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Sunday's NFC and AFC Championship games averaged 44.9 million viewers, marking the lowest level for Championship Sunday since ’09, when the two games averaged 39.6 million viewers. The ’13 average is down from a two-game average of 53.7 million viewers last year. CBS finished with 47.7 million viewers for Ravens-Patriots in the late window Sunday, marking TV’s most-viewed program since last year’s Super Bowl, but down from 57.6 million viewers for the Giants’ OT win over the 49ers on Fox in last year’s late window, which was the most-watched conference championship game in 30 years. Fox’ 49ers-Falcons in the early window on Sunday finished with an average of 42.0 million viewers, marking the least-viewed conference championship telecast since ’09 and down from 48.7 million viewers for CBS’ Patriots-Ravens in the early window last year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).NFL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMESYEARNETGAME (WINDOW)VIEWERS (000)'13Fox49ers-Falcons (early)42,000'13CBSRavens-Patriots (late)47,700'12CBSPatriots-Ravens (early)48,676'12FoxGiants-49ers (late)57,635'11FoxPackers-Bears (early)51,884'11CBSSteelers-Jets (late)54,850'10CBSColts-Jets (early)46,917'10FoxSaints-Vikings (late)57,933'09FoxCardinals-Eagles (early)38,387'09CBSSteelers-Ravens (late)40,645
FLYING HIGH: In Baltimore, David Zurawik reported the Ravens-Patriots AFC Championship generated a 51.8 local rating, which replaces the Ravens-Broncos AFC Divisional game as the "most watched program on Baltimore TV since last year's Super Bowl" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 1/21). In Atlanta, Tim Tucker reported more than 1 million "metro-Atlanta households watched" the 49ers-Falcons NFC Championship (45.7 local rating). The game delivered the "most homes ever to watch a Falcons game locally." Although the game was "not the highest rated on Atlanta TV in Falcons history -- three other games, including the 1999 Super Bowl, drew higher percentages of the market’s TV households -- Sunday’s audience was the largest in number of households because of the market’s population growth" (AJC.com, 1/21).
RAY'S WAY: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes Ravens LB Ray Lewis "won’t fade away, but he would be less the focal point if not for the NFL’s network partners (especially CBS) being hell-bent on promoting their version of Everybody Loves Ray." It has "ingrained Lewis into the nation’s conscience." As the national anthem was being performed Sunday, Lewis’ "eyes were directed toward heaven." His head "moved side to side as he conversed with God." CBS’ camera "lingered on Lewis." Above any "player on that field, including [Patriots QB] Tom Brady, Lewis was the visual priority." At that "very moment, other players were praying," but CBS was "only interested in Ray Lewis." When the game ended, Lewis was "on all fours kissing the turf." This "instantly was made common knowledge by CBS." Its cameras were "on Lewis and couldn’t get enough of what someone judged to be a moving moment." So, for those "who love ranting about Lewis and bringing up his past ... remember that CBS has provided him with what amounts to an exclusive window to spread the gospel according to Ray" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/22). SPORTS ON EARTH's Chuck Culpepper writes the "forecast calls for continued televised segments featuring Ray Lewis with an 80-percent chance of schmaltzy music." The "problem is, we went through the mandatory Ray Lewis schmaltz before the wild-card round, because that might have been his last game." Culpepper: "We went through the mandatory Ray Lewis schmaltz during the divisional round, because that might have been his last game. And we went through a bit of mandatory Ray Lewis schmaltz during the conference-title round, because that might have been his last game as well" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 1/22).
