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Viewers should not "expect an ACC-branded TV channel to be launched any time soon," according to Smith & Ourand of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. ESPN needs to "control the conference’s syndicated rights to launch a channel," but those rights are "tied up until 2027 through deals with Raycom and Fox Sports Net." Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures co-Founder & CEO Chris Bevilacqua said, “There’s no way an ACC network co-exists with a syndicated model." Sources said that at the conference's annual spring meetings last week, there was "much more discussion about the prospects for a channel outside the meeting rooms than there was inside." The channel "hardly came up, even though" ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus and ESPNU Senior Dir of Programming Dan Margulis "attended the meetings, as they typically do." ESPN and Raycom the week before "engaged in meetings at the Charlotte offices of ESPN Regional Television, but those talks centered on how to program new member Notre Dame, not how to work together on a channel." Smith & Ourand report a league-branded channel is "considered vital to the conference’s financial future." Sources said that there is "not a rush to put together an ACC channel, and that it likely would be 2016 or 2017 before one would launch, if then." ESPN, if it "says no to a channel, would increase its compensation to the ACC, pushing the per-school average to close to $20 million." Even if the ACC is "able to buy back" digital and corporate sponsorship rights as well as rights to live football and men's basketball games from Raycom, "a second roadblock remains." Raycom "sublicensed 17 of those football games and 25 of those basketball games to Fox, which carries the games on its regional sports networks throughout the ACC footprint" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/20 issue).
NBC earned a 6.0 overnight Nielsen rating for the race portion (5:45-6:45pm ET) of Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, which saw Oxbow win and deny Orb a shot at the Triple Crown. The rating is up 9% from a 5.5 overnight last year, which saw I’ll Have Another win the second leg of the Triple Crown by a nose. The pre-race coverage on NBC (5:00-5:45pm) earned a 3.6 overnight and was up 24% from ’12. Baltimore predictably was the top-rated local market for the race, earning a 15.7 rating. It was followed by Louisville, Oklahoma City and Knoxville (THE DAILY). In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote when NBC Sports "floods the zone with members of its A-Team, the telecast is almost always a winner." That was again the case on Saturday, "thanks to airtight production, sure-handed direction and enough talent to cover three or four races." Bob Costas "gave NBC's pre-race show coverage a sense of authority, grace and intelligence." The opening block of coverage "was textbook in how a major sports event should be presented." Outside of Michelle Beadle, who "seemed to think she had to tell us something about herself every time she opened her mouth, viewers were given one solid piece of information and analysis after another about the race" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 5/18). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes NBC's coverage "wasn't quite as ambitious" as it was during the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, and it "wasn't nearly as splashy." But NBC's "reserved broadcast was appropriate." It was, when the "day ended, as comprehensive as it should have been." The entire on-air crew "was solid, and unlike the Kentucky Derby, NBC figured out a good use" for Beadle. Given a "more serious role, Beadle provided one of the highlights of the coverage: her interview with jockey Rosie Napravnik" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/20).
BUMPED BACK: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin writes NBC Sports Network had a "disjointed" broadcast of Saturday's Indianapolis 500 Fast Nine Shootout. With rain delaying the start of qualifying, IndyCar officials "decided to stage the pole competition at 6:30 p.m., which caught NBC Sports Network in a position of having to show" the Preakness post-race coverage. Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles said, "It was unfortunate. I'm glad it worked out that (the cable network) could come back for the last four qualifying runs and taped action of the other five" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/19).
ABC earned a 3.9 overnight Nielsen rating for Game 1 of the Grizzlies-Spurs Western Conference Finals yesterday. That is down 27% from a 5.3 for the opening game of the Mavericks-Thunder series in ’11, the last time ABC/ESPN broadcast the Western Conference Finals. That game aired on a Tuesday. The game drew a 23.8 local market rating in San Antonio and a 19.1 local rating in Memphis, making it ABC/ESPN's highest-rated Conference Final game in that market. ESPN drew a 4.1 metered market rating for the Pacers’ Game 6 win against the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. There was no comparable game last year (THE DAILY). CBS Sports Network’s Jim Rome said, "You know David Stern is crying himself to sleep knowing that the Spurs v. Grizz will not be breaking any ratings records. Let’s face it, it’s not exactly run-and-gun showtime. But what it is, is a heavyweight championship fight” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 5/17).
ESPN HIRES CARLESIMO FOR PLAYOFFS: In N.Y., Bob Raissman reported ESPN will soon bring former Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo in "as an NBA studio analyst for the rest of the playoffs." Carlesimo is "filling the spot Flip Saunders had before he recently left ESPN" to become T'Wolves President of Basketball Operations. He will "work on site at the NBA Finals" and there is a "chance his role will be expanded next season." Carlesimo said, "The conversations have been let’s do the playoffs. Then we’ll sit down and talk about the future.” He added, "I’ve got to look at both options. But the likelihood is that I’ll be broadcasting next year. I’m looking at broadcasting as what I’m going to do moving forward. ... I have enjoyed television and radio way more than I thought when I first started. But if I told you it is the same as coaching I would be lying” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/19).
NHL Rangers coach John Tortorella during yesterday's Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 2 against the Bruins dropped an expletive during a live interview with NBC's Pierre McGuire, according to Pat Leonard of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. McGuire approached Tortorella "on the bench in the heat of the moment" following the team tying the game at 1-1. Tortorella said live on air, "That was a huge (GD) goal he just scored" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/20). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Joe Lucia noted McGuire then "thanked Tortorella and immediately ended the interview, likely with the horror of realizing that New York's coach had sworn on national TV." There were "no immediate apologies from the NBC crew, and they essentially called Tortorella a wild card" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 5/19). Meanwhile, in Tampa, Tom Jones notes Tortorella "can be tough to deal with even when his team is playing well." McGuire "knows that, yet that didn't stop him from taking a pretty good (and deserved) shot at Tortorella" during yesterday's game. Tortorella prior to the game was asked why Rangers LW Carl Hagelin "wasn't playing more on the power play." Tortorella responded, "Because he stinks on the power play." McGuire said during the broadcast, "Throwing your player under the bus at this time of the year? No, I'm not buying that" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/20). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes, "It has come to this: John Tortorella is such an abrasive, unpleasant man in public that yesterday NBC’s publicly abrasive, unpleasant studio analyst, Mike Milbury, was moved to knock Tortorella’s conduct!" (N.Y. POST, 5/20).
WEEKEND RATINGS: NBC earned a 1.9 overnight Nielsen rating for Rangers-Bruins Game 2 yesterday, which aired from 3:00-6:00pm ET. The net on Saturday saw the Red Wings-Blackhawks Western Conference Semifinals Game 2 draw a 1.4 overnight. That aired from 1:00-4:30pm and was the lead-in to the net's Preakness Stakes coverage (THE DAILY).