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NBC Broadcasting Chair Ted Harbert said that company execs expect the broadcast of the Sochi Games "to be profitable," according to Brian Steinberg of VARIETY. Harbert said that despite the reported $775M cost to land the event, the cost, in a "fragmented TV-watching universe where few events can deliver huge audiences on the scale broadcasters experienced when just three TV networks dominated the landscape, the Olympics are a must-have." NBC's ad sales staff "has spent months wooing sponsors." NBCUniversal President of Ad Sales Linda Yaccarino said, "There is more demand out there than we could accommodate." She added the company has sold "significantly more than $800 million" in ads. Yaccarino "won’t say the event is sold out, but she acknowledges the company is measuring the scatter market ... for spots during the Games." Steinberg notes with the "kind of big-event ratings the Olympics routinely earn, the Games’ promotional value needs to be maximized." NBC Sports Group CMO John Miller said NBCU execs determined which front-burner projects have the "greatest financial benefit to the company." Late night shows are "viewed as a top priority, along with the second half of NBC’s season and 'Today'" (VARIETY.com, 1/23). ADWEEK's Anthony Crupi cites a Kantar Media report as showing that the total volume of commercial time during the Sochi Games "could add up to as much as 5,500 minutes," and NBC is likely to have "set aside some 91.7 hours for sponsor messages in this year's telecasts." NBCU could be "on track to rake in around" $1.05B in overall ad sales revenue, an estimate arrived at "by multiplying the average cost of a 30-second spot in the 2002-10 Games ($95,500) by Kantar’s prediction that as many as 11