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Notre Dame's quest for its first national championship in 24 years is bound to draw viewers if Saturday's game against USC is any indication. The Irish's dramatic 22-13 win to secure a place in the BCS title game earned a 10.0 overnight, the best college football overnight this season. The previous high was a 7.0 rating for CBS’ Alabama-LSU matchup on Nov. 3. The rating is better than any of ESPN’s BCS bowl game overnights last season outside of the Alabama-LSU National Championship game (13.8). The 10.0 is the highest overnight for an ESPN/ABC regular-season game since the ‘06 Michigan-Ohio St. game earned an 11.5 overnight for a much-hyped battle of the two top-ranked teams. However, the Notre Dame-USC game is short of CBS’ Alabama-LSU primetime matchup during the ’11 regular season (11.9 overnight) (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand writes ESPN “undoubtedly will lavish monumental hype on the Irish entering the Jan. 7 championship game against No. 2 Alabama or No. 3 Georgia.” The title matchup, especially “if the game is close, has a shot at setting a BCS ratings record, set most recently by the USC-Texas championship game after the 2005 season that drew 21.7% of U.S. households” (USA TODAY, 11/26). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes Notre Dame playing in the BCS title game is “great for college football, whether you like the Irish or not.” Jones: “As they say, it's good for business. And I have to guess ESPN executives are praying for Alabama to beat Georgia because an Alabama-Notre Dame game would deliver huge TV ratings.” Meanwhile, Jones writes ESPN’s Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit “did a bang-up job calling the Notre Dame-USC game on Saturday, although I did have one nit.” Either the crowd noise was “turned up too high or Musburger's microphone was set too low,” as it was “hard to hear Musburger” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/26).
HOME SWEET HOME: SI’s Tim Layden in his cover story about Notre Dame's resurgence notes the school's TV contract with NBC, which is in its 22nd season, is "signed through 2015 at $15 million a year.” NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus said, “We love the relationship. We intend to be their partners for another 25 years.” Layden notes for NBC, which “paid $1.2 billion for the 2012 Olympics, the cost is minimal.” And for Notre Dame, the money “is less significant than the platform.” Former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said, “You watch the telecast, and it’s clearly a Notre Dame telecast. It may not be maximum dollars, but Notre Dame has a brand, and the NBC deal allows them to advertise that brand” (SI, 11/26 issue).
ESPN GETS COLLEGE PLAYOFF: ESPN on Wednesday formally announced the college football playoff system "will be televised" on the net for 12 years once it starts after the '14 season. A source said that the deal "is worth" about $470M a year. ESPN will "own the rights to all six bowls involved in the four-team playoff system" (AP, 11/21). CBS Sports Network’s Allie LaForce said, “I don’t know that anybody else was really up for it. It was a huge increase in money, basically for two more games.” CBS Sports Network’s Doug Gottlieb said it is a "great get" for ESPN and “they need a signature property.” Gottlieb: “It’s a good marriage. It makes sense for them and college football is something very important to them when they don’t have the playoffs in the NFL” (“Lead Off,” CBS Sports Network, 11/22).
Fox drew the highest ratings of the NFL weekend with its national coverage of 49ers-Saints in the late-afternoon window. The game, which went to 93% of the country, earned a 16.5 overnight Nielsen rating, up 5.8% from a 15.6 for the comparable Patriots-Eagles game on CBS last year. NBC earned a 13.5 overnight for the Giants' 38-10 rout over the Packers, and despite the fact it was not a competitive game, the presence of two cornerstone NFL teams helped the net see a 8% jump over last year's Steelers-Chiefs game. CBS drew a 10.5 for its single-window coverage, down 10.3% from Fox' comparable '11 coverage (THE DAILY).
THANKSGIVING FEAST: CBS led all Thanksgiving NFL telecasts with a 15.2 overnight rating for the Texans' 34-31 OT win over the Lions in the early afternoon window. That figure marks CBS’ second-best Thanksgiving game since reacquiring NFL rights prior to the ’98 season. Only the 15.3 rating for last year's Dolphins-Cowboys has been higher for CBS. In the late afternoon slot, Fox earned a 14.5 overnight for the Redskins-Cowboys matchup, down 8% from a 15.8 overnight for Packers-Lions in the early window last year. In primetime, NBC earned an 11.5 overnight for its first Thanksgiving NFL game, which saw the Patriots blowout the Jets 49-19. The telecast, which began at 8:30pm ET, peaked at a 12.7 rating in the 9:00pm window. The game was the No. 1 program of the night and gave NBC a win (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). In Houston, David Barron noted Thursday's Texans-Lions game earned a 26.5 rating on KHOU-CBS, which "produces an average audience of about 587,000 of Houston’s 2.2 million households." That ranks "fifth among Texans ratings this season behind the three prime time games and the game against the Broncos" (CHRON.com, 11/23).NFL WEEK 12 OVERNIGHT NIELSEN RATINGS
NET '12 TELECASTRAT. '11 NET '11 TELECASTRAT.% +/- CBS
Texans-Lions15.2 CBS Dolphins-Cowboys15.3-0.7% Fox
Redskins-Cowboys14.5 Fox Packers-Lions15.8-8.2% NBC
Patriots-Jets11.5 n/a n/an/an/a CBS (single)10.5 Fox (single)11.7-10.3% Fox (regional)8.7 CBS (regional)12.2-28.7% Fox 49ers-Saints (93%)16.5 CBS Patriots-Eagles (72%)15.65.8% NBC Packers-Giants13.5 NBC Steelers-Chiefs12.58.0%
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote CBS "hit a new low in its coverage" of yesterday's Ravens-Chargers game, and that is "really saying something for this sorry outfit." CBS "literally missed the opening kickoff." Zurawik: "And so it went all day with the CBS Sports College of Clown Coverage." CBS' Dan Fouts "reached another new low," as he "proved to be a worse analyst than Dan Dierdorf" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 11/25).
