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Fox earned a 9.5 overnight rating for Cardinals-Red Sox World Series Game 2 on Thursday night, up from an 8.8 rating for Giants-Tigers Game 2 last year. The game is expected to deliver Fox another primetime win and would mark the net’s best Thursday night since the “American Idol” finale in May. The game had competition from NFL Network’s Panthers-Buccaneers “Thursday Night Football” telecast, which earned a 3.3 overnight. Cardinals-Red Sox Game 2 peaked at a 10.8 rating during the 10:00pm ET half-hour. Boston earned a 37.3 local rating, while St. Louis earned a 42.0. Through two World Series games, Fox is averaging a 9.5 overnight rating, up 8% from ’12, while its complete MLB postseason coverage is also up 19% (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
ONE FOR THE MONEY: Fox finished with an 8.6 rating and 14.4 million viewers for Game 1 on Wednesday night, up 13% and 18%, respectively, from a 7.6 rating and 12.2 million viewers for the Cardinals-Tigers opener last year. Looking back to ’11, Cardinals-Rangers Game 1 drew an 8.7 rating and 14.2 million viewers, while in ’10, Giants-Rangers Game 1 drew an 8.9 rating and 15.0 million viewers (Karp). The San Jose Mercury News' Mark Purdy noted MLB has become "more of a regional sport," and the ratings for World Series Game 1 were up "because Boston's a bigger city then Detroit." Purdy: "The problem with baseball right now is that within each market teams are pretty popular, but nationally they don’t have the stars that the NFL does." The S.F. Chronicle's Scott Ostler said baseball is "getting its butt kicked" by the NFL and NBA, as both are "seen as cooler, edgier, the demographic is better for advertisers." Ostler: "Baseball is becoming sort of an old guy's sport" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 10/24).
THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT: ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick wrote lengthy postseason games that "drag on close to midnight might be a challenge for fans," but they have "become a way of life in the new age of deliberate baseball in October." The average nine-inning postseason game in '13 "has taken almost 3 hours, 22 minutes to complete," which is "significantly longer than the average running time of nearly 2 hours, 59 minutes per game during the regular season." But MLB figures "show that the lengthy game times this fall are right in line with the recent trend in October." Commercial breaks between innings "account for a significant chunk of the longer running times in October," as the "standard break for an MLB regular-season game is 2 minutes, 5 seconds, and extends to 2:25 for a nationally televised game." However, the between-innings break "increases to 2:55" during the postseason (ESPN.com, 10/24).DOUBLE-DIP: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes the city "will be a second home this weekend" to ESPN. The net is "dispatching a battalion of personnel to town to report on the Series across its many media properties," and to produce next week's Seahawks-Rams “MNF” telecast. ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer Jed Drake said, "It's just a wonderful confluence of two great properties. ... It’s going to be a really exciting night; we will cover this from every possible angle -- just the sheer spectacle of having these two huge events in one city on the same night at the same time" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/25).
Attorneys for the Astros on Thursday "outlined differences with the Rockets -- their partner in Comcast SportsNet Houston -- in a statement filed in advance of next week’s hearing on whether the network should stay in Chapter 11 bankruptcy," according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The Astros "expanded on previous filings by accusing Comcast Corp. ... of being the ultimate force behind the motion by Comcast subsidiaries to force CSN Houston into bankruptcy." U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Marvin Isgur on Monday will "hear the Astros’ motion to dismiss the involuntary Chapter 11 case filed Sept. 27 by four Comcast affiliates and Comcast’s motion to name an interim trustee for the network." The Rockets this week said that they "favor keeping Houston Regional Sports Network, the Astros-Rockets-Comcast partnership that owns CSN Houston, under Chapter 11 but oppose an interim trustee." The Astros attorneys also note that Comcast, the Rockets and Astros "have different economic interests at stake." The attorneys wrote, “The Rockets’ media-rights fees are among the very highest in the NBA, enabling the Rockets to outbid other teams on high-priced free agents in an effort to compete for world championships, regardless of whether the network is profitable. The Astros are differently situated. To invest in rebuilding a championship team, the Astros must supplement their media rights payments with equity distributions from a profitable network." The filing also "addresses arguments by the Rockets that the Astros do not have proper legal standing to challenge the involuntary petition and disagrees with the Rockets’ stance on whether the Astros’ media rights agreement can be assigned to a third party, which the Astros say is not allowed" (CHRON.com, 10/24).
