Sunoco Debuts "Essence Of Racing" Campaign Executive Transactions Isiah Thomas Expected Backlash Over Hiring FanDuel Brings On Most Of Zynga Sports Team Georgia Approves Increased Athletic Budget Kentucky Adding Ribbon Boards At Rupp IndyCar Ponders How To Attract Fans Long Term Jeff Gordon Hired As Full-Time Analyst For Fox Danica's Sponsorship Status To Be Telling For NASCAR Classified Advertisements
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TBS earned a 3.7 overnight rating for the Dodgers’ 3-0 win over the Cardinals in NLCS Game 3 last night up against ESPN's "MNF." The telecast peaked at a 4.6 rating from 10:15-10:30pm ET. St. Louis earned a 28.9 local rating for the game, while L.A. earned an 11.4 rating. Last year’s Giants-Cardinals NLCS Game 3 on Fox, which aired on a Wednesday night and had a three-hour rain delay, earned a 3.1 overnight. TBS’ Tigers-Yankees ALCS Game 3 last year, which aired on a Tuesday night, earned a 4.9 overnight opposite the second Presidential debate. TBS had Cardinals-Brewers Game 3 on a Wednesday night in ’11, with that game earning a 3.0 overnight (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
A MATTER OF TRUSS: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth notes TBS' Truss Cam has been "a new visual tool to capture a different view" of the game. California-based Pictorvision "engineered the stabilized device." It takes two operators "stationed in the center-field scaffolding to make it work, and then it’s up to TBS game director Lonnie Dale to figure out how it works into the telecast." The Truss Cam was "one of 36 cameras used by TBS" during yesterday's NLCS Game 3. If MLB "implements a replay system, a camera like this could add the definitive replay to a challenged call if used in the ballpark during a telecast" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/15).
ESPN earned an 8.7 overnight rating for last night's Colts-Chargers "MNF" telecast, which aired up against Cardinals-Dodgers NLCS Game 3 on TBS. That figure is down 5% from a 9.2 overnight for Broncos-Chargers in Week 6 last year, which went up against Fox' Giants-Cardinals NLCS Game 2. Colts-Chargers is also down from a 9.2 overnight for Dolphins-Jets in Week 6 of the '11 season. Dolphins-Jets had no MLB postseason competition. In Indianapolis, last night's game earned a 13.9 local rating on ESPN and a 23.1 on WTHR-NBC. In San Diego, the game earned a 13.7 rating on ESPN and a 14.6 on KUSI-Ind. Rounding out the top five "MNF" markets were Las Vegas (14.1), New Orleans (13.4) and Sacramento (13.2). Meanwhile, the Patriots' last-minute comeback over the Saints on Sunday afternoon drew a 35.1 local rating in Boston, making it the most-watched Patriots game of the season to date and top broadcast in the market for the week of Oct. 7 (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
ALIVE & WELL: In N.Y., Bill Carter notes AMC's "The Walking Dead" season premiere on Sunday night was seen by 16.1 million viewers, "far surpassing the show’s previous record for cable entertainment programs," which was 12.4 million viewers. The show attracted 10.4 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, marking "an enormous total even surpassing" any NFL game this season. "The Walking Dead" managed its big audience "despite the presence Sunday night of two potent sports attractions," NBC’s Redskins-Cowboys "SNF" game and Fox' Tigers-Red Sox ALCS Game 2. Before Sunday night, "every top-rated show this season had been an NFL game" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/15).
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD: WFAN-AM's Joe Benigno noted CBS "tried to be cute" Sunday by putting the co-hosts from "The NFL Today" pregame show in "various different cities for the teams they used to be associated with." However, Bill Cowher's addition to the Jim Nantz-Phil Simms broadcast team for Jets-Steelers made the telecast the "most slanted towards the Steelers I've ever seen." Benigno: "All they needed was the (Terrible) Towels and out-and-out rooting. It was an absolute joke and a disgrace" ("Daily News Live," SportsNet N.Y., 10/14).
NBC's Bob Costas appeared on "The Dan Patrick Show" yesterday to discuss his "SNF" halftime essay on the Redskins name controversy and said the reaction has been "much more muted" than his call for gun control last year following the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide. Costas said, "I had much more time this time. The difference, as you know, between one minute and two minutes is much greater in television than the difference between two minutes and three minutes. You have enough time to develop a thought. Even if some disagreed, I don’t think they could misunderstand where I was coming from. ... My point was this is not about a political correctness." Costas noted that he "wasn’t even calling for a specific action, although I was implying it," during his essay. Costas: "What I was asking the audience to do was to consider that even though -- and I went out of my way to say this, clearly no offense is intended, no one should think that Dan Snyder or any NFL official wishes to consciously ... disrespect Native Americans. But even though no offense is intended, isn’t it clear -- if you’re fair -- to see how some offense could legitimately be taken?" Costas noted the clamor to change the name has grown louder in recent months "because the issue has come to a head." Costas: "The issue is out there now. You have an active group that is pushing the issue, there’s a meeting that's going to take place in the next few weeks between NFL officials and the Oneida Nation representatives." He added President Obama and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have addressed the issue, and it has been "editorialized about in the Washington Post and other places." Costas: "It is now a front-burner issue in the NFL. It’s an NFL issue, it’s not a random political issue, and Washington was playing Dallas on our air last night.”
