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ABC earned a 10.6 overnight Nielsen rating for the Spurs’ 92-88 win in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night from 9:00-11:45pm ET, down 10% from an 11.8 overnight for the Heat-Thunder opener last year. That game marked the best Game 1 overnight since ESPN acquired NBA rights prior to the '02-03 season. Spurs-Heat Game 1 is also down from a 10.7 overnight for the Mavericks-Heat opener in ’11, but still the third best NBA Finals opener since ’04. The 10.6 overnight is also the best overnight for any of the Spurs' four NBA Finals openers. Despite the drop, Game 1 delivered ABC a win in primetime and marks the 31st consecutive time an NBA Finals game has won the night across all of TV. The game peaked at a 13.1 rating during the conclusion of the game from 11:30-11:45pm. In Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, the game earned a 34.0 local rating, marking the best figure on record for the opening game of the NBA Finals. The telecast also earned a 35.3 local rating in San Antonio (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
POP BEING POP: In Boston, Chad Finn notes Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has "gained notoriety over the years for his abrupt and frequently sarcastic responses to sideline reporters’ questions." They are "delivered with just enough of an I’m-in-on-the-joke undertone that they leave the viewer amused rather than feeling sympathy for the reporter stuck in a thankless spot." ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy said, "It’s almost become funny how short Gregg is. I think he thinks he’s (not) getting paid by the word, because really, some of his stuff is very, very funny; short, and to the point." Van Gundy said that he "doesn’t necessarily think of the coach interview as a gimmick," but he "does believe there are more informative ways to use the time" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/7). Popovich prior to the start of the second quarter of Game 1 spoke with ESPN's Doris Burke courtside. Burke asked, "Nine days off is an eternity by NBA standards. Assess your guys' performance for 12 minutes." Popovich: "Well, I thought we were a little sharper than I was expecting after such time off so hopefully we can get better." Burke asked, "You expressed a bit of anxiety of Kawhi Leonard in his first Finals guarding LeBron James. From him specifically, what did you see?" Popovich: "He seems to be taking it in stride in this point in the game so he looks OK" ("NBA Finals Game 1," ABC, 6/6).
NBC Sports Network drew a 1.6 U.S. rating and 2.8 million viewers for the Bruins' 2-1 win over the Penguins in double OT of the Eastern Conference Finals Game 3 Wednesday from 8:00pm-12:19am ET, marking the net’s most-viewed Conference Finals telecast ever and best on cable TV since ’02. Wednesday night’s game peaked at 3.6 million viewers from 10:30-10:45pm. Meanwhile, NBC drew a 2.0 rating and 3.4 million viewers for Bruins-Penguins Game 1 last Saturday night, marking that net’s best Conference Finals audience since it began such coverage in ’06. The audience also marked the most-viewed Conference Finals game across all of TV in 11 years. The Bruins-Penguins opener peaked with 4.2 million viewers from 9:45-10:00pm. The game also earned a 19.6 local rating in Boston, marking the net’s best figure ever in the market for a non-Stanley Cup Final telecast (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). In Pittsburgh, Bob Cohn notes the Pittsburgh market drew a 22.7 local rating for Game 3, meaning more people watched the game in Pittsburgh "than anywhere in the country." That rating was 5% higher than the series average for the Penguins' last Conference Final appearance in '09. Game 3 also drew a 21.9 rating in Boston, up 47% from the series average for the Bruins' Conference Final appearance in '11 (TRIBLIVE.com, 6/7).
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU: NBC's Pierre McGuire in a special to SI writes his location between the benches lets him "experience the Stanley Cup Playoffs ... from a perspective that no other vantage point allows." McGuire: "I'm a sponge, soaking up everything and trying to convey hockey's crazy tempo to viewers at home." There is "not another seat like it in any other sport." When NBC Sports Exec Producer Sam Flood "floated the idea of putting me at ice level eight years ago, I thought he would never get the NHL's consent." But hockey people are "not afraid to think outside the box in order to grow the game." McGuire: "I don't think it's any accident that ratings are up" (SI, 6/10 issue).
