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ABC earned a 17.7 overnight rating for Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the second-best figure for any NBA game since the net acquired rights to the league prior to '02-03 season. The game, which saw the Heat win a second consecutive championship with a 95-88 win over the Spurs, ranks behind only an 18.2 overnight for Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals Game 7 in ’10. The 17.7 also is up 28% from a 13.8 Spurs-Pistons Game 7 in '05. Last night’s game peaked at a 22.6 overnight during the end of the game from 11:30-11:45pm ET. The game earned a 46.4 local rating in San Antonio and a 44.2 rating in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, which is that market’s best rating ever for an NBA game. West Palm Beach (31.4), Austin (23.4) and Memphis (21.3) rounded out the top five. ABC is expected to win the night in primetime, with Game 7 marking the 37th straight time a Finals game was the top-rated show of the night. After being down year-over-year in ratings for much of the series, ABC averaged a 12.4 rating for the seven-game Heat-Spurs matchup, up 5% from the five-game Heat-Thunder series last year (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).FINISHING STRONG: In Miami, Barry Jackson writes ABC's Jeff Van Gundy had a "strong series," as he "quickly identified lineup mismatches and eyeballed and explained shifts in strategy." His "quirky observations add flavor to his commentary, but Van Gundy wisely pulled back some during the Finals because of the significance of the games." Meanwhile, ESPN's Bill Simmons said that he "enjoyed his first season on the ABC/ESPN studio show but hasn’t decided whether to return next year." Simmons: “The schedule, once the playoffs start, is pretty intense. I thought I would have more time to do other stuff. ... I want to take a couple weeks and think about what makes sense" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 6/21). Blogger Ed Sherman wrote it was a "treat to listen" to ABC's Mike Breen during the Finals. He "complements the telecast, knowing exactly how to set up his quirky partner, Jeff Van Gundy." But when the "big moment comes, as it did several times during Game 6, Breen rises to the occasion and delivers" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 6/20).
SOMETHING MISSING: SI's Richard Deitsch writes for those who "love pro basketball on the radio," the absence of ESPN Radio's Dr. Jack Ramsay during the playoffs due to illness "has been rough." Ramsay had "served as Finals analyst for ESPN Radio since joining the network full time" in '96. Ramsay was a "straight shooter as a broadcaster, avoiding back slapping and bloviating." Deitsch: "Best of all, he was an educator. You left one of his games smarter than when you came to it" (SI, 6/24 issue).
SIGNING OFF: The MIAMI HERALD's Jackson writes the "best news about the Finals ending" is that fans "need not be subjected any more to WPLG-Channel 10’s unoriginal, repetitive, cringe-inducing pom-pom waving pre-game show, the one that preempted ABC’s pregame coverage five out of the seven games." Among the things viewered learned was that Heat fans "were excited before all of the games," many of them were loud and sports bars did "a lot of business on game nights." For WPLG, "none of those scoops could be emphasized enough" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 6/21).
