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CBS’ national window led all Sunday NFL telecasts with a 15.4 overnight rating, with the broadcast featuring Steelers-Patriots in 88% of markets. That figure is down 3% from Fox’ Week 9 national window in ’12, which featured Steelers-Giants. CBS also saw a 14% decline for it early-window regional coverage, which was highlighted by Chiefs-Bills. Meanwhile, NBC earned an 11.4 overnight for the Colts-Texans “SNF” telecast last night, down 21% from a 14.5 rating for Cowboys-Falcons last year. Despite the drop off, “SNF” was the No. 1 show last night. The game earned a 36.4 local rating in Indianapolis and a 31.8 rating in Houston. Fox had the only Week 9 window to see an increase. Its singleheader drew a 12.8 overnight, up 13% from CBS’ similar window last year. The rating also marks Fox’ best singleheader since November ’05 (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
NFL WEEK 9 SUNDAY OVERNIGHT RATINGSNET'13 GAMERAT.'12 NET'12 GAMERAT.% +/-Fox(single)12.8CBS(single)11.313.3%CBS(regional)10.0Fox(regional)11.6-13.8%CBSSteelers-Patriots (88%)15.4FoxSteelers-Giants (96%)15.9-3.1%NBCColts-Texans11.4NBCCowboys-Falcons14.5-21.4%
TAKING A CAUTIOUS APPROACH: NBC began its halftime show of Colts-Texans with Bob Costas briefly addressing the status of Texans coach Gary Kubiak, who had just collapsed on the sideline. Costas then threw it to Dan Patrick at NBC's N.Y. studio, where he began to show highlights from earlier games. Patrick today addressed why NBC did not stay with the Kubiak story longer, saying the net does not “speculate on an injury or on an illness” and it wanted to make sure it "got it right the first time.” Patrick: "In case anybody wants to know why we didn’t stay out there (in Houston), we didn’t want to stay out there and speculate and we wanted to make sure we got information and we were fair to Gary Kubiak and his family, because that could’ve been tragic at the time. ... We don’t know what has happened with Gary. We’re going to keep an update on that, but it's live TV and if you want to bang us for coming off that shot and going to New York, go ahead. That’s what happens in the moment and you want to get it right the first time” (“The Dan Patrick Show,” 11/4).
FLEXING ITS MUSCLE: The NFL on Friday announced that Chiefs-Broncos during Week 11 will move to NBC's "SNF", while Packers-Giants will be played at 4:25pm ET on Fox and Chargers-Dolphins will be played at 4:05pm on CBS (NFL). In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes moving Chiefs-Broncos from CBS to NBC is "arguably the most significant move" since the flex policy began in '06. NFL Corporate Communications Manager Joanna Hunter said the league wanted to give the Chiefs the "opportunity to play in front of the widest-possible audience, so we reached out to CBS." CBS had been protecting both Broncos-Chiefs matchups this season, but such a move by the net "would have been a public relations disaster." CBS in a statement said, "We had originally protected the Kansas City-Denver game for Nov. 17. After discussions with the NFL, we made a once-only accommodation so that the game can be seen by a national audience, which we could not provide during our prescheduled doubleheader weekend" (DENVER POST, 11/4).
BETTER ON TWITTER: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote under the header, "Twitter Took Me Deeper Into Ravens Game Than CBS Did Sunday." CBS' Kevin Harlan during yesterday's Ravens-Browns game "communicated absolutely no sense of the rhythm of the game or the feel in the stadium as momentum shifted." CBS' Solomon Wilcots "took me not one inch inside the success or failure of either team," as he espoused an "'act-like-you-know' bluster from beginning to end." CBS "does not give folks like Wilcots and Harlan the resources they need to excel." Zurawik wrote he "should not have to go to social media during a game to get an in-stadium sense of what’s happening," but he got "more important information and better sense of the momentum swings in the game from the tweets" of Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Zrebiec and Matt Vensel (BALTIMORESUN.com, 11/3).
