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Dodgers Owner Guggenheim Baseball Management has “reached a tentative deal on a new TV contract with Fox Sports that includes creation of a Dodgers-branded regional sports network that could be managed by Dick Clark Productions,” according to sources cited by Alex Ben Block of HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. However, the new contract “remains in limbo" as discussions between the Dodgers and MLB about revenue sharing for the estimated $6.1B the deal "will generate over the next 25 years." Sources said that under the deal the Dodgers and Fox have negotiated, the first $84.5M of TV licensing revenue is "subject to being shared with the league.” That cut is “spread among all teams to help supplement small-city teams that do not have as big a media market to tap.” Block cited a Forbes report as showing that “one possible scenario would have the Dodgers and Fox joining together to create the regional sports network.” In this scenario, Fox would “handle the money (ad sales) and pay the team the $84 million annual rights fee, plus the annual increases, but would also pay a guaranteed dividend of $100 million a year.” Sources said that it is that bonus payment that the Dodgers and MLB "are at odds over.” Block reported Dick Clark Productions is "being discussed as production partner following the September acquisition of the company by another affiliate of Guggenheim Partners.” Once a deal is done, Fox also will have to "work out agreements with regional cable systems and national satellite providers, which will be asked to pay a subscriber fee for the rights” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 12/18).
NFL Network averaged a 4.0 U.S. rating and 6.4 million viewers for its expanded slate of 13 games this season (excluding over-the-air figures), marking the net’s best audience since it began airing regular-season games in '06. This year marks the fourth straight year NFL Net set a new audience record and the first in which it did not air a game on a Saturday night. Compared to last year’s numbers, NFL Net saw an 11% ratings jump and a 3% viewership jump. Including over-the-air numbers, NFL Net averaged a 4.6 rating and 7.3 million viewers. Each Thursday night game on the net earned the distinction of being that day’s most-viewed program on cable. Three of NFL Net’s 10 most-watched games aired this season. Bears-Packers on Sept. 13 led the way with a 5.3 rating and 8.6 million viewers, marking the net’s fourth best audience all-time.
THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: The NFL’s decision to expand the number of Thursday night games has had a cascading affect on the rest of the TV sports landscape. College football used to rule Thursday nights through mid-November. Now, its numbers that night are down and don’t look to be coming back any time soon. But one result that may have been unexpected is its impact on the NFL’s other TV partners. Fox’ game viewership is down 5%, while CBS’ is down 3%. Primetime NFL games on ESPN and NBC essentially are flat. Several industry sources blame the NFL Net’s expanded schedule for the viewership drop. The Thursday night NFL games are also chipping away at the NBA’s hold on Thursday night viewing.
NFL NETWORK GAME AUDIENCE TREND (EXCLUDES OVER-THE-AIR)YEARU.S. RATINGVIEWERS (000)'124.06,352'113.66,188'103.25,705'093.15,548'082.33,738'072.74,650'06n/a3,100TOP 10 MOST-VIEWED GAMES ON NFL NETWORK (ALL-TIME)DATEDAY
TEAMSRATINGVIEWERS (000)11/24/11Thurs. 49ers-Ravens5.310,68112/19/09Sat. Cowboys-Saints5.710,49711/29/07Thurs. Packers-Cowboys5.610,0549/13/12Thurs. Bears-Packers5.38,5599/27/12Thurs. Browns-Ravens5.28,05312/25/10Sat. Cowboys-Cardinals3.87,84311/25/10Thurs. Bengals-Jets3.47,10611/29/12Thurs. Saints-Falcons4.47,066
Former LPGAer Dottie Pepper’s "last day at work" for NBC Sports was Sunday at the PNC Father-Son Challenge in Orlando as she announced her retirement after eight years as an on-air analyst, according to Doug Ferguson of the AP. Pepper decided at the Ryder Cup in September to "leave her role as the most prominent female golf analyst and join the PGA of America's board of directors, where she can work on developing junior golf programs.” NBC Golf Exec Producer Tommy Roy said, “The great thing about Dottie is not many players could come over from the LPGA and analyze in a critical way ... the PGA Tour players and still be respected by those players. She garnered so much respect from the players. She came over and fit right in.” Roy said that he would “like to have another LPGA Tour player work the U.S. Women's Open next summer on Long Island, though it is not imperative for the NBC team to find another woman to fill Pepper's role.” Pepper said, “I was treated as a reporter and an analyst, not because I was a woman. I was expected to toe the line. No matter how bad the weather was, how tough the walk was, I was to do everything the guys did. And that's how I wanted it.” Ferguson wrote Pepper was “never lacking in intensity and honesty, sometimes to a fault” (AP, 12/18).
