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ABC earned a 12.0 overnight rating for Thursday's Heat-Spurs NBA Finals Game 4, down slightly from a 12.4 overnight for the comparable Heat-Thunder Game 4 last year, which aired on a Tuesday night. The game is expected to mark the 34th consecutive time a Finals telecast has won the night for all of television. Game 4 peaked with a 14.1 rating from in the 11:00-11:30pm ET half-hour. The San Antonio market averaged a 43.7 local rating, while Miami-Ft. Lauderdale drew a 34.2 local mark, both of which are the highest ratings of the series in those markets (THE DAILY). In San Antonio, Tim Griffin notes the slight ratings dip for this year's Finals "is not unexpected, considering that last season's blockbuster matchup between Miami and Oklahoma City highlighted the league's two hottest stars in LeBron James and Kevin Durant." This year's series "gets a double whammy" as there is a "perception ... that the Spurs are boring." History indicates that interest and ratings "pick up as a series progresses," so the "longer the Finals are extended, the higher the ratings should soar" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 6/14).
YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes ESPN's focus on the Lakers' travails this season "just might be a big part" of the reason the Finals ratings have dipped. ESPN "bombarded its viewers all season with coverage" of the Lakers, nearly "ignoring the best teams in the Western Conference, the Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder." Even when the Lakers "got off to a terrible start, the focus continued to be on story lines regarding the Lakers’ problems." When the team "continued to have problems, the talk centered on if they can make the playoffs instead of shifting focus to better teams." While it is "true that ESPN had coverage ad nauseam all season of the Miami Heat, it did little with the Spurs." Despite this team having the "same coach and core group of players who have won multiple NBA titles, the team isn’t glamorous enough to warrant ESPN’s star treatment all season that it gives the 'sexy' teams" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/14).
The Dodgers have a tentative agreement with MLB in which they would "retain more than $6 billion" out of their 25-year rights deal with Time Warner Cable, according to sources cited by Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. The settlement would "avert a showdown between the Dodgers and MLB in U.S. Bankruptcy Court and would effectively end the court's jurisdiction over the Dodgers' affairs." A source said that the settlement also would indicate that the overall value of the of the Dodgers' contract with TWC is "at about $8.5 billion." The Dodgers' current contract with Fox Sports "expires after this season." Fox "pays the Dodgers $39 million this season, with the team forwarding $13 million to an MLB revenue-sharing pool." The league under terms of a court settlement between MLB and former Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt agreed that $84M would "represent fair-market value for the first year of a new television deal, with the usual 34% assessment for revenue sharing." The league under the tentative settlement would "agree that about $130 million represents fair-market value for the first year of the deal; the Dodgers would pay 34% -- about $44 million -- into the revenue-sharing pool." Those figures would "rise every year" (L.A. TIMES, 6/14).
The Blackhawks' 4-3 triple OT win over the Bruins Wednesday in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final averaged 6.358 million viewers, making it the most-watched opening Final game since Red Wings-Flyers in '97. The viewership number is up 119% versus last year's Kings-Devils opener. Bruins-Blackhawks is the second-most watched Game 1 since Nielsen began its people-meter measurements in '87. Viewership for the game peaked in the first OT (11:15-11:30pm ET), with 7.444 million viewers. Game 1 was the No. 1 program of the day across both broadcast and cable among adults 18-49, men 18-49 and men 25-54. NBC was the top network in primetime for all key male demographics (THE DAILY). In Chicago, Ed Sherman noted Comcast SportsNet Chicago also "cashed in." Despite the "late hour, it did a 1.3 rating (nearly 50,000 homes) for its postgame coverage" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 6/13).
JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes through the third OT, NBC play-by-play announcer Mike Emrick "remained fresh, alert, engaging." With "play on, he even knew exactly what time it was, making quick mention that Wednesday night's game had just become Thursday morning's, in the East." He "updated the AHL finals, too." Meanwhile, it took until the Stanley Cup Final, but NBC has "fixed in-game analyst Ed Olczyk's microphone so we actually can hear him." And NBC during Game 1 went "light on needlessly distracting graphics, maximizing the live view" (N.Y. POST, 6/14).
