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ESPN earned a 10.4 overnight rating for the Bears-Packers "MNF" telecast, up 9% from a 9.5 rating for Eagles-Saints in Week 9 last year. In Chicago, the game earned a 20.3 local rating on ESPN and a 13.7 rating on WCIU-Ind. In Milwaukee, the game earned a 13.9 local rating on ESPN and a 36.4 rating on WISN-ABC. The top five markets were rounded out by New Orleans, Las Vegas and San Diego (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
BEING FLEXIBLE: ADWEEK's Anthony Crupi wrote under the header, "NFL Flex Schedule A Godsend For NBC." Next week’s Cowboys-Saints matchup "features two first-place teams." Meanwhile, the league has "optimized the first week of the flex schedule to NBC’s advantage, shifting the Nov. 17 Chiefs-Broncos game from CBS’ late national broadcast to Sunday prime." The 7-1 Broncos and QB Peyton Manning "are huge draws, and the league has ensured that the team gets as much national exposure as is humanly possible." Fans also should "look for the NFL to invoke its flex powers in subsequent weeks, as it will want to showcase games" like Seahawks-49ers and Packers-Cowboys in "favor of the previously-scheduled" Falcons-Packers and Bengals-Steelers games on Dec. 8 and Dec. 15. The 2-6 Falcons are "all but out of contention." Meanwhile, the "once powerful Steelers franchise is mired in last place" in the AFC North. CBS and Fox have the "right to protect five games each, but league politics often plays a part in getting the networks to relax their grip on their national matchups in favor of giving the week’s best pairing a prime time showcase." CBS originally had protected Chiefs-Broncos, but it "agreed to make a one-time accommodation at the NFL’s request" (ADWEEK.com, 11/4). In N.Y., Andrea Morabito noted AMC's "The Walking Dead" outdrew NBC's Colts-Texans "SNF" matchup among adults 18-49, "the demographic preferred by advertisers." "The Walking Dead" averaged 8.7 million viewers among adults 18-49 in the 9:00pm ET hour-long window, topping the 8.1 million viewers who watched Colts-Texans (N.Y. POST, 11/5).
PATRIOT GAMES: CBS' telecast of Steelers-Patriots in the national window on Sunday averaged a 40.3 rating in the Boston market, the highest rating of the '13 NFL season to date. The only sporting event to receive a higher local rating was Red Sox-Cardinals World Series Game 6. Sunday's rating marks a 15% increase from the season's previous high, a 35.1 rating for Saints-Patriots in Week 6. It also marks the first time this season that a Patriots game has drawn a rating higher than 40 in the Boston market (Patriots).
ON THE MIKE: ESPN "MNF" play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico said of color analyst Jon Gruden, "I thought I knew something about football before I met Jon. Now I realize I had no clue. The five-year masters program that he's put me through is a degree that I'm second-proudest to have earned. ... I don't see what Jon sees, but he has taught me what's important -- line play, safeties -- to look for patterns in games as you watch them." Meanwhile, Tirico said of former "MNF" analyst Ron Jaworski being reassigned, "Still a bummer. No one has ever been in a room with Jaws and not had a good time" (JSONLINE.com, 11/2).
BLACK HOLE SUN: In L.A., Joe Flint wrote there is "a lot of confusion out there about what exactly the blackout rule is, how it works and what its removal would mean for both fans and the media." What the FCC's rule "does is prohibit a cable or satellite operator from circumventing those agreements between sports leagues and TV stations by importing a distant signal of a game that should be blacked out." This means that "getting rid of the blackout rule wouldn't mean the local station could suddenly show a game that wasn't sold out." It means a pay-TV distributor "could show it no matter how mad the league or local rights holder gets" (LATIMES.com, 11/4).
FS1 execs in the lead-up to the network's launch in August made sure viewers knew they were going to have fun on their studio shows, including "Fox Sports Live," leading critics to wonder how they would cover a serious news story. The net was given such an opportunity last night with the Dolphins' bullying story involving OT Jonathan Martin and G Richie Incognito, and it showed it could provide the appropriate tone considering the subject matter. "Fox Sports Live" first addressed the story about seven minutes into its 11:00pm ET show, following highlights of three NBA games and one NHL game. FS1's Mike Hill introduced the Dolphins report with, "Pretty sure Richie Incognito wishes his last name actually applied to him because he's anything but right now." Hill was measured in his reporting, prefacing comments from coach Joe Philbin, but when an on-screen display showed Incognito's history of bad behavior, Hill said, "Incognito has been involved in so many incidents during his football career that we need two screens here." After reading the numerous incidents, Hill said, "I'm out of breath. Panel, please take over." A panel discussion immediately followed including former pros Gary Payton, Andy Roddick, Ephraim Salaam and Brendon Ayanbadejo. Each panelist discussed the topic of when hazing goes too far, providing anecdotes from their playing careers and what crosses the line in hazing. The tone was serious, with terms like "abuse" and "hazing" being used. Roddick said, "There are four things you cannot do that cross the line: Race, religion, sexual orientation and using someone's money as your own. Crossing the line, you leave that out. That's not hazing, that turns into abuse." Payton called Incognito a "coward" for "taking advantage" of Martin. However, Salaam noted hazing "has gotten better because now the coaches are younger and coaches want to win" ("Fox Sports Live," FS1, 11/4).
