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NBCUniversal will present more than 1,539 hours of coverage of the Sochi Games across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network and NBCOlympics.com. It will be the most coverage ever for a Winter Olympics and more than the coverage of the previous two Winter Olympics combined. NBC's schedule will include a total of 185 hours over 18 days. NBCU's 539 hours of TV coverage is the most ever for a Winter Olympics, eclipsing Vancouver (436) in '10 (NBCU). VARIETY's Brian Steinberg noted NBCU for the first time "will not follow a previously-established tradition of airing the most popular events during primetime on the company’s flagship broadcast network, even if the contests took place hours beforehand." Instead, the Comcast-controlled company has "vowed to show competition across all 15 sports -- including each medal-winning performance in all 98 events -- via live stream on either NBCOlympics.com or its NBC Sports Live Extra app." NBCU intends to "reserve the vast majority of its digital coverage for people who subscribe to cable, satellite or telco distributors, who will have to provide a proof of their customer status in order to watch the events." The decision "is likely to be watched closely." Comcast in '11 agreed to pay $4.3B "to keep the Olympics at NBCU" through '20, and Comcast Chair & CEO Brian Roberts has "vowed to make the broadcasts profitable." Steinberg: "Will making winning moments and dynamic athletic performances available online and via mobile affect the viewership for primetime, or will the digital coverage and associated social-media chatter drive more people to tune in to the TV for the type of communal viewing that pleases advertisers?" (VARIETY.com, 12/19).
HBO Sports Senior Producer of "24/7" Dave Harmon said his role in the series based around the Winter Classic is "making sure it all comes together coherently," according to a Q&A with Brian Stubits of CBSSPORTS.com. Harmon, in a discussion about the series and where it is headed, said, "The structure of the show is that before we ever shoot anything we have meetings with line producers of the show who are the ones that then go out and interview the players, get all the beauty shots and wind up doing one team per producer." He added, "We have a producer for the Maple Leafs, one producer for the Red Wings and I oversee both of them." Below are excerpts from the conversation.
Q: How tough is it then to decide what makes the cut? What goes into that thought process? Is it simply just looking for the most compelling?
A: The philosophy with "24/7," both in hockey and in boxing, is that we are a documentary-style reality show. So the premise of the hockey show for this coming week, for instance, will be: what was the week like for the Toronto Maple Leafs? What was it like for the Detroit Red Wings? We try to have at least a little bit of footage from every day. Are they practicing today? Is it a day off? Do they have a game? Each thing gets chronicled in some way in the show. So No. 1 is giving people that. Then No. 2 is within those days, what's the most interesting thing? What would make someone at home say 'Wow! I can't believe they got access to that. I didn't know that.'"
Q: Do you run into a lot of restrictions in dealing with the NHL, things you would love to use but you can't or is that not an issue at all with the league?
A: Not an issue at all. The NHL has been great. The teams, whether we're talking about the Penguins and Capitals, or the Rangers and Flyers and now the Maple Leafs and Red Wings, all of them have let us shoot whatever we want. I would say this past week when there is a suspension hearing, that's the kind of thing where, at some point, someone in the room says "We'll let you show the players going in and out of the hearing but the hearing itself is not for entertainment purposes, we're not going to let you shoot that." That is totally understandable, we have no issue with that. A player's livelihood is at stake, there are injuries and different things like that that can happen. That's the only time that anyone ever draws a line with us.
Q: What kind of response did you get from the first episode?
A: The greatest response certainly was in Detroit and Toronto but hockey fans throughout the country have been very into what they're seeing here. Then when you get to people who aren't hockey fans, we've gotten some response from them too. There's a little bit of crossover and all of a sudden you get to see Elisha Cuthbert, who is with Dion Phaneuf. So you have a little something for everyone in Episode 1.
Q: One scene that stuck out for me was in Florida when a few of the Red Wings went out for dinner. It begged the question: Is there any kind of prompting that goes on?
A: I really can promise you that what you're seeing is what really happened. We do not interfere. When we train our producers in the field and our camera crews in the field to go out there, one of the first things we say is one of the first things I told you, it's a documentary-style reality show (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/19).
