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Fox earned a 6.2 overnight rating for last night’s Red Sox-Tigers ALCS Game 5, up 22% from the net’s 5.1 overnight for Giants-Cardinals NLCS Game 5 last year, which aired on a Friday night. Red Sox-Tigers Game 5 is also up from a 4.2 overnight for Rangers-Tigers ALCS Game 5 in ’11, which was an afternoon game. The 6.2 rating marks Fox’ best LCS overnight since the series-clinching Giants-Phillies Game 6 in ’10, which aired on a Saturday night. The net is also expected to have its best Thursday primetime average since the “American Idol” finale in May (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
PACE OF PLAY: Fox is averaging a 4.6 final rating and 7.2 million viewers through Game 4 of the ALCS, up from a 3.6 rating and 5.6 million viewers through the same point last year, when the net had the Giants-Cardinals NLCS. Fox was averaging a 4.5 rating and 7.2 million viewers through four games of the ’11 Rangers-Tigers ALCS. Meanwhile, TBS is averaging a 3.1 rating and 4.8 million viewers for the Cardinals-Dodgers NLCS after five games. The net’s four-game Tigers-Yankees ALCS last year averaged a 3.8 rating and 5.9 million viewers. However, TBS is up 11% and 12%, respectively, compared to the first five games of the Cardinals-Brewers NLCS in ’11 (Karp). In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes viewers in the St. Louis market are tuning to Cardinals-Dodgers "at more than a 2½-1 bigger rate." TBS' telecasts have averaged a 27.7 local rating in St. Louis, while L.A. -- which is a larger and more diverse market than mid-sized St. Louis "where the Cardinals are the focal point" -- has averaged a 10.2 rating (ST.LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/18).
TIM'S TIME: In Boston, Chad Finn writes Fox' Tim McCarver is having "no second thoughts" as the season concludes about making this his last year on the net's national broadcasts. McCarver said, "It’s not bittersweet, it’s not anything along those lines. I made the right decision. I thought about it for a long time, a couple of years. I know I made the right decision. ... I’m not retiring. I’m cutting back on what I’ll be doing. I won’t be doing the World Series, playoffs, All-Star Game, but I’ll be doing something, stuff that will feed my passions. Plural." Finn notes McCarver "recognizes that his style ... has made him a contentious figure." McCarver said of social media critics, "It’s escalating. It’s getting worse. I don’t read the good or the bad, but we’re all in that boat. Everybody who is a broadcaster is in that boat. Some might be more vitriolic. But everybody who expresses an opinion, you’re going to get your share" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/18). In California, Michael Lev writes he does not "despise Tim McCarver," even though a "lot of people don’t like who McCarver is." Lev: "He’s folksy. He’s corny. He’s not going to break down baseball in a new-age, analytic way. But he is a first-guesser. He knows the game. He does his homework. He’s prepared." McCarver "isn't the best analyst in the sport anymore," but he's "not even close to the worst." Lev: "Don't be surprised if you miss him a little when he's gone" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 10/18).
MORE PUIG, PLEASE: In Phoenix, Jay Dieffenbach writes under the header, "MLB Needs More Yasiel Puig To Spice Up Postseason." MLB is "far better with him -- with everything he brings -- than without him," as he puts an "infusion of excitement" into the game. The feeling here is that "baseball could use more of Puiggy’s antics as baseball’s postseason TV numbers continue to be clubbed by NFL regular-season games." Dieffenbach: "The more 'must watch' baseball players, the better -- even if watching that player causes the more traditional fan to wince" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/18).
