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ESPN earned a 9.0 overnight Nielsen rating for last night’s Chiefs-Steelers “MNF” telecast, down 2% from a 9.2 overnight for the comparable Vikings-Packers game in Week 10 last year. In K.C., last night’s game earned a 15.1 local rating on ESPN and a 19.1 rating on KMBC-ABC. In Pittsburgh, the game earned a 14.2 local rating on ESPN and a 31.3 rating on WTAE-ABC (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
HONEST MISTAKE? USA TODAY's Christopher Chase notes ESPN's Chris Berman was "forced to apologize" during "Monday Night Countdown" after a graphic reading "Roethlisberger 'Drink and Drunk'" was displayed during the show. The segment was entitled "Roethlisberger 'Dink and Dunk.'" Berman said, "We have to tell you this for sure, earlier in the show we had a graphic error in the rundown. We apologize for the mistake. Not sure how it happened. It won't happen again, we'll be back." Chase writes one typo "is understandable," but two typos "in three words is suspicious" (USATODAY.com, 11/13). DEADSPIN.com's Timothy Burke noted the "Drink & Drunk" title "remained onscreen for about 90 seconds before ESPN corrected it." Berman offered the "most vague apology possible." Burke: "We're sort of baffled how this sort of thing could happen; typos are one thing but two right next to each other just seems like it ought to be impossible" (DEADSPIN.com, 11/12).
LOCAL RATINGS ROUNDUP: Sunday's Bills-Patriots game earned a 32.12 in the Boston market, continuing a streak that has seen the Patriots record local ratings of 30+ for 24 consecutive games. This marks the first time the franchise has received over a 30.0 rating in every game through the first nine games of a season (Patriots)....In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted the Texans-Bears "SNF" telecast on WTMJ-NBC was "the most-watched sports event on television last weekend" in the Milwaukee market. The game earned a 25.7 local rating, or about 232,000 HHs, "easily the biggest audience for any primetime show on TV that night." The Cowboys-Eagles game in the late-afternoon window on WITI-Fox earned a 21.6 local rating, or about 195,000 HHs. Saturday's Wisconsin-Indiana college football game on ESPN had an 11.3 local rating or 102,000 HHs (JSONLINE.com, 11/12).
The first "major contribution" for NFL Network's Andrea Kremer in her new role as chief correspondent covering health and safety issues comes this week, when the net "opens health-and-safety coverage with an over-arching four-part series,” according to Peter King of SI.com. The series begins tonight on NFL Network's “Total Access,” with the “remaining three segments on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.” Kremer said, "The goal is to deal with these issues that, for whatever reason, you fill in the blank, the NFL Network has overlooked in the past." She said NFL Network VP/Programming & Production Mark Quenzel used the word "substantive." Kremer: "He said: 'We want more substantive stories on health and safety.' It's the biggest issue not just in football, but in all of sports. People are talking about how 'bigger, stronger, faster' will lead to more health problems. There are so many stories. So many. Where do you begin?” Kremer added, "I have no indication whatever that we will be censored in any way. The mandate we have been given is: Just be fair. Be balanced. We're going to get calls from the league office. Just let us know what you're doing. But that doesn't bother me. Look, I had a built-in skepticism from day one. What I told them was, I didn't spend 30 years building my reputation, my brand, so to speak, to start doing propaganda.” She said so far she is "cautiously optimistic.” King wrote it will be “fascinating to see what happens when the rubber meets the road here -- when Kremer, for instance, has one of the 3,000-plus plaintiffs in the concussion case on camera obliterating the NFL.” That will be "the big test to see if the Goodell Network is fair and balanced, and all-inclusive” (SI.com, 11/12).
BACK IN ACTION: SI.com’s Richard Deitsch profiled NFL Network’s Melissa Stark, co-host of the net's 7:00am ET Sunday pregame show "First On The Field.” The show “features the quartet" of Stark, former NFLers Sterling Sharpe and LaDainian Tomlinson, and analyst Michael Lombardi. If one can “endure the cacophonous Sharpe … it's a watchable show.” NFL Net Exec Producer Eric Weinberger said that he “did not consider it any risk” to bring Stark back to TV after a hiatus from '08-11. Deitsch noted Stark is signed with the NFL Net through '14, and her contract states that she "can't do sports for another network.” But her options are “open for news or entertainment and Stark has interest in morning television and news or perhaps hosting a syndicated show” (SI.com, 11/12).