FEELING HEAT OF THE SPOTLIGHT: In Toronto, Dave Feschuk wrote under the header, "24/7 Spotlight Raises Pressure On Team." The Red Wings and Maple Leafs have lost a combined 13 of 20 games in "a month of December that has seen them surrounded by HBO’s cameras and microphones and roving producers paid to suss out the juiciest happenings in these dressing rooms in crisis." Under this "unceasing gaze," the Maple Leafs have lost five of their past seven games, while the Red Wings snapped a six-game losing streak Thursday night. As much as this season’s "returns suggest the cameras are having a negative effect, it’s difficult to build a case that there’s an HBO jinx." Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said, "I wouldn’t say (24/7 is) high on my list for things to happen in my life. But I’m participating because that’s what my job tells me I have to do. So, I’ll just leave it at that" (TORONTO STAR, 12/19).
TNT and ESPN/ABC are "officially stuck with 19 Knicks games to televise between now and the end of the regular season," even though contractually the nets "have the right to toss out a game and replace it with another," according to Bob Raissman of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. TNT is "in for six" Knicks games, while ESPN has seven and ABC has the team "in its spotlight six times, one over the maximum number of appearances, which is known as 'super max' status -- granted to only five NBA teams" by the net. Changing games "usually happens later in the season." ESPN, "due to the number of game options it has during the middle of the week, has more flexibility." However, it "cannot bring in a team that has already exceeded its maximum number of appearances (10)." ABC "has the right, too, but rarely uses it," and "the same holds true for TNT." The Knicks organization "will still get its cut of the national-TV loot no matter how many appearances the Knicks make." From a TV standpoint, the team's on-court "ineptitude is not necessarily bad." When former Knicks President Isiah Thomas "ran the show," the TV ratings on MSG "didn’t tank." Raissman: "Who isn’t into rubber-necking?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/20).
CONFLICT MANAGEMENT: On Long Island, Neil Best noted ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy discussed why he did not call the Dec. 11 Bulls-Knicks game amid rumors he is a potential replacement for Knicks coach Mike Woodson. Van Gundy on Thursday said, "That sort of got ramped up a little too much. I think it was maybe 10 to 12 days before ... I got switched off the game. I don't think there was any specific reason. I've had two or three games changed this year on my schedule. So I didn't give it much thought. But I was happy when I saw the game before or maybe it was two games before when my name was brought out." Van Gundy added of N.Y., "I've coached in that market ... so I know how painful that stuff can be for a coach going through the speculation" (NEWSDAY.com, 12/19).
In L.A., Tom Hoffarth wonders if there is any way for the Lakers "to opt out" of their Christmas Day game against the Heat, and if it is "too late" for ABC to switch to the Clippers-Warriors game. The net has had the Heat-Lakers game "pegged as the marquee matchup at the heart of its five-game slate" for Christmas, but Lakers G Kobe Bryant Thursday was announced to be out for six weeks with a knee injury. ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy endorsed "some kind of NFL-type flex scheduling that could be made at the discretion of the NBA, ESPN and ABC." But Hoffarth noted doing that for the "Christmas lineup that is announced months before the season begins would make things pretty dicey" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/20).
SCRATCHING THE SURFACE: Spurs F Tim Duncan and Gs Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker did not play Thursday against the Warriors, and ESPN's Tony Kornheiser noted it was the second "nationally televised game on TNT" in as many years that the team did not dress several of its star players. While Parker is hurt, Duncan and Ginobili were "healthy scratches" and Kornheiser said TNT "has to be crazed about this." ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "I know this hurts TNT. It hurts ESPN when they do it on one of our games. But he's coaching his team." Kornheiser asked, "What about the people who buy a ticket to see the Spurs? ... What will they get?" ("PTI," ESPN, 12/19).
HOT RIVALRY: Wednesday's Pacers-Heat game on ESPN earned a 2.4 overnight Nielsen rating, the highest overnight for an NBA regular-season game on the net to date this season. The 2.4 also is up 50% from the comparable Nets-Knicks game last year, which earned a 1.6 overnight. The game earned a 6.7 local rating in Indianapolis and a 5.7 in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale. Wednesday's Bulls-Rockets contest, the second half of ESPN's NBA doubleheader, earned a 1.7 overnight, up 55% from last season's comparable Bucks-Grizzlies game (ESPN).
