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Fox execs “strongly believe” the World Series is still a “highly valuable marketing event for advertisers” despite the event coming off its lowest rating ever according to John Consoli of BROADCASTING & CABLE. Fox Sports VP/Programming & Research Mike Mulvihill said that the net's message to advertisers is that “despite the drop, the World Series will continue to be a top 10 show among viewers and do even better among adults 18-49 and among men 18-49.” Mulvihill said, "If you look at the World Series ratings, and compared them to all primetime programming season to date, it would rank sixth among adults 18-49 and second among men 18-49. There is still a lot of value there even though viewership is not what it was 30 or 40 years ago." Consoli wrote neither Mulvihill “nor anyone else from Fox would discuss" whether the World Series remained profitable. A source said that the World Series “can't be looked at in a vacuum.” The source added, “There's no way to separate the World Series from the entire MLB package. This year, there was a seven-game League Championship Series on Fox so that helps to offset the four-game World Series a bit.” Consoli writes that while the days of “drawing 30 million viewers to a televised World Series game may be long gone, new opportunities via other platforms could be monetized by Fox down the road” when the net's eight-year, $4.2B deal with MLB begins in '14 (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 10/31). In Detroit, Bill Shea wrote under the header, “Why Do American Television Viewers Hate The Detroit Tigers In October?” Baseball “simply isn’t as popular as it once was.” Some teams, such as the Tigers, “remain immensely popular in their local markets” (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 10/30).
MARKET WATCH: The home markets for the Tigers and Giants topped the list of local market ratings for the four-game World Series on Fox. Also performing well was the Sacramento market with a 25.6 rating. Only six of 56 metered markets averaged a double-digit rating. Last year's World Series home markets -- St. Louis and Dallas-Ft. Worth -- drew seven-game averages of 47.2 and 38.0, respectively. During the '10 World Series, the S.F.-Oakland-San Jose market averaged a 35.3 local rating for the five-game series against the Rangers. During the Angels-Giants seven-game series in '02, the market drew a 35.1 rating (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).LOCAL MARKET AVERAGES FOR FOX' COVERAGE
OF THE GIANTS-TIGERS WORLD SERIES
MARKET (SIZE)RAT. MARKET (SIZE)RAT. Detroit (11)33.6 Boston (7)7.0 S.F.-Oakland-San Jose (6)29.9 Charlotte (25)7.0 Sacramento (20)25.6 DC (8)7.0 San Diego (28)10.7 Albuquerque (45)6.9 St. Louis (21)10.3 Atlanta (9)6.8 Las Vegas (39)10.1 Greenville-Spartanburg (37)6.7 Ft. Myers-Naples (55)9.5 Chicago (3)6.7 K.C. (31)8.8 West Palm Beach (38)6.6 Richmond (52)8.8 Columbus (32)6.4 Phoenix (13)8.7 Orlando-Daytona Beach (19)6.1 Portland (22)8.6 Philadelphia (4)6.1 Greensboro-Winston-Salem (44)8.5 Austin (43)5.9 Tampa-St. Petersburg (14)8.3 Tulsa (53)5.9 Cincinnati (35)8.2 Raleigh-Durham (24)5.9 Salt Lake City (33)8.1 Pittsburgh (23)5.8 Minneapolis-St. Paul (15)8.0 Providence-New Bedford (51)5.8 Cleveland-Akron (18)7.8 Baltimore (27)5.8 Seattle-Tacoma (12)7.8 Birmingham (41)5.7 Norfolk (43)7.6 Denver (17)5.6 Hartford-New Haven (30)7.6 Indianapolis (26)5.6 N.Y. (1)7.6 Nashville (29)5.6 Milwaukee (34)7.5 New Orleans (49)5.2 Dallas-Ft. Worth (5)7.4 San Antonio (36)4.8 Memphis (47)7.2 Louisville (46)4.7 Buffalo (50)7.2 Knoxville (54)4.6 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (16)7.1 Jacksonville (48)4.0 Dayton (56)7.1 Houston (10)3.9 L.A. (2)7.1 Oklahoma City (40)3.8
On the heels of record-setting audience numbers during the '11-12 season, NBA TV set more records during the net's season season-opening doubleheader on Wednesday night. The Lakers-Trail Blazers telecast in the 10:30pm ET window averaged 868,000 viewers, topping the premiere of the "Dream Team" documentary on June 13 (847,000 viewers) as the net's most-viewed telecast ever. The top game audience before Lakers-Trail Blazers on Wednesday was 835,000 viewers for Game Five of the Grizzlies-Spurs Western Conference First Round playoff series in '11. Combined with Spurs-Hornets in the early window on Wednesday night, NBA TV averaged 758,000 viewers for the two games, marking the net's best opening-night doubleheader to date (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable SportsNet earned a 2.82 local rating (89,000 HHs) in L.A. for Lakers-Trail Blazers, which was the net's first Lakers regular-season telecast. Last year, Lakers games on FS West averaged a 4.7 rating. Wednesday night's game was not seen in DirecTV, Dish Network or Cox homes, which accounts for about 44% of the L.A. market. Sources said DirecTV still is having talks with TWC about carrying the channel. A source with knowledge of the talks described the discussions as positive (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
