
THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS: DEADSPIN.com’s Timothy Burke noted Fox used “old video” of an aerial shot of St. Louis during Wednesday’s Giants-Cardinals NLCS Game 3. Many aerial shots “weren't even filmed by the broadcasting network at all, but supplied to them by the local tourism bureau or acquired from stock image companies.” The director, for his or her part, has “no idea what footage the aerial reel contains.” It is “likely no aerial shots were usable” from Wednesday's game “due to the weather that led to its lengthy mid-game delay, so the stock footage well became the only way to provide the pretty arch shot” (DEADSPIN.com, 10/18).
SI named company vet Paul Fichtenbaum the new Time Inc. Sports Group Editor, succeeding Terry McDonell and completing an exec transition process several months in the making. Fichtenbaum had been elevated in August from SI.com Managing Editor to Editorial Dir of the Time Inc. Sports Group. With this subsequent move, McDonell will shift to a new role as a Special Advisor to Time Inc., concentrating on digital initiatives. Fichtenbaum will assume editorial oversight for the 58-year-old print magazine, as well as SI.com, SI for Kids, the SI Golf franchise and the group's various book and int'l initiatives. Chris Stone has also been promoted to SI Managing Editor, making him the ninth person to hold that position. Stone, a 20-year vet of the magazine and a key figure in the expansion of the SI Swimsuit issue, won out in a nationwide search for the position that included guest editor stints and several external and internal candidates, including L. Jon Wertheim. McDonell was Sports Group Editor since '05. Fichtenbaum has been with SI since '89 (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
NEW REGIME: In N.Y., Keith Kelly reports while Stone "was seen as the front-runner, insiders said he won a bake-off against three other assistant managing editors (Mark Mravic, Hank Hersch and Chris Hunt)" and Senior Editor Stephen Cannella, who runs the baseball vertical. Each candidate "worked on producing at least one issue over the summer." Kelly reports the "McDonell-to-Fichtenbaum handoff has been in the works at least since July." Fichtenbaum over the summer worked to "realign SI into about a dozen sports verticals, such as NFL, MLB and college football, designed to break down the lingering barriers between print and digital." Fichtenbaum said, "People understand that we’re not just a once-a-week publication. We’re a 24/7 phenomenon." Fichtenbaum added that the "3 million circulation print weekly is still 'nicely profitable'" (N.Y. POST, 10/19).
THE HONEY BADGER DOESN'T COMMENT: In New Orleans, Jennifer Hale reported former LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu and his parents, Tyrone and Sheila, "all three declined to be interviewed" for SI's recent cover story. Tyrone Mathieu said that SI "refused to accept their decision not to be interviewed for the story." His family "hired a law firm last week to attempt to stop SI's interview requests." Sheila Mathieu said that she "can't understand why Sports Illustrated would respond so viciously to a family's decision to keep private matters private." Sheila Mathieu said, "They twisted things and cobbled together details from past articles because we wouldn't sit down with them" (FOX8LIVE.com, 10/16). Blogger Ed Sherman reported there "are allegations that Sports Illustrated tried to bribe a promoter to get damaging material about Mathieu." SI in a response said it "stands behind the reporting and the facts of the story. These absurd allegations are completely fabricated and with obvious motive" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 10/17).
NEXT CASE: In L.A., Houston Mitchell reported L.A. Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Murphy on Wednesday "threw out a defamation lawsuit brought by Reeves Nelson against Sports Illustrated and reporter George Dohrmann concerning an article critical of the former UCLA basketball player." Murphy found that Dohrmann "had numerous sources" to back up his article, "Not the UCLA Way." Nelson "maintained that he was falsely portrayed as a chronic troublemaker who deliberately hurt teammates" (L.A. TIMES, 10/18).
The D'Backs on Thursday hired former Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN-TV Cubs analyst Bob Brenly and will pair him with ESPN's Steve Berthiaume for the team's telecasts on FS Arizona, according to Nick Piecoro of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Brenly will return "to the analyst position he held for the first three years of the Diamondbacks’ existence before serving as the club’s manager for 3 1/2 seasons." D'Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall said that Brenly "received a five-year deal while Berthiaume agreed to a three-year deal that includes two option years." Brenly said, "WGN was very generous to me in my time here in Chicago, and put us into a position where we could choose what we thought was best regardless of compensation." Berthiaume worked for "12 years at ESPN in two stints with the company, spending a year in between at SportsNet NY, but he has limited experience as a play-by-play man." He said that he "got hooked after his first experience calling a game at the end of last season," when he called the Rays’ comeback win over the Yankees in the final game of the year. Hall said that by "hiring Berthiaume the team is 'gambling on his upside'" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/19). Brenly and Berthiaume will be introduced Nov. 5 at Chase Field so Berthiaume can honor his commitment to ESPN through the World Series (D'Backs).