Patriots preseason games airing on WBZ-CBS this season will be "considerably different from the preseason broadcasts of recent seasons," as the station is going away from the traditional set-up of a play-by-play announcer and analyst, according to Chad Finn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Kraft Sports Productions Exec Producer Matt Smith said the games will be a "talk-radio-type program without the yelling and the screaming and the agenda-driven stuff." Smith: "We're looking at the preseason games as an opportunity to try something different. Make it more conversational, make it more analytical and insightful." Finn reports changing the format "means a change in personnel," as long-time broadcast team Don Criqui and Randy Cross will not return. The on-air talent has yet to be finalized, but "all signs point" to WBZ's Dan Roche "taking over as host rather than a conventional play-by-play voice." Former NFLer Christian Fauria likely will serve as the in-booth analyst, and another former Patriots player will be "on the field as an analyst rather than a conventional sideline reporter." Smith said that he is "unaware of any other NFL team trying this" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/14).
BUCS LAND ON NEW STATION: The Buccaneers on Thursday announced a new multiyear TV rights deal with WFLA-NBC to broadcast preseason games through the '17 season. The station will produce and air three games this preseason; the team's fourth game is a national Fox broadcast. WFLA also will produce and air pregame specials prior to each preseason game, and the net's Dan Lucas will host "Bucs Bonus," a half-hour program airing Saturday nights at 7:00pm ET during the NFL season (Buccaneers).
NBC Sports Group's presence in Manhattan's famed 30 Rock building is officially over. Thursday was the last day for the remaining 75 employees that had yet to make the move to the group's Stamford, Conn., offices. Monday is the first official day for the entire 500-employee NBC Sports Group from a 220,000-square-foot sports production building and a 100,000-square-foot administration building in Stamford. All told, 125 employees relocated from N.Y. to Connecticut. Several groups -- including the creative and operations departments -- have been working out of Stamford for the past several months. The last groups to make the change from 30 Rock are senior staff, the communications division, as well as some execs in the programming, marketing and legal divisions. NBC Sports Group's ad sales team will continue to work out of 30 Rock. Some shows, like "Football Night in America" and "The Crossover," will continue to be produced from the historic building in the center of Midtown. Senior execs will keep offices in both locations. Another group of NBC Sports Group employees from Philadelphia will make the move next week.
ESPN earned a 0.8 U.S. rating and 1.4 million viewers for Tuesday night’s Panama-U.S. ’14 World Cup qualifier in Seattle, marking the net’s second-best audience on record for a WC qualifier or int’l friendly. The audience trails only the U.S.-Mexico match from March 26 (1.4 rating, 2.4 million viewers). Meanwhile, Telemundo drew a 1.3 rating and 2.6 million viewers for the Mexico-Panama qualifier on June 7. The broadcast was the No.1 program for the night, regardless of language, in L.A., Houston and S.F.-San Jose-Oakland. The net also averaged a 1.4 rating and 2.9 million viewers for the Mexico-Jamaica qualifier on June 4.
ESPN's MOST-VIEWED FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS OR INT'L FRIENDLIESDATE
MATCHUP (TYPE)NETRAT.VIEWERS (000)3/26/13 U.S.-Mexico (WCQ)ESPN1.42,3856/11/13 Panama-U.S. (WCQ)ESPN0.81,4362/11/09 Mexico-U.S. (WCQ)ESPN20.71,1915/30/12 Brazil-U.S. (friendly)ESPN20.61,1282/7/07 Mexico-U.S. (friendly)ESPN20.61,091
In N.Y., Richard Sandomir noted Tennis Channel Chair & CEO Ken Solomon has apologized for an "angry, meandering e-mail that was punctuated with the language of sexual assault" following an appeals court last month ruling Comcast had not discriminated against the channel. Solomon, who was in Paris for the French Open when he wrote the e-mail, likened the judges’ decision to “being raped by a brutal captor, finally winning in a long and painful public court trial.” Solomon in a statement said, “I regret several ill-chosen, excessively colorful and inappropriate words in a private e-mail to colleagues a few weeks ago reflecting my disappointment with a legal decision.” Tennis Channel consultant Vince Wladika said, “It was a brain meltdown that occurred late at night in Paris. Maybe a little too much red wine. This is nothing that ever reflects what Ken Solomon stands for, and I’m sure he is beyond embarrassed about it” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/13).
TURNING A NEW LEAF: In Toronto, Lance Hornby noted Maple Leafs radio color analyst Jim Ralph “tweeted his release on Wednesday.” In the tweet he wrote, “For the record, my firing was due to changes in my department. Nothing personal. I was just the only one in the department.” Ralph, who had served in his role for 16 years, later tweeted, “I don’t harbour an ounce of bitterness. I’m not the first to go through it. Others have had it worse.” Hornby noted the direction Maple Leafs' radio broadcasts will take “has been murky since the merger" of Bell Media and Rogers to buy MLSE (TORONTO SUN, 6/13).
