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Fox earned an 8.1 overnight rating for the AL’s 3-0 win over the NL in last night’s MLB All-Star Game, flat compared to last year’s telecast, but up from a 7.9 overnight in ’11. The telecast gave Fox a win in primetime and marked the net’s highest-rated program since the “American Idol” finale in May. Detroit led all markets with a 20.3 local rating for the game, which is the best for that market since ’05. St. Louis (16.4), K.C. (13.9), Cincinnati (12.8) and Baltimore (12.6) rounded out the top five markets (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). SB Nation's Steve Lepore wrote, "Fox still can draw a decent rating for the All-Star Game. It isn't what it used to be, but in TV, nothing really is."
ONE MO TIME: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes when Yankees P Mariano Rivera entered during the eighth inning of Fox' broadcast, the "musical segue from Neil Diamond singing 'Sweet Caroline' to the opening notes of 'Enter Sandman' might have been surreal, but it produced goose bumps." With Fox Sports Dir Bill Webb and Producer Pete Macheska "deciding to let viewers follow behind Rivera, first walking, then running, in from the Citi Field bullpen, the drama was heightened." Fox announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver "let the pictures do the talking," including All-Stars "from both dugouts standing and cheering" and Rivera "taking off his cap and waving it to the crowd." It seemed like Fox was "presenting the final scene of a movie." The net's Ken Rosenthal "interviewed Rivera in the dugout," and Rivera was "clearly overwhelmed by what had to be the highlight of his farewell tour." The "clarity and quality of Fox’s pictures, the way it chose to cover his final All-Star appearance, will allow him to relive that eighth inning for the rest of his life" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/17). Meanwhile, McCarver was slightly mocked on Twitter for reading some of the lyrics to "Enter Sandman," Rivera's entrance music. CBSSports.com's Will Brinson wrote, "Tim McCarver reading Metallica lyrics. I think we're done here." SI's Steve Rushin wrote, "Just woke from a dream in which Tim McCarver was reciting Metallica lyrics." CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish wrote, "I hope Tim McCarver quotes Master of Puppets in the 9th inning."
PROMOTIONAL CONSIDERATIONS: Fox promoted next month’s launch of Fox Sports 1 early and often during last night’s game. Fox’ Joe Buck during the first segment of the pregame show promoted the channel and the 90-second FS1 ad that ran following the 5th inning. The net received both a verbal and on-screen reference for the upcoming program “Being: Mariano Rivera” following a pregame profile of the Yankees closer. A three-second promo aired directly after the 2nd, 6th and 9th innings, while a digital sign appeared behind home plate during the 4th and 6th innings. Another on-screen mention came during the top of the 6th inning near the score box in the top-left corner. At the start of the 8th inning, Buck read an on-air promo, noting FS1 will “be your home for great live sports, all the news and highlights you want and shows and specials that only Fox can bring you.” The final on-screen mention came in the form of a 20 second commercial in the final block of ads during the broadcast (THE DAILY). The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke wrote, "Interesting how Fox chooses to feature USC, Marqise Lee and Lane Kiffin as its college football symbols in Fox1 preview commercial."
THE LONG GOODBYE: McCarver called his 22nd and final All-Star Game last night and a video with McCarver reflecting on his favorite All-Star moments concluded the broadcast. Buck, who has called 15 of those games with McCarver, said prior to the video airing, “I know you hate this, but we’re live on national TV so just deal with it.” Buck: “You’re the best doing at what you do, and it’s been a pleasure sitting here all these All-Star games.” Buck had McCarver sign his scorecard from last night’s game and told him that it will be put on display in the Baseball HOF, causing McCarver to choke up a bit (“MLB All-Star Game,” Fox, 7/16). SI’s Richard Deitsch wrote, “I know Tim McCarver has his many critics but his choking up at signing his scorecard for the HOF at the broadcast's end was pretty touching.”
SOCIAL STUDIES: Data from Twitter showed that Fox’ telecast generated 851,192 total comments among 477,795 unique users, the best figure yet for an MLB All-Star Game and up 5% from last year. Conversation on Twitter around the game peaked at 14,000 tweets per minute as Rivera entered the game. His one inning of work generated more than 190,000 total comments. The hashtag #ASG was included in more than 17% of all social media comments during the game. MLB’s second-ever social media concierge room saw 15 players pay a visit. Twins C Joe Mauer even tweeted for the first time, via the @MLB account. Marlins P Jose Fernandez increased his Twitter followers by 77%, while Tigers P Max Scherzer saw a 38% gain and Mets P Matt Harvey saw a 12% bump. Meanwhile, data from Facebook showed that Rivera’s appearance was the most-social moment during the game, followed by Neil Diamond singing "Sweet Caroline" during the middle of the eighth inning. Males 25-34 were the top demo for discussion of the game on Facebook, followed by makes 18-24 and females 18-24. New York led all states in generating buzz (14%), followed by California (11% and Texas (10%) (Karp).