RUNNING OFF AT THE MOUTH: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes Fox' Kevin Burkhardt "must think doing NFL play-by-play on Fox gives him a license to run his mouth incessantly," but "too much talking can lead to a play-by-play voice tripping over his analyst or his own tongue." That is "what happened in the second quarter of Saints-Jets" after Jets CB Antonio Cromartie intercepted a pass. Burkhardt initially said, "The Saints can't challenge. They have no timeouts left." However, he eventually "realized all turnovers are reviewed," and "should have acknowledged his gaffe" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/4). Meanwhile, syndicated columnist Norman Chad writes it is NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock's "world on Thursday nights, and we just have to despair in it." Chad: "Mayock’s slogan is: 'By Myself I Destroy Football.'" Games he calls are filled with a "Mayockian soundtrack of endless football speak, overbearing babble and mind-boggling minutiae." It is "death by a thousand small, analytical cuts." Mayock "actually knows what he’s talking about, but he doesn’t know when to stop talking about it" (Mult., 11/4).
JUMPIN' JIMMY: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes "Fox NFL Sunday" analyst Jimmy Johnson is "quickly moving to the head of the list of the best NFL studio analysts," as he says "something strong" every week. Johnson yesterday talked about the stress coaches are under following the hospitalization of Broncos coach John Fox on Saturday (and subsequently that of Kubiak last night) and said, "When you ask a pro coach about his priorities, you get the standard, 'Well, it's faith and family, etc.' But the reality is it's about winning. There is so much pressure on these pro coaches to win that they try to outwork their opponents, so their priorities are completely out of whack. The way they work, they sacrifice their families, their health, and maybe you might say that (the Broncos' Fox) is a wakeup call for coaches, but really it's not going to change" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/4). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Raissman wrote Johnson has become a "consistent instigator, a guy who stirs it up on the pregame show." When his colleagues "appear to be going through the motions, or falling asleep on the set, it’s J.J. who provides the wakeup call." He "has no trouble putting himself out there," and he makes the net's pregame show "worth watching" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/3).
COSTAS FOR CONCERN? In DC, Kellan Howell noted as NBC's Bob Costas spoke last month during halftime of Redskins-Cowboys about the Redskins' nickname controversy, NBCSN was "quietly putting the final touches on a deal with the Oneida Indian Nation to stage the network’s 'Fight Night' boxing event at the Turning Stone Casino and Resort, a central New York resort owned and operated by the Indian tribe." The deal and Costas' commentary "have raised ethical and transparency questions." NBC officials "denied there was any connection" between the Fight Night event and Costas' commentary. NBC Sports Group Senior Dir of Communications Dan Masonson said, "Our relationship is with Main Events, the promoter. ... Our business interests are solely to produce the television show. So obviously, to draw a parallel between Bob Costas‘ commentary and this arrangement is ludicrous" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 11/3).
ROBOT WARS: VARIETY's Todd Spangler noted Fox yesterday aired a new promo for producer J.J. Abrams' "futuristic robot-cop drama 'Almost Human.'" It featured a "stare-down between 'NFL on Fox' robot mascot Cleatus and one of the show’s MX-43 android flatfoots" (VARIETY.com, 11/1).
ESPN went "all-in" on the reported bullying of Dolphins OT Jonathan Martin by other teammates, including G Richie Incognito, on "Sunday NFL Countdown" yesterday, providing viewers with "far and away the most comprehensive coverage of a cultural issue that travels beyond Miami and the NFL as well," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. Incognito yesterday morning "fired a series of tweets at the network, claiming Adam Schefter had 'slandered' his name regarding the ongoing story." ESPN's Chris Mortensen yesterday first acknowledged Incognito's Twitter feed, then "reported via sources that Martin had not filed a formal complaint with the NFLPA because he fears 'retribution from Incognito.'" ESPN continued its coverage of the story with a panel featuring Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, and Ray Lewis, and the discussion was "passionate and thankfully absent mostly of ex-jock speak." ESPN "spent more than seven minutes on the topic," but CBS' "The NFL Today" "neatly disposed of it in less than 180 seconds." NFL Network's "NFL GameDay Morning" gave the issue of locker room dynamics "legit run, starting with this report from NFL Network insider Ian Rapaport and host Rich Eisen," and that was followed by a panel discussion. Meanwhile, "Fox NFL Sunday" gave a "couple of minutes to Rob Riggle's half-season awards and Michael Douglas hawking his new film at the top," but the Martin situation "only got a cursory report from insider Jay Glazer" (SI.com, 11/3). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes all the pregame shows "did solid, responsible jobs" covering the story, but ESPN "had the best roundtable discussion." Ditka said, "I can't comprehend how this could happen. When this would happen in my time, you take the bully and you kick his butt." Lewis added, "Guys don't leave the team for hazing. ... If I'm the head coach, that guy (Incognito) has to be removed from my team" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/4).
