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WBZ-FM officially inked a multiyear deal to "be the new radio home of the Celtics" beginning with the '13-14 season, according to Chad Finn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Celtics President Rich Gotham said, "There will also be a lot of cross-pollination over the other CBS Radio stations, some synergy with Comcast Sports Net New England (the television home of the Celtics) since a lot of the same personalities appear on both." The Celtics had "been on Entercom-owned stations" since '05-06, but "parted ways" with WEEI-FM in August. WBZ "now has rights deals with three of the four major Boston sports franchises: the Celtics, Patriots, and Bruins." When the Celtics and Bruins play "on the same night, the former will move" to WZLX-FM, another "highly rated CBS Radio-owned station in the market." There will be a "minimum of 19 times this season that the Bruins and Celtics play on the same day or night within a three-hour start-time window, and three more times when the Bruins and Patriots conflict in the regular season" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/27).
WELCOME TO THE TEAM: In Texas, Lance Lahnert reported the Celtics have hired KAMR-NBC sports reporter Emily Austen to be the team's "web reporter." Austen's entire duties have not been defined, but she said that she "will host a 30-minute live pregame show on Boston home game days, which includes interviewing Celtics players" (AMARILLO GLOBE-NEWS, 9/25).
NBC and NBCSN are averaging 391,000 viewers for EPL telecasts after five weeks. That figure is up from 230,000 viewers through the same point last year, when games aired exclusively on cable TV (ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Soccer). The Manchester United-Manchester City match last Sunday earned 852,000 viewers on NBCSN, marking the net’s top audience for any program for the week and the second-best cable TV EPL audience on record in the U.S. The ManU-Man City match also marked NBCSN’s most-viewed show since the NHL Stanley Cup Final in June (THE DAILY). In Boston, Christopher Gasper wrote, "I’m loving the coverage of the English Premier League on NBC Sports Network. There is room in America for two types of world-class football on Sundays" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/24).BEADLES FOR SALE: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth noted the timing of the cancellation of NBCSN's "The Crossover" is "interesting in that it came just a short time" after host Michelle Beadle talked to Sports Media Journal "about all the challenges she faced in trying to self-promote a show she was flying solo" since former co-host Dave Briggs was taken off the show in May. Beadle "took a bundle to cross over to NBC from ESPN after her success on 'Sports Nation'" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/27). In New York, Pete Dougherty writes Beadle was "given insufficient time to build a following" (Albany TIMES-UNION, 9/27).
FACING CRITICISM: In L.A., Meredith Blake reports NBCSN is "facing a flurry of criticism" over last Sunday's episode of "Under Wild Skies" in which host Tony Markis, an NRA strategist, "shoots and kills an African elephant." The net has "decided not to rebroadcast this particular episode, but will continue to air" the series. The show is "not produced by the network" but is a time buy (L.A. TIMES, 9/27).
MLBAM Thursday conducted a demonstration at Citi Field of its planned integration of Apple's new iBeacon mobile technology into the At The Ballpark application. Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, iBeacon allows users of its Apple's new iOS 7 operating system to have highly location-specific information and offers surface to device lock screens. MLBAM is using iBeacon to welcome fans immediately as they enter ballpark grounds, send food and beverage discounts as fans head toward their seats, offer merchandise coupons, upload mobile ticket barcodes, infuse loyalty programs, unlock exclusive video content, and provide other targeted information. Unlike wide variances seen in the effectiveness of GPS-based targeting, iBeacon can generally locate individual users within several feet of where they actually are. There is also no interference with WiFi or cellular signals, as the BLE technology operates on a different piece of wireless spectrum. MLBAM has quietly developed its use of the technology over the past year, only beginning to talk openly about it now as iBeacon and iOS 7 have been released to the public. A full integration is planned around the league for the '14 season, with clubs to have a large degree of latitude for individual customizations. "This allows us to really enhance At The Ballpark and provide a really frictionless experience at the ballpark," said MLBAM Dir of Wireless Product Development Eric O'Brien. "There's very little limit in the types of things we can do with this technology." Because of the ability to pinpoint fan locations through iBeacon, MLBAM's use of the technology is also expected to heighten data mining of fan migration patterns. "We can learn a lot about how long fans spend in various areas, how long it takes to from one place to another, and so forth," O'Brien said.