TOP O' THE MORNING: The Martin-Incognito controversy in the past 48 hours has become a mainstream news story that is being covered by non-sports outlets. All three network morning shows had thorough coverage of the issue, as ABC's "GMA" and NBC's "Today" aired reports prior to their first commercial breaks. ABC's Robin Roberts said the bullying scandal is "shaking up the NFL." A taped report from ABC's Matt Gutman was aired, followed by ESPN's Adam Schefter appearing live in-studio to discuss the situation. Schefter: "This is not about locker room mentality. This is about harassment in the workplace which is unacceptable" ("GMA," ABC, 11/5). NBC's Kerry Sanders reported live from the Dolphins' team facility in South Florida and said, "Now there are signs this may go beyond bullying." During the taped report, the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley said, "Obviously the league and certain outsiders see this as abuse. However, inside the Dolphins' locker room, they have a different perspective. People I've talked to say they don't really see Incognito as a bully so much as a guy who's trying to toughen up a younger player." Following the report from Sanders, NBC's Savannah Guthrie said, "A lot of soul-searching probably going on in locker rooms right now" ("Today," NBC, 11/5). "CBS This Morning" had a report from Mark Strassmann live from the Dolphins' facility in the second quarter-hour, with "The NFL Today" host James Brown offering analysis live via satellite. Brown said, "There's going to be a lot more to come out about this" ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 11/5).
FROM THE EVENING NEWS: All three national network news programs had a report on the Martin-Incognito situation, with all three teasing the report at the beginning of the broadcasts. ABC's "World News" led its broadcast with the Dolphins report, with anchor Diane Sawyer noting, "We have reported so often on bullying in America, but we never expected that some of the toughest men in the country would say it is happening to them." Gutman reported on the case, saying the "ex-coaches we spoke with say hazing is one thing, but using those racial slurs clearly crosses the line" ("World News," ABC, 11/4). NBC's report aired about 12 minutes into the broadcast, with anchor Brian Williams saying the "idea of being bullied in the context of the NFL was tough for a lot of people to understand at first." Williams: "It's about a young player and fear, intimidation, race and, in part, an ongoing football tradition" ("Nightly News," NBC, 11/4). CBS aired its report about 16 minutes into the "Evening News" broadcast, with anchor Scott Pelley saying, "Hazing has long been part of life in the NFL, but what went on in the Miami Dolphins locker room may have taken bullying to a new extreme." Strassmann reported on the issue, noting that when Martin "first left the team he never complained" about being bullied or harassed "because he wanted his NFL career to continue and he was afraid of retribution." Strassmann: "But when the Dolphins put out a statement saying there had been no player misconduct, Martin's agent complained to the team and that began the bullying investigation" ("Evening News," CBS, 11/4).
The Univ. of Hawaii has "begun negotiations that will determine the shape of its local sports television package and whether pay-per-view will continue beyond its current 13 years," according to Ferd Lewis of the HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER. Oceanic Time Warner currently holds the contract, and KHNL-NBC/KFVE-MYT are "interested in the broadcast rights" set to expire June 30. Oceanic "began exclusive negotiations Friday, as its contract allows." The contract also states that "if no deal is reached by Feb. 28," UH "may open talks to other parties." The contract with Oceanic "guarantees the school" $2.3M per year "with an opportunity to receive more if certain mileposts are reached." UH said that it received $2.45M for '12. Due to an arrangement unique to the Mountain West Conference, the amount Oceanic pays UH is "the only football TV money the school receives unless television revenues for all 11 other conference members surpass" the $2.3M figure (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 11/4).
TICKET TROUBLE: Lewis writes UH's "shortfall in ticket revenue" from home football games could hit nearly $1M and "force department-wide cutbacks in athletics." The athletic department, with a six-game home schedule, "had projected" $4.33M in football ticket revenues this year. But UH officials said that with sales in on four games and "only the walk-up sales for two games remaining," the school is at $3.13M and "unlikely to top" $3.4M. UH AD Ben Jay said, "Without those operating funds, I'm scared about what our year-end is going to look like." UH had "expected to easily exceed last year's total" of $3.32M and "reach the five-year average" of $4.2M (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 11/5).