MARTIN NEEDS TO TOUGHEN UP: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes CBSSN's Bart Scott apparently thinks Martin "isn’t tough enough to deal with what was being dished out in the Dolphins locker room." Scott yesterday on "The Other Pregame Show" said, "Rule number four in our playbook is have skin like an armadillo. You’ve got to be able to give it and you've got to be able to take it" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/4).
Acting FCC Chair Mignon Clyburn is "proposing to eliminate the sports blackout rule, which currently prevents cable and satellite television providers from airing" NFL or other pro games "if they are blacked out on local TV stations because of low attendance," according to Amy Schatz of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Clyburn said in a statement, "Changes in the marketplace have raised questions about whether these rules are still in the public interest, particularly at a time when high ticket prices and the economy make it difficult for many sports fans to attend games." The impact of any change on the NFL "remains unclear because the number of blacked-out NFL games has been limited in recent years." The NFL said that last year 15 games "were blacked out." Even if the FCC rule was "lifted, it wouldn't stop sports leagues and television providers such as cable companies from reaching their own agreements to limit where games are shown." The FCC has said that "such voluntary agreements are responsible for most blackouts." Incoming FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, a former cable TV lobbyist, said that he "would support looking into whether the rules were still necessary, but it is not clear whether he'll make the issue a priority" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/2).
DARK MATTER: Buffalo Fan Alliance President Matt Sabuda said that the proposed change will "put pressure on the NFL to abandon its blackout policy." In Buffalo, Jerry Zremski noted Sabuda is "the leading local figure in the effort to get the NFL to ease its television blackout policy." Sabuda said, "This is probably the tipping point to get the NFL to get rid of its blackout rule altogether." Zremski noted both the FCC rule and the NFL’s blackout rule "have been under assault" from U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) and other lawmakers. Higgins said, "Blackout rules are unfair, outdated and alienate dedicated fans." Higgins has been "making that case in Congress in recent years and has won increasing numbers of lawmakers to his side" (BUFFALO NEWS, 11/2).
NFL Network today celebrates its 10th birthday, and the channel currently is in 72 million homes, making it the biggest league-owned network in the business. (MLB Network is in 70 million homes.) THE DAILY sat down with the channel's President & CEO Steve Bornstein to talk about the channel's launch and his plans after he leaves the league following the Super Bowl.
Q: What was the market like when you launched in 2003?
Bornstein: Sports was quite popular. But I don't think it was as popular as it is today. You saw that the world was becoming an on-demand world. I don't think we really envisioned all these different devices and platforms coming. I thought it was important that the NFL have a communication ability directly to the fans, not filtered through any of our great partners. That was really the genesis of why the NFL Network was launched and supported by ownership.
Q: If you had to do it again, would you have launched with live games?
Bornstein: Games were never a serious consideration when we launched. We did it because people liked our content. For the first few years, we were getting good responses for our non-game programming.
Q: Can all these sports networks exist?
Bornstein: I've been asked that question for 30 years. We launched ESPN in 1980 and they said, "You get all your sports on three networks on Saturday and Sunday. You don't need to do seven-day-a-week sports." I think the sports that have ardent fans following them will do very well.