The Ron Howard-directed film "Rush" opens nationally this weekend, chronicling the '76 F1 season and the rivalry between drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, played by Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl, respectively. THE DAILY offers a grouping of reviews of the movie. ROLLING STONE's Peter Travers writes the film "burns on a high flame of danger, sex and unexpected gravitas." Howard's "toughest hurdle might be the indifference of U.S. audiences" toward F1 (ROLLING STONE, 9/26 issue). ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's Chris Nashawaty writes, "More than in any racing movie since 1966's 'Grand Prix,' the action scenes capture the daredevil kick of sitting in the cramped, claustrophobic cockpit of a Ferrari, zipping around hairpin turns as tires squeal and engines roar" (ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, 9/20 issue). In Boston, Ty Burr wrote the film "unexpectedly becomes a drama of human perseverance, inspiring only because it's real." Howard in a way has "made a philosophical drama about the way men move through the world." It is "just a really, really fast drama" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/25). NBCSPORTS.com's Keith Collantine wrote, "The action is superbly realized, particularly in the case" of Lauda's crash, which is "re-enacted in terrifying detail" (NBCSPORTS.com, 9/25). ESPN.com's K. Lee Davis wrote the film "soars in all the right places, makes you think in others and stands among Howard's best work -- no small feat." What it also "should show fans of Formula One too young to have seen it is the transition years of the sport from daredevil death-wish status to a polished, regulated, much safer form of racing." Davis: "Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll with race cars? No. It's more than that." It is a "fabulous work of cinema," and it is "the best racing film ever made" (ESPN.com, 9/24).
DROPPING THE GREEN FLAG: In San Jose, Tony Hicks writes, "The Oscar buzz surrounding the film is warranted" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/27). In Denver, Lisa Kennedy writes the film "fires on all cylinders" (DENVER POST, 9/27). VARIETY's Peter Debruge wrote the "thrill of 'Rush' would stall if the off-road scenes were any less dynamic, but of course, it’s the racing moments that take the film to the next level." To "witness this level of storytelling skill (applied to a subject only a fraction of the public inherently finds interesting) is to marvel at not only what cinema can do when image, sound and score are so artfully combined to suggest vicarious experience, but also to realize how far Howard has come since his directorial debut" (VARIETY.com, 9/3). USA TODAY's Claudia Puig wrote the film "brilliantly captures the exhilaration that comes from facing death head-on." It also is an "ode to joyous rivalry." Puig: "This is Howard's best film" (USA TODAY, 9/20). In N.Y., Manohla Dargis wrote the relationship between Hunt and Lauda is one that screenwriter Peter Morgan "strips down to its satisfying, straightforward core." As for Howard, "Rush" feels like "the movie that he has been waiting to make his whole life" (NYTIMES.com, 9/19). MCCLATCHY's Roger Moore wrote, "If there's a fault to it, it might be that racing fans get little sense of the violently varied racecourses." As much as the film "makes the races cinematic, the filmmakers are hard-pressed to improve on the in-your-face grit and gravel of Fox TV’s outstanding NASCAR coverage." But "Rush" is a "fine and fun film tribute to the milieu, the men, women and machines in a sport that was never deadlier or more glamorous than during its disco-decade incarnation" (MCCLATCHY, 9/26). In Pittsburgh, Barbara Vancheri writes "Rush" is so solidly entertaining that it can make someone who is clueless about racing care" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/27).
IN THE FAST LANE: In Chicago, Richard Roeper gave the film four stars (SUNTIMES.com, 9/26). In Minneapolis, Colin Covert gave the film three and a half out of a possible four stars (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/27). The AP's Jake Coyle gave the film an A- (AP, 9/27). In Cleveland, Clint O'Connor gave the film a B+ (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 9/27). In K.C., Jon Niccum gave the film three-and-a half stars (K.C. STAR, 9/27).