WILD BILL: With Patriots coach Bill Belichick turning down CBS' request for a postgame interview following the AFC Championship, ESPN’s J.A. Adande asked, “Would it hurt you to speak to the network that is paying billions of dollars to the league?" Adande: "Come on, show a little class even when you do lose.” Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said Belichick “doesn’t say anything anyway" during interviews and noted Belichick did speak to the media after the game, if not exclusively to CBS. ESPN’s Michael Smith said, "CBS’ broadcast was better for it that he didn’t do it” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN2, 1/21). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon noted, “The networks pay Bill Belichick’s salary. ... The networks -- and CBS is one of them -- pay each NFL team $100 million a year roughly. So we’re talking about a partnership here, and Belichick bailed on that.” ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "He probably should have done the interview, but when he gives interviews it doesn’t matter. He has absolutely nothing to say. He has become sort of like a professional last angry man and he’s very cantankerous" (“PTI,” ESPN2, 1/21). CBS Sports’ Jim Rome said, “Nobody wants to do those interviews, but they do them anyway because it’s the right thing to do and it’s a part of the job. … Great coach, terrible loser” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 1/21). In Jacksonville, Chet Fussman writes Belichick was "rightfully criticized" and should "admit he made a mistake" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 1/22).
NFL Digital Media next week will debut "Fan Pass," a behind-the-scenes look at Super Bowl XLVII featuring exclusive interviews, Google+ video hangouts and user-selected content via Twitter. Located at NFL.com/FanPass, the content initiative will cover the Super Bowl from a more entertainment-driven focus, including interviews with a variety of musicians and other celebrities. Additional Super Bowl-related content plans for NFL Digital Media in New Orleans include a live video show from "Radio Row," a dedicated game-related mobile app presented by league sponsor Verizon, a digital version of the 264-page official game program, a simulcast of NFL Network's coverage of the Jan. 29 Media Day, and a commercial-free Game Rewind of the contest available about 30 minutes after its conclusion. The league's digital efforts around the Feb. 3 Super Bowl are in addition to CBS and NFL.com's live streaming of the game.
The CBC's "Hockey Night In Canada" on Saturday registered more than 3.3 million viewers for its 7:00pm ET broadcast of Maple Leafs-Canadiens, making it the most-watched regular-season Prime East game on the net. The game reached 9.2 million Canadians, or 27% of the population. The average audience was up 16% from the previous record of 2.85 million set on April 7, 2007. In addition, the Saturday afternoon Senators-Jets game had an average audience of nearly 1.5 million viewers, while nearly 1.47 million viewers took in the Ducks-Canucks matchup at 10:00pm. Meanwhile, last night’s Blues-Predators game set a record on FS Midwest, becoming the net's highest-rated regular-season Blues telecast. The game generated a 7.4 local rating in St. Louis, which tops the previous regular-season high of 6.3 rating set March 13, 2012 for Blackhawks-Blues. Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic also set a record with a 2.3 local rating for the Capitals-Lightning season-opener on Saturday. That rating is 77% higher than the '11-12 Capitals season-opener and 11% higher than CSN Mid-Atlantic's previous Capitals' opening-night high of a 2.1 rating set in '10 (THE DAILY).
CROSSING BORDERS: In Toronto, Steve Buffery writes the opening attendance numbers and TV ratings were "so high that the ratings probably shocked the NHL and the players." Certain teams are "going to sell-out anyway, most of the Canadian teams especially, but the numbers for NHL games on the opening weekend showed that the situation in the U.S. was probably not as doom and gloom as many predicted when the lockout ended." There still is a "major hunger for the game, even in the U.S., and that’s a feather in the NHL’s cap." The league will "remember this." In future CBA negotiations, both the players and owners will be "perfectly comfortable digging in for another long haul because they know their fans will be there when they get back" (TORONTO SUN, 1/22). SI.com's Stu Hackel wrote Saturday night and hockey "fit together for millions of people." The "misconception that this only holds true in Canada may never be fully comprehended south of the 49th parallel, and even in Canada itself, but it's a fact." The NHL's "growth over the past few decades -- cautious and uneven as it may be -- proves it." It is "one reason the lockout was so senseless." This "isn't a uniquely Canadian experience." While "not as universal for Americans as it is for our northern neighbors, a parallel experience of no small consequence exists in the United States." This has "long been an international sport, Canada's gift to the world, and a sizable -- and a growing -- number of us down here feel exactly as Canadians do about the rituals of watching NHL players and their unmatched athleticism." Among those rituals "is watching on Saturday night" (SI.com, 1/21).