WELCOME BACK: ESPN's Mike Ditka returned to the net's "Sunday NFL Countdown" pregame show after missing the previous week due to a minor stroke. ESPN’s Chris Berman said, “We’re glad to see the coach back with us. Coach, you look marvelous. Feeling good?” Ditka: “I’m glad to see myself back. I feel good, I really do. I’m very lucky, but wake up calls, you know?” Berman added, “You made a lot of people feel good out there just seeing you right here” (“Sunday NFL Countdown,” ESPN, 11/25).
The NFL "banned" a segment last week that featured actor Bradley Cooper that was slated to air on the league's network, according to the N.Y. POST. Cooper "was to headline" last Friday's “Rich Eisen Thanksgiving Special," promoting Cooper's new movie "Silver Linings Playbook." But after the segment was "approved, and taped, the net was abruptly told on Wednesday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office to scrap it." NFL Network cancelled the segment because Robert De Niro’s character in the film "is a part-time bookie." The decision "left host Eisen and his team scrambling ... to re-edit the show." An NFL Media spokesperson said, “The segment was pulled because the movie included content related to gambling on NFL games.” Harvey Weinstein, the film's exec producer, said, “We are deeply disappointed in the NFL’s decision, and we are quite frankly surprised. Pulling a pretaped interview with our stars is nothing short of censorship ... (‘Silver Linings’) is not a film about gambling in the NFL. It’s a film about fathers and sons and football bonding a family together” (N.Y. POST, 11/23). SI.com's Peter King writes the NFL "overreacted, and that's putting it mildly," by pulling the Cooper interview. None of Eisen's questions, and none of Cooper's answers, "concerned gambling on NFL games," and the interview "would have gotten zero attention in this column and scant attention elsewhere had it aired" (SI.com, 11/26). The N.Y. Post's Bart Hubbuch wrote on his Twitter feed, "Silly stance by the league."
Fox Sports "could pay at least $6 billion to retain the Dodgers' television rights," according to sources cited by Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. The deal "could be worth three times what the Dodgers' new owners paid for the team and almost 20 times the value of the Dodgers' current television contract." Sources said that the deal is "not done." According to the team's current contract, if the two sides do not strike a deal by Friday, the Dodgers would "have until the following Friday to present Fox with a final offer." Fox would then "have 30 days to accept or reject the offer." The Dodgers' deal, "proposed for 25 years," would average $240M per year at $6B, or $280M per year at $7B (L.A. TIMES, 11/26). DEADLINE.com's Nikki Finke reported the deal "could clinch by Tuesday" (DEADLINE.com, 11/24). Fox in a statement said, "We're working hard to reach an agreement that achieves the goals of Dodgers ownership and also makes sense for our business." A source familiar with the negotiations said that "talks continue, but reports that a deal is imminent are premature" (THE DAILY). In L.A., Steve Dilbeck writes under the header, "Dodgers' Proposed TV Deal Dwarfs What Frank McCourt Wanted." When MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "dug in his heels" on former the Dodgers Owner, he "dug them in all the way." But after rejecting McCourt's rights deal with Fox, Selig is "looking smarter for it by the day." Dilbeck: "And although the $3-billion deal sounded impressive at the time, it’s starting to look like a half-price sale" (L.A. TIMES, 11/26).
SIGN OF THE TIMES? YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan wrote the Dodgers' proposed TV rights deal is the "siren that baseball's new era has arrived, one in which the sport's best revenue-sharing intentions cannot save it from the self-cannibalizing greed that drives these TV mega-contracts -- and drives a wedge between the haves and have-nots harder to extract than sword from stone." When the deal closes, the Dodgers will "make more money from local TV alone than 26 franchises take in from all of their revenue streams" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/25).