NOT SO FAST: In L.A., Kenneth Turan: "If the elegant cars of Formula One racing are thoroughbreds, 'Rush,' ... is more of a mixed breed." It is "hard to fight the feeling that [Howard's] sensibility is in some fundamental way at odds with the story Morgan's script wants to tell." His "polished Hollywood style is not ideally suited to the edginess this story seems to cry out for." Hunt and Lauda "are extremely arrogant, albeit in diametrically opposite ways." So the film "has difficulty getting us to care about either one of them." "Rush" does "not thrill the blood the way we have the right to expects a film like this to do" (L.A. TIMES, 9/20). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's John Anderson wrote, "Despite being a schematic exercise in storytelling, 'Rush' does take one calculated gamble: Neither of the protagonists is close to likable" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/20). In Chicago, Michael Phillips wrote the film is "big, brash and dramatically it goes in circles" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 9/26).
HELPING OR HURTING? In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle wrote under the header, "Will New Ron Howard Movie Help Or Hurt IndyCar?" Will the movie "lead to a rush of attention, and better yet ticket sales, for the U.S.-based open-wheel series?" Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said, "It's a positive anytime we can have pop culture talking about auto racing." Schoettle: "But here's the rub. The movie is not about IndyCar racing. It's about Formula One." Univ. of Indianapolis Sports Marketing Programs Dir Larry DeGaris said that casual U.S. fans "could certainly transfer the interest in racing spurred by this movie into an interest in the IndyCar Series, which is more accessible here." But DeGaris added if the movie "positions IndyCar as the junior circuit, or even puts that thought in people’s minds, that’s not such a great thing for IndyCar.” While Boles and "everyone else involved in the IndyCar Series insist that F1 is not a competitor, television viewers can’t help but notice how much hype the series is getting" on NBCSN. Schoettle: "Maybe it’s my imagination, but NBC seems to be promoting F1 races more heavily than the IndyCar Series, which also airs a bulk of its races on the same cable channel" (IBJ.com, 9/26).
ABC’s “Saturday Night Football” package, coming off a 5% drop last season, is averaging a 3.8 rating and 6.2 million viewers to date, up 6% in both metrics after four weeks. ABC’s entire slate of college football games has averaged a 2.9 rating and 4.6 million viewers, up 4% and 6%, respectively. ESPN’s Saturday primetime games are averaging a 2.5 rating and 4.2 million viewers, up 32% and 39%, respectively. Last season, the ESPN Saturday primetime package audience was flat compared to ’11. ESPN’s Thursday night college games, which continue to compete with NFL Network’s package of games, are averaging a 2.8 rating and 2.8 million viewers, up 13% and 16%, respectively. Overall, ESPN’s slate of college games is averaging a 2.1 rating and 2.8 million viewers, up 17% and 18%. Meanwhile, FS1’s college football game audience is down from same period on FX last season. FS1 is averaging a 0.3 rating and 398,000 viewers for 15 games (includes Saturday, Thursday), down from a 0.4 rating and 611,000 viewers on FX last year through the same period (eight games, all Saturday) (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
AND NOW YOUR LOCAL NEWS: WJZY-Fox earned a 21.7 local rating in the Charlotte market for the Panthers’ 38-0 win over the Giants last Sunday, marking the “most-watched program of any kind in the area for the week and … the largest audience for the team through the first three weeks" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/24)….WFXT-Fox drew a 30.8 local rating in Boston for the Buccaneers-Patriots, marking the second-best Week 3 audience ever for the team. The top Week 3 audience in the market still belongs to NBC’s Patriots-Ravens “SNF” matchup from last season (Patriots).