The 20 EPL clubs have agreed to "new rules on media access as part of a range of measures designed to bring fans closer to players and maintain good relations with the broadcasters who pour billions into the game," according to Owen Gibson of the GUARDIAN. The clubs have "agreed to operate 'mixed zones' for rights-holding broadcasters after each match and make at least one player available for two hours every week." Each EPL manager and a starting player "will also be required to conduct a brief interview" when they arrive at the stadium. Sky Sports, BT Sport or Premier League TV "will be allowed to ask three questions of them as they arrive." Each starting player at each club "will have to be made available at least once a season for the two-hour weekly interview slot." There has been a "long-standing desire from rights holders, who look longingly at the American model with mandated locker-room access, to increase the amount of access to players they are offered beyond the traditional post-match interview." BT Sport, in particular, is "keen to take its cameras into new areas and wants to work with clubs to make dressing-room broadcasts a possibility." Former Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson's "refusal to speak to the BBC for seven years was the most obvious example of the extent to which some clubs rode roughshod over the existing rules" (GUARDIAN, 6/7).
SHOW OF STRENGTH: REUTERS' Keith Weir reported lucrative new TV deals starting in August offer EPL clubs a "golden opportunity" to strengthen finances undermined by the vast sums they pay to players. A study by Deloitte showed that football is "increasingly prized by broadcasters seeking to drive pay TV audiences," and clubs in Germany and England "will start to enjoy the benefits of enhanced TV deals from August." Sales of rights around the globe "have inflated total TV revenues" for the EPL to an estimated US$8.6M over the next three years (REUTERS, 6/6). The PA's Martyn Ziegler reported EPL clubs will begin to receive an extra US$39M on average each year from the new TV contracts, and for most clubs "that could wipe out their losses." Relegated clubs will also receive up to US$94M in parachute payments. The Deloitte report predicts that "player wage costs will rise considerably with the new TV money coming in" -- but said that clubs "should keep that rise to respectable levels" (PA, 6/6).
NBA TV's "Originals" documentaries are becoming "must-watches for any basketball fans," and the upcoming feature on Basketball HOFer Julius Erving is a "worthy follow-up" to last summer's doc on the '92 Dream Team, according to Andrew Unterberger of NBCSPORTS.com. "The Doctor" debuts Monday at 9:00pm ET, and it "can’t quite compete with the overwhelming star power and inside-joke secrets of Dream Team." However, "The Doctor" shows Erving "definitely in full effect, as cool as ever." A "minor complaint about the movie ... would be that you don’t really get to see much of the bad with the Doctor." Though Erving's personal and home life "gets some play, absolutely no mention is made of his greatest off-court controversies, when he was revealed to have fathered children with two separate mothers in extramarital affairs." But that is "partly the nature of the beast with an NBA TV doc -- you’re never gonna get a totally objective account of an NBA subject, because they serve to glorify the subject that provides their raison d’etre more than to educate about it." You "don’t watch an NBA TV movie for hard-hitting truths, you watch it for the awesome rare footage, the great player interviews and the top-notch production values." This movie "certainly has those in spades" (NBCSPORTS.com, 6/6). In Utah, Brad Rock notes the documentary includes Erving talking about "tragedies that shaped his life, such as the deaths of his brother, sister and son." But it also includes "firsthand recollections of an era when the game was changing from squared-up jumpers to howling dunks" (DESERET NEWS, 6/7).
THROWING IT DOWN: In Philadelphia, Stan Hochman wrote it is a "fine film, especially for those too young to have seen Erving float above the rim." There is "tragedy mingled with the triumphs." There is "sadness," and "through it all, there is Erving's humility, his grace, his dignity" (PHILLY.com, 6/6). On Long Island, Neil Best writes under the header, "Documentary On Dr. J A Slam Dunk." Best: "Buckle up and tune in" (NEWSDAY, 6/7).
COMING MONDAY: NBAE VP/Original Production Dion Cocoros, who oversees the "Originals" documentary series, recently talked to THE DAILY about "The Doctor" and discussed Erving's importance to the NBA-ABA merger and the mystique that surrounds the HOFer even to this day. See Monday's issue of THE DAILY for the full interview.
ESPN2 earned an 11.9 local rating in Knoxville for Game 1 of the Oklahoma-Tennessee Women’s College World Series on Monday, marking the best local figure in any market for a WCWS telecast on the net since ’07. Oklahoma City also saw record local ratings, averaging a 6.7 rating for Game 2 on ESPN for an all-time high WCWS rating in the market. Meanwhile, Greenville-Spartanburg was the highest-rated market for ESPN2’s telecasts of the NCAA D-I Baseball Championship Regionals. Louisville, New Orleans, Tulsa and Raleigh-Durham rounded out the top five (ESPN).
NOTES: MLB Rangers games in which P Yu Darvish starts are averaging a 6.0 local rating in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market (games have aired on FS Southwest, KTXA-CBS and ESPN). For all other Rangers telecasts, those games have averaged a 4.8 rating (DALLASNEWS.com, 5/31)….MLB Network during the week of May 26-June 2 averaged 262,000 viewers in primetime, marking the net's most-viewed week for the '13 regular season (MLBN)....Fox Deportes finished the month of May as the most-viewed Spanish sports cable network. The net also had seven of the top 10 most-viewed sports programs on Spanish cable for the month (Fox Deportes).