ESPN’s “College GameDay” averaged 1.83 million viewers during the ’13 season, which was the first time the net featured a three-hour show. The viewership level this season was down around 10% from the show’s average last year, when it was a two-hour program. The top telecast this year was the season-opening show from the Georgia-Clemson game, which averaged 2.11 million viewers. The second-best “GameDay” audience this season was for the Alabama-Auburn game on Nov. 20 (2.05 million viewers). Over the last five years, Alabama has been involved in six of the 15 most-viewed “GameDay” telecasts. The program has aired from Tuscaloosa a total of eight times since it began going to game sites in ’93. Meanwhile, the first season of “Fox College Saturday” on FS1 averaged 73,000 viewers for the 10:00am-12:00pm ET show. The show’s best audience was its second with 120,000 viewers on Sept. 7. The show failed to crack the 100,000-viewer mark in subsequent episodes (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).ESPN "COLLEGE GAMEDAY" VIEWERSHIP TRENDYEARVIEWERS (000)'131,830'122,033'112,068'102,062'092,034
CHART NOTE: "College GameDay" was a two-hour show on ESPN for the period of '09-12.'13 ESPN "COLLEGE GAMEDAY" VIEWERSHIPDATE
SITEVIEWERS (000)8/31 Georgia-Clemson2,1129/7 Notre Dame-Michigan1,8329/14 Alabama-Texas A&M1,8749/21 Delaware State-North Dakota State1,8289/28 LSU-Georgia1,79010/5 Ohio State-Northwestern1,68810/12 Oregon-Washington1,62010/19 Florida State-Clemson1,82110/26 UCLA-Oregon1,68011/2 Miami-Florida State1,82311/9 LSU-Alabama1,87711/16 Stanford-USC1,76811/23 Baylor-Oklahoma State1,78711/30 Alabama-Auburn2,05212/7 Big Ten Championship: Michigan State-Ohio State (Indianapolis)1,815
STATE OF THE NATION: SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted ESPN will launch the SEC Network next August, and the net's Saturday morning college football pregame show, called "SEC Nation," will be "one of its most important properties." SEC Network VP/Production Stephanie Druley said that the show, which will air from 10:00am-12:00pm, "will travel to as many SEC football sites as it can" during the '14 college season. The show debuts on Aug. 28 in Columbia, S.C., for the season-opening, Thursday night Texas A&M-South Carolina game, and two days later will broadcast from the Arkansas-Auburn game. "SEC Nation," unlike "College GameDay," will announce its schedule "a couple of weeks in advance and will not necessarily be at games airing on the SEC Network that day." Druley said that the show will be "heavy on atmosphere and there will be a food segment given some of the great SEC cuisine traditions." ESPN execs "will aim to have 'SEC Nation' at a different site from 'College GameDay' but circumstances might align (such as the SEC Championship) where both shows will broadcast from the same site." Druley said that viewers "should look for additional staffers to be announced sometime after the BCS title game and that it was important to have a former coach or player who competed in the SEC" (SI.com, 12/15).
Philadelphia-based WIP-FM on Thursday announced that radio voice Glen Macnow, who "left his afternoon gig alongside Anthony Gargano earlier this month in a contract dispute, reached an agreement" that will keep him at the station, "albeit in a different role," according to Mullin & Eichel of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. Macnow "will continue to host his long-running Saturday midday show with Ray Didinger, and will appear on other CBS-owned area stations." He also will "be featured during the pre- and post-game Phillies shows" on WPHT-AM and contribute to CBSPhilly.com. Meanwhile, six-year WIP-FM veteran Rob Ellis "will be moving from his standard" 6:00-10:00pm ET slot, which he has held since '10, and will work alongside Gargano. Taking over Ellis' spot is Houston-based KILT-FM's Josh Innes, who "hosted the afternoon drive spot for the past three years" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/20). In Houston, David Barron noted Innes, who was "polarizing but popular," will "be replaced in January" by longtime KGOW-AM host Sean Pendergast. Innes, who had been at KILT-FM since December '09, said that he "was leaving Houston because of the challenge of working in a hard-core sports market like Philadelphia and because he no longer wanted to work alongside" KILT-FM's Rich Lord. He said of Lord, "I don’t really like him. I’m not going to say that I’ll miss him or that he’s a friend of mine" (CHRON.com, 12/19).