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said the NFL is discussing playing two games on Thursday nights, though nothing is imminent. That contradicts statements from NFL PR execs, who on Tuesday shot down a story in the Wall Street Journal quoting a source saying the NFL was considering a Thursday night doubleheader. In an interview Thursday at his team’s HQs, Jones, who also chairs the NFL Network Committee, replied affirmatively to a question about whether the NFL was discussing the doubleheader concept. He said, “We could easily have a doubleheader on Thursday. I don’t think that is out of the realm of thought, we haven’t set up how we will do it.” When asked if a second Thursday night game would also air on NFL Network or elsewhere, he said all options are open. Currently 15 Thursday games air in separate weeks on NFL Network. Asked when a doubleheader could occur, Jones replied, “Easily within the timeframe of our current television contracts,” which run through ’21. Jones also said the NFLPA would have no say in whether the NFL moves another Sunday afternoon game to Thursday night. The union has to agree whether the schedule expands from 16 games, he said, but not how those current 16 games are scheduled. Like NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has contended, Jones believes there is no evidence of higher injuries with Thursday night games. However, many players have criticized the NFL’s commitment to safety for scheduling games on such short rest (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer). Eagles President Don Smolenski also chimed in, saying, "There's interest in making Thursday night another destination night for football. So I think it’s something the league is looking at and you may see more games on Thursday in the future" ("Squawk On The Street," CNBC, 10/18).
IS THERE ENOUGH INTEREST? The Wall Street Journal's Matthew Futterman, who co-wrote the original story about additional Thursday night games, said, "This is a league that denied any connection between long-term health effects of concussions and football for 20 years, so you have to take their denials with a grain of salt." He noted the NFL "is not so pleased with the performance of those Thursday night games." Futterman: "This is a league that sort of has taken over Sunday night, taken over Monday night and then you have these Thursday night games that are sort of off on an island where they receive a lot of excitement in the markets where the teams are participating, but not so much elsewhere in the rest of the country." Futterman said in an attempt to increase ratings, "the idea is to create this as another sort of 'Football Night In America,' sort of destination viewing." The problem is that the league does not have a "critical mass of people across the nation who are interested in NFL football on Thursday night." He added the "traditional partners and the traditional sort of cable companies that do show sports" could be interested in acquiring a Thursday night package. Futterman: "The NFL, which really wants to see itself and wants other people to see it as a cutting edge business, would like to have potentially some sort of non-traditional programmer to gather that new generation of fans. Maybe somebody who is going to stream these games online, some partner like Netflix or maybe down the road YouTube, people like that. It doesn't have to be a traditional television partner" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN2, 10/16).
Fox Sports is "in danger of not meeting its contractual obligation to broadcast eight Pac-12 games" on the Fox network after moving several games to FS1, according to Jon Wilner of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. There have been three games broadcast on Fox "thus far, and Stanford-UCLA will count as a fourth" though it will air on ABC or ESPN2 on Saturday. However, there "aren’t many Saturdays left, especially when you consider" Fox is scheduled to broadcast a World Series game on Oct. 26. So "regardless of FS1 ratings or other potential programming options, Fox Sports must show at least two games" on Fox "during the first three Saturdays in November." Fox Sports since the first week of the season has "repeatedly declined to show Pac-12 games" on Fox. It "owned the rights to Oregon-Washington and could have put the game" on Fox. Instead, it selected unranked Kansas State-Baylor "for the over-the-air network and moved" Oregon-Washington to FS1. The decision to show Kansas State-Baylor on Fox and move Oregon-Washington to FS1 was "entirely about ratings and buzz." FS1 is "struggling to gain a foothold with prime-time viewers" and college football "attracts a desired number of eyeballs." As a result, the sport is "being used to prop up the overall ratings and create interest in other FS1 programming." There is a "difference of 20 million homes" between FS1 and Fox -- "a bad trade for the Pac-12." The conference "simply cannot go through another season with so many night games on FS1" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 10/17).
