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NBC won primetime among all networks last night on the strength of the Blackhawks' 6-5 win in OT over the Bruins in Stanley Cup Final Game 4. The game drew a 4.6 overnight rating, up considerably from a 2.6 for Red Wings-Penguins Game 4 in ’08. That marks the last time a Game 4 aired on the broadcast network; the game the previous four years had aired on NBC Sports Network. Last night’s telecast earned a 28.9 local rating in Boston and a 22.0 rating in Chicago. The game mainly went up against re-runs on the other broadcast nets, though Fox did roll out two original episodes of "MasterChef" and ABC aired new episodes for three series (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). SPORTING NEWS' Jesse Spector notes after two games on NBCSN, the Final "returned to NBC on Wednesday, and for nearly four hours, viewers got to hear Mike Emrick's assortment of verbs, with passion in his voice to match what the players put forth on the ice" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 6/20). Meanwhile, SI's Michael Farber writes an appreciation for the Original Six teams was "not merely manifest in the participating cities, where predictably the ratings for Game 1 on June 12 were splendid but in neutral places like Buffalo (8.5) and Las Vegas (4.1) and West Palm Beach, Fla. (4.3), where they were the highest in more than a decade." NHL COO John Collins said of the Final matchup, "Everyone understands the magic" (SI, 6/24 issue).
WE INTERRUPT THIS BROADCAST...: In Austin, Gary Dinges reported KXAN-NBC during OT "cut away from the action, airing ads for its morning newscast and a local car dealer, causing viewers to miss the game-winning goal." KXAN's Facebook page "was overflowing Wednesday night with angry messages from viewers," and the 30 seconds of missed hockey action was the "talk of Twitter." KXAN's broadcast team, which had "absolutely nothing to do with the colossal blunder, had the unfortunate task of apologizing for the flub during the station's late newscast." Meteorologist Jim Spencer said, "Computer automation will bite you sometimes" (AUSTIN360.com, 6/19).
NO REST FOR THE LOYAL: In Toronto, Tim Alamenciak writes with the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final "running side-by-side, every night offers the promise of a fantastic game but overtime can stretch play well into the wee hours." Tonight's NBA Finals Game 7 is "sure to be no exception with a start time" of 9:00pm ET. Tuesday's Game 6 went until 12:15am because of OT. Similarly, Stanley Cup Final games have "been going late, with one game stretching well past midnight" thanks to triple OT (TORONTO STAR, 6/20).
ALL IN GOOD FUN? In Boston, Christine McConville notes WEEI-FM execs are "standing by their hosts despite an X-rated stunt, saying the sports talk station won't discipline" hosts Mike Mutnansky and Lou Merloni for "sending a pornographic cake with the words 'Welcome to Boston' to a Chicago sports talk station" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/20).
FIFA is "considering scrapping 3-D broadcasts of the next World Cup, describing ESPN's decision to abandon the format as another setback for the technology," according to Rob Harris of the AP. FIFA TV Dir Niclas Ericson said, "It's clear when a big sports broadcaster like ESPN makes an announcement like that it creates a lot of extra tension (for the technology)." The '10 FIFA World Cup in South Africa was "the first to be broadcast in 3-D, with 25 of the 64 matches screened in the format." But data shows "only an estimated 6 percent of TVs in the U.S. can show" 3D programming. FIFA has "sent out questionnaires to rights holders to assess their interest in 3-D coverage for its showpiece tournament in Brazil next year." Ericson said there is interest from "several broadcasters'' to retain 3D feeds, but he added FIFA is still "reviewing the cost of it" (AP, 6/19).