FILLING THE STATBOOK: The Pistons' season-opener against the Rockets on Wednesday drew a 4.6 local rating on FS Detroit, "which was nearly double last season's 2.88 opening-game rating." The figure also was the "highest recorded" local rating for the Pistons since the '09-10 season (DETROITNEWS.com, 11/1). Meanwhile, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area scored the highest-rated Warriors season opener since '95 with a 3.71 local rating for Wednesday's game against the Suns. The net led all telecasts in the S.F.-Oakland-San Jose market that night among adults 18-34, as well as males 18-49, 18-34 and 25-54 (CSN Bay Area). ESPN’s “Coast To Coast” on Wednesday night posted a 0.7 rating and more than 800,000 viewers, the best record for the show in both categories (ESPN).
GAME BOYS: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s John Gaudiosi reported mobile game developer Ogmento signed a new multiyear deal with the NBA and has a “new location-based hoops experience for gamers” with the game “NBA: King of the Court 2.” The game “focuses on location-based gaming by encouraging players to visit real world locations to compete on virtual courts.” Once they become “King of the Court locally, they can enter a tiered multiplayer system to compete for state, country and global basketball domination.” All 30 NBA teams are “represented in the game, which offers single-player and multiplayer options” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 11/1).
WELCOME TO THE TEAM: CSN Bay Area named former ESPN NBA reporter Ric Bucher a sideline reporter for Warriors home telecasts. Bucher also will provide coverage for programs such as "SportsNet Central," "Chronicle Live," "Warriors Pregame Live," "Warriors Postgame Live," and for CSNBayArea.com’s “WarriorsTalk” page (CSN Bay Area).
NBA fans in L.A. who have been able to see the new Time Warner Cable SportsNet this season "know that for the most part, Lakers games look like they always have," according to Jim Carlisle of the VENTURA COUNTY STAR. The most "annoying thing about the network so far is that its in-game graphics are ridiculously difficult to read, even for people with better eyes than mine." Carlisle: "Word of advice for SportsNet: Purple or blue lettering on a black background is never a good idea." Another "problem is that SportsNet's studio shows, such as 'Access SportsNet: Lakers,' still have a lot of rough edges. ESPN it's not." In fact, it also is "not ESPNU or even CBS Sports Network." It looks "a lot closer to local cable access. Think 'Wayne's World.'" This likely will "improve as time goes on, but it's not a selling point so far." Many of the network's "documentaries, however, have been well produced." Meanwhile, there has been speculation that TWCSN is "fine with adding other cable companies because they don't directly compete with them in the cities they serve." However, the company might not "care that much about adding providers it does compete with, such as DirecTV and Dish, because that situation could bring more subscribers to TWC." That would have "also been true of Verizon and AT&T, so that theory has holes in it" (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 11/2).
DODGING A DEAL: In L.A., Joe Flint notes, "One reason DirecTV and Cox are reluctant to sign on for SportsNet and Deportes, at least at the price Time Warner Cable wants (as much as $3.95 per subscriber, per month, according to industry sources), is that they know they also face a big fee increase with regards to the Dodgers down the road." The Dodgers now get "about $40 million a season" from FS Prime Ticket. Fox is "currently trying to negotiate an agreement with Guggenheim Partners to keep the team on Prime Ticket." It also is "no secret" that TWC wants the Dodgers for TWCSN. A bidding war could "drive the price beyond" the $3B Fox offered to former Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt and "whatever network gets the team will no doubt seek a big increase in license fees for the channel from pay-TV distributors" (L.A. TIMES, 11/2).
