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Fox and CBS saw double-digit percentage gains for their respective windows during NFL Championship Game Sunday. Fox led yesterday’s games with a 31.0 overnight for Seahawks-49ers in primetime, up from a 27.9 rating for CBS’ Ravens-Patriots in primetime last year. Fox also saw a bump compared to its 49ers-Falcons matchup in the afternoon window last year (26.1). Seattle-Tacoma led all markets with a 54.3 local rating for the NFC game, followed by S.F.-Oakland-San Jose (47.5), Sacramento (46.7), Portland (39.5) and Milwaukee (38.9). Fox picked up a win in primetime among all nets, with the game peaking at a 34.1 rating from 9:30-10:00pm ET. Meanwhile, CBS earned a 29.5 overnight for the Broncos’ win over the Patriots from 3:00-6:15pm, marking the second-best AFC Championship overnight in 27 years. The 29.5 overnight is behind only a 32.8 rating for the Broncos-Browns OT matchup on NBC in ’87. Broncos-Patriots peaked at a 32.8 rating from 5:30-6:00pm. Last year's doubleheader was the lowest-rated AFC/NFC Championship Sunday since ’09 (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).----- AFTERNOON WINDOW ---------- PRIMETIME WINDOW -----YEARNET
MATCHUPRAT.NET MATCHUPRAT.'14CBS Broncos-Patriots29.5Fox Seahawks-49ers31.0'13Fox 49ers-Falcons26.1CBS Ravens-Patriots27.9'12CBS Patriots-Ravens29.1Fox Giants-49ers33.4'11Fox Packers-Bears30.0CBS Steelers-Jets31.3'10CBS Colts-Jets28.4Fox Saints-Vikings33.3
ON THEIR GAME: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes CBS' broadcast yesterday was "definitely an up" for announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, as they "kept the game in focus without overplaying the widely hyped rivalry" between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. The broadcasters "concentrated on the ebb and flow of the game without relying on tiresome statistical résumés." Nantz in particular was "energetic from the get-go, occasionally leaving his play-by-play role to join his partner in commentary." Nantz at the start of the second half "noted the Broncos were following their season-long winning script -- scoring after the two-minute warning in the first half and then returning at the start of the second half to score on a lengthy touchdown drive." CBS Sports Coordinating Producer Lance Barrow and NFL Lead Game Director Mike Arnold also "came up with on-the-spot coverage and key replays" (DENVER POST, 1/21). However, in N.Y., Bob Raissman writes it "would’ve been too much to ask" either Nantz or Simms at some point "to say the game didn’t come close to living up to its hype." The game was "flatter than a glass of water," but neither "chose to make that point" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/20). Also in N.Y., Phil Mushnick asks if Nantz -- "normally alert to tell us who’s in and out of games" -- would have missed the fact that during a key play in the second quarter Broncos TE Virgil Green was lined up alone in the backfield "if he hadn’t been forced to read another CBS promo." Green "took the straight-ahead handoff and ran for 10 yards -- a big, strange play in a drive that made it 10-0, Broncos" (N.Y. POST, 1/20).
TAKING OUT THE TRASH: The DAILY NEWS' Raissman notes NFL Network during its pregame show yesterday aired a "full-blown segment on the 'art of trash-talking.'" Not only was there "video of trash-yapping highlights (complete with bleeps), but there was a live demonstration" featuring analysts Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin. There also was an "extensive panel discussion" with Sanders, Irvin, fellow analyst Warren Sapp and Ravens LB Terrell Suggs. Sanders "incredibly ... claimed he had 'never talked trash.'" Sapp "nearly fell out of his chair when he heard that" and "basically called Sanders a liar." Raissman: "Just when we thought the segment couldn’t go further into the toilet, Suggs bragged that his brand of trash-talking 'could not be aired on TV.'" However, the NFL pregame shows were not "all filler." CBS' Dan Marino was "the perfect guy" to interview Brady during "The NFL Today." Marino was "able to get Brady to open up, even saying he expects to be playing in five years" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/20).
SHARPER SUSPENDED: NFL Network has suspending analyst Darren Sharper "without pay until further notice" after he was arrested on rape charges Friday. The LAPD said that Sharper "has been linked to two sexual assaults," one this month and one in October. He was "released on $200,000 bail late Friday night," and the investigation "is ongoing" (NFL.com, 1/18).
STAYING PROFESSIONAL: Newsday's Neil Best tweeted, "I thought @ErinAndrews handled herself well in a bizarre situation." NBCSports.com's Jeff Kassouf: "Andrews handled it about as well as possible." The Vancouver Sun's Cam Cole: "Way to go, Erin Andrews. If you have to talk to a jerk like Sherman, at least call him on his stupid ego." The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker: "My favorite part of Sherman interview was Erin Andrews attempting a follow-up question in quest of a logical explanation." DC-based WJFK-AM's Grant Paulsen wrote, "Erin Andrews stared at him in disbelief. 'But who was saying that about you?' Haha. So awkward for her. Well handled." The Charlotte Observer's Jim Utter wrote, "I credit Erin Andrews, though, for trying to get to the root of the problem."