Q: What's been the biggest change in the business over the past 10 years?
Bornstein: The proliferation of devices and consumption of media on different platforms is amazing. The fact that video consumption is increasing is truly an opportunity for all of us in media to think about how to best serve.
Q: Why did you decide to step down?
Bornstein: The timing was right for me, personally. I've accomplished more than I had anticipated when I came to the NFL. People that work here at the NFL Media Group are ready for more, so I felt it was a good time for them to step up. The NFL is in great shape and it will be in even better shape after I'm done.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Bornstein: I hope to be working some place and talking to you. I'm certainly staying in the media business.
Q: When is your last day?
Bornstein: I haven't figured that out yet. I'll talk to Roger. It will be in the spring at some time.
NBC today unveiled coverage plans for three of its cable channels around the '14 Sochi Olympics in February, as CNBC, MSNBC and USA Network will combine to present 124 hours of coverage. CNBC will air 36 hours of curling through a daily weekday show, while MSNBC will air 45 hours of live hockey and curling. USA Network also will air 45 hours of live curling and hockey, including three Team Canada men’s hockey games. The Sochi programming slate for NBC and NBCSN will be released soon. It has already been announced that NBCOlympics.com will live stream all Olympic competition (NBC). MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds wrote given the addition of NBCSN into the mix, the other three supplemental nets will collectively "offer far less programming from Sochi than they did" during the '10 Vancouver Games. CNBC will "run Olympic fare daily" from 5:00-8:00pm ET, "except for Sunday, Feb. 16" when coverage will air from 4:00-7:00pm. MSNBC will "telecast live hockey on 11 of its 12 days, including medal-round games" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 11/3).
RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM: NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus said of how his division would cover news regarding Russia's anti-gay laws, "We have to acknowledge they exist and are a potential issue for the Games. If they affect the Games, we are responsible to report they are affecting the Games, either through the way athletes are demonstrating or through any issues that take place with Russian authorities ... We will be responsible journalists from the sports side and news side. When they are out of our boundaries, we will turn it to news. But we are not going to ignore it when they are in our boundaries" (SI.com, 11/3).
The Mets today announced a five-year partnership with N.Y.-based WOR-AM, making the Clear Channel outlet the club's flagship radio station. WOR will air Mets Spring Training, regular-season and playoff games as well as pre- and postgame shows. The deal will place Mets-related programming and promotion across Clear Channel media assets, including radio, digital, outdoor and music/entertainment events. The Mets will be marketed on six N.Y.-area Clear Channel stations (Mets). In N.Y., Bob Raissman reports the deal will bring the Mets "more than" the $7M per year they were getting from WFAN in the final year of the contract that expired this year (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 11/4). In Newark, Jorge Castillo notes the 50,000-watt WOR "replaces WFAN, which had aired Mets games since the station’s inception" in '87. WFAN "will broadcast Yankees games beginning next season." Clear Channel will cross-promote the Mets on its "digital application iHeartRadio," but games "will not be simulcast on FM." The agreement also stipulates the two sides will "work to improve in-game entertainment and concerts, festivals and large-scale entertainment at Citi Field" (NJ.com, 10/4). MLB.com's AJ Cassavell reports Mets radio play-by-play announcer Howie Rose, who has been with WFAN since '87, is "expected to remain the voice of the team." However, it is "not clear whether radio analyst Josh Lewin will join Rose" in the move to Clear Channel (MLB.com, 10/4).
GOING, GOING...: In N.Y., Shelly Freierman writes in an age "when every baseball game is on television and some are streamed to mobile devices, radio audiences are dwindling." Still, some teams had "more than 100,000 fans on average tune to broadcasts on their flagship radio stations." A chart showing the top MLB teams in average radio audience per game follows (N.Y. TIMES, 11/4).
TEAMAVG. RADIO LISTENERS PER GAMEYankees242,900Giants201,100Tigers181,700Mets165,400Phillies146,100Reds131,300Cardinals129,400Cubs127,500Dodgers107,600Rangers96,000