ESPN’s Poynter Review Project looked at “lessons learned over 18 months of observing the network’s various media outlets, examining their successes and failures, and investigating how ESPN works (and sometimes doesn’t),” according to McBride & Fry in a column for ESPN serving as the final entry of the project. McBride & Fry wrote, “We all fall into the trap of thinking about ESPN as a monolithic organization with a single point of view, mission and set of values. … But the strength of that brand can blind us to the fact that ESPN is a news organization, an entertainment company, a broadcast partner for sports leagues and a business in its own right -- and each of those portions has massive power and reach.” Most of the time ESPN "maintains an uneasy balance between those competing entities,” but they sometimes “wind up working at cross-purposes or get eclipsed by each other.” ESPN "draws lines between its news division and its business and production arms, and we never heard of an executive storming across that line and telling ESPN journalists what to do or what not to do.” At its best, ESPN’s reporting is “thorough and uncompromising about matters of great concern to its business partners.” But there is a "massive and inherent conflict of interest here, so the arrangement demands constant monitoring.” ESPN is “so big that it occupies a position in sports not unlike that of Microsoft in the ecosystem for computer hardware and software in the late 1990s.” ESPN "can’t be an observer or bystander because its mere presence changes things." If ESPN covers a story, "it becomes big news; if it ignores it, often it withers.” ESPN has "come very close to being synonymous with sports" in the U.S., and that position “places considerable strain on its journalists” (ESPN.com, 11/12).
REVIEWING THE REVIEW: SI.com’s Richard Deitsch wrote Poynter’s tenure as ESPN’s ombudsman “was a mixed bag, a better fit for ESPN internally than the external output they produced for readers.” The Poynter Review Project “failed to deliver on a promised Craig James column, and most disappointing, they lacked the metabolism of what the job demands today: a near-daily look at the many issues that filter through ESPN's properties.” But Poynter did have “very strong moments, including its examination of Bob Knight's nonsense, ESPN's handling of firing an employee over a Jeremy Lin headline and the network's handling of the Bernie Fine allegations, which deserves a follow-up from the next ombudsman.” An ESPN spokesperson said of the net's next ombudsman, "The search is on, though no timetable” (SI.com, 11/12).
EPL clubs are "in line for a huge hike" in TV income beginning next season, with "revenue from domestic and global TV rights deals on course to top" $7.9B (all figures U.S.) when overseas contracts are completed next month, according to Owen Gibson of the GUARDIAN. In addition to the EPL's three-year, $4.7B deal for domestic live rights with Sky and British Telecom announced in June, and the $283M deal from the BBC for Match of the Day highlights, the league is "well on course to improve" on the $2.2B it brought in from overseas broadcasters under the current deal. If total revenue breaks the $7.9B barrier "as expected," the amount that the '13-14 EPL champion will receive is "likely to top" $159M for the first time. In Brazil, rights have been "stripped out for the first time from a pan-continental deal and sold to Fox and ESPN for $50m, more than four times what the rights were believed to be worth as part of the previous South American deal" (GUARDIAN, 11/12). Gibson in a separate piece notes EPL CEO Richard Scudamore on Thursday will brief officials from the 20 EPL clubs "on the latest progress and is likely to tell them that all of its overseas deals will be wrapped up by Christmas for the period from 2013-14 to 2015-16." Contracts covering the Middle East/North Africa and Southeast Asia/Australasia "should be tied up" within the next two weeks, with the "final round of European deals to follow before Christmas" (GUARDIAN, 11/13).
TCU today announced that it has reached an agreement with IMG College for a 12-year extension to its current seven-year multimedia rights partnership. The agreement runs through the '23-24 academic year and includes IMG College's representation and management of game broadcasts and coaches' shows for radio and TV, publications, Internet sales, corporate partnerships, stadium and venue signage, game promotions and hospitality (IMG College).
DEAD AIR: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes KFNS-AM "dumped" its afternoon drive-time show "hosted by outspoken sports-talk radio host Kevin Slaten." KFNS GM Katy Pavelonis said that the decision was made "following racially oriented comments he made on the air last week." Pavelonis said that Slaten was "not a direct employee of KFNS parent company Grand Slam Sports, as his arrangement had him selling his own advertising as an independent contractor." The "gist of the remarks that got Slaten in hot water with station management were that African-Americans voted for President Barack Obama because he is black" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/13).
BRING EM OUT: The AP's Paul Newberry noted rapper T.I., an Atlanta native, on Friday joined the Hawks' broadcast team "for the first half" of their game against the Heat. T.I. said of announcers Bob Rathbun and Duane Ferrell, "They did all the heavy lifting. I just chimed in here and there. I have a close relationship, both personally and professionally, with a lot of guys out there" (AP, 11/10).