The Izod IndyCar Series yesterday announced its '13 TV schedule, which includes ABC’s first primetime race and three doubleheaders -- one on ABC, and two on NBC Sports Network. NBCSN will televise the first four races of the season, beginning with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 24. ABC will air six races, beginning with the net’s 49th consecutive year of televising the Indianapolis 500. Qualification for 12 races, including Pole Day and Bump Day for the Indy 500, will air on NBCSN. The net also will continue to air “IndyCar 36,” which follows a driver behind the scenes during a race. All 12 Firestone Indy Lights races will be broadcast on NBCSN (IndyCar).'13 IZOD INDYCAR SERIES TV SCHEDULEDATETRACKNET3/24Streets of St. PetersburgNBCSN4/7Barber Motorsports ParkNBCSN4/21Streets of Long BeachNBCSN5/5Streets of Sao PauloNBCSN5/26Indianapolis Motor SpeedwayABC6/1Streets of Belle IsleABC6/2Streets of Belle IsleABC6/8Texas Motor SpeedwayABC6/15The Milwaukee MileNBCSN6/23Iowa SpeedwayABC7/7Pocono RacewayABC7/13Streets of TorontoNBCSN7/14Streets of TorontoNBCSN8/4Mid-Ohio Sports Car CourseNBCSN8/25Raceway at SonomaNBCSN9/1Streets of BaltimoreNBCSN10/5Reliant ParkNBCSN10/6Reliant ParkNBCSN10/19Auto Club SpeedwayNBCSN
STANDARD PROCEDURE: SPEEDTV.com's Marshall Pruett reported new Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, who oversees the IndyCar Series, “expressed his desire to see a more standardized television package to help fans follow the sport, and it has come in the form of broadcast times that will start within a relatively consistent window at most rounds.” IndyCar COO Robby Greene said, "The 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series television schedule was created with the goal of keeping things simple for our fans. Our fans asked for more consistency and we thank our television partners and our promoters for working with us to help achieve that goal” (SPEEDTV.com, 1/21)
In L.A., Joe Flint reports Time Warner Cable is "in advanced talks with the Dodgers for a deal involving the storied franchise's television rights." TWC is "prepared to pay upward of $7 billion for the right to be in business with the Dodgers for the foreseeable future." A contract could be "announced as early as later this week." While News Corp. is "still in the hunt, right now it appears that Time Warner Cable has the lead heading into the ninth inning of negotiations with the team's new majority owner, Guggenheim Partners." The Dodgers are "hot for their own channel that they would control." Even if a new channel "isn't created for the Dodgers, it is hard to see how such an agreement won't drive up cable bills" (L.A. TIMES, 1/22).
PIE IN THE SKY: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Georg Szalai reports EPL club Manchester United has bought out TV provider BSkyB's 33.3% equity stake in its Manchester United Television network, "better known as MUTV." The channel was launched in '98 "as a joint venture" with BSkyB and broadcaster ITV. ManU bought out ITV's one-third stake in '07 and said that it "has since further expanded its TV capabilities." MUTV is available in 57 countries, and consumers can get it either via subscription "or as programming blocks bought by TV networks" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 1/22).
MARKET WATCH: In N.Y., Atkinson & Kosman reported there is "talk that CBS Radio will be the next to hit the market." Sources believe that CBS President & CEO Les Moonves is "open to a sale of the station group as he looks to reduce the company’s reliance on advertising and shed slower growth businesses." Sources said that while a "sale of the radio unit isn’t imminent, it could happen in the next 12 to 24 months" (N.Y. POST, 1/21).
SAY HELLO, WAVE GOODBYE: Charlotte Observer golf writer Ron Green Jr. is leaving the paper "to write full time about golf for Global Golf Post, a weekly online golf magazine." Green will continue to "write occasionally for the Observer, contributing a weekly golf column as well as columns from major golf events" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/20)....Longtime Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley is "retiring this month." Kelley started writing for the newspaper in '82 (SEATTLE TIMES, 1/20)....WQAM-AM has "suspended host Dan Sileo for two days in the wake of a series of sexist insults delivered, via Twitter, to Fox broadcaster Erin Andrews" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 1/19).