ZERO SUM GAME: The VENTURA COUNTY STAR's Carlisle in a separate piece asks, "What have losing Lakers telecasts and having the NHL in a lockout done to Fox Sports West? Nearly rendered it mute." FS West next week will "have only four live weekday events," with two of those being morning UEFA Champions League matches and another the ACC men's basketball season opener featuring Gardner-Webb-North Carolina. The "only local event is a high school football playoff game." The net has "three live events next weekend, all on Saturday and none of them local: two Big 12 Conference football games along with one from Conference USA" (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 11/2).
NEW TOY: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth notes FS Prime Ticket "plans on raising the bar even more and pulling out more stops as new lines of demarcation are drawn." The real star attraction "could be a new gadget called LiberoVision, the first of its kind for a Fox Sports regional network which has allowed analyst Kiki Vandeweghe to post up with and present as a cutting-edge graphic a way to better explain why things happen on the court." With LiberoVision, "the 3D 'axis' type of replay is taken up a notch, more than just freezing the action, twisting the playing field and allowing for a different look at the same play." LiberoVision adds "colored arrows, numbers, shaded areas, streaks and swooshes -- all the kinds of things an NBA coach would love to have in a film room" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/2).
The Breeders’ Cup has returned to its original home with NBC Sports Group, and this weekend the Breeders’ Cup Classic for the first time will be broadcast live on NBC in primetime from Santa Anita Park. Calling the event will be NBC's Tom Hammond, who said, “People are used to seeing big-time championship events in primetime, so I think there’s no question that this fits the bill. ... It’s a worthy primetime event because it ranks right up there with any other sports championship event across the country, so we’re happy it's finally getting into primetime.” Hammond on Thursday took some time to talk about the expanding media coverage for the Breeders’ Cup, what horse racing event could be next to come to primetime and who gets his vote for this year’s Heisman Trophy.
Q: You’ve been involved with Breeders’ Cup for over 20 years now. How have you seen coverage change and expand?
Hammond: When we first started doing it, it was a much more compact event. Now it’s expanded to two days and 15 races. So that part of it has changed. But the coverage of it has not changed in its core approach, to try to bring people that don’t know much about horse racing some information and educate them as well as entertain them. But the new gadgets that we have -- like a gyro camera that’s going to follow them in a vehicle from the inside -- new techniques for coverage have evolved of course, but the core of the coverage has remained the same in that we try not to insult anybody’s intelligence and try to educate those people that aren’t horse racing fans.
Q: Your role has changed over the years from Breeders’ Cup reporter to host of the event. Which do you prefer?
Hammond: I prefer being the host because you have a little hand in everything. I started out as a reporter -- and not just a reporter either, I was on the back stretch, back in the barn area reporting on things that were happening. From there I went to co-host for a while with Dick Enberg and then became the host. The thing about being the host is you have to know a little bit about everything and just be able to put all your experiences into words and try to bring some sense to the sometimes chaotic situations that happen in horse racing. It’s difficult to cover because there are a lot of unknowns, a lot of things happen that you can’t plan for and of course the results of the races being one of those things you can’t plan for. You have to be ready for most anything.
Q: What was your most memorable moment working the Breeders’ Cup?
Hammond: It was 1988 at Churchill Downs. The race was called the Distaff then, now it’s called the Ladies Classic. There was a filly named Personal Ensign who was undefeated in her career and this was to be her last race. She was facing the horse Winning Colors that had won the Kentucky Derby on that same track earlier that year. As they came down the stretch, Personal Ensign had what appeared to be no chance to win, and somehow in the last strides of the race willed herself to victory and was able to retire undefeated. I think that’s probably the best race I’ve ever seen and certainly the best Breeders’ Cup race, the most memorable one for me anyways.
Q: Do you have a favorite venue for the event?
Hammond: I like the different ones. Of course Santa Anita is beautiful, you know the weather will be nice. Churchill Downs can handle a big crowd. Belmont -- while the weather isn’t so good sometimes -- is traditionally one of the big centers of American racing. It was also nice to go to a place like Lone Star in Texas or Woodbine in Canada just to change things up and get a change of scenery. I like the concept of moving around to different venues. It will be back in Santa Anita next year and no one ever complains about coming to Southern California.
Q: Do you think a Triple Crown race will be next to come to primetime?