ESPN is expected to announce today that broadcaster Keith Olbermann "will return to host a one-hour, nightly show for ESPN2 later this year," according to sources cited by James Andrew Miller of the N.Y. TIMES. The move was the "result of 14 months of intense discussion within" ESPN and Disney. There was "concern about asking Olbermann back because he left the network under emotionally charged circumstances and because it was feared by some that Olbermann had become too politicized as the host" of MSNBC's "Countdown." The two-year contract states that Olbermann on his new show will be "free to discuss matters other than sports, including pop culture and current events, but not politics." Olbermann's "star quality is almost unmatched in the sports television arena; he seems to draw a crowd" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/17). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Marisa Guthrie noted the show will "originate from the ABC News Nightline studio overlooking Times Square." Signing a "personality with a profile like Olbermann's" gives ESPN a "marquee name to promote on its ESPN2 service at the same time that Fox is launching" FS1 (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 7/16). VARIETY's Jon Weisman noted a "premiere date for the Olbermann show has not been disclosed" (VARIETY.com, 7/16).
Redskins TE Chris Cooley yesterday said that he will join the organization's radio broadcasting team, "effectively ending his career as an NFL player," according to Maske & Steinberg of the WASHINGTON POST. Cooley said that he "would not file his official retirement papers with the NFL immediately, leaving open a slim possibility of a return as a player," but added that he "does not intend to play again." Cooley "will not replace Sam Huff on the team’s radio broadcasts but instead will provide analysis during games." The team "plans to use a two-man booth this season" -- with Sonny Jurgensen "teaming with play-by-play man Larry Michael -- although sideline reporter Doc Walker also will have an open mic, allowing him to add regular analysis." Cooley was "signed to a multiyear deal." Cooley's role will have him "providing analysis in a 'Cooley’s Corner' segment that will be heard every quarter." The Redskins announced that he also will "appear on Internet and television shows, including Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan’s show" on WRC-NBC. Cooley said that he was "in contact with other broadcast outlets but wanted to continue his association with the Redskins" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/17).
Google has "recently approached media companies about licensing their content for an Internet TV service that would stream traditional TV programming," according to sources cited by Stewart & Ramachandran of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. If Google "goes ahead with the idea, it would join several other companies planning to offer services that deliver cable TV-style packages of channels over broadband connections." Intel and Sony are "both working on similar offerings," while Apple has "pitched various TV licensing ideas to media companies in the past couple of years." The internet TV services if launched "could have major implications for the traditional TV ecosystem, creating new competition for pay-TV operators that are already struggling to retain video subscribers." There is "no guarantee Google, or any of the technology companies, will be able to strike licensing deals" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/17). In N.Y., Brian Stelter writes if Google "has its way, you might someday get cable television ... through any ordinary Internet connection." Google's talks with media companies are "a sign of the newfound race to sell cablelike services via the Internet, creating an alternative" to current TV packages. Google by "instigating conversations with channel owners about a service that would compete with the likes of Comcast ... is taking a different tack than its rival Apple, which has been trying to collaborate with both channel owners and their distributors on a TV offering" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/17).
DreamWorks Animation SKG's "Turbo" hits theaters today, and the IndyCar-themed movie is "affable and amusing from start to finish, suitable for kids of just about any age while not boring the adults who tag along," according to Paul Doro of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The movie, directed by David Soren, is "clever without trying too hard" and "moves quickly and efficiently." The voice cast includes Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña and Bill Hader and "is a treat." If Pixar is the "gold standard in animation, 'Turbo' ... rates as a solid silver" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/17). In N.Y., Lou Lumenick writes DreamWorks "scores its first winner in years" with "Turbo." The movie is "modest by the cartoon studio's usual overblown standards." Dreamworks has "often indulged in pointless stunt casting of celebrities for its animated features, but here it works." Reynolds’ Turbo "is a delight," and Peña "comes close to stealing the show as the big-hearted Tito." Soren "nicely stages the action -- the races are exciting, but not overwhelming -- and the script he collaborated on with Darren Lemke and Robert Siegel creates more well-rounded and less stereotypical characters than often seen in DreamWorks features" (N.Y. POST, 7/17).
A FAMILY AFFAIR: In Chicago, Nell Minow writes "Turbo" is "one of this year's best family films." The film's "standouts are Giamatti as the worried but caring Chet, and the indispensable" Jackson as Whiplash, a racing snail who "leads Turbo's hilarious pit crew" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/17). In Boston, Tom Russo writes the movie "makes an entertaining go of it by borrowing very liberally from the 'Fast & Furious' franchise" and "sticking a slime trail onto 'Rocky' for the rest" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/17). In N.Y., Joe Neumaier gives the movie three stars and writes it is a "sort-of escargot-meets-'Cars' adventure." It has "some sharp vocal turns and remains fun even when its inventiveness runs out of gas" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/17). In K.C., Jon Niccum gives the movie three stars and reviews it under the header, "Snail Tale Really Moves Along" (K.C. STAR, 7/17). In Seattle, Moira Macdonald writes the movie is "implausible but nonetheless pretty adorable." The animation "won’t make you forget Pixar, but it’s as good as it needs to be and sometimes much more" (SEATTLE TIMES, 7/17). POSTMEDIA NEWS' Katherine Monk wrote, "Combined with Reynolds’s likability and comic timing, as well as the supporting cast’s sincerity in each part ... Turbo’s dramatic engine revs high." The "only real stall is the decision to cast Bill Hader as the voice of Guy Gagne." Hader "clearly has no idea what a real French-Canadian accent sounds like" (POSTMEDIA NEWS, 7/16).