The NHL Stanley Cup Final is averaging a 3.1 U.S. rating and 5.4 million viewers through four games on NBC and NBC Sports Network, marking the best four-game Cup average since ’97 and the best viewership in at least 20 years. Viewership records date back to ’94. The previous high rating was a 3.3 on Fox and ESPN in ’97 for the Red Wings-Flyers four-game sweep. NBC/NBCSN also is up 107% and 118%, respectively, from a 1.5 rating and 2.5 million viewers through four games for Kings-Devils last year. The two networks also are seeing a big jump among key male demos. Ratings are up for males 18-34 (+118%), 18-49 (+117%) and 25-54 (107%). NBC finished with a 3.8 rating and 6.5 million viewers on Wednesday night for the Blackhawks' 6-5 win in OT over the Bruins in Game 4. The same game aired on NBCSN last year. Viewership peaked in OT (11:15-11:30pm ET) with 8.2 million viewers (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).'13 BRUINS-BLACKHAWKS NHL STANLEY CUP FINAL AUDIENCEDATEDAYNETGMSTARTRAT.VIEWERS (000)6/12/13Wed.NBC18:00pm3.96,3586/15/13Sat.NBCSN28:00pm2.03,9646/17/13Mon.NBCSN38:00pm2.34,0016/19/13Wed.NBC48:00pm3.86,459FOUR-GAME AVERAGE ========>3.15,356'12 KINGS-DEVILS NHL STANLEY CUP FINAL AUDIENCEDATEDAYNETGMSTARTRAT.VIEWERS (000)5/30/12Wed.NBC18:00pm1.82,9026/2/12Sat.NBC28:00pm1.72,9436/4/12Mon.NBCSN38:00pm1.01,7436/6/12Wed.NBCSN48:00pm1.22,069FOUR-GAME AVERAGE ========>1.52,460
WHERE IS THE LOVE? In Boston, Gayle Fee writes Bruins-Blackhawks is the "most exciting Stanley Cup Final tilt in recent history," so why is ESPN "ticking off so many fans with their coverage -- or lack thereof?" Former NHLer Cleon Daskalakis said, "I love ESPN, so it's a little sad they have that mentality. This time of year I automatically turn on the NHL Network." WEEI-FM host Gerry Callahan said, "Game 4 was one of the most exciting games in sports history and you have to watch LeBron James cut his toenails and adjust his headband before they get to hockey." But ESPN PR News Content Dir David Scott "defended the sports channel's coverage." He said the NBA Finals are "the biggest story nationally." Scott "disputed the notion that ESPN is ignoring" the Stanley Cup Final, noting that Game 4 coverage "led the overnight 'SportsCenter' shows and that there is lots of online content" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/21). Also in Boston, Chad Finn writes ESPN's Steve Levy and Barry Melrose do "fine work" covering the Final for the net, but since it "lost the rights, the sport has fallen somewhere down the depth chart as a priority." Levy said, "I'd love to have hockey back on ESPN. I miss it a lot. I can tell you there are so many people here, behind the scenes, who really love the sport." He added he and fellow "SportsCenter" anchors John Buccigross and Linda Cohn "fight the fight every day" to get more NHL highlights on the show. Levy: "The people who make those decisions, they have the final say, but we're always trying. I want to champion the sport" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/21).
West Virginia Radio Corp. on Wednesday sued West Virginia Univ. officials and IMG College, asking a judge to "block WVU from awarding a lucrative media rights contract,” according to Eric Eyre of the CHARLESTON GAZETTE. West Virginia Radio's lawsuit “names 10 defendants," including WVU BOG Chair Drew Payne, President james Clements, AD Oliver Luck and West Virginia Media Holdings President Bray Cary. The suit accuses Cary and WVU officials of "fraud, collusion and the palpable abuse of discretion." The lawsuit said that WVU officials "‘tailored’ a recent bid request" so that IMG College and subcontractor West Virginia Media would "win the university's third-tier media rights" -- a deal valued at $110M over 12 years. Eyre noted IMG in January “signed a tentative third-tier media rights deal with WVU.” But the university announced that it would “re-bid the multimillion-dollar contract after West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey released a report finding that WVU officials -- including Luck and Payne -- violated purchasing and ethics rules while creating the deal with IMG.” West Virginia Radio's lawsuit also alleges that WVU “illegally acquired a scoreboard for Milan Puskar Stadium in 2007.” The lawsuit asks a judge to award unspecified "exemplary damages" from WVU officials "for their outrageous and scandalous behavior and to deter other future such breaches of their fiduciary obligations" (CHARLESTON GAZETTE, 6/20). West Virginia Radio Corp. Owner John Raese has said that he “won't bid again, but he doesn't think IMG or West Virginia Media Holdings should be allowed to vie for the contract.” In the lawsuit, he asks that they “be barred from any rebid” (Charleston DAILY MAIL, 6/20).