Hammond: It’s a possibility, but that’s not in the works that I know of. It’s a possibility at least for the Kentucky Derby because Churchill Downs does have lights. But I haven’t heard any sentiment at NBC for switching the Derby to nighttime. I’m not sure how Churchill Downs feels about it. To me, the Derby is an all day event, an afternoon event and it’s not just a horse race. After all, the horse race only lasts a couple of minutes. It’s all the pomp and pageantry that surrounds the race, and it seems to me like it would lose some of that if you moved it to primetime.
Q: You cover both horse racing and college football. How do preparation and coverage for the two compare?
Hammond: At the Breeders’ Cup you have to know something about every horse, trainer, jockey. It’s a daunting task to try to do that kind of preparation. There’s a lot more writing involved, for instance bringing the post parade, where the horses parade before the races, to tell something about each one of them. That’s a lot more difficult, where football’s a little bit easier. I think racing is probably the most difficult of all the different events that I cover. It’s certainly more difficult than track and field, football or basketball. The thing about racing though, that I do like a lot, is that next to the Olympics it has more good stories than any of the other sports. If you look at each race, there’s an interesting story with a horse and an interesting story with a jockey or with a trainer. There’s just lots of storylines that you can follow. That part of it really appeals to me.
Q: Notre Dame is obviously having a good season thus far. Has the program's resurgence made it more fun to cover?
Hammond: Absolutely! Who knew they would be this good? I didn’t, that’s for sure. I looked at the schedule before the season started and I said, “Wow, what a tough schedule that is. They’re going to take a few lumps this year.” And it’s been a magical season so far. The defense is really unbelievable. Manti Te'o, the star linebacker, I’m going to vote him for the Heisman Trophy if he continues on the pace he’s been the last few weeks. That would be really something for a defensive player, to be at least even mentioned in the finalists for the Heisman. If they can take care of business they have a chance to make it a super memorable season. There’s no question it’s more fun when Notre Dame is good, and I think it’s good for all of college football when Notre Dame has a good team.
Q: Prediction time. Who takes home the Classic? And how will Notre Dame finish the season?
Hammond: I kind of have an idea that Game On Dude -- who is unbeaten, five-for-five at Santa Anita -- he will probably be the favorite, likely be the favorite. We were talking to Bob Baffert, his trainer, and he says he’s doing well. I said, “How’s Game On Dude doing?” and he gave me a thumbs up, so that I guess is who I predict to win the Classic. As far as Notre Dame goes, ... it’s going to come down to their trip out here to California to play USC. ... I believe they can beat USC so I can see it being an unbeaten regular season for Notre Dame.
The charts below list final U.S. Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. Select figures for Fox were not available at presstime (THE DAILY).
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "Sunday Night Football":
"NFL on CBS": (single)10/28CBS1:00-4:05pm9.2n/a World Series: Giants-Tigers:
World Series: Giants-Tigers:
NCAA Football: Georgia-Florida10/27CBS3:30-7:00pm4.2n/a "Football Night in America"10/28NBC7:30-8:15pm3.86,149 NCAA Football: (regional)10/27ABC3:30-7:21pm2.8n/a "The NFL Today"10/28CBS12:00-1:00pm2.6n/a PBR: Built Ford Tough World Finals10/28NBC4:00-6:00pm0.8n/a "College Football Today"10/27CBS3:00-3:30pm0.7n/a "College Football Countdown"10/27ABC3:00-3:30pm0.7n/a Ironman World Championship10/27NBC4:00-6:00pm0.6n/a Figure Skating: ISU Grand Prix10/28NBC2:00-4:00pm0.6n/a Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League10/27CBS2:00-3:00pm0.5n/a Liga MX: CD Guadalajara-Atlas10/28Telem.6:55-9:00pm0.4807 "Football Uncut -- Florida State"10/27CBS1:30-2:00pm0.3n/a MLS: Red Bulls-Union10/27NBC1:30-4:00pm0.3n/a TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "Monday Night Football":
"Thursday Night Football":
Ohio State-Penn State10/27ESPN5:30-8:48pm2.33,928
NASCAR Sprint Cup: Martinsville10/28ESPN1:30-5:14pm2.43,617 "Thursday Night Football Pre-Kick"10/25NFLN8:00-8:30pm1.72,691 "Monday Night Countdown"10/22ESPN6:30-8:30pm1.52,298 "College GameDay"10/27ESPN10:00am-12:01pm1.52,132 NCAA Football: