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ESPN drew a 1.7 U.S. rating and 2.5 million viewers for Andy Murray's straight sets win over Novak Djokovic on Sunday, marking the second lowest gentlemen's final on record, but marking the net's second-best tennis audience ever. The viewership is behind only last year's Wimbledon final, which saw Roger Federer defeat Murray. Meanwhile, ESPN drew a 0.9 rating and 1.3 million viewers for Marion Bartoli's win over Sabine Lisicki on Saturday, marking one of the least-viewed Wimbledon ladies' finals on record. The audience was down from a 2.0 rating and 2.2 million viewers for Serena Williams' win over Agnieszka Radwanska last year. Despite the drop, Bartoli-Lisicki ranks as ESPN's fifth-best tennis audience ever. ESPN's five biggest tennis audiences are all from the last two Wimbledons. That coincides with the first two years the net has exclusive rights to the tournament (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). In L.A., Meg James wrote ESPN's "gamble to serve more tennis appears to be paying off." The All England Club dropped NBC in '11 "after it grew increasingly frustrated by NBC's preemptions during key matches that angered U.S. tennis fans." ESPN has been making a "sizeable investment on tennis." Although "audiences are much smaller than for basketball or professional football, tennis attracts affluent viewers that luxury brands, including Rolex and Mercedes Benz, pay a premium to reach" (LATIMES.com, 7/8).
WIMBLEDON GENTLEMEN'S FINAL AUDIENCE TRENDYEARNETWORK
MATCHUPRATINGVIEWERS (000)'13ESPN Andy Murray-Novak Djokovic1.72,456'12ESPN Roger Federer-Andy Murray2.53,925'11NBC Novak Djokovic-Rafael Nadal1.82,652'10NBC Rafael Nadal-Tomas Berdych1.62,317'09NBC Roger Federer-Andy Roddick3.85,706'08NBC Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer3.55,173WIMBLEDON LADIES' FINAL AUDIENCE TRENDYEARNETWORK MATCHUPRATINGVIEWERS (000)'13ESPN Marion Bartoli-Sabine Lisicki0.91,302'12ESPN Serena Williams-Agnieszka Radwanska2.02,234'11NBC Petra Kvitova-Maria Sharapova1.92,249'10NBC Serena Williams-Vera Zvonareva1.62,234'09NBC Serena Williams-Venus Williams2.33,272'08NBC Venus Williams-Serena Williams2.53,654
NO ROOM FOR COMMENTS: Incoming BBC head of news and current affairs James Harding said that broadcaster John Inverdale's comments about Bartoli's personal appearance "were wrong." Harding added that Inverdale "had to take ownership of what he said and apologise to the tennis player." The BBC has "received almost 700 complaints in the hours after the veteran Inverdale said Bartoli 'was never going to be a looker' on Radio 5 Live" before Bartoli's match against Lisicki on Saturday. Harding yesterday was asked at a Women in Journalism event in London "whether this 'casual sexism' warranted" being fired "just as Sky Sports presenter Andy Gray was fired over a sexism row" in '11. Harding "hesitated" and said that the "punishment for wrongdoing had to be proportionate" (GUARDIAN, 7/9).
GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM: ADWEEK's Mike Shields reported the BBC's "most popular Wimbledon video to date" was a clip of player Kirsten Flipkens "stopping during one of her matches to complain about the noise a BBC reporter was making." The clip was "viewed over 400,000 times in the U.K." The second most popular Wimbledon clip, which was "streamed over 200,000 times, featured the Duchess of Cornwall leaving" ESPN's John McEnroe "hanging as he attempted a handshake." Footage of Murray’s win over Djokovic was "in third place" as of yesterday "with 175,000 views." Shields noted it is "certainly possible that these numbers can change as more Britons look to relive Murray's long-awaited win" (ADWEEK.com, 7/8).
With the start of the college football season "less than two months away, the Pac-12 still doesn't have carriage agreements with DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS or Charter," according to Michael Lev of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. Pac-12 Networks President Lydia Murphy-Stephans, when asked specifically about DirecTV, said, "I wish I could say the conversations were fruitful and we're ready to go. The reality is, I'm not optimistic." Lev noted the "best hope for subscribers to DirecTV and the other holdouts is that they'll feel pressure to get something done as football season gets closer." The Pac-12 Networks have "35 football games on their fall schedule in all." Murphy-Stephans said, "We won't stop trying. We really would love to have a carriage deal with DirecTV. We'll do our best. We just can't change our business model to meet someone's needs when we already have done a comfortable deal (with others)." Meanwhile, the Pac-12 is "increasing the number of live events on its second-season schedule from 550 to 750." It is "upping its 'shoulder' programming from 150 to 200 hours." It is "coming up with new ways to differentiate its six regional networks from one another." The Pac-12 is "striving for increased access to the league's football programs this fall." Two new shows "are in the works, including a 'Hard Knocks'-style, behind-the-scenes documentary series that will follow two teams throughout the season." The participating schools are "expected to be announced at or around the time of the conference's July 26 media day" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 7/5). Meanwhile, the Pac-12 yesterday re-launched the official websites of nine of the conference’s members. The sites are operating under the NeuLion College Platform. Colorado, USC and Utah will re-launch at a later date (THE DAILY).
