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CBS led all NFL game ratings this weekend with a 15.9 overnight for its national window, which featured Steelers-Giants in 96% of markets. That figure could have been even higher, but figures from the N.Y. market continue to be excluded for all telecasts due to the effects from Hurricane Sandy. The 15.9 overnight is down from the national window on Fox in Week 9 last year, which featured Giants-Patriots in 55% of markets and Packers-Chargers in 36% of markets. CBS also earned an 11.6 rating for its regional window yesterday, up 20% from the same window last year. Meanwhile, NBC’s Cowboys-Falcons “SNF” telecast last night drew a 14.5 overnight, up 2% from Ravens-Steelers in Week 9 last year and the best Week 9 “SNF” overnight for the net to date. The game peaked at a 15.0 overnight in the 9:00pm ET half hour (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).MINIMAL VALUE: In Baltimore, David Zurawik writes he cannot remember "watching a football telecast and learning less than I did" from CBS' Marv Albert and Rich Gannon during yesterday’s Browns-Ravens game. Zurawik: “I can't think of anyone in any booth covering football, or baseball or basketball, for that matter, who seemed less interested in taking me inside the game than Gannon was with the Ravens.” Gannon “seemed to explain only about one out of every three penalties, and he rarely -- if ever -- showed why a play succeeded or failed.” However, Gannon “wasn't afraid to call a player out, and he did it well and often” with Browns QB Brandon Weeden (Baltimore SUN, 11/5).
UNDER THE BIG TOP: SI's Richard Deitsch lists the NFL’s “best and worst announcing teams.” NBC’s Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth are named the best, as Michaels is a “fanatically prepared play-by-play maestro whose game calls are flawless." Collinsworth is “sensational at foreshadowing the action.” CBS’ Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts rank second. Eagle is a “terrific game caller with a big-game voice,” and Fouts has “long been underrated.” What makes them “so euphonious is how organically they infuse humor into their broadcast.” Fox' Dick Stockton and John Lynch are rated the worst announcing team. Stockton can be relied upon to be “late on a couple calls each game, and he’ll occasionally pass along an incorrect score." They are followed by Fox’ Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa. This trio “makes the list because of Siragusa, an endless chatterbox from his end zone reporting perch.” It is “too much shtick and too little substance” (SI, 11/5 issue).
CBS earned a 7.0 overnight Nielsen rating for the Alabama-LSU matchup on Saturday night, marking the best overnight rating for any college football game on any net this season to date. However, that overnight is down 41% from an 11.9 rating for the same game last year, which also aired in primetime, but was heavily hyped for a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup. Last year's game was the second-best overnight for a college football game ever on the net, excluding bowls, since '87 (as far back as records go). Saturday night’s game peaked at a 9.3 rating during both the 11:00pm ET and 11:30pm half-hour windows. Meanwhile, Fox earned a 3.5 overnight for Oregon-USC in primetime, which marks the net's best college football overnight this season to date. Also in primetime on Saturday was ABC's Oklahoma State-Kansas State, which earned a 1.9 overnight (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand writes this past weekend “shows why you might see more marquee college football -- and perhaps events across the sports spectrum -- moving to Saturday nights.” Saturday is “supposed to be TV’s least-watched night,” but the night is "being transformed.” The combined ratings for Alabama-LSU, Oregon-USC, Oklahoma State-Kansas State and coverage on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU meant “national TV college football drew a total audience that rivals what the NFL draws on Sunday evening, which is TV’s most-watched night” (USA TODAY, 11/5).
DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes CBS' pair of Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson “remains the best in calling college football,” but they “didn't prepare their viewers for Alabama's late comeback Saturday night.” When Alabama “began its 72-yard touchdown drive with 1:34 remaining, the duo indicated through their comments that undefeated Alabama didn't have much of a chance to score” (DENVER POST, 11/5). SI.com's Richard Deitsch writes the best shot from the game was how CBS "stayed with Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron during the postgame scene on the field, and got a money shot of the quarterback sprinting to the stands to hug family and friends." Deitsch: "Even with an overly chatty Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson, it was terrific stuff" (SI.com, 11/5). Meanwhile, in Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht wrote ABC’s Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit “kept a close eye on CBS' Alabama-LSU telecast on one of their monitors, giving regular updates, which probably didn't make their network bosses happy” (OKLAHOMAN, 11/4).
DANCING A JIG: NBC earned a 4.3 overnight for Notre Dame’s triple OT win over Pitt in the Saturday 3:30pm window, marking the net’s best Notre Dame football rating this season to date. The previous best was a 4.0 rating for the Michigan game on Sept. 22, which aired in primetime. The 4.3 overnight is also the best for NBC’s Notre Dame coverage since the game against Michigan last season (Karp). SI.com's Stewart Mandel wrote it apparently is "written into Notre Dame's NBC contract that every home game must be incredibly dramatic, regardless of the opponent." Mandel: "A goal-line stand to beat Stanford? OK, it's Stanford. But a come-from-behind, triple-overtime 29-26 win over 4-4 Pittsburgh? Really, Irish? This is getting ridiculous" (SI.com, 11/4).
RULING IS CONFIRMED: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes during ABC's Nebraska-Michigan State broadcast on ABC, Michigan State was “penalized for roughing the passer, and the initial replay appeared to show the call was bad.” Announcer Sean McDonough “even said, ‘That's terrible.'" However, moments later ABC “dialed up two other replays, which showed the quarterback was struck in the head and the referee made the correct call.” McDonough, “to his credit, looked at the replays and said he was wrong and the referee was right.” Jones: “That was a terrific job by ABC to find and show the additional replays, and a great job by McDonough to reverse himself. That's why he is among the most credible announcers in the business” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/5).
NBC earned a 2.2 overnight Nielsen rating for its telecast of Fort Larned's win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday from 8:00-9:00pm ET, the first time the race has been held in primetime. That figure is up from a 1.2 overnight last year on ESPN, when Drosselmeyer’s win over Zenyatta aired from 6:30-7:15pm. NBC got a strong lead-in for the telecast with Notre Dame’s triple OT win over Pitt. That game from 3:30-8:00pm earned a 4.3 overnight rating, which was the net’s best Notre Dame football game rating this season to date (Karp & Mullen, THE DAILY). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes putting the Breeders' Cup in primetime was the "worst scheduling" of the weekend. Jones: "Perhaps the audiences are different, but you would think most sports fans were tuned in to two of the most anticipated college football games of the season: Alabama against LSU and Oregon against Southern Cal" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/5).BIRDS OVER HORSES: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar noted KSDK-NBC "not only pre-empted NBC's coverage of Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic ... it also didn't air a replay of the event at 12:30 a.m. Sunday as promised." KSDK at 7:00pm CT "bumped the race in order to show a recap of the Cardinals' season with a look ahead to next year" (STLTODAY.com, 11/4).
Cox Communications has "reached an agreement to carry" Time Warner Cable SportsNet, according to Joe Flint of the L.A. TIMES. Cox is "expected to start carrying SportsNet and its Spanish-language companion channel Deportes early this week and in time" for Wednesday's Jazz-Lakers game. That leaves TWC with "two big holdouts -- satellite broadcasters DirecTV and Dish Network." TWC "hopes that having Cox on board will put more pressure on DirecTV to also start carrying the channel." Cox has about 1.2 million subscribers in Southern California, many of which are in Orange County." Given that "every other distributor in the area is now carrying SportsNet and Deportes, it may be difficult for DirecTV to continue to refuse to cut a deal." However, DirecTV also still is "not carrying the Pac-12 cable channel that features USC and UCLA despite intense public pressure to offer it" (L.A. TIMES, 11/5). In California, Michael Lev notes Cox accounts for "about 5 percent of the L.A. market." TWC SportsNet is "now available in about 61 percent of the market" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 11/5). In San Diego, John Maffei notes Cox customers have "missed several Lakers games, but the bulk of the TV schedule is still ahead." Meanwhile, the first San Diego State basketball game on TWCSN will be Dec. 3 against Texas Southern (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 11/5).
TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.: In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, John Ourand takes an in-depth look at the TV landscape in the greater L.A. area and notes with the launch of TWC's two RSNs and the Pac-12 Network over the last three months, the market has "become a sort of ground zero for sports media, with consumers, businesses, distributors and rights holders trying to navigate a new sports media landscape where local rights are divided among a growing number of high-priced sports channels." Add on top of those nets that the Dodgers could still potentially start "their own channel when their rights deal with Fox ends after next season (sources say that remains an option), and local rights in Los Angeles would become more expensive and spread out than in any other U.S. market." If the L.A. model "proves successful, the tremors could be felt throughout the country as other big markets that have multiple professional and college sports teams give it a try." Some analysts "even say it could change the entire pay-TV system." Cox Senior VP/Content Acquisition Bob Wilson said, “I’m worried that it could become a trend in other markets. Everybody’s watching the Lakers and the Dodgers to see what the market will absorb. We’ve been on this path for a long time now. We all are wondering where the breaking point is” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/5 issue).
Soccer matches from the Netherlands Cup were not available on U.S. television last week, but digital media company Ustream streamed the matches for free on its website thanks to a new deal the company cut last month with IMG Media that is expected to be announced officially this week. The deal will see Ustream handle int'l digital distribution for the bevy of rights that IMG Media controls. The deal runs for at least one year. "Where it goes beyond that, I can't say," said Ustream VP & Head of Sports Wayne Sieve. The deal kicked off Oct. 12 with a spate of FIFA World Cup qualifiers that were streamed globally. It will continue with sports like soccer (league games, national Cup games, World Cup qualifiers and friendlies), motorsports, rugby and swimming. IMG Media provides the rights, Ustream provides the streaming, distribution and sales and sponsorship opportunities through its streams. Both IMG Media and Ustream have the opportunity to sell ads and sponsorships. Ustream has 57 million unique users and plans to promote these games through its own online channels. It will also promote the games through league and event channels that already exist on Ustream. Ustream also allows the participating leagues and teams to distribute the live video player on their websites and Facebook pages. Ustream uses geo targeting restrictions to keep video out of areas where the games TV rights already have been sold to keep the streaming site from competing against rights already sold in given markets. "A lot of these are a work in progress," Sieve said. "We are a global platform. The majority of our viewers are not in the United States. This is about providing access to displaced fans." Ustream is best known for streaming video and has been getting more involved with sports rights, having signed streaming deals with the AFL and UFC.