PACIFIC COASTING: FS1 is averaging 445,000 viewers for its 26 college football telecasts to date, which has consisted of a mix of Thursday night and Saturday games for the Pac-12, Big 12 and Conference USA. Through the same point last season, FX was averaging 728,000 viewers for smaller schedule of Saturday-only telecasts. FS1’s nine Pac-12 telecasts this season have averaged 643,000 viewers. That figure was boosted by last Saturday’s Oregon-Washington game, which drew 1.8 million viewers. The top college football game on FX last season was Baylor-West Virginia with 1.3 million viewers. Meanwhile, Fox is seeing a sharp drop for its college football games. The net is averaging 2.3 million viewers for six games to date, down from 3.8 million viewers through the same point last season (nine telecasts) (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
NOT PULLING THEIR WEIGHT? In Portland, Ken Goe writes under the header, "In A Saturated Market, Maybe The Pac-12 Networks Are Too Much." OU and Oregon State made "zero" money from the Pac-12 Networks last year, and OU "isn't projecting any revenue from the Pac-12 Networks for the current fiscal year, either." OSU AD Bob De Carolis said that the school netted about $15M in Pac-12 television money "in the last fiscal year," up from about $6M the year before. If the conference revenue is going to climb past $20M, the Pac-12 Networks are "going to have to pull their weight." When that will happen is "anybody's guess" (OREGONLIVE.com, 10/17).
ABC/ESPN is averaging a 2.7 final rating and 4.4 million viewers for the first half of NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup. That figure excludes the opening Chase race from Chicagoland Speedway, which began on ESPN from 3:15-4:44pm ET, but after a long weather delay, finished on ESPN2 from 10:00pm-1:15am. This year’s Chase rating is flat compared to the same point last season (includes all five Chase races), but viewership is up 1%. Last Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 from Charlotte Motor Speedway -- the only ABC telecast during the Chase -- finished with a 3.4 rating and 5.6 million viewers, up 6% and 9%, respectively, from a 3.2 rating and 5.1 million viewers last year and marks the race's best audience since '08. The Charlotte races from both '12 and '13 had competition from the ALCS and college football.NASCAR CHASE FOR THE SPRINT CUP AUDIENCEDATENETTRACKRATING% +/-VIEWERS (000)% +/-9/15ESPNChicagoland*n/an/a3,623n/a9/22ESPNNew Hampshire2.49.1%3,7065.4%9/29ESPNDover2.49.1%3,96910.8%10/6ESPNKansas2.6-18.8%4,162-18.6%10/12ABCCharlotte3.46.3%5,5609.1%
Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles expects the Izod IndyCar Series to "benefit from NASCAR's record-setting deal to move a portion of its Sprint Cup races" to NBCSN in '15, according to Jeff Olson of USA TODAY. Miles said that he expects "a larger audience for IndyCar races, which have been struggling with poor ratings" on NBCSN. He said, "We've shared a lot of data, and one of the things we've learned is that our ratings are substantially better -- still not where we want them to be, but better -- when we don't overlap with NASCAR racing. Now that they have both of us, that isn't going to happen." Olson notes NASCAR and IndyCar races during the second half of the season beginning in '15 "won't air simultaneously." Miles said that he had "no intention of trying to get out of IndyCar's contract" with NBCSN, which runs through the '18 season. Instead, he noted that he was "eager to see how IndyCar fits into the NBC motor sports mix." Miles: "We can't be chasing NASCAR fans. Some will come over and watch us, but we've got to figure out how to position this so we're very appealing to the fans that match up with our product" (USA TODAY, 10/18).
CHANGE IS A GOOD THING: Miles said he "feels really good about" the '14 IndyCar schedule, but there are "some changes, primarily in the format." The final race will be held on Aug. 30, and Miles said, "We wanted to have more consistency so that fans could know once our season starts we're going to be right in front of them throughout until the end. We decided to condense the season in order to accomplish that and we'll stop on Labor Day weekend. So it's a more condensed North American circuit, but it's not less racing, same amount of racing over a little bit less time and it’s kind of a transition toward 2015 where we'll grow back again." Miles said he "wasn't sure what to think going into this year" about the doubleheader races, but the "feedback has been terrific." He added, "It's a little tougher on the teams but it creates some excitement and for our venue operators, the guys running these races, it's a big boom." Miles said the schedule from June 7-July 20 has five races, including two doubleheaders, giving the series "momentum." He said, "We want to be in front of fans so we can build toward the culmination of the championship and we don’t go away for a couple of weeks then pop back on." He said going forward, IndyCar is "on solid ground financially." Miles: "We're going to be looking more to making investments than any sort of retrenching at all. We're going to make some changes in our organization to make it even stronger and better to get ourselves in front of fans. We have a clear strategy about the calendar which is going to take us a couple of years to totally reveal and put into place, but I'm confident it will make for a more compelling racing schedule. We're going to work very hard on improving our broadcast" ("2013 IndyCar Championship Preview Show," NBCSN, 10/17).
