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ESPN finished with a 15.1 U.S. rating and 26.4 million viewers for Alabama’s 42-14 win over Notre Dame in Monday night’s BCS National Championship, marking the second-best audience in cable TV history. The only larger audience was the ’11 Auburn-Oregon BCS title game, which drew a 15.3 rating and 27.3 million viewers. Alabama-Notre Dame also is up 8% and 9%, respectively, from a 14.0 rating and 24.2 million viewers for the Alabama-LSU title game last year. For five BCS bowl games this year, ESPN averaged an 8.8 rating and 15.1 million viewers, up 5% and 8%, respectively, from last year, but down from the net’s first year covering all five games in ’11.BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AUDIENCE TRENDYEARDAY
GAMENETRAT.VIEWERS (000)'13Mon. Alabama-Notre DameESPN15.126,380'12Mon. Alabama-LSUESPN14.024,214'11Mon. Auburn-OregonESPN15.327,316'10Thurs. Alabama-TexasABC17.230,776'09Thurs. Florida-OklahomaFox15.826,767'08Mon. LSU-Ohio StateFox14.423,069'07Mon. Florida-Ohio StateFox17.428,795'06Wed. Texas-USC (Rose Bowl)ABC21.735,630'05Tues. USC-Oklahoma (Orange Bowl)ABC13.721,419'04Sun. LSU-Oklahoma (Sugar Bowl)ABC14.823,937'03Fri. Ohio State-Miami (Fiesta Bowl)ABC17.229,104'02Thurs. Miami-Nebraska (Rose Bowl)ABC13.821,559'01Wed. Oklahoma-Florida State (Orange Bowl)ABC17.827,240'00Tues. Florida State-Virginia Tech (Sugar Bowl)ABC17.526,962'99Mon. Tennessee-Florida State (Fiesta Bowl)ABC17.226,112VIEWERSHIP TREND FOR BCS BOWL GAMESYEARNET(S)U.S. RATINGVIEWERS (000)'13ESPN8.815,131'12ESPN8.414,018'11ESPN9.616,729'10Fox/ABC10.919,278'09Fox/ABC10.317,595'08Fox/ABC9.415,554'07Fox/ABC11.118,123
ESPN during its coverage of the Discover BCS National Championship game planned to mention that Alabama QB A.J. McCarron was dating Katherine Webb, the current Miss Alabama, but when announcer Brent Musburger’s "gushing over her went too far, some staffers in the production truck at the stadium 'cringed,'" according to Mary Pilon of the N.Y. TIMES. A source said that soon after, ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Acquisitions John Wildhack "told Musburger through the announcer’s earpiece that he had to 'move on.'" The network yesterday apologized for Musburger’s comments, saying in a statement, "We always try to capture interesting story lines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test. However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that." Webb yesterday said, "It was kind of nice. I didn’t look at it as creepy at all. For a woman to be called beautiful, I don’t see how that’s an issue." Pilon notes Musburger "has made other controversial comments" while on air. During a Florida State-Miami game in '05, Musburger "commented on a scantily clad Florida State fan, Jenn Sterger, who parlayed her notoriety into a television career." He also "raised eyebrows during the 2011 Fiesta Bowl when he said that a last-second field-goal attempt by Auburn was for 'all the Tostitos,' invoking the game’s sponsor" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/9).
CAUGHT IN A WEBB: Webb appeared exclusively on NBC’s “Today” this morning and discussed Musburger's comments about her. Prior to Webb being interviewed from Alabama, the show ran a two-minute report from correspondent Andrea Canning setting up the story. She said of Musburger, “I think the media has been really unfair to him. I think that if he would have said something along the lines that we were hot or sexy or made any derogatory statements like that, I think that would have been a little bit different.” Webb said she appreciated ESPN's apology, but added, "I don’t think I needed an apology.” She added of her newfound fame,“I’m honestly really shocked that it took off like that. I think that we need to draw back our attention to who the real winners are, and that’s the Alabama football team” (“Today,” NBC, 1/9). Webb for the most part "didn't know what was going on during the game because her cellphone was dead." She said, "I did get to check it a little bit through a friend's phone. It's been crazy" (USA TODAY, 1/9).
