Sunoco Debuts "Essence Of Racing" Campaign Executive Transactions Isiah Thomas Expected Backlash Over Hiring FanDuel Brings On Most Of Zynga Sports Team Georgia Approves Increased Athletic Budget Kentucky Adding Ribbon Boards At Rupp IndyCar Ponders How To Attract Fans Long Term Jeff Gordon Hired As Full-Time Analyst For Fox Danica's Sponsorship Status To Be Telling For NASCAR Classified Advertisements
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The Heat's last-second comeback last night in Game 6 of the NBA Finals resulted in the fourth-highest rating ever for an NBA game on ABC and sets the stage for a massive mark tomorrow night in Game 7. The game, which saw the Heat beat the Spurs 103-100 in OT, earned a 14.7 overnight rating, peaking with a 19.8 rating during the end of regulation from 11:45pm-12:00am ET. The game has the highest overnight for any Finals contest since a 15.0 for the Mavericks' title-clinching win over the Heat in Game 6 in '11. That game aired on a Sunday, typically television's most-watched night. Last night's game is expected to be the 36th straight time a Finals game has been the top-rated show in primetime. The figure will beat ou the season finale of NBC's "The Voice," which is expected to draw its bets audience on record. Game 6 earned a 47.6 local rating in San Antonio and a 35.4 rating in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (THE DAILY).HIGHEST OVERNIGHT RATINGS FOR NBA FINALS GAME ON ABC
MATCHUPGAMEOVERNIGHT '10 Lakers-Celtics*Game 7*18.2 '04 Pistons-LakersGame 5*15.5 '11 Mavericks-HeatGame 6*15.0 '13 Heat-SpursGame 614.7 '04 Pistons-LakersGame 4
CHART NOTE: * = Series-clinching game.
PEOPLE ARE TALKING: ESPN's Michael Wilbon discussed whether the Heat losing the series would be good for the NBA and said, "The NBA more than any other league needs lightning rod teams, and they've had this when the league is really, really good. That could be a beloved team, it could be a hated team. ... The conversation about the NBA is different. It's a social league and now in a time of social media you need a team that everybody will react to. That team has never been the Spurs, even though they are more than worthy champions. But the Miami Heat, they are that team" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/18).
FAIR-WEATHER FANS? With just 28 seconds remaining in Game 6 and the Spurs holding a five-point lead, a fair amount of fans at AmericanAirlines Arena began to head for the exit. ESPN's Dan Le Batard, a Miami native, said he "couldn't believe it" when he saw the crowd begin to leave. Le Batard: "To me, this city should be profoundly grateful for this team, win or lose, for making three straight regular seasons unbelievably interesting, and I don't think that happens in a lot of markets. We're a bandwagon town. ... For me, because it reinforces stereotypes, because it gives off Miamians don’t care about anything , they just need to go out there and get to the clubs -- I was embarrassed that the team wasn't being shown what I thought was proper appreciation" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 6/19). ESPN's Sara Walsh said the fans that had left the game were "trying to get back in" once the Heat tied the game and sent it to OT. Walsh: "That's not the way it works. I don't know what you paid for each individual ticket, but they were all expensive. You've got to stay until the end." ESPN's Kevin Negandhi: "You bailed, you don’t get another shot" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/19).