ESPN "First Take" panelist Rob Parker's comments last Thursday regarding Redskins QB Robert Griffin III raise TV sportscasting's "most basic job requirement: Avoid overt racial or ethnic stereotypes -- or even talking about race unless your points are carefully considered and worded," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. Even on a "little-watched show such as 'First Take,' everyone must be thoughtful when discussing race and ethnicity," but Parker "wasn't." However, ESPN should "give him another chance." Beyond the "specifics, Parker's error was like those of others who survived on-air comments about race: He did not take the subject seriously enough" (USA TODAY, 12/19). In Miami, David Neal wrote ESPN's suspension of Parker revealed the company to be "The Worldwide Leader in Hypocrisy." ESPN "created the environment for Parker to wax so stupidly," but now they "want to step back, let him catch all the hell and hope nobody bothers to give them some" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/18). In Detroit, Eric Lacy reported the job status of Parker at Detroit's WDIV-NBC "is unclear." Parker has been "writing occasionally for WDIV's ClickOnDetroit website for several months now, and has made several on-air appearances, representing the station, to discuss a variety of sports-related topics." Parker also has been "featured on WDIV's Sunday night 'Sports Final Edition' show" (MLIVE.com, 12/18).
POSTGAME PRAISE: In Baltimore, David Zurawik gave his "vote for the best TV post-game show of the year: ESPN's Trent Dilfer and Steve Young ripping the New York Jets like I have not seen an NFL team ripped by analysts in some time." Their commentary was "so informed, passionate, fearless and honest that I literally wanted to get up out of my chair ... and cheer." Dilfer, who was "by far the angrier of the two," talked about the way Jets coach "Rex Ryan's team laid down like a bunch of whipped dogs." Zurawik: "I love the way he and Young chronicle the absolute 'dysfunction' of the team under Ryan" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 12/18).
ESPN finished with a 6.6 U.S. rating and 10.1 million viewers for this week's Jets-Titans matchup, marking the least-viewed “MNF” telecast this season. The rating is tied with the Oct. 22 Lions-Bears telecast -- which went head-to-head with Giants-Cardinals NLCS Game 7 -- for the lowest “MNF” rating of the season. With one telecast remaining, ESPN’s “MNF” package is averaging an 8.3 rating and 13.0 million viewers, essentially flat compared to the same period last year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).STRIKE ENDED: In L.A., Richard Verrier reported the Int'l Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has "ended its walkout against the Pac-12 Network ... declaring a 'victory.'" The union represents Hollywood's film and television crew workers, and union President Matt Loeb "called off pickets" scheduled for Pac-12 basketball games this week. The move came after Pac-12 Network reps "agreed to hold negotiations with the union." The IATSE had alleged that the net was "engaged in 'unfair' labor practices by using non-union crews" (LATIMES.com, 12/18).
BROTHERS IN ARMS: Comedians Randy and Jason Sklar appeared on NBC's "Last Call with Carson Daly" last night, and Daly noted the twins have served as guest hosts on Jim Rome's syndicated radio show. Daly said, “You guys were always great on that show.” Randy Sklar said, “We would fill in for Rome, and the best part about Rome is that he’s got his audience. He’s done a great job ... crafting an audience, building a language with his listeners, getting rabid followers. To us, he’s like the Howard Stern of sports talk radio” ("Last Call with Carson Daly," NBC, 12/19).