SCARY SITUATION: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar reported FS Midwest MLB Cardinals analyst Rick Horton is scheduled to return to the booth Friday after missing a few games earlier in the week "because of a scary situation in which his wife’s life was in jeopardy." Play-by-play broadcaster Dan McLaughlin on Tuesday “called the game alone" on FS Midwest, while Al Hrabosky “moved over to the TV side” and covered the games on Wednesday and Thursday. Mike Claiborne was “brought in to fill in on radio” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/13).
ON THE HOOK: The Dolphins announced their preseason TV team, with Jesse Agler to handle play-by-play duties alongside Bob Griese and Nat Moore. Meanwhile, the English-language radio team for the regular season will include Griese, Jimmy Cefalo and Joe Rose. Keith Sims will serve as the home game sideline reporter with Kim Bokamper to handle away game sideline reporter duties (Dolphins).
REUNITED COSMOS-NAUTS: In Philadelphia, Jonathan Tannenwald reported MLS Union broadcaster JP Dellacamera will be the TV play-by-play announcer for the NASL N.Y. Cosmos. He will be joined by former Cosmos G and current MSG analyst Shep Messing. The two “used to work together on MetroStars and Red Bulls broadcasts in New York.” Dellacamera will “only call Cosmos games when they don't interfere with his Union broadcast schedule” (PHILLY.com, 6/10).
CALL OF THE COUGARS: In Houston, David Barron reported Kevin Eschenfelder (football) and Matt Thomas (men’s basketball) were named Tuesday as the Univ. of Houston’s new radio play-by-play announcers. Eschenfelder and Thomas "fill the vacancies created when UH did not renew the contract of longtime announcer Tom Franklin.” Eschenfelder worked for FSN “for 22 years before joining CSN Houston” as host of its weekday “SportsTalk Live” program. Thomas called UH games “on radio from 1996 through 1998 and last year co-hosted the UH football pregame show on KBME” (CHRON.com, 6/11).
NBC finished with a 4.5 rating and 7.0 million viewers for the race segment of the Belmont Stakes last Saturday, down 6% and 7%, respectively, from a 4.8 rating and 7.7 million viewers for last year’s race. However, the audience is the second best for race since Big Brown went for the Triple Crown in ’08 (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).BELMONT STAKES AUDIENCE TRENDYEARNETRATINGVIEWERS (000)
WINNER'13NBC4.57,000 Malice Palice'12NBC4.87,700 Union Rags'11NBC4.36,800 Ruler On Ice'10ABC3.04,735 Drosselmeyer'09ABC4.46,640 Summer Bird'08*ABC8.213,096 Da'Tara'07ABC3.24,861 Rags to Riches'06ABC3.55,044 Jazil'05NBC5.47,712 Afleet Alex'04*NBC13.121,889 Birdstone
CHART NOTE: * = Race had horse going for Triple Crown.
ALREADY IN BRAZIL: Fuel TV averaged 313,000 viewers for its live UFC card last Saturday night, marking the net’s second-best audience among 10 live telecasts. The top audience remains the telecast on March 2, which drew 485,000 viewers for a 10:00pm ET start. Saturday’s telecast, which featured a main event between Fabricio Werdum and Minotauro Nogueira, began at 8:00pm and delivered Fuel TV its most-viewed primetime window ever. For its 10 fights to date, Fuel TV is averaging 234,000 viewers (Karp).UFC ON FUEL TV AUDIENCE TRENDTELECAST
DATE LOCATIONSTARTRATINGVIEWERS (000)12/15/12 Omaha8:00pm0.221724/14/12 Stockholm3:00pm0.119735/15/12 Fairfax8:00pm0.117347/11/12 San Jose8:00pm0.121159/29/12 Nottingham10:00pm0.1140611/10/12 Macau7:00pm0.114372/16/13 London3:00pm0.119583/2/13 Japan10:00pm0.348594/6/13 Stockholm2:00pm0.2236106/8/13 Brazil8:00pm0.2313
AROUND THE HORN: FS KC averaged an 8.8 local rating in K.C. for Tuesday night’s Tigers-Royals matchup, marking the net’s best Royals game audience on record. The rating passed the previous record of an 8.1 rating set the night before for the same matchup. The RSN has now seen four of its top five Royals’ audiences this season (FS KC)....In Cleveland, Kevin Kleps noted SportsTime Ohio is averaging 75,700 HHs in Cleveland-Akron for Indians games through Tuesday, up 33% compared to the team’s final season average in '12. The increase is “somewhat deceiving because the 2012 Indians were 32-27 on this date a year ago, then went 36-67 the rest of the way.” A source said that the Indians local ratings “rank in the top 10” of MLB teams (CRAINSCLEVELAND.com, 6/12).