SHIFTS IN THE HUB: In Boston, Gayle Fee reports Entercom Boston VP & Market Manager Phil Zachary, who runs WEEI-FM, on Thursday "denied all the buzz running through the station that the longtime sports talker would clean house and replace its on-air team with syndicated ESPN Radio programming." ESPN's radio shows currently air on the station's AM feed, but Fee reports the station has told morning show hosts John Dennis, Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane that WEEI execs "want to renew their contracts." Zachary, who took over WEEI-FM, WEEI-AM, WRKO-AM and WAAF-FM in October after the departure of Jeff Brown, said that he "did have a meeting earlier this week with a rep from ESPN and they discussed ways they could continue to work together" (BOSTON HERALD, 12/20). In Boston, Chad Finn reports Minihane "is expected have a new deal soon, and given the recent surge in ratings and the support of Entercom’s new Boston management, any change" on the "Dennis & Callahan Show" at this point "would be stunning" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/20).
WEST COAST WHEELING: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes the lineup changes "about to happen after the first of the year with Fox Sports Radio and the ripple effect it has at Dodger- and UCLA-centric KLAC-AM as it goes up against Lakers- and USC-strong KSPN-AM will be win-win for those who continue to use the medium as a way to get through the day with some semblance of sports sanity." The "PMS Show" goes back to a "local-only feed" from 3:00-7:00pm ET, while Fox Sports Radio moves John "J.T. The Brick" Tournour into that slot "for its national coverage." KLAC-AM's Petros Papadakis on Thursday said, "That five-year run was great, being able to say we were in 300 markets, but I'm happy about this move. I'm born and raised in L.A., all my perspective is L.A., and we were just doing an L.A. show that aired nationally. It was cool to get feedback from all parts of the country." KLAC-AM Program Dir Don Martin is "behind bringing the station back with more local programming" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/20).
CBS' coverage of the Army-Navy college football game had the best rating for a non-NFL sports broadcast over the past week. The game played in the snow at Lincoln Financial Field, drew a 3.9 rating Saturday afternoon. The rating was up slightly from a 3.8 for last season's game. It was the last D-I college football game before the bowl schedule begins. ESPN's coverage of the Heisman Trophy presentation Saturday evening drew a 2.6 rating. ABC's "AT&T ESPN All America Team Show" drew a 0.5 rating Saturday afternoon in the 3:00-4:00pm ET window. Rounding out the college football fare was ESPN's "30 for 30" documentary, "Youngstown Boys." Airing on Saturday night, the documentary which focused on the connection between former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel and former RB Maurice Clarett, drew a 1.3 rating.
HOOPS DU JOUR: ESPN's Kentucky-North Carolina men's basketball broadcast drew a 1.7 rating Saturday evening. Meanwhile, CBS earned a 1.4 rating for the Arizona-Michigan matchup (THE DAILY).
The charts below list final ratings from recent telecasts.