MOVING ON: WGN Dir of Productions Bob Vorwald said that he would get together with the Cubs and CSN Chicago "as soon as possible" to go over a list of potential candidates to replace Brenly. Vorwald said, "We don’t rule out anybody. We’ll start with a clean slate." In Chicago, Paul Sullivan reports the new analyst "would be a WGN employee, though the Cubs probably would have the most say in who is chosen." Vorwald said that the analyst "doesn’t necessarily have to have a Cubs’ background." Former Cubs P Kerry Wood "told WGN-AM’s David Kaplan he has 'no interest' in replacing Brenly," while ESPN's Rick Sutcliffe said that he "might consider the opening if asked." ESPN MLB studio analyst Doug Glanville also said that the "job intrigued him." In addition, Dodgers TV analyst Steve Lyons as "shown interest in the job" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/19).
CHANGE IS COMING: THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre cites a source as saying that "SportsCenter" anchor Cindy Brunson, Berthiaume's wife, "will be leaving the network as well and going to Arizona with her husband." Sources said that the moves come as "SportsCenter" "braces for a significant shakeup in the coming months." The "buzz right now is nobody’s anchor seat is safe." A lot of the moves "remain fluid and decisions haven’t been finalized." But the one change that "appears to be a lock" is that Lindsay Czarniak is headed for the 6:00pm ET "SportsCenter" "full-time, starting sometime in December" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 10/18).
ESPN formally announced that Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose will join the "NBA Countdown" pregame show alongside Magic Johnson and Michael Wilbon. The new group of analysts will debut Friday, Nov. 2, prior to ESPN's doubleheader telecast to open the regular season. Previous co-hosts Jon Barry and Chris Broussard will have new roles -- Barry will transition to game analysis with regular assignments throughout the season and Broussard will appear on "SportsCenter" and serve as a game reporter (ESPN). In Boston, Chad Finn writes the personnel change is a "daring attempt to find the chemistry TNT has long had" with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. However, it is "debatable whether the right personalities are returning -- [Magic] Johnson has proven that his effervescent personality doesn't translate to broadcasting, and Wilbon is far too deferential" to Johnson. But Simmons is "confident the quartet will click." He said, "Would this work if the four of us went out for dinner and just started talking basketball? I think it would, I know it would. We'd probably go for an hour and a half, and it would be genuine, and you can't fake that" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/19). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth wonders if ESPN did "really up its game" with the pregame changes (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/19).
The audience for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is seeing a small dip at the halfway point this year. Through five races, ESPN/ABC is averaging a 2.7 U.S. rating and 4.3 million viewers, down from a 2.8 rating and 4.5 million viewers in ’11. The figures from last season exclude the Chase-opening race at Chicagoland Speedway, which was run on a Monday due to poor weather. Last Saturday’s Bank of America 500, the only Chase race scheduled for primetime and for ABC, finished with a 3.2 rating (5.1 million viewers), flat compared to the same race in '11 and '10 (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
HIGHER EDUCATION: ESPN’s LSU-South Carolina matchup last Saturday night finished with a 3.7 U.S. rating and 6.0 million viewers, marking the net’s highest-rated and most-viewed regular-season college football telecast since a Thursday night LSU-Mississippi State matchup earned a 4.0 rating and 6.3 million viewers on September 15, 2011 (ESPN)….Following last Saturday afternoon’s Stanford-Notre Dame matchup, NBC is averaging 4.5 million viewers for Notre Dame football telecasts this season, the net’s best figure in six years. That viewership is also up 50% from 3.0 million viewers at the same point last season (Karp)….KOCO-ABC in Oklahoma City averaged a 34.4 local rating for the Oklahoma-Texas “Red River Rivalry” last Saturday, down from a 40.5 rating last year (OKLAHOMAN, 10/16).
NOTES: ESPN finished with 778,000 viewers for Game 2 of the Fever-Lynx WNBA Finals on Wednesday night, marking the most-watched WNBA playoff game on the net since ’99 (ESPN).