TO ERR IS HUMAN: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes under the header, "Announcer Was Only Saying What Everyone Watching Was Thinking." Musburger has been left "holding the bag" for his comments about Webb. His critics, including "some of his peers, referred to him as creepy," but they are "hypocrites." A college football game telecast is "full of provocative shots of cheerleaders (cameramen seem to prefer the chest area) or women in the stands." Similar "'art' shots can be seen during a variety of sports telecasts." Those now so "damn offended say nothing about this 'tradition.'" All Musburger did "was caption what he saw" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/9). SPORTS ON EARTH's Dave Kindred wrote, "We need to cut Musburger some slack." It is "true that a guy who has renewed his AARP discount card this many times should know what’s creepy and what’s not and what’s the time and place and what’s not." However, he is one of "hundreds of millions of human beings who carry the Y chromosome." It causes them to "shout out the occasional geriatric-perv-whoop" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 1/8).
LATE-NIGHT LAUGHS: ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel during his monologue last night said, “The cameras found Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend in the stands, and Brent Musburger, the play-by-play announcer, went nuts.” A video was shown of an overweight, shirtless man cheering in the stands. Kimmel added, “It’s not just the way she looks, its how she carries herself. By the way, at the beginning of the game, the woman, Katherine Webb, had about 2,000 followers on Twitter. Now she has almost 200,000 followers, proving once and for all that men are horny” (“Jimmy Kimmel Live,” ABC, 1/8).
ESPN has ended its relationship with Rob Parker, the “First Take” commentator who was suspended for insensitive remarks about Redskins QB Robert Griffin III. An ESPN statement released yesterday afternoon stated, “Rob Parker’s contract expired at year’s end. Evaluating our needs and his work, including his recent RGIII comments, we decided not to renew his deal.” Because of the controversy, ESPN took steps to add more editorial oversight to the show. A source said that that oversight started last week with members of ESPN’s news desk sitting in on “First Take” production meetings. Parker was suspended last month after questioning how much Griffin was doing for the African-American community and pointing out that he has a white fiancée and could be a Republican. Parker asked on air, “Is he a brother or a cornball brother?” (John Ourand, THE DAILY). Parker last month was named host of a Saturday version of "First Take," but ESPN said that it was “just replacement programming for December only” (SI.com, 1/8).
DEFENDING HIS COMMENTS: Parker on Sunday appeared on WDIV-NBC's "FlashPoint" and responded to his then-suspension from ESPN. Parker talked about his comments regarding Griffin and said, “It was never to condemn the young man. RGIII is a great young man with a bright future. It was more about concerns than condemning him.” He added, "It’s just a conversation that’s had within the black community when athletes or famous entertainers push away from the black community and their people. ... It’s more about that. It’s more about this thing that we’ve battled for years and why people have pushed away from their people." WDIV's Devin Scillian noted, “You got suspended for it but they only did that after they’d (ESPN) aired the thing three different times. It seems to me that ESPN was a little duplicitous here. They certainly enjoyed the attention it got.” Parker added he did not know if they enjoyed it but that “they were really hurt by it, from the backlash that came from it." He noted his comments were not "meant in that vein at all,” and that the people and the producers of the show did not think of it that way. Scillian said, “Some of the blow back of course came from some of the black community who felt that this was sort of treasonous that you were going after a black athlete for not being black enough when really he’s setting a terrific example in so many ways.” Parker added, “I wasn’t saying that he wasn’t black enough, so when people say that, it’s just not true. I was saying these are the conversations that take place once a guy pushes away” (“FlashPoint,” WDIV-NBC, 1/6).
2K Sports this morning made a surprise announcement that it has renewed its video game license with MLB, the MLBPA and MLBAM, and will release "MLB 2K 13" on March 5 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 featuring Rays P David Price on the cover. 2K Sports had a five-year deal with MLB that expired last year, one that was widely expected to just die without a renewal after the company in '10 blamed the MLB license for much of its overall fiscal losses. Execs for Take-Two Interactive, parent of 2K Sports, had then pegged its MLB-related losses at more than $30M per year. Plans to produce another MLB game have not been mentioned in any quarterly or annual filing with the SEC. Listing upcoming releases well in advance is typical practice for publicly traded game developers. "We'd like to thank our league partners for their support in helping us reach an agreement to bring back 'MLB 2K'," said 2K Sports VP/Marketing Jason Argent. 2K Sports also will revive its $1M Perfect Game Challenge for the fourth straight year as part of the rollout of "MLB 2K 13" with a new contest format. Last year's competition culminated in an eight-person tournament at the MLB Fan Cave.