Fox is averaging a 1.8 final rating and 2.8 million viewers for four primetime regional telecasts as part of its ’13 MLB slate. Those figures are down slightly from a 1.9 rating and 2.9 million viewers through the first four primetime games last year. The net’s top telecast in primetime thus far was on June 1 with Red Sox-Yankees in 57% of markets. That telecast averaged a 2.2 rating and 3.3 million viewers. The same matchup was not featured until Fox' final primetime telecast last season (July 7), averaging a 2.4 rating and 3.8 million viewers (game was in 74% of markets). For its complete MLB schedule to date (10 telecasts), Fox is averaging a 1.6 rating and 2.4 million viewers, down 11% in both metrics compared to same period last year (11 telecasts). Fox is also seeing double-digit percentage declines among all key male demos (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). Fox Sports Senior VP/Programming & Research Mike Mulvihill said, "I wish the story was a little better than it is, but it’s not unexpected for us to be down a little bit at this point of the year. I think we knew going into the season that we had backloaded our schedule." In Akron, George Thomas notes Fox this season has five telecasts featuring Red Sox-Yankees, "only one of which has aired." Mulvihill: "Given that, it’s not surprising that we’re down a little bit. The better news is yet to come for us." Blackhawks-Red Wings Game 5 of the NHL Western Conference Semifinals "airing on NBC beat Fox’s first week of prime-time baseball" on May 25. Mulvihill: "We certainly take note of it. Again, we set a prime-time schedule. We know what the likely competition is going to be. There is no surprise there really. The NHL is having a pretty successful postseason and so is the NBA." He added that national coverage is "important, but that a real barometer of what is happening with baseball comes from the regional sports networks Fox owns" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 6/21).
ST. LOUIS SWAN SONG: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes Fox' Tim McCarver is "set to make his final scheduled St. Louis broadcasting appearance on Saturday." McCarver said, "My whole professional life was formed here, and in many ways my personal life, too, being so close to (my hometown of) Memphis. Nothing takes the place of my memories of St. Louis." But Caesar writes viewers should not "expect a bunch of personal commentary on the air Saturday night from McCarver." Fox' Joe Buck said McCarver would be "uncomfortable" with a farewell tour. Buck: "That wouldn’t be him, he’s not that way. ... He doesn’t want confetti, anyone talking about this. We’ve talked about this a million times -- if he and I are walking into a stadium and get hit by a bus, they’re still going to play the game and it’s still going to be on. He knows the focus is on the field and not in the booth." Fox Senior Exec VP David Hill is "sad to see McCarver leaving." Hill: "He is, quite frankly, one of the best broadcasters I've ever worked with. ... He is one of those unique individuals that makes you so proud to work in this profession, and he’s leaving huge, huge shoes" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/21).
NBC finished with a 5.4 rating and 8.4 million viewers for the final round of the U.S. Open last Sunday, which saw Justin Rose win the event for the first time. Those figures mark the most-viewed final round for the event from the East Coast since ’07. The last East Coast U.S. Open final round, which saw Rory McIlroy win by eight strokes in ’11, earned a 4.5 rating and 7.4 million viewers. NBC’s third-round coverage also marked the best for a U.S. Open from the East Coast since ’07. For the weekend, NBC averaged 6.8 million viewers. Meanwhile, ESPN averaged 2.2 million viewers for its first round U.S. Open evening coverage on June 13, which aired from 5:00-6:10pm ET and 6:55-8:26pm due to rain. That figure marks the net’s second-best first round audience ever for the event and highest-rated opening round overall since ’02. Friday night’s second round coverage on ESPN (5:00-8:42pm) averaged 2.5 million viewers.
TRI OF LIFE: Univision and UniMas are averaging 1.8 million viewers for FIFA Confederations Cup telecasts thus far, up 496% from the same period during the ’09 event. The U.S. team qualified for the ’09 version, whereas Mexico is the CONCACAF rep in ’13. The Brazil-Mexico match on Univision on Wednesday from 3:00-5:00pm averaged 2.7 million viewers, just behind the net's Mexico-Italy match from June 16.