THE RIGHT PLACE FOR SUCH COMMENTARY? Patrick asked whether Costas is using his platform on "FNIA" for "what is maybe sports but also social causes." Costas replied, "Nonsense. ... No, it’s a football issue. It’s right there. It’s a football issue. You guys talked about it on the pregame show, to some extent." Patrick said, "I’m giving you a question based on the response, not what I think. I think that it is a sports-related topic. I don’t have any problem. But people are saying, have said already this morning, stick to sports.” Costas replied, "I’m not comparing this in importance, or comparing myself to any of those who crusaded for a worthy cause, but I’m sure that people said if someone wrote in a New York newspaper in 1947, or prior to that, saying, 'It’s wrong that there are not black players in Major League Baseball, stick to sports. Tell me who hit the groundball to short, don’t talk about Tommie Smith and John Carlos and their clenched fists'" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 10/14). Sports commentator Jackie Pepper said "SNF" "really is the appropriate time to say something like this." Pepper: "A lot of people have come out and said, 'Hey, I just want to watch football. This isn't appropriate.' But this was about football. It's a real issue, it’s a social issue." She added, "This is not the first time Costas has said something controversial … and it will not be the last" ("Showbiz Tonight," HLN, 10/14).
CURIOUS TIMING OR EVOLVED OPINION? FS1's Trevor Pryce noted Costas has been on TV "for 35 years and I am pretty sure he has used the name Redskins 10,000 times in his lifetime." Pryce: "The fact that he comes on TV yesterday and says that this is a racial slur, kind of makes me think, 'Are you trying to go with the popular choice?' Whether or not they change the name is not for us to debate. That is for the Redskins, the NFL and the Native-American community.” The Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay said, “In fairness to Costas, I do believe you are allowed to evolve in your opinion. Just because you used it in a telecast before doesn’t mean you have to agree with it.” But Pryce said, “Don’t try to be holier than thou and say because this is the popular sentiment right now and I’m Bob Costas, that I can all of a sudden say that this is a racist term” (“Crowd Goes Wild,” FS1, 10/14).
POLITICIANS SPEAK OUT ON NAME: U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) said Snyder "has been in denial" over the name because the "truth is it's a racial slur." U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said, "Most Redskins fans have essentially embraced the name because they embrace the team and if the name were changed, because the team is so beloved, it is hard to believe that admiration would be in the least affected." She added, "I love this team, my constituents love this team. They don't love the name because they don't think about the name. When they hear the name, they are thinking about the players." Delegate Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) said, "It isn't just Dan Snyder that is involved here. ... The entire National Football League and Mr. Goodell, the commissioner, has to take responsibility because they're benefiting from this whole idea" (THEHILL.com, 10/14).
The cast of new NBA TV show "The Starters," formerly known as "The Basketball Jones" when the program was on Toronto-based The Score, will "continue their witty take on everything basketball," as the moves to NBA TV, according to Raju Mudhar of the TORONTO STAR. The six-man-strong lineup will "work on a daily all-things NBA show, and continue to create web content for a blog." Cast member Tas Melas said of NBA TV execs, "They just realized that this is the way that the world is going, fans just talking about the game, and we had such a presence doing it independently, and with The Score as well, so now, it is just going to be tenfold here." After starting out seven-and-a-half years ago "as a podcast which grew to include a blog and video podcast ... they were eventually picked up by The Score." Now they "continue their upward journey by joining NBA TV." Cast members "want to assure their fan base that the style will remain the same." Mudhar noted the name change "happened because of copyright issues and would have been a hassle and likely cost some money to change." Their show will air live on NBA.com daily at noon ET, and they "want their fan base to tweet along." The show will then "be packaged with highlights and air on NBA TV" at 6:00pm ET Monday-Friday in the U.S. The audio also "will be embedded on their NBA.com blog, and available on iTunes" for their "hardcore podcasting fans." Cast member J.E. Skeets said that he has been told the show "will also air on NBA TV Canada, but he is not yet aware of the time slot" (TORONTO STAR, 10/13).