AT THE COPA, COPACABANA: ESPN will use Rio de Janeiro sailing club Clube dos Marimbas as its production HQs for the '14 World Cup. Over 280 original hours of coverage on ESPN's English-language nets will originate from the club, located on Copacabana Beach. ESPN will build two studios, one for ESPN Deportes and ESPN International programming, as well as a multi-purpose studio for ESPN's English-language U.S. nets. World Cup-branded shows will broadcast from the club throughout the month of the tournament (ESPN). ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer Jed Drake said, "We selected this place because of the vista. I have never seen anything close to it for a backdrop for a host set." SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote, "Given that international soccer is more popular four years later and the time zone works to ESPN advantage -- most of Brazil is one-hour ahead of the Eastern Time Zone in the U.S -- the ratings are going to increase" compared to the '10 World Cup. It also is ESPN's "final World Cup before Fox Sports takes over so ESPN staffers want to make this memorable." Drake: "I really think what we achieved in 2010 was a changing of the perception of the World Cup in this country. We know the level of ambition has to be higher because the expectation from our viewers was not that high the last time. Now, it is sky-high" (SI.com, 6/16).
CBS Sports Group Chair Sean McManus yesterday said that he expects the launch of Fox Sports 1 on Aug. 17 “to make a lot of noise, but he's not changing the strategy of his cable competitor CBS Sports Network in light of the crowding field,” according to Andrea Morabito of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. His comments came during the Sports Business & Technology Summit presented by B&C, Multichannel News and TV Technology. McManus said, "There are a lot of competitors in this space. It may very well be that in the future -- and we've done this with Turner -- that we do deals in the future with NBC Sports Network or NBC or Fox Sports 1. We're not directly responding to what they're doing by changing our altering our strategy at the sports network right now." CBSSN has “taken a different tack, opting to pick up smaller properties like Major League Lacrosse and Professional Bull Riders and hiring talent like Jim Rome and Doug Gottlieb to helm studio shows.” CBSSN thus far has “grown from 22 million subscribers to 50 million under the watch of" new CBS Sports President David Berson (MULTICHANNEL.com, 6/19). MULTICHANNEL NEWS's Tim Baysinger noted Fox is “59 days out from its much-ballyhooed launch” of FS1. Fox Sports Media Group co-President & co-COO Randy Freer said, "It's a sprint at this point." Coinciding with the FS1 launch “will be the company's first TV Everywhere offering Fox Sports Go.” Freer said of Fox' adoption of second-screen technology, "We've been probably behind in many ways over the years. You want people to be [as] engaged as possible with your content" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 6/19).
HERE, THERE, EVERYWHERE: Baysinger noted with the “rise of online and mobile video, TV Everywhere is seen as a way for pay TV programmers to protect their property from being completely usurped.” NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus yesterday said, "The TV Everywhere aspect of our business, specifically around sports and live events, is an important part of protecting the pay TV ecosystem. All the distributors and all the programmers should be moving towards a way to protect the value of that system so we can continue to pay the rights and build our high-quality content." Lazarus also “discussed the prospects of the year-and-a-half old NBC Sports Network, which rebranded from Versus on Jan. 2, 2012.” He said, "We are two years into a five-year process. We've made more progress in some areas than I thought we would and we've made less progress in (other) areas." Meanwhile, Baysinger noted there have been “whispers that the National Football League will look to sell off a portion of its ‘Thursday Night Football’ slate, which is currently televised by the league-owned NFL Network.” But Lazarus said, "At this point the NFL has not come out with any plans of what they're going to do with those games. The scarcity of (NFL football) has been good for the marketplace" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 6/19).
Microsoft late yesterday made an abrupt change in its terms regarding used games and online connection requirements for its forthcoming Xbox One gaming console following heated consumer outcry. The technology giant had planned to impose several restrictions for the Xbox One, set to be released late this year, that would have significantly limited consumer ability to share and resell games. The issue became a flashpoint at the prominent E3 gaming conference held last week in L.A., particularly when rival outfit Sony said no such policies will be imposed for its PlayStation 4. But Microsoft said yesterday it heard "loud and clear" from consumers regarding the unpopularity of its original plan. "While we believe the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content," Microsoft President of Interactive Entertainment Business Don Mattrick wrote in a blog post.