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NBA Finals: Spurs-Heat: Game 26/9ABC8:00-10:31pm8.514,571 NBA Finals: Spurs-Heat: Game 16/6ABC9:00-11:39pm8.814,241 Belmont Stakes (race portion)6/8NBC6:15-7:00pm4.57,000 NHL Western Conference Finals: Kings-Blackhawks: Game 56/8NBC8:00pm-12:12am2.23,813 Belmont Stakes (pre-race)6/8NBC5:00-6:15pm2.23,300 MLB: (regional)6/8Fox7:12-10:29pm1.93,097 PGA Tour: FedEx St. Jude Classic: Final Round6/9CBS3:00-6:00pm1.8n/a FIFA World Cup Qualifier: Mexico-Jamaica6/4Telem.9:15-11:37pm1.42,867 FIFA World Cup Qualifier: Mexico-Panama6/9Telem.9:45pm-12:07am1.32,563 French Open: Men's Final: Rafael Nadal d. David Ferrer6/9NBC9:00am-2:00pm1.42,000 French Open: Women's Final: Serena Williams d. Maria Sharapova6/8NBC9:00am-1:00pm1.41,900 PGA Tour: FedEx St. Jude Classic: Third Round6/8CBS3:00-6:00pm1.1n/a IndyCar: Firestone 500 (Texas)6/8ABC8:30-11:00pm1.01,395 F1 Canadian Grand Prix6/9NBC2:00-4:30pm0.7950 "F1 36"6/9NBC4:30-5:00pm0.4600 "1971 U.S. Open: Lee Trevino: An American Champion"6/9NBC5:00-6:00pm0.4580 WNBA: Mercury-Fever6/8ABC3:30-5:30pm0.4552 Lucas Oil Off Road Series6/9CBS2:00-3:00pm0.4n/a World of Adventure Sports6/8NBC4:00-5:00pm0.3430 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NBA Eastern Conference Finals: Heat-Pacers: Game 76/3TNT8:31-11:23pm7.111,565 "Inside the NBA Playoffs"6/3TNT11:23pm-12:17am2.94,443 NASCAR Sprint Cup: Pocono6/9TNT1:00-4:28pm2.84,358 "Inside the NBA Playoffs"6/3TNT8:00-8:31pm2.43,492 NHL Eastern Conference Finals: Bruins-Penguins: Game 46/7NBCS8:00-10:44pm1.62,900 NHL Eastern Conference Finals: Bruins-Penguins: Game 36/5NBCS8:00pm-12:19am1.62,844 NHL Eastern Conference Finals: Bruins-Penguins: Game 26/3NBCS8:00-10:39pm1.52,601 NHL Western Conference Finals: Blackhawks-Kings: Game 46/6NBCS9:00-11:42pm1.22,024 NHL Western Conference Finals: Blackhawks-Kings: Game 36/4NBCS9:00-11:44pm1.11,813 MLB: Cardinals-Reds6/9ESPN8:00pm-12:00am1.11,705
The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Giardina & Pennington wrote ESPN's decision to discontinue its 3D channel was a "clear setback for stakeholders who want to bring 3D to the living room, but they are not ready to throw in the towel." CAN Communicate Creative Dir Duncan Humphreys, whose company was a tech partner for the 3D production of the '10 FIFA World Cup, said, "It's obviously disappointing to hear the news that ESPN are pulling out of their 3D channel, having said that a total sports 3D channel in 3D’s infancy was a big ask. Taking those first infant steps with ESPN at the 2010 World Cup in 3D broadcasting was an honor." ESPN's withdrawal "comes at a time when glasses free consumer displays are about to hit the market" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 6/13).
KEEP IT SIMPLE: Yahoo Sports has renamed and released a new version its popular Sportacular mobile application. Now simply called Yahoo Sports, the app includes additional Yahoo editorial content, a new availability for the iPad, and increased speed of score updates. Yahoo acquired Sportacular in '10 as part of its purchase of Citizen Sports Inc. (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
BACK TO FAMILIAR TERRITORY: In Phoenix, Mike Sunnucks reported ESPN will use Scottsdale "to base its weeklong Super Bowl coverage and other events when the big game comes to Arizona and University of Phoenix Stadium" in '15. ESPN is "planning to base its coverage adjacent to Scottsdale Fashion Square mall." The network previously has "landed college football bowl coverage at the nearby Scottsdale Waterfront development." ESPN based its Super Bowl coverage in '08 in Scottsdale (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/12).