NBC Sports Network averaged a 2.3 U.S. rating and 4.0 million viewers for Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final on Monday from 8:00-10:55pm ET, topping Saturday night's Game 2 as the net's most-viewed NHL game on record and best for any Stanley Cup Final game on cable TV in 11 years. Blackhawks-Bruins Game 3 marks the second-best audience ever on NBCSN, behind only the 4.4 million viewers for the U.S.-Japan Gold Medal women's soccer match from the '12 London Olympics. Monday night's game also marks the net's best telecast ever among adults 18-49 and 25-54. Game 3 peaked with 4.9 million viewers from 9:30-9:45pm. The game earned a 27.2 rating in Boston and a 16.8 rating in Chicago. Three of NBCSN's top five most-viewed NHL games have occurred this season (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS: In Chicago, Ed Sherman notes the Blackhawks are "dominating the discussion on sports talk radio." Hockey has "gone from being viewed as a ratings killer to residing front and center on WSCR and WMVP-AM 1000 for months." The hockey talk is "a huge barometer in showing how the Blackhawks' success goes beyond increased TV ratings." It is a "sign the team has become more mainstream, keeping closer company with the Bears, Bulls, White Sox and Cubs." WMVP co-host Marc Silverman believes that the "Blackhawks bandwagon is much bigger this year than when they won the Stanley Cup in 2010, judging from the response on his afternoon show." Ratings growth in the "coveted youth demographics might be the most significant development." Blackhawks ratings on Comcast SportsNet Chicago were up 110% during the regular season among males 18-34 and up 109% among "men and women combined in that category." WSCR host Dan McNeil said that he is "thrilled to be talking hockey on a regular basis after all these years." However, unlike the "other mainstream sports, he also thinks hockey discussion will wane if the Blackhawks fall off" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/19). Also in Chicago, Phil Rosenthal writes under the subhead, "Team Allegiance Has Turned Media Into Cheerleaders." With the Blackhawks vying for a championship, distinctions "between 'you,' 'they,' and 'us' melt into a puddle of 'we,' with the local media reflecting and ultimately fanning the flames of fandom." Media outlets and those "who work for them are not immune" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/19).
NOT SO SWEET TREATS: In Boston, Erin Smith notes a social media "firestorm erupted online after WEEI radio talk show hosts posted a photo on Facebook and Twitter of a sexually explicit cake they sent rival sports station jockeys in Chicago as the Bruins and Blackhawks battle it out for the Stanley Cup." The cake features "candies shaped like genitalia and WEEI's name and messages scrawled in icing such as, 'Welcome to Boston,' and 'Go Bruins!,' as well as a sexually graphic phrase." Station owner Entercom Boston VP/Programming & Operations Jason Wolfe in an e-mail said, "It was plain old sports radio fun. ... If anyone was offended by the picture we apologize" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/19).
SCHEDULE SHUFFLE: In Houston, David Barron noted some local providers have not updated their program guides for tonight, which has prompted at least a few fans to worry that Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final will be "a no-show" on local KPRC-NBC, as was the case with the recent F1 race from Monte Carlo. But KPRC "indeed will air the hockey game," while the MLS Dynamo-Impact game scheduled for KPRC "will now air on" Comcast SportsNet Houston Plus. KPRC instead will pick up the July 13 game Dynamo-Revolution game, and CSN Houston "has added the July 24 Dynamo Charities Cup game" against EPL club Stoke City (CHRON.com, 6/18).
MLS CMO Howard Handler said that the league is "going down the route" of ESPN's "30 for 30" and NFL Films "by investing big money in a new content and distribution group called MLS+," according to Grant Wahl of SI.com. One of the "first big initiatives, MLS Insider, is a weekly magazine show that will debut Friday on NBC Sports Network (and TSN in Canada) and feature in-depth storytelling on MLS by Emmy Award-winning director Jonathan Hock." Hock's "first show on Friday features pieces on" Red Bulls MF Tim Cahill, Galaxy F Robbie Rogers and the Union's Sons of Ben supporters group. Handler said that MLS+ is "part of the league's 10-year plan to improve the game on the field while also helping create a bigger fanbase off the field." Handler said, "The difference between what we're doing and NBA Entertainment or NFL Films is we are working with heavyweight storytellers and producers and partners that in many cases live outside our building." MLS+ also will "include mini-documentaries and digital series, which will appear on a number of platforms." Handler: "We are creating hundreds of hours of premium programming, and it's programming that we have not created thus far. So it's a very substantial investment." He added, "If we're able to be successful, this could be one of the more powerful things we do in terms of growing our fanbase" (SI.com, 6/18).