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings and viewership for recent sports telecasts. Figures for several telecasts on ABC and NBC were unavailable at presstime.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "NFL on Fox": Giants-49ers (77%)10/13Fox4:15-7:30pm13.722,800 "Sunday Night Football":
"NFL on CBS": (single)10/13CBS1:00-4:05pm10.0n/a "NFL on Fox": (regional)10/13Fox1:00-4:15pm9.214,800 "The OT"10/13Fox7:34-8:00pm6.811,041 "Football Night in America"10/13NBC7:30-8:15pm5.38,854 NLCS: Cardinals-Giants: Game 110/13Fox8:12-11:41pm4.16,796 NCAA Football:
NASCAR Sprint Cup:
Bank of America 500 (Charlotte)10/12ABC7:30-11:21pm3.25,095
NCAA Football: Alabama-Missouri10/12CBS3:30-7:00pm2.3n/a "The NFL Today"10/13CBS12:00-1:00pm2.0n/a NCAA Football: USC-Washington10/12Fox7:06-10:22pm1.62,508 FIFA World Cup Qualifier:
NCAA Football: Utah-UCLA10/12Fox3:00-6:30pm0.68,700 "College Football Today"10/12CBS3:00-3:30pm0.5n/a "College Football Uncut -- Auburn"10/12CBS2:00-2:30pm0.4n/a "College Football Uncut -- South Carolina"10/12CBS2:30-3:00pm0.4n/a Liga MX:
Chivas de Guadalajara-Jaguares10/13Telem.5:55-8:00pm0.4760
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "Monday Night Football": Texans-Jets10/8ESPN8:30-11:44pm9.014,047 ALCS: Tigers-Yankees: Game 110/13TBS8:00pm-1:06am4.26,847 NCAA Football: South Carolina-LSU10/13ESPN7:59-11:33pm3.75,978 NLDS: Cardinals-Nationals: Game 510/12TBS8:30pm-12:37am3.75,908 ALDS: Yankees-Orioles: Game 310/10TBS7:44-11:20pm3.95,777 "Thursday Night Football":
ALDS: Yankees-Orioles: Game 410/11TBS7:30pm-12:16am3.55,155 ALDS: Yankees-Orioles: Game 510/12TBS5:00-8:12pm3.55,066 ALCS: Tigers-Yankees: Game 210/14TBS4:00-7:31pm3.15,040 ALDS: Yankees-Orioles: Game 210/8TBS8:37pm-12:07am2.84,222
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott during halftime of Thursday’s Oregon-Arizona State football game said that “no progress has been made in the conference’s negotiations with DirecTV to carry the Pac-12 Networks.” Scott said, “It’s very frustrating for us and disappointing for our fans, especially because we’ve got coming up in the next two weeks our four Top 25 teams on the network.” Scott did announce that the nets are “now available to customers on their iPhone and iPod Touch devices through the Pac-12 Now fan experience.” In Phoenix, Paola Boivin notes the nets will be “available on Android devices in several weeks” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/19).
NO NEED FOR TRANSLATION: In Montreal, Steve Faguy reports the Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission Thursday denied BCE Inc.'s application to acquire Astral Media. The organization in the process also denied a "related application from Bell Media's parent company to convert Montreal's all-sports radio station from English to French in order to satisfy the commission's limits on common ownership.” The decision is the “best possible outcome for TSN Radio 690 and its fans” as approval of the deal, “even with conditions, would have meant that Montreal Canadiens hockey broadcasts would move to CJAD, and CKGM would be converted into French, sold off or shut down” (Montreal GAZETTE, 10/19).
DRAFTING STRATEGY: In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle notes NBC officials are confident F1's move to NBC and NBC Sports Net "will add eyes to the IndyCar broadcasts, not divert attention from the series.” The deal would "seem to indicate that NBC is ready to make a major commitment to open-wheel racing in all forms." Schoettle: "If the growing U.S. F1 audience gets exposed to some IndyCar promotions, all the better.” NBC officials “already are talking to IndyCar leaders about some intriguing cross promotions between the series.” NBC “hopes to pull some of the fans of F1’s U.S. morning broadcasts into afternoon IndyCar races” (IBJ.com, 10/17).
A NATURAL MOVE: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand notes it “seems logical” that Dan Patrick’s daytime radio show, also simulcast on DirecTV, would “move to the NBC Sports Network.” The show had “aired on Fox Sports Net outlets until the sides this week couldn't reach a new deal.” Patrick on-air Tuesday said that a “new TV distribution will be announced soon.” NBC Thursday had no comment. Patrick “already is heavily associated” with NBC, serving as the in-studio host for "Football Night in America" (USA TODAY, 10/19).