HBO's "24/7," following the Maples Leafs and Red Wings ahead of the '14 NHL Winter Classic, will "feature advertising for the first time" when re-airs of the show run each week on Sportsnet, according to Steve Ladurantaye of the GLOBE & MAIL. Sportsnet said that it "sold out the series quickly," with Molson Canadian, Tim Hortons, Recharge with Milk and Ford F-150 "signing on as title sponsors." The series will debut on Sportsnet in December "with only one small modification from the format that made it a hit on HBO." Rogers Media President of Broadcasting Scott Moore said, "We’re not going to sanitize it at all. With one exception -- we will bleep out the f-bombs. We won’t edit anything else out or sanitize it, because viewers these days are used to that type of thing." Ladurantaye noted some viewers had "worried the series would lose its appeal if Rogers Media insisted on changes to make it more palatable for prime time consumption." The series will now "reach 8.8 million subscribers on Sportsnet compared to the 1.1 million that had access when it ran on HBO Canada." Sportsnet aired "a similar series last year" focused on junior hockey and "didn't hear many complaints about the language from viewers" (GLOBEANDMAIL.com, 10/24).
There is a "line networks broadcasting the NFL today must traverse when it comes to reporting on concussions and head injuries," but the "good news is NFL broadcasters are much more willing to discuss and report on the issue now" than before, according to Richard Deitsch of THE MMQB. All networks that air NFL games "report on player safety, especially when injuries result in a player missing games, or a helmet-to-helmet hit becomes a point of controversy among fans." What does "not exist, however, is substantive dialogue on concussions or brain trauma during game coverage." Broadcasters will "tell you that the three-hour window makes it difficult to address the topic with any kind of depth." NBC's Cris Collinsworth said, "I really think the topic is so deep that it would take 10 minutes of a broadcast while a football game is going on to try and give that topic any depth whatsoever." ESPN's Steve Fainaru, who worked on the concussion-centric film "League of Denial," said, "I watch the NFL every week, and it’s pretty rare that it comes up, except to point out what a great job the NFL is doing to make the game safer. ... I’m not sure this is always the forum for it, but sometimes it feels like the elephant in the room." Deitsch wrote while nets that air the NFL are "eager to trumpet their reporting successes and editorial independence, most only go so far in their reporting on what is clearly a third rail topic for the league." CBS Sports Exec Producer & VP/Production Harold Bryant said of the NFL, "They let us do what we feel is proper journalism. They have never put restrictions on us" (MMQB.SI.com, 10/23).
CBS Interactive has signed a deal with Professional Bull Riders to "produce and manage PBR’s new digital subscription service offering rodeo fans 100-plus live streaming broadcasters and on-demand video," according to Todd Spangler of VARIETY. PBR for the first time will "sell digital video subscriptions separately from other membership packages." Monthly and annual digital subscriptions "will be offered for $9.95 and $99.95, respectively." The streaming schedule will "begin with the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals on Oct. 23-27 in Las Vegas, which also will air" on CBSSN. PBR.com video subs will "have access to every Built Ford Tough Series event, as well as 18 Touring Pro Division events plus replays of telecasts and archive content." The agreement expands CBS’ relationship with PBR "across multiple platforms, including digital, broadcast and cable TV." CBS Sports and CBSSN are the "exclusive TV partners of the PBR, providing coverage of 25 events annually, including more than 100 hours of original event programming" (VARIETY.com, 10/24).
ESPN Ombudsman Robert Lipsyte in his most recent column wrote the company's Bristol, Conn. campus formerly "had a locker-room mindset," and "every so often ... there's an unwelcome flashback to those less professional, less sophisticated days." ESPN college football analyst David Pollack on "College GameDay" made remarks about the suitability of women for the College Football Playoff selection committee following the appointment of former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but later wrote on his Twitter account, "It has nothing to do with male or female." Pollack in an exchange of text messages with Lipsyte wrote he "would have nothing to add to the tweet." "College GameDay" host Chris Fowler said, "I regret the tone of the conversation ... [but] I don’t regret the question. I should have done a better job letting him clarify the point -- that it was not gender, but the feeling among many who have played the game that only those who have played or coached and can watch endless tape are qualified to make judgments." Lipsyte wrote ESPN "has to do a better job of identifying those 'good ol’ boy' comments and turning them into teachable moments for the guys who haven’t quite gotten their heads out of their lockers" (ESPN.com, 10/24).
FS1 last Saturday drew its best total-day audience dating back to the cable net’s Aug. 17 launch, fueled by the Washington State-Oregon football game from 10:00pm-1:43am ET (1.14 million viewers) and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race from Talladega Superspeedway (1.02 million viewers) from 4:01-6:40pm. The net also drew 770,000 viewers for Texas Tech-West Virginia from 12:00-3:40pm and 628,000 viewers for the UFC 166 Prelims from 8:00-10:00pm (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
NOTES: NBC “just wrapped up its best first month to the fall since 2007.” Through the week that ended Oct. 20, “NBC has piled up the largest margin over its nearest rival in 11 years in the crucial adults aged 18 to 49 demographic.” Much of the “commanding performance was football-fueled” (LATIMES.com, 8/22)….Last Sunday’s Rams-Panthers game drew 402,600 viewers in the Charlotte market, but “despite the strong interest” for the game, that figure is down 5% from the Panthers’ win over the Vikings in Week 6 (BIZJOURNALS.com, 10/21)….ESPN’s Oklahoma-Kansas drew a 21.2 local rating in Oklahoma City last Saturday, marking the top sports rating last weekend. NBC earned a 19.5 local rating for the Broncos-Colts “SNF” game (OKLAHOMAN, 10/22)….HBO averaged 1.2 million viewers for the “World Championship Boxing” main event last Saturday from 11:08-11:48pm, which featured Mike Alvarado’s title defense against Ruslan Provodnikov. That figure marks the year’s ninth-best boxing audience on cable TV (DENVERPOST.com, 10/23).
The charts below list final ratings from recent sports telecasts.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "Sunday Night Football": Broncos-Colts10/20NBC8:31pm-12:14am15.926,943 "NFL on CBS": Ravens-Steelers (43%); Texans-Chiefs (38%)10/20CBS4:36-7:28pm14.825,319 "NFL on Fox": (single)10/20Fox1:00-4:05pm10.818,200 "NFL on CBS": (regional)10/20CBS1:03-4:26pm8.713,930 "Football Night in America"10/20NBC7:30-8:15pm7.211,976 ALCS: Red Sox-Tigers: Game 610/19Fox8:02pm-12:10am5.59,041 ALCS: Red Sox-Tigers: Game 510/15Fox8:02-11:56pm5.48,569 ALCS: Red Sox-Tigers: Game 410/16Fox8:03-11:35pm5.28,085 College Football: Auburn-Texas A&M10/19CBS3:53-7:36pm4.26,728 College Football: Florida State-Clemson10/19ABC8:20pm-12:08am3.45,676 College Football: (regional)10/19ABC3:30-6:45pmn/an/a FIFA World Cup qualifier: Costa Rica-Mexico10/15Telem.9:15-11:33pm2.34,643 "Fox NFL Sunday"10/20Fox12:00-1:00pm2.94,400 "The NFL Today"10/20CBS12:00-1:00pmn/an/a College Football: USC-Notre Dame10/19NBC7:30-11:04pm2.23,464 College Football: Georgia-Vanderbilt10/19CBS12:00-3:53pm1.52,396 "Being: Mariano Rivera"10/20Fox4:30-5:30pm1.21,700 Liga MX: Cruz Azul-Club America10/19Univ.5:50-8:39pm0.81,435 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating10/20NBC4:00-6:00pm0.81,262 College Football: TCU-Oklahoma State10/19Fox12:00-3:30pm0.91,200 "College Football Countdown"10/19ABC3:00-3:30pmn/an/a Liga MX: Chivas de Guadalajara-Pachuca10/20UniMas6:01-8:04pm0.4809 EPL: West Ham-Manchester City10/19NBC12:30-2:30pm0.5658 "Onward Notre Dame"10/19NBC5:00-6:00pm0.4519 Women's soccer friendly: U.S.-Australia10/20NBC1:30-4:00pm0.4497 MLS: FC Dallas-Sounders10/19NBC2:30-5:00pm0.3395 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "Monday Night Football": Colts-Chargers10/14ESPN8:28-11:4pm7.711,954 NLCS: Cardinals-Dodgers: Game 610/18TBS8:30-11:49pm3.76,073 "Thursday Night Football": Seahawks-Cardinals10/17NFLN8:29-11:48pm3.86,047 NLCS: Cardinals-Dodgers: Game 410/15TBS8:00-11:31pm3.75,792 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Talladega10/20ESPN2:00-5:20pm3.14,916 NLCS: Cardinals-Dodgers: Game 310/14TBS8:00-11:11pm3.14,825 NLCS: Cardinals-Dodgers: Game 510/16TBS4:00-7:26pm2.53,730 College Football: South Carolina-Tennessee10/19ESPN12:01-3:43pm2.33,371 College Football: LSU-Ole Miss10/19ESPN27:00-10:48pm1.52,598 "Monday Night Countdown"10/14ESPN6:30-8:28pm1.62,399
In Jacksonville, Hays Carlyon notes Sunday’s 49ers-Jaguars game “hasn’t been mentioned in the sports sections” of the London Telegraph, London Daily Mail and London Times in the last two days, although there are a “handful of English journalists covering the Jaguars at Pennyhill Park.” U.K.-based Channel 4 TV producer Phil Spooner said, “The national papers, it’s soccer season and that dominates everything. It always does. Perhaps newspapers are a little slower than the rest” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 10/25). Also in Jacksonville, Gene Frenette wrote the “buzz” for Sunday’s game has “yet to hit with any force.” It is “not like you’d know by scanning the U.K. newspapers or television.” Even the NFL’s “all-powerful brand settles for leftovers when there’s English Premier League soccer drama to break down from all angles” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 10/24).
BOMBS AWAY: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on Wednesday "for the third time in three years ... sure sounded like he dropped the N-word on an ESPN program." Raissman: "Once was enough, but doing it again, and again, is inviting trouble, not only for himself but for 'First Take,' a show that’s been under scrutiny at ESPN and criticized internally." Smith and Skip Bayless on "First Take" were debating when Smith "got riled up and said: 'That’s the way it goes. That’s all! N----, please. Please.'" Raissman writes the day "may come, sooner than you think, when Smith’s denials fall on deaf ears and the suits, who don’t seem to hear these N-bombs, decide to draw the line" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/25).
NOW YOU'RE SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE: The NBA Kings on Thursday announced that they have "launched a Hindi-language version of the team website." The SACRAMENTO BEE reports the site "provides similar features to the regular team site, including player profiles, interviews, and game information." The effort is part of Kings Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive‘s "goal of making the Kings and NBA basketball a major attraction in India and in other Asian countries" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 10/25).