OVER THE RAINBOW: In Honolulu, Ferd Lewis noted part of the "celebration" over the Univ. of Hawaii's departure from "a fast-sinking Western Athletic Conference a year ago was the anticipation of more lucrative paydays ahead." The athletic department will "deposit about $503,000, or less than a third of" the $1.7M it received in '11, its final year as a full WAC partner. UH received, on average, $2M "per year over the final five years of full membership in the WAC, including" $4.4M after the '08 Sugar Bowl. In addition, UH "kept its local TV rights, which averaged about" $2.5M per year. But in the Mountain West, where it "became a football-only member July 1, 2012, UH currently shares only in BCS money, which meant all of $134,825 this year because none of the MWC teams appeared in the BCS." However, UH is "entitled to keep all its local TV rights fees, approximately" $2.45M this year, under an agreement with the MWC, and "must pay upwards of $650,000 in travel subsidies." In the WAC, UH "kept its local TV money and received a share of the conference rights fees" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 7/6).
ESPN Films Associate Dir of Development Libby Geist was responsible for "helping see productions through, working on the logo and marketing, and choosing the stories and directors, as well as setting the tone" for the "Nine for IX" series, according to Kara Yorio of the Bergen RECORD. Geist said of the series, "It's been quite an undertaking, but it's been fun." She said, "I thought it was important to find stories that have a real edge to them and kind of show that we have our own history." One of the "biggest challenges for Geist and those working on this series was to narrow it down, pick only nine stories to tell." She said that there was "no story the team desperately wanted to tell that was left out." Some topics "are surprising." Geist said that "No Limits," the story of free diver Audrey Mestre, was the series' "biggest risk ... because it was not about a famous athlete playing a major sport." Geist said that the payoff "comes in the power of the film" and "makes this one of her favorites." Another film, "Let Them Wear Towels," about the "fight of women reporters for access into the locker rooms, was one that had generated some of the longest discussions after screenings and taught Geist a lot about the continuing struggles of women in sports" (Bergen RECORD, 7/9).
CROSS-COUNTRY DOC: In Knoxville, Dan Fleser notes the film "Pat XO," about Tennessee women's basketball coach emeritus Pat Summitt, debuts tonight at 8:00pm ET as the second installment of the "Nine for IX" series. "Pat XO" co-Dirs Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters "took a broad view of their subject, sending video cameras across the country to gather as many interviews as possible." They "relinquished some control over the production process in hopes of capturing more heartfelt, genuine moments." ESPN Films "Nine for IX" Exec Producer John Dahl said, "It's not going to have the polished look that you normally might see. But what it brings in return is revealing, personal, poignant moments and stories that you really haven't heard before" (KNOXNEWS.com, 7/7).
CBS Sports Network is getting into the NFL business, according to a source. The cable channel is planning to produce a four-hour pregame show on Sunday mornings this fall, starting at 9:00am ET. The show will be called "That Other Pregame Show," and its last hour will air against "The NFL Today" on CBS. Staffing decisions still have not been finalized, but CBS will use some of its NFL talent on the show. It also will have new faces on the set. The show will compete against similar offerings on ESPN and NFL Network. A formal announcement should come later this summer (John Ourand, Staff Writer).
UNIVERSAL REMOTE: Universal Sports signed a multiyear distribution deal with Time Warner Cable that will put the channel on the provider’s sports tier. It is the first national cable agreement Universal Sports has negotiated. It has agreements with Dish and DirecTV, but its other cable deals are with regional providers. The channel, owned by Leo Hindery’s InterMedia Partners, specializes in airing Olympic sports (Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer).
TUCKER'S TOWN: Sporting News Media has hired Ross Tucker as its lead pro football columnist and video analyst. Tucker, an analyst on SiriusXM NFL Radio and NBC Sports Network and a former NFLer, will contribute a weekly column and create a series of online videos. Sporting News Media is a joint venture involving American City Business Journals, parent company of THE DAILY and SportsBusiness Journal (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
MAJOR DEAL FOR THE MINORS: The Baseball Internet Rights Co. (BIRCO), the affiliated minors' digital media rights venture, has struck a multiyear agreement with California-based audio streaming outfit TuneIn to provide free live audio of every Minor League Baseball game. The agreement represents the first rights deal for BIRCO, and content will be available through more than 200 connected devices, TuneIn.com and the TuneIn Radio mobile application. TuneIn reaches more than 40 million monthly listeners (Fisher).