Kristi Dosh announced on her personal blog this morning she is leaving ESPN after working there for two years as a sports business reporter. Dosh will resume her college sports-focused website, BusinessofCollegeSports.com, work as a freelance writer and has accepted a position as adjunct sports marketing professor at the Univ. of North Florida in Jacksonville. "My contract has expired at ESPN, and I won't be signing a new one," Dosh wrote. "Earlier this year, ESPN made the decision to shut down a section of ESPN.com called Playbook, which included the sports business page. Since then, the way my job worked behind the scenes drastically changed. I don't think it was working for me or for ESPN, which is why I'm moving on. ... I have some great options moving forward" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
OTHER MEDIA MOVES: The Orange County Register has hired former L.A. Times NBA writer Mark Heisler to produce a "weekly column and the NBA rankings." The paper also has hired Bill Oram, the Salt Lake Tribune's former Jazz beat writer, for the Lakers beat (LAOBSERVED.com, 10/10)....Grantland's Jonah Keri announced he has re-signed with the website and will become a "full-fledged member" of the "Baseball Tonight" crew (TWITTER.com, 10/14).
NHL GameCenter, a mobile app serving up schedules, scores, news, video, team information and statistics for hockey fans, went under the microscope during the first full week of games for the '13-14 NHL regular season. After seven days with the app, I’m still wowed by the video feature set, but where is the social integration? The app was reviewed using an iPhone 4 with Verizon 3G service and an iPhone 5 with AT&T 4G, from Oct 7 to Oct 13. NHL GameCenter is developed by NeuLion, the NHL's technology partner.
COVERING THE ESSENTIALS: Schedules come first. Past matches include final scores and a one line summative headline about the result. Despite a squinty font size, news is presented in a simplistic, readable manner. Video playback is smooth with clearly titled categories including Gorgeous Goals, Shootouts and Classic Bloopers. Stats are available by team and player, including both regular season and postseason numbers. A League Leaders section shows headshots of the top two players in each category, making it easy to spot repeat leaders. Alerts and favorites can be set for up to five different teams, an appealing feature to the hockey junkie. Tickets and merchandise can be purchased within the app.
ON THE GLASS: NHL GameCenter offers two subscription tiers: Live and Premium. For $149.99, the GameCenter Live upgrade is the all access pass with live out-of-market games, home and away radio broadcasts and multiple device access. For $9.99, the Premium option offers live radio broadcasts, in-game video highlights and condensed game replays. Verizon customers are offered special features, including live broadcasts of NBC National Games and select VOD content like NBC’s Inside the Glass and NHL on the Fly (4G LTE only). Everything here goes off without a hitch, but some of the flashier features like simultaneous game viewing and in-video chat are reserved for broadband users. Authentication for Verizon customers is automatic, with no extra steps required.
POWERPLAY GOALS: The app conveniently displays two fixed icons for live game consumption on the top bar, a headset and a video screen. Live game video and radio broadcasts are crisp. Aside from in-market blackouts, home and away TV broadcasts are viewable for virtually every NHL game. Live radio is unrestricted, offering local and out-of-market broadcasts for home and away teams. Tapping a past game in the schedule section unveils not only a written and statistical recap, but also a full-length archived game for GameCenter Live subscribers and a condensed game for Premium subscribers. Congratulations to the NHL for finding a worthwhile way to convert users to paid. The icing on the cake is within the play-by-play summary, where video highlights are attached to key moments just minutes after live play.
SHORTHANDED: Verizon subscribers using a 3G device and all non-Verizon subscribers must pay $9.99 for access to Premium features, while Verizon 4G customers get them for free. Why the inequality? Also, while I understand the challenges of the broadcast rights landscape, the blackout restrictions in the app are debilitating. What percentage of the league audience is interested in streaming out-of-market games? Meanwhile, the app offers no social integration whatsoever, and Shop.NHL.com is still linked to a desktop site. I encountered only one technical issue during my time with NHL GameCenter: a pop-up telling me I was logged out. This happened on several occasions while watching live games, but when I clicked OK, I was still logged in and all of the features remained accessible.
BOTTOM LINE: There is no mistaking that the NHL has taken the time to research and respond to their fans with the GameCenter app. The interface is clean and simplistic, capturing the essence of hockey with an icy appeal. Features work and video renders well. The task of finding premium features to dangle in front of the avid fan has been accomplished, although the price tag is steep, particularly for single device users. In other words, GameCenter Live is not an impulse buy. Perhaps a monthly subscription might be? Finally, while the app is well done in its current state, social and second screen remain untapped.
Amie Sheridan (email@example.com) is a writer in Philadelphia.