"AT&T ESPN All America Team Show"12/14ABC3:00-4:00pm0.5637 "ESPN Sports Saturday"12/14ABC4:00-6:00pm0.91,310 College Basketball: Arizona-Michigan12/14CBS12:00-2:30pm1.42,104 "College Football Today"12/14CBS2:30-2:57pm1.52,233 College Football: Army-Navy12/14CBS2:57-6:41pm3.96,222 "UFC on Fox": Demetrious Johnson d. Joseph Benavidez12/14Fox8:00-10:17pm1.72,836 Dew Tour: iON Mountain Championships12/14NBC12:00-2:00pmN/A
Golf: Franklin Templeton Shootout12/14NBC2:00-4:00pmN/A
Golf: PNC Father/Son Challenge12/14NBC4:00-6:00pmN/A
"The NFL Today"12/15CBS12:00-1:03pm2.12,895 "NFL on CBS": (single)12/15CBS1:03-4:09pm9.716,073 "Monster Energy Supercross Preview Show"12/15CBS5:00-6:00pm0.91,381 "Fox NFL Sunday"12/15Fox12:00-1:00pm3.45,040 "NFL on Fox": (regional)12/15Fox1:00-4:15pm10.316,535 "NFL on Fox": Packers-Cowboys (83%)12/15Fox4:15-7:30pm16.327,800 Dew Tour: iON Mountain Championships12/15NBC12:00-2:00pmN/A
Golf: Franklin Templeton Shootout12/15NBC2:00-4:00pmN/A
Golf: PNC Father/Son Challenge12/15NBC4:00-6:00pmN/A
"Football Night in America"12/15NBC7:30-8:15pm4.26,753 "Sunday Night Football": Bengals-Steelers12/15NBC8:31-11:23pm9.916,433 Liga MX: Apertura Final: Leon-Club America: First Leg12/12Telem.9:00-11:23pm1.42,770 Liga MX: Apertura Final: Leon-Club America: Second Leg12/15Univ.6:48-8:57pm1.73,324 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS
"Monday Night Football": Cowboys-Bears12/9ESPN8:28-11:38pm10.216,192 "Thursday Night Football": Chargers-Broncos12/12NFLN8:30-11:28pm5.68,943 Heisman Trophy Ceremony12/14ESPN8:00-9:08pm2.64,183 "Thursday Night Football Pre-Kick"12/12NFLN8:00-8:30pm2.23,522 "Monday Night Countdown"12/9ESPN6:30-8:28pm2.13,008 College Basketball: Kentucky-North Carolina12/14ESPN5:22-7:49pm1.72,719 "Sunday NFL Countdown"12/15ESPN10:00am-1:02pm1.52,174 "30 for 30": "Youngstown Boys"12/14ESPN9:08-11:08pm1.31,967 NBA: Lakers-Thunder12/13ESPN8:04-11:37pm1.21,751 NBA: Rockets-Warriors12/13ESPN10:37pm-1:18am1.21,748
In St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes the Rams in '13 "figure to end up lagging behind the rating they drew in St. Louis" in '12. Nielsen data shows that 17.5% of homes in the market have tuned in, on average, to Rams games this year, and it would take "some massive numbers over their last two contests to bring the season figure up to the 21.0 rating the team drew last year." This year’s figure has been "hampered by a low number the Rams drew for a Monday night game that competed with" Red Sox-Cardinals World Series Game 4, which "pulled a mammoth 43.8 rating." The Rams' rating that night was 10.9, which was "the worst Rams rating for their 19 seasons in St. Louis." The previous low was 11.6 for a '08 game against the 49ers. Meanwhile, Fox is broadcasting the Buccaneers-Rams game on Sunday "to just five percent of the nation, the smallest number of any of the six NFL games it is showing regionally that day" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/20).
BAND TOGETHER: In Boston, Chad Finn wrote of "Band of Bearded Brothers," the film on the '13 Red Sox produced by NESN in conjunction with MLB, "The NESN version of a championship film tends to be a little more in-depth and a little less formal than the official World Series video produced by MLB." The film is "not at all redundant." It is narrated by NESN's Kevin Millar, and "somewhat surprisingly, he’s a pleasant storyteller." While the film does not take "gratuitous shots" there is "a bit of an overemphasis on pointing out all of the writers who predicted the Red Sox would have another difficult season." The film "should have moved on from 2012 as quickly as the players and fans did" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/20).
SPEAKING FRANKLY: NBCSPORTS.com's Tony DiZinno noted former IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti on Thursday addressed his future, and he "seems to desire a future team role with Target Chip Ganassi Racing." However, when asked of the potential to go into broadcasting, Franchitti "admitted it held some interest." Franchitti: "Yeah, I’m open to it, absolutely. If it was done in the right way, yes, I would be open to it" (NBCSPORTS.com, 12/19).