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. Figures for select CBS programming was unavailable at presstime.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "NFL on CBS": Colts-49ers (81%)9/22CBS4:15-7:30pm15.425,600 "NFL on Fox": (single)9/22Fox1:00-4:05pm12.520,900 "Sunday Night Football": Bears-Steelers9/22NBC8:31-11:28pm12.220,510 "NFL on CBS": (regional)9/22CBS1:00-4:15pm6.1n/a "Football Night in America"9/22NBC7:30-8:15pm4.16,556 College Football: (regional)9/21ABC8:10-11:43pm3.55,727 College Football: Michigan State-Notre Dame9/21NBC3:31-7:14pm3.24,785 "Fox NFL Sunday"9/22Fox12:00-1:00pm3.14,700 College Football: Tennessee-Florida9/21CBS3:30-6:00pm2.8n/a College Football: (regional)9/21ABC3:30-7:00pm1.92,779 PGA Tour: The Tour Championship: Final Round9/22NBC1:00-6:04pm1.41,997 College Football: Arizona State-Stanford9/21Fox7:05-10:35pm1.21,885 PGA Tour: The Tour Championship: Third Round*9/21NBC12:00-3:30pm1.21,558 MLB: (regional)9/21Fox1:00-4:00pm1.01,400 "College Football Countdown"9/21ABC3:00-3:30pm0.91,249 Liga MX: Club America-Chiapas9/21Univ.5:50-8:00pm0.61,076 Liga MX: Leon-Chivas de Guadalajara9/21Telem.9:00-11:04pm0.3598 "President's Cup Special"9/22NBC12:30-1:00pm0.3440 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "Monday Night Football": Steelers-Bengals9/16ESPN8:27-11:51pm9.114,329 "Thursday Night Football": Chiefs-Eagles9/19NFLN8:30-11:43pm6.09,374 "Thursday Night Football Pre-Kick"9/19NFLN8:00-8:30pm2.53,822 College Football: Auburn-LSU9/21ESPN7:40-11:31pm2.23,799 NASCAR Sprint Cup: New Hampshire9/22ESPN2:00-5:30pm2.43,706 College Football: Colorado State-Alabama9/21ESPN27:05-10:12pm1.62,779 "Monday Night Countdown"9/16ESPN6:30-8:27pm1.82,728 College Football: Clemson-NC State9/19ESPN7:25-10:55pm1.72,599 College Football: North Carolina-Georgia Tech9/21ESPN12:00-3:19pm1.72,333 "Sunday NFL Countdown"9/22ESPN10:00am-1:00pm1.62,235
NOTE: * = Due to weather and the PGA Tour moving up tee times, entire broadcast was on tape delay.
On Long Island, Neil Best cited sources as saying that former MLB manager Bobby Valentine lost a chance to be an analyst on TBS' MLB postseason coverage because of "comments on WFAN Sept. 11 in which he criticized the Yankees' response -- or lack thereof -- in the days after the terrorist attacks of 2001." It also "probably didn't help" that TBS postseason host Keith Olbermann "aimed a scathing monologue at Valentine on his ESPN2 program." A Turner spokesperson would only say, "Bobby was one of a number of candidates being considered for the role" (NEWSDAY.com, 9/26). In Boston, Chad Finn notes it "should have been obvious that Valentine had whiffed with TBS" after Olbermann twice named him the "Worst Person in the Sports World" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/27).
BACK AT THE PLATE: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar reports former MLBer Jack Clark has been "hired to host a show" by Insane Broadcasting's WQQX-AM. Clark, who was removed from WGNU-AM last month after on-air allegations that Angels 1B Albert Pujols used PEDs, will host the mid-afternoon show beginning Oct. 7. Clark "insisted he won't be gun-shy with his approach" on the Fox Sports Radio affiliate (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/27).
GOING INSIDE THE TRUCK: THE MMQB's Richard Deitsch profiled CBS Sports Producer/Dir Suzanne Smith, who is the "only woman currently directing games for any of the five networks televising the NFL." She directed her first game in '83, but she does not "consider herself a pioneer in a field dominated by males." Smith: "I save the word pioneer for a Billie Jean King or Lesley Visser. ... I just do what I do. It is a privilege to direct the NFL and to be in the position I am in" (MMQB.SI.com, 9/25).
HIT THE ACCELERATOR: In New York, Pete Dougherty profiles ESPN Associate Producer Trevor Gavin and notes he "plays a prominent role in ESPN's coverage of NASCAR." Gavin prior to the NASCAR assignment worked two years on "MNF" and said his current job is a "lot more fast-paced." He said, "On football, you have that natural break between plays. As the graphic producer on football, when the play is happening, that's when you're lining up ... what you're going to do in between" (Albany TIMES-UNION, 9/27).