HBO and NFL Films formally announced Monday that the Bengals had been selected to appear on the net's "Hard Knocks" series, and NFL Films Senior Coordinating Producer Ross Ketover said that the show will not change how it covers "future player cuts," according to Alex Marvez of FOXSPORTS.com. Ketover said, “How we’re going to handle it is show exactly how they handle it. If it’s kind, we’re going to show it. If it’s harsh, we’re going to show that, too." The Bengals are willing to "provide unfettered access to their training camp." Ketover said that other teams would have "agreed to participate but only if certain protocols such as player cuts weren’t part of the show." Ketover: “For us, it’s all or nothing. What it comes down to is what teams have interesting storylines and which teams give us unlimited access to go wherever we want in their facility" (FOXSPORTS.com, 6/18). In Cincinnati, Joe Reedy noted Bengals coach Marvin Lewis believes he has a "young but mature roster and he feels like they can handle it." It also will give QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green "more national recognition" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 6/15).
INSIDE ACCESS: ESPN's Max Bretos said only one team "other than the Bengals, had expressed serious interest in appearing" on the show. Former NFLer LaDanian Tomlinson said of his appearance on the show with the Jets in '10, "Everything that you see is actually pretty real." Tomlinson: "The only thing, sometimes guys act out of character, even coaches." ESPN's Jason Taylor said the NFL Films crew "does a great job of blending in, they're very professional, they don't really get in your way." Taylor added the cameras are everywhere, so players and coaches "understand they're there, but after the first couple of days guys stop playing up to the cameras and go about their business." Taylor: "It shines a new light on your organization, it lets people see the inside workings of the organization." ESPN's Mark Schlereth said a lot of teams "turn it down because they don't want that exposure, they don't want you to see inside that organization" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 6/17).
PICK & CHOOSE: CBS Sports Network's Allie LaForce said, "The Bengals aren't a bad pick. Chad Johnson's gone ... but they have young, humble guys who are willing to work hard that I think can handle the pressure of having their life on TV." LaForce said she would "want to see the Patriots on 'Hard Knocks' because there are so many storylines there with Rob Gronkowski going through all of his surgeries." CBSSN's Doug Gottlieb: "I would prefer the Eagles with Chip Kelly and all their personalities, DeSean Jackson, Mike Vick, or the San Francisco 49ers" ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 6/17). Fox analyst Brian Billick, who coached the Ravens when they appeared on the show's premiere season in '01, said, "There are a lot of coaches, obviously, who will say we don't need the kind of distraction that that provides. But they do a pretty good job. After you get past the first day or so, you're not even aware that they're there." He added teams need to have a veteran roster that "understands why you're trying to do it, that can kind of put it at arm's length." The Bengals' experience appearing on the show in '09 is "going to be an advantage for them" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 6/17).
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott in a confidential e-mail to the conference’s presidents and chancellors two years ago detailed payments from ESPN and Fox, including a $30M "signing bonus," according to Jon Wilner of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The deal also "features a 5.1% escalator." The email is "dated May 1, 2011, a few days before the conference announced the $3 billion, 12-year deal with Fox and ESPN." It is "among the countless documents filed in Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit against the NCAA." The documents show that ESPN is a "slightly larger rights-holder than Fox (53% to 47%)." A chart of yearly payouts from '13-24 follows. Wilner noted calculating each school's share of the payouts is "not quite as simple as dividing the numbers by 12." But in five years it can be assumed that "each school will receive" an estimated $30M "from the combination of the ESPN/Fox windfall, the football playoff/bowl money and the March Madness payouts" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 6/17).ESPN/FOX PAYOUTS TO PAC-12 CONFERENCEYEARPAYOUT'13$185.0M'14$194.3M'15$204.5M'16$215.1M'17$226.1M'18$237.8M'19$250.0M'20$262.9M'21$276.4M'22$290.7M'23$305.6M'24$321.3M
SnappyTV, a S.F.-based technology startup that aids social sharing of digital video, has struck a partnership with LiveU, which works in transmitting live video over cellular networks. The alignment will aid in near-real time posting of video clips from live events. Among the initial users of the combined product are the NFL Giants, which plans to post live video from training camp this summer while practices are still happening. "This joint solution will let organizations quickly and easily stream, edit and instantly distribute their live video content from wherever they are and across any online channel," said SnappyTV CEO Mike Folgner.
In Boston, Shanahan & Goldstein write it is "anybody’s guess when" NESN Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy "might resume his duties." NESN confirmed yesterday it will be a "while longer" before Remy returns to the broadcast booth. Initially, the "word was Remy, who has battled a host of health issues in recent years, was suffering from allergies and would miss only a few games." NESN has been "mum on the illness," but an e-mail yesterday said that Remy "won’t be back until at least next week." His replacements have included Baseball HOFers Jim Rice and Dennis Eckersley, NESN's Peter Gammons and Tom Caron, WEEI's Rob Bradford, and the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo (BOSTONGLOBE.com, 6/18).
REAL TALK: In Salt Lake City, Scott Pierce notes MLS club Real Salt Lake announcer Brian Dunseth "doesn't talk down to fans who don't understand the game; he doesn't make it so simple he insults the intelligence of those who do." It is an "extraordinarily fine line to walk, and one that few do well in this country." He "doesn’t hesitate to point out when players make mistakes," but also "doesn’t go after players and makes an effort to point to positives." Dunseth and play-by-play man Bill Riley "stand out from the crowd because they’re not trying to be part of the crowd" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 6/19).
HELL OF AN ENGINEER: In Atlanta, Ken Sugiura reports Georgia Tech football and basketball announcer Wes Durham after 18 years "will step away from his microphone." Durham is leaving GT to "pursue a television opportunity." He could "not be specific about the new job, but allowed that it was play-by-play work." Durham will "continue to be the voice of the Falcons" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 6/19).
MARCH MADNESS: CBS Sports' Greg Gumbel said of hosting the net's NCAA Tournament coverage, "As long as I can continue to enjoy it and as long as CBS will have me, I will continue to do it." He added, "Hosting March Madness is the hardest I ever work. Those first few days of the tournament are murder. You're talking about 16 games the first day, 16 games the second day. You get into the studio about 8 in the morning. Production meetings. You're on the air at noon and then you go to about 12:30 or 1 in the morning. You go back to the hotel and then you do the same thing the next day" (OKLAHOMAN, 6/15).
VARIETY's Ted Johnson noted Time Warner Cable is "being hit with a class action suit by four Southern California pay TV subscribers," who are claiming that the $11B TWC is paying for rights to the Lakers and Dodgers "will be passed on to consumers, even those who have no interest in watching the games. The lawsuit is the "latest challenge to the cable industry to offer a la carte programming, or at least more options by customers in selecting among tiers of channels." The complaint states that subscribers to other MSOs like DirecTV and Verizon "also are affected" because TWC, in "selling rights to the games to its competitors, requires that they be included in enhanced basic packages without the choice of opting out." The Lakers and Dodgers also were "named in the suit" (VARIETY.com, 6/18).
WATCH THIS: Apple and ESPN this morning announced that WatchESPN will become available through the Apple TV digital streaming platform. Similar to WatchESPN deals with other distributors, content from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 will be available for streaming on an authenticated basis. In addition, ESPN will make some content such as short-form clips of "E:60," "Outside The Lines" and "Sport Science" available to anybody through Apple TV. Apple also struck a similar deal with HBO to make HBO Go available on Apple TV (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
STRONG SHOWING: CBS Sports Network and IMG have agreed to a multiyear deal to air the World's Strongest Man competition. The net will air ten 30-minute episodes from the '13 competition, including a one-hour finale. The show will debut on Oct. 16 and air weekly through the finale on Christmas Day. Broadcasters Brent Stover, Aaron Taylor and Bill Kazmaier will appear in the series. CBSSN also will air previous competitions (CBS/IMG).
UNFIT TO PRINT? GRANTLAND's Bryan Curtis noted the N.Y. Times' "Sports of the Times" column has "vanished from the newspaper." However, the paper said the column is "alive and well." Curtis noted the N.Y. Times "once published seven sports columns per week. It has published nine in the past month." Two out of the three sports columnists on staff are "retired and working on emeritus status." Former N.Y. Times Sports Editor Sandy Padwe said, "The fact that it has quietly disappeared from the face of the earth is disturbing to me" (GRANTLAND.com, 6/18).