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NASCAR Sprint Cup: FedEx 400 (Dover)6/2Fox1:15-4:30pm3.86,000 NHL Eastern Conference Finals: Bruins-Penguins: Game 16/1NBC8:00-11:00pm2.03,376 MLB: (regional)6/1Fox7:12-10:28pm2.23,284 PGA Tour: The Memorial: Final Round6/2CBS3:00-6:00pm1.8n/a PGA Tour: The Memorial: Third Round6/1CBS3:00-6:00pm1.5n/a Soccer friendly: Mexico-Nigeria5/31UniMas8:53-11:07pm1.02,108 French Open: Third Round6/1NBC12:00-3:00pm0.91,300 French Open: Round of 166/2NBC1:00-4:00pm0.91,300 Track & Field: Prefontaine Classic6/1NBC4:30-6:00pm0.81,200 IndyCar: Chevy Indy Dual In Detroit: Race 26/2ABC3:30-6:00pm0.71,000 IndyCar: Chevy Indy Dual In Detroit: Race 16/1ABC3:30-6:00pm0.6883 College Rugby Championship6/2NBC4:00-6:00pm0.5629 "PGA Tour 2013: Golf's Dads"6/2CBS2:00-3:00pm0.4n/a College Rugby Championship6/1NBC3:00-4:30pm0.4488 "Stars on Sports"6/1CBS2:00-3:00pm0.3n/a TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NBA Eastern Conference Finals: Heat-Pacers: Game 55/30TNT8:31-11:08pm5.48,540 NBA Eastern Conference Finals: Heat-Pacers: Game 66/1TNT8:31-11:09pm4.98,236 NBA Eastern Conference Finals: Heat-Pacers: Game 45/28TNT8:31-11:32pm5.18,122 NBA Western Conference Finals: Spurs-Grizzlies: Game 45/27ESPN9:03-11:47pm3.25,210 "Inside the NBA"5/30TNT11:08-11:58pm2.53,586 NHL Western Conference Semifinals:
Blackhawks-Red Wings: Game 75/29NBCS8:00-11:11pm2.13,354
"Inside the NBA"5/28TNT11:32pm-12:34pm2.23,117 "Inside the NBA"6/1TNT11:09pm-12:10am2.03,024 NHL Western Conference Semifinals:
Blackhawks-Red Wings: Game 65/27NBCS8:00-10:48pm1.62,723
"Inside the NBA"6/1TNT8:00-8:31pm1.72,484
In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes YES Network on Tuesday "took its sweet time getting to" the story on MLB's investigation into the Miami-based Biogenesis clinic tied to several MLBers, including Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez. Studio analyst Jack Curry in the seventh inning "finally offered a brief report," while announcers Michael Kay, Al Leiter and John Flaherty "basically had nothing to say." Other broadcasters were "ready to verbalize -- during the games." Yankees radio announcers John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman "dug into" the angle of Rodriguez' possible involvement. Kay on Wednesday said, "Game telecasts are not venues for opinion on non-game situations" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/7).
GET WELL SOON: In Boston, Chad Finn noted Red Sox announcer Jerry Remy has been absent from the booth "since last Tuesday, when he was sidelined with what he and NESN said were allergies." But Remy on Wednesday "confirmed on Twitter that what is currently ailing him is more than allergies: 'I’ve caught a little pneumonia and it has to run its course. It’s not due to anything else, hope to be back soon.'” Remy will "not return until next week at the earliest" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/7).
MOVING ON: Albany-based WNYT-NBC's Andrew Catalon on Thursday said that he will be "leaving the station in mid-July to join CBS Sports Network full time." He will have a "larger role calling college basketball and college football games." Catalon spent 9 1/2 years at WNYT and "has worked on NBC's Olympics coverage." CBSSN is "allowing Catalon to do the Olympics again if NBC wants him" (DAILYGAZETTE.com, 6/6).
WELCOME TO THE BIG SHOW: In Albany, Pete Dougherty writes regardless of fans' political views, Keith Olbermann "is a smart choice for TBS to anchor its postseason baseball studio coverage." Olbermann "knows the game like few others and has a track record as a brilliant studio host." The MLB studio team "doesn't approach the studio crew that TNT has for the NBA, but it's a start" (Albany TIMES UNION, 6/7).