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ESPN earned a 5.0 overnight Nielsen rating for its coverage of the '13 Chevrolet Home Run Derby, which saw A's LF Yoenis Cespedes hold off Nationals CF Bryce Harper. That marks a 6% increase from a 4.7 overnight last year, when Tigers 1B Prince Fielder won. Detroit was the top local market last night, drawing a 9.8 rating as fans tuned in to see whether Fielder could repeat. Two other markets with participants -- Pittsburgh (Pedro Alvarez) and Baltimore (Chris Davis) -- followed Detroit with a 9.6 and 9.0 rating, respectively. N.Y., the host city for the Derby, ranked fourth with a 7.9 rating (THE DAILY). YAHOO SPORTS’ Mike Oz noted former MLBer Mike Piazza joined the ESPN broadcast crew at one point, but “apparently adding him to the mix was too much for the Citi Field inhabitants to take.” A couple fans “behind the ESPN set-up were caught in the middle of a fight,” and then a young fan “creepily video bombed the Piazza interview” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/15).
FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: MLBAM last night conducted another live video streaming experiment on Twitter, showing the Home Run Derby directly within the social media platform. MLBAM last year streamed the Futures Game directly through Twitter, marking what was believed to be the first major pro sports event distributed live on the platform and has since continued to take an active interest in further deployments (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
Pete Rose is part of one of the most memorable highlights in MLB All-Star Game history when he bowled over Ray Fosse in '70, but do not expect to see that during Fox' broadcast of tonight's game. Fox' Tim McCarver said the net is not allowed to "show Pete Rose footage on the air." Patrick: "Wait a minute, you can't show video?" McCarver: "We can't show video. Major League Baseball does not like us showing video of Pete Rose on our air. And from my understanding, ESPN too” (“The Dan Patrick Show,” 7/15). In L.A., Joe Flint reported the league had "no official comment on McCarver's remarks." A source said, "There isn't a blanket restriction" (LATIMES.com, 7/15). In Pennsylvania, Keith Groller writes that policy is "only going to get more people on the banned player's side and against MLB." Groller: "Love or loathe him for violating the game's No. 1 rule, Rose's collision with Ray Fosse is the No. 1 all-star moment and he was one of the players who made the All-Star Games in that era of must-see TV" (Allentown MORNING CALL, 7/16). Of note, ESPN yesterday unveiled a list of its top 10 All-Star Game moments that included the Rose-Fosse collision (THE DAILY).
EXPECT NOTHING ON BIOGENESIS: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes his "fantasy" would be for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to "go into Fox’s All-Star broadcast booth" tonight and "deliver the word to friend and foe alike" on the investigation into the Biogenesis clinic. That would give Selig the "chance to spread the gospel to millions of eyeballs." While Selig in actuality "ain't going anywhere near that booth," it is fair to ask whether Fox' McCarver and Joe Buck will "say even a word about" Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez and Biogenesis during the All-Star telecast. Unless there is "breaking news on the investigation prior to, or during, the game, don’t expect the voices to go near the subject." Fox Sports VP/Communications Dan Bell said, “We’re not taking this event and going on a soapbox. To talk about what’s already been written, or broadcast, and add more speculation to it, is not appropriate. The All-Star Game is not the proper venue for that discussion" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/16).
MUST-SEE TV? In Illinois, Mike Imrem writes under the header, "All-Star Game Is Far From Must-See TV These Days." Imrem: "So what do you think, the All-Star Game or a night of 'NCIS,' 'Rizzoli and Isles' and 'Person of Interest'? For me, I'm still trying to make up my mind because the Midsummer Classic has been reduced to an All-Star Game-time decision instead of appointment television" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 7/16). In Akron, George Thomas writes "long, drawn-out TV games don’t seem to hold TV audiences’ interest." The "chasm between the haves and the have-nots remains great despite the contention of smaller-market teams such as" the Indians and Pirates. Those "realities are reflected in TV ratings" for the ASG. Thomas: "From this corner there might be trouble on the horizon for Major League Baseball" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 7/16).
FINAL FAREWELL: In Memphis, Kyle Veazey notes this is McCarver's last ASG, and it is the "highest-profile assignment yet of something of a farewell tour." Fox asked McCarver to "compile his favorite All-Star Game memories for a segment to air later" in the broadcast. McCarver: "It's very difficult to squeeze almost 60 years into about two minutes" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 7/16).
ESPN would "cost vastly more for sports fans, about $30 a month, if it was unbundled from the pay-TV package and sold separately only to those who wanted to watch it," according to Bob Fernandez of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. That would be "five times the $6 a month" that ESPN now costs as part of the "big TV bundles offered by cablecasters such as Comcast." Fans that would choose ESPN at the increased cost "would be unlikely to purchase non-sports entertainment channels, leading to billions of dollars in lost revenue." Needham Co. analyst Laura Martin yesterday released her Future of TV report, the "latest contribution to the public debate in Washington and within the TV industry on skyrocketing TV sports costs and what to do about them." Martin said that 20 million pay-TV subscribers, or "one in five, would choose to purchase ESPN if they had the option." This "falls below the 25 million subscribers that many national advertisers seek on pay-TV systems, so ESPN would lose substantial ad revenue." She estimated that "unbundling ESPN could result" in $13B in lost revenue of the pay-TV industry's total $150B revenue per year "because of a cascading effect of lost advertising revenue and ESPN fans not selecting to purchase non-sports channels." Martin said, "This has to be solved, and these negotiators have to figure out how to keep (sports cable channels) in the bundle" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/16). CABLEFAX DAILY reports sports "accounts for about 50% of sub fees and accounts for less than 25% of total viewing." Martin in her report wrote, "We can find no math where unbundling is the best economic answer" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 7/16).
As the Pro Football HOF begins observing its 50th anniversary, a "TV deal for the hall once nearly completed with ESPN has gone instead to NFL Network," according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The result is "an eight-year deal that will give NFL Network viewers a seasonlong view of the Hall of Fame selection process." Also in the works is "a deal with Showtime, where a Hall of Fame segment and a fan-voting program will be featured within the weekly 'Inside the NFL' highlights show." Credit for that "has to go to Insignia, the New York-based sports marketing agency founded last May that has represented the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a year." Insignia President & CEO Peter Murray said, "We’re selling it like it’s a 33rd NFL team, with a content strategy, media extensions and IP sales, and extending the brand with a presence at key times in the NFL calendar." New sponsors include audio manufacturer Harman-Kardon and Kay Jewelers, which will "update the Hall of Fame ring and sell rings at retail." Scientific Games has "a lottery deal, and Parade magazine is a media partner." Pro Football HOF VP/Marketing Dave Motts said, "The idea is to increase fan engagement, not just at Canton, but across platforms with all the content we have, and grow to a national brand" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/15 issue). In Cleveland, Tom Reed noted the HOF since opening its doors in '63 has "increased in volume, square footage and relevance." Its growth has "mirrored that of the game it glorifies through artifacts, education and outreach." The HOF will "toast the recently completed" $27M renovation project on Aug. 3 at its Golden Anniversary Reunion, and expects "upwards of 130 of its 162 living enshrinees to attend festivities" (CLEVELAND.com, 7/14).