CBS will be headquartered in New Orleans’ Jackson Square for its coverage originating from Super Bowl XLVII, and the sets will be "used by 15 different shows from nine CBS divisions, from the main network to cable channels to online to radio," according to the AP. CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said, "We’ve never done anything like this before." The Jackson Square shoots will give CBS "plenty of opportunities to highlight New Orleans’ recovery from Hurricane Katrina as the city hosts its first Super Bowl since the storm." Its coverage will "include a special called 'New Orleans: Let The Good Times Roll' hosted by musician Wynton Marsalis airing at noon on Super Bowl Sunday" (AP, 1/8). BROADCASTING & CABLE's Tim Baysinger reported "aside from sports programming," shows such as "CBS This Morning," "CBS Evening News," "Face the Nation," "The Talk," "The Late Late Show" and "omg!Insider" will all broadcast from New Orleans during Super Bowl week. "The Talk" co-host Julie Chen said, "The Super Bowl is not only the biggest event in sports; it is actually the biggest cultural event in the world." She added, "We thought the Super Bowl would be the perfect event to take our show on the road." Chen said that the week’s shows will "feature a mix of entertainment and sports personalities as well as the local flavor that New Orleans has to offer." Rock group Train "will serve as The Talk’s house band all week" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 1/8). In N.Y., Matthew Flamm noted the "CBS Evening News" will broadcast from New Orleans the "Friday and Saturday before the game" (CRAINSNEWYORK.com, 1/8).
FROM ALL ANGLES: CBS Exec Producer & VP/Production Harold Bryant said that the net will "deploy about 62 cameras" to cover Super Bowl XLVII, up from about "20 during playoff games and about 15 during the season." USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes after NBC last year "drew 2.1 million users to the first Super Bowl live stream, CBS will have the first live streaming of the halftime show." CBS will have "more than 50 hours" from the CBS Sports Network "plus more than 70 on-site hours from recently launched CBS Sports Radio." CBS will "erect four outdoor sets in New Orleans" (USA TODAY, 1/9).
YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Etan Vlessing reported CTV is "teaming up with the NFL to live-stream" the game to its online users. The exclusive deal will see CTV.ca "simulcast CTV’s conventional TV broadcast of the Super Bowl and NFL playoff games, starting this weekend with live streaming of the divisional match-ups." The online play will be "geo-gated, and feature the same Canadian commercials seen on the CTV broadcast" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 1/8).
QMI AGENCY's Patrick Kennedy reported The CBC's Don Cherry in the wake of the NHL lockout is "being asked to log longer hours during the coming short season." No longer will Cherry be able to "bolt from the CBC studio the moment the red light goes off" following his "Coach's Corner" segment. Cherry said, "This year, they want me to hang around until the end of the first period of the second (televised) game. I'll comment on it, too, and give fans out west a chance to hear me talk about their teams." There is "no word on whether Cherry is to be compensated for the extra toil." He is estimated to earn C$800,000 per season (QMI AGENCY, 1/8).
TEE TO GREEN: The AP's Doug Ferguson reported former golfer Notah Begay III this week at the PGA Tour Sony Open begins "as a full-time member of the broadcast team for NBC Sports and Golf Channel." Begay will be "a walking course reporter" at this week's event. When analyst Dottie Pepper retired last month, "an opening was created" at NBC and Golf Channel. Begay made his TV debut in '10 during Golf Channel's "Live From The Masters" coverage, and has "contributed to Golf Channel's coverage at the Masters and U.S. Open the last three years." He also will contribute to the net's "news programs and coverage from majors." Begay won four times on the PGA Tour "until his career was slowed by back injuries" (AP, 1/8).
BULLS' EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS' Danny Ecker reports the Bulls "have seen a major drop in TV viewership" through the first 32 games of the NBA season as G Derrick Rose has yet to play a game due to injury. Bulls' local ratings on Comcast SportsNet Chicago are down 49% from last season's final regular-season average. The drop follows a 30% "year-over-year ratings increase last season." The team's average rating on WGN-CW is "slightly higher at 4.40 through the 14 games the channel has carried this season," though that is down roughly 45% from last year (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 1/9).
MASTER OF YOUR DOMAIN: BASEBALL AMERICA's Josh Leventhal reported MLB has paid a record $1.2M to "secure the domain name Rockies.com from the Canadian tourism portal Tourism Canadian Rockies." The sale was brokered by Venture Capital Group, which announced that the sale "was the largest for a sports domain transaction." The sale gives MLB the rights to "all but four of the domain names for its team's Websites." It still "does not own rights" for the Giants, Rays, Rangers and Twins (BASEBALLAMERICA.com, 1/8).