With the NBA regular season off and running, the league's NBA Game Time mobile application goes under review. A week with the app, developed by NBA Digital and Turner Sports, uncovered several social touch points and some standout features. The app was reviewed on an iPhone 5 version 7.0.2, with AT&T service. NBA Game Time is an ad-supported free download that offers scores, schedules, stats, standings, league and team news, live play-by-play, live streaming of press conferences, league highlights and video-on-demand. A $9.99 upgrade to NBA Game Time Plus gets fans home and away live radio broadcasts, game highlights, full game video recaps, and the ability to remove ads. Sprint customers get all of this for free, along with a 20% discount on NBA League Pass Mobile. A subscription to NBA League Pass is $49.99 for mobile viewing only. Also, $189 unlocks access to live games across all platforms, including TV. Activating League Pass on the iPhone requires a simple user ID and password log-in.
TRIPLE-DOUBLES: The live stream offers more than just a clean picture. A ticker appears at the top of the screen with team logos, scores, quarter, game clock and time-outs remaining. In-stream live stats by team and other live game listings are offered at the bottom of the screen. Home and away broadcasts are available for most games. Game highlights are viewable during live play and video recaps populate within minutes of the final buzzer. Within this content, there is a small Facebook icon -- almost mistakable as a glitch in the feed -- that allows instantaneous sharing. A game-by-game "pulse" section has many social touch points, including an interactive Twitter feed and a pre-populated tweet with the hashtag #nbagametime. Customizable league, team and player alerts are available. "Excitement" alerts are particularly impressive, sending push notifications for close games and other must-watch action. Individual alerts for any player can be set for points over 30, 40 or 50, rebound marks, double-doubles, triple-doubles, foul trouble or foul outs. This feature sends a convenient push notification with a clickable "View Now" button that makes toggling between live streams simple and exciting. Game recaps are edited to music. Translation: morning subway ride, headphones and some NBA highlight video.
THREE POINTERS: The Leaders section showcases a trading card style layout of the top player in nine categories, both offensive and defensive. Clicking on a category reveals the Top 10 players for each stat, sortable by position. Video-on-demand is organized in five categories: NBA League Pass, Game Recaps, Video Highlights, League Video and Team Video. Seven highlight videos from Sunday night's action were available at 9:30am ET yesterday. League video categories are creative, concise and well populated. Nightly Notable and Daily Top 10 video sections are particularly well done. Live audio goes off without a hitch, and the app's mobile ticketing integration is clean.
FOUL TROUBLE: On occasion, the score and game clock on the live streaming player do not sync with the live TV graphic within the stream. It appears to be stuck. Elsewhere, clicking into the favorite team roster has no return path to the team-specific landing page. Users must go back to the main menu to view team content. Ads within highlight videos cause some inconvenience. When clicked, the screen freezes and tries to open another window. The play-by-play listing is quirky. It appears to constantly update, but only eight plays are listed at any given time. The app also offers no integration to the NBA or team e-commerce shops.
BOTTOM LINE: NBA Game Time sticks to the basics, delivering on social and presenting its product in a clean and simple way. A souped up live stream complete with live stats separates the app from the crowd. A $50 option to purchase League Pass for mobile makes sense, but hardcore fans can get it across all platforms for less than $200. This app is a well-executed and intuitive tool for NBA fans.
Amie Sheridan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a writer in Philadelphia.
In DC, Dan Steinberg wrote one of the "great disappointments of the local Twitter scene" is that Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis "chooses not to participate." But Leonsis "apparently does dive into Facebook’s conversation with both feet." Leonsis at least three times in recent days "has chirped" ESPN Radio 980 DC host and Washington Times columnist Thom Loverro. The "first recent comment came when Loverro pointed out that the Wizards were 0-2." Leonsis wrote, "Tom being his monumental self." He later wrote, "Thom, you are making a fool out of yourself. Why are you doing so? What is the motivation?" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 11/4).
DAN IN REAL LIFE: In Miami, Barry Jackson reports WMEN-AM yesterday "dropped host Dan Sileo" after he posted on Twitter on Sunday "that he was offering $1,000" to any Univ. of Miami player who would do something to sideline Florida State RB Devonta Freeman in a potential ACC Championship Game between the teams (MIAMI HERALD, 11/5). ESPN.com's David Hale noted after fans "criticized the tweet, Sileo deleted it and suggested it had been a joke, but station management didn't accept the excuse." Sileo has a "history of controversy, having been suspended from another station for comments about several female reporters" (ESPN.com, 11/4).
STAN IN THE PLACE WHERE YOU WORK: SI.com's Richard Deitsch reports ESPN has reached an agreement with analyst Stan Van Gundy "to join ESPN Radio's NBA coverage team." He will serve as a game analyst "for 10 broadcasts during the 2013-14 NBA regular season and also work as one of the rotating guest hosts" on the Miami-based WAXY-AM program "The Dan Le Batard Show" (SI.com, 11/4).
TO THE LAST LAP: In Dallas, Barry Horn wrote "lame-duck status hasn't dulled the ESPN crew's passion for producing top-notch race coverage," despite NASCAR already deciding to leave ABC/ESPN for NBC/NBCSN in '15. ESPN race announcer Allen Bestwick said there remains "intense professional pride, and no question people are auditioning for the future" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/2).