SHERMAN GIVES HIS SIDE: Sherman's latest column for THE MMQB was posted this morning, in which he briefly addressed the postgame interview. He writes, "Erin Andrews interviewed me after the game and I yelled what was obvious: If you put a subpar player across from a great one, most of the time you’re going to get one result." More Sherman: "A lot of what I said to Andrews was adrenaline talking, and some of that was Crabtree. I just don’t like him. It was loud, it was in the moment, and it was just a small part of the person I am. I don’t want to be a villain, because I’m not a villainous person" (MMQB.SI.com, 1/20). MMQB Editor-in-Chief Peter King writes he "did not like" how Sherman acted in the interview. However, King writes, "I'm not firing Richard Sherman. I'm not muzzling Richard Sherman. I asked him to write for us for the season, and write he shall do. I don't have to like what a man says to the cameras to give him a forum to discuss intelligent football topics" (MMQB.SI.com, 1/20).
All four NFL broadcast partners -- NBC, Fox, CBS and ESPN -- have "bid on the Thursday night television package," and Turner Sports "has also bid," according to a source cited by Barry Wilner of the AP. There is a "strong possibility ESPN would put the games on ABC should it be chosen" (AP, 1/19). In Tampa, Tom Jones notes the Thursday package "would be a big boost for Fox, which could air games" on the fledgling FS1. The "same could be said" for NBC and NBCSN (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/20). NBC Entertainment Chair Bob Greenblatt yesterday during the Television Critics Association press tour did not state whether the net made a bid for the Thursday games, but said, "We'd love to have more NFL games." Greenblatt: "Thursday night games might be really interesting to us." In L.A., Joe Flint noted one reason the Thursday package "would appeal to NBC is that its comedies on that night have been struggling" (LATIMES.com, 1/19).
PACKAGE COULD BE WORTH $400M: REUTERS' Ronald Grover cited sources as saying that the Thursday package could be for as many as eight games and "be worth $400 million or more" (REUTERS, 1/17). SI.com's Richard Deitsch cited a source as saying that the "number of games being bid on was not set to a specific number, meaning the package could be ... anywhere from six to eight games or more, depending on the proposals from the networks." The source added that the NFL was "very interested in what broadcast group would provide the best promotional plan to amplify the viewership of Thursday night games." While initial bids were only for the '14 season, there is the "likelihood of extending the contract after its first year." The league was "happy with how the NFL Network positioned Thursday as a football night but feels a network partner can improve viewership numbers" (SI.com, 1/19).
ESPN Ombudsman Robert Lipsyte in his most recent column addressed the net's Dan Le Batard giving away his Baseball HOF vote to Deadspin.com. Lipsyte wrote, "Was it unethical for Le Batard to give away his vote? Probably. ... Was the caper in support of a good cause? I think so." Lipsyte: "ESPN allows staffers to vote for individual honors, and I wish it would reconsider that. Not only do I think there is a conflict of interest in voting for the Hall of Fame but I think it puts writers in the position of making news as well as covering it. That is against ESPN policy." Le Batard is a "terrific performer whose voter mischief was a clever stunt." There are "lessons to be learned while squirming." ESPN has to "keep reminding itself why it hires professional bad boys" like Le Batard, Jason Whitlock, Keith Olbermann and the "baddest boy of all" in Tony Kornheiser. While they will "occasionally 'screw up big time' as they swing hard and free, they also have the rare ability to take viewers over the top and find new horizons" (ESPN.com, 1/17).
In N.Y., Bob Raissman reported Mets radio host Ed Coleman "will be back" this season, but "won’t be hosting" pre- or postgame shows or doing play-by-play on WOR-AM. He will be "serving strictly" as WFAN-AM’s Mets beat reporter. A source said that WOR execs "wanted to shake things up and even were reluctant" to bring back play-by-play man Howie Rose. The Mets front office "stuck its beak into that situation, but apparently didn’t go to the mat" for either Coleman or color analyst Josh Lewin, who "likely will be back but not under a long term deal" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/19).
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FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE: Tennis player Maria Sharapova will be part of NBC's broadcast crew during the Sochi Games, and she said this weekend, "Everyone seems to think I will be commentating on winter sports. I'm not a bobsledding expert. I will confirm I won't be commentating." Sharapova, a Russian native, said, "I'm going to be showcasing the city of Sochi to a worldwide audience. I'm going to be with a few different co-hosts around the city, in the village and then I'm going to be doing a few segments in the studio" (AP, 1/18).
MR. BLUTARSKY: In Pittsburgh, Dejan Kovacevic notes three of the NHL Panthers' games last season "drew a zero local TV rating in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro market." Kovacevic: "That's zero with a Z. Fewer than 2,000 actual households, so it didn't register at all" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 1/20).