CLUTCHING AT STRAWS? The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Todd McCarthy wrote it is as if the makers of Turbo were "pressed to come up with the most extreme underdog tale they could think of," or else animators "really are running out of ideas for original new characters." McCarthy wrote, "Of course, the message of the film" is that "no dream is too big, you can do anything if you set your mind to it, etc., etc." McCarthy: "Unfortunately, the real embedded lesson of Turbo is that, if you're too small or weak or otherwise incapable of greatness, you have a shot to win if you're juiced" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 7/10). In Salt Lake City, Sean Means writes, "Unfortunately, 'Turbo' feels like the screenplay was run through the same computer, programmed to sand away anything unfamiliar or different from a dozen previous animated stories" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 7/17). In Toronto, Linda Barnard writes, "The story has some obvious parallels with previous animated flicks, most notably Disney’s Cars franchise, but Turbo doesn’t earn the same likability points as more fleshed-out characters like Lightning McQueen and lovable lug Mater" (TORONTO STAR, 7/17). MCCLATCHY's Roger Moore gave the film a C+ and wrote it is "light on the jokes, but cute, with animation so vivid it looks photo-real." As "vivid as the race scenes are," if "we want to watch photo-real auto-racing we can turn on the TV" (MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE, 7/16).
IT GETS THE JOB DONE: USA TODAY's Claudia Puig writes the film is "good-natured but generic." Some of the 3D effects, "particularly during races, amp up the derivative story, and the animation is well-rendered" (USA TODAY, 7/17). In Philadelphia, David Hiltbrand writes, "Kids aren't a very demanding audience." If there is "color, movement, and a high quotient of silliness, they're happy." Turbo "does offer those elements," but "not much more" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/17). In Albany, Peter Hartlaub reviews the movie under the header, "Snail's Tale A Drag" (Albany TIMES UNION, 7/17). VARIETY's Peter Debruge wrote the film is an "endearing underdog story." It is "plenty appealing, especially for younger auds, though it will be a stretch for this snail tale to snare the crowd it needs to recoup its nine-figure budget." The film "adheres to an otherwise safe formula, combining cute cartoon characters with the standard all-American 'dream big' message" (VARIETY.com, 7/10). In Phoenix, Bill Goodykoontz writes the movie is "ultimately a disappointment, if mildly so" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/17).
The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Michael Hickins profiled technology company Sportvision, noting while in '06 "95% of the company's revenues were from TV effects," today's number is "down to 70%, with the balance earned from licensing data." Sportvision CEO Hank Adams said that of the 70% that is "broadcast-related, only 30% is from TV effects that don't track some element of data." Adams added that the company "will soon start selling a new service that allows viewers to place themselves virtually on the field of play, either by trying to hit a Mariano Rivera cut fastball, or racing against Mario Andretti Jr." (WSJ.com, 7/15).
SPEAKING UP: In Houston, David Barron wrote "Let Them Wear Towels," the latest documentary in ESPN's "Nine for IX" series, is "a look at a worthy topic: the efforts by our female colleagues to gain the same locker room access afforded to their male counterparts." But "unfortunately, what has become a recurring weakness of the entire ESPN documentary series results in the omission of a significant contributor to that effort" in late reporter Anita Martini. ESPN contributors "for some unknown reason" generally "refuse to use narrators as part of their documentaries." That has been "irritating for some time, and now it does actual damage to the subject matter." Because Martini is "not available to speak for herself," she is "of no use to ESPN" (CHRON.com, 7/16). Former NFL exec Jim Steeg wrote on his Twitter feed, "Interesting ESPN piece "nine on IX"...missing one of the true pioneers @JillLieberSteeg who was at forefront in the 70's."
ON THE AIR: Blogger Clay Travis on Monday announced that he "would be part" of Fox Sports 1's new college football pregame show. Travis said, "We realize it's going to be a challenge going against [ESPN's] 'GameDay,' but I think we'll figure out a way to be [a] little bit different and offer fans two options" (TENNESSEAN.com, 7/15)....Miami-based WQAM-AM Program Dir and host Jorge Sedano "will leave the station to accept a multi-platform position at ESPN." He is "expected to start at ESPN in the fall" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 7/12)....ESPN VP/Communications Diane Lamb said that the ESPN Radio deal with Detroit-based WCAR-AM "is ending." Lamb said ESPN is "currently in the process of securing a new ESPN affiliate in Detroit." Meanwhile, WXYT-FM and host Matt Dery "couldn't agree on a deal with CBS Radio Detroit management to keep him with the station" (FREEP.com, 7/16).