The charts below list final ratings for recent sports telecasts.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NBA Finals: Heat-Spurs: Game 56/16ABC8:00-11:00pm9.516,267 NBA Finals: Heat-Spurs: Game 46/13ABC9:00-11:49pm10.016,228 NBA Finals: Heat-Spurs: Game 36/11ABC9:00-11:38pm8.514,045 U.S. Open: Final Round6/16NBC12:00-7:30pm5.48,400 NHL Stanley Cup Final: Blackhawks-Bruins: Game 16/12NBC8:00pm-1:06am3.96,358 U.S. Open: Third Round6/15NBC12:00-7:30pm3.75,400 FIFA World Cup qualifier: Mexico-Costa Rica6/11UniMas7:54-10:23pm1.32,757 MLB: (regional)6/15Fox7:12-10:19pm1.62,438 NASCAR Nationwide Series: Alliance Truck Parts 2506/15ABC2:15-4:35pm1.31,470 FIFA World Cup qualifier: U.S.-Panama6/11UniMas10:11pm-12:12am0.71,231 "ESPN Sports Saturday"6/15ABC4:35-6:00pm0.6662 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NASCAR Sprint Cup: Quicken Loans 400 (Michigan)6/16TNT1:00-4:30pm2.84,533 NHL Stanley Cup Final: Bruins-Blackhawks: Game 16/15NBCS8:00-11:34pm2.03,964 U.S. Open: Second Round6/14ESPN5:00-8:42pm1.72,458 U.S. Open: First Round6/13ESPN5:00-7:41pm1.62,210 U.S. Open: Second Round6/14ESPN8:30am-3:00pm1.31,673 MLB: Giants-Braves6/16ESPN8:00-11:09pm0.91,462 FIFA World Cup qualifier: U.S.-Panama6/11ESPN10:11pm-12:06am0.81,437 U.S. Open: First Round6/13ESPN12:00-3:00pm1.01,340 College World Series: UCLA-LSU6/16ESPN28:00-11:22pm0.61,145 College World Series: Indiana-Louisville6/15ESPN8:00-11:43pm0.81,140
In Boston, Joon Lee reported NESN Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy will be back in the broadcast booth next Tuesday for Rockies-Red Sox. Remy has been "battling pneumonia that landed him in Mass General Hospital for nearly a week." Remy, who has not called a game since May 28, said, "I was working a Sunday game and I had an allergy attack. I thought that would improve within a couple of days and it actually got worse on the Monday night that I worked." Remy admitted that he "hasn’t been watching many games during his absence." He said, “It’s very hard for me to watch the games that I’m not participating in because it gives me a feeling of guilt that I’m not doing my job" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/20).
ALL THE KING'S MEN: In Sacramento, Tom Couzens notes some NBA Kings fans argue that the "longtime TV duo of Grant Napear and Jerry Reynolds should be replaced ... that they've been doing it too long and the start of a new era is the perfect time for a change." But others "love how Napear calls games ... and the 'aw-shucks' personality Reynolds brings to the broadcast as an analyst." Napear has been a "fixture on Kings broadcasts since 1988, and Reynolds came to Sacramento with the Kings from Kansas City." There has been "no word, so at this point expect them in their usual places on opening night" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 6/21).
HARD KNOCK LIFE: In California, Michael Lev writes it is "hard to imagine the Bengals were anywhere near the top of the list of most attractive candidates" for HBO's "Hard Knocks" series. The "fact the Bengals are stepping to the plate for a second at-bat just four years after their first indicates that multiple franchises turned down the opportunity." There is "no data to support the contention that appearing on 'Hard Knocks' is detrimental to a team's fortunes." Three teams have had "worse records than the previous season, three have had better record and one team's remained the same" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 6/21).
NICE CHOICE: The Cleveland PLAIN DEALER in its "Cheers & Jeers" editorial gave cheers to SI for "departing from its usual practice of putting a 'hero' on its cover" to feature Chardon High School assistant football coach Frank Hall. Hall was a "bona fide hero the day of the Chardon High School shootings, risking his life" to chase a gunman out of the school after killing three students (CLEVELAND.com, 6/20).