Golf Channel averaged 187,000 viewers for live coverage of the final round of the PGA Tour Frys.com Open last Sunday from 4:58-8:38pm ET, which was the first tournament on the Tour’s new wraparound schedule. That figure is down from 242,000 viewers for the event’s final round last year, when it was part of the former Fall Series. The Tour’s season-opening event last season -- the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January -- averaged 325,000 viewers for the final round on a Monday night.
The charts below list final ratings from recent sports telecasts.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "NFL on Fox": Saints-Patriots (86%)10/13Fox4:15-7:30pm15.826,700 "Sunday Night Football": Redskins-Cowboys10/13NBC8:31-11:25pm12.722,074 "NFL on CBS": (single)10/13CBS1:00-4:05pm9.9n/a "NFL on Fox": (regional)10/13Fox1:00-4:15pm9.816,400 ALCS: Tigers-Red Sox: Game 210/13Fox8:11-11:49pm5.28,349 "Football Night in America"10/13NBC7:30-8:15pm4.67,989 ALCS: Tigers-Red Sox: Game 110/12Fox8:03pm-12:08am4.26,800 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Charlotte10/12ABC7:30-11:17pm3.45,560 "Fox NFL Sunday"10/13Fox12:00-1:00pmn/an/a College Football: Florida-LSU10/12CBS3:30-7:15pm3.15,022 College Football: Oklahoma-Texas10/12ABC12:00-3:30pm3.04,713 FIFA World Cup qualifier: Panama-Mexico10/11UniMas9:05-11:37pm2.04,176 College Football: (regional)10/12ABC3:30-7:00pm2.43,460 "The NFL Today"10/13CBS12:00-1:00pm2.2n/a Bull Riding: 15/15 Bucking Battle10/13CBS4:30-5:30pm1.3n/a College Football: Baylor-Kansas State10/12Fox3:30-7:00pm0.91,400 World Gymnastics Championship10/12NBC2:00-4:00pm0.7946 World Gymnastics Championship10/13NBC2:00-4:00pm0.8873 "College Football Today"10/12CBS3:00-3:30pm0.6n/a Dew Tour: City Championships (S.F.)10/13NBC4:00-6:00pm0.5704 Dew Tour: City Championships (S.F.)10/12NBC4:00-6:00pm0.5666 FIFA World Cup qualifier: Jamaica-U.S.10/11UniMas6:20-8:34pm0.3558 Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing10/12CBS1:30-2:30pm0.4n/a "College Football Special"10/12CBS2:30-3:00pm0.4n/a "PGA Tour: Year In Review"10/13NBC1:00-2:00pm0.3316 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "Monday Night Football": Jets-Falcons10/7ESPN8:28-11:35pm7.511,448 "Thursday Night Football": Giants-Bears10/10NFLN8:29-11:21pm5.07,809 NLDS: Cardinals-Pirates: Game 510/9TBS8:00-10:57pm3.96,090 NLCS: Dodgers-Cardinals: Game 110/11TBS8:30pm-1:30am3.55,450 ALDS: Tigers-A's: Game 510/10TBS8:00-11:40pm3.55,445 ALDS: Red Sox-Rays: Game 410/8TBS8:38pm-12:35am3.65,159 College Football: Texas A&M-Ole Miss10/12ESPN9:18pm-12:29am3.25,114 ALDS: Red Sox-Rays: Game 310/7TBS6:00-10:35pm2.94,500 College Football: Michigan-Penn State10/12ESPN5:00-9:18pm2.64,040 NLDS: Dodgers-Braves: Game 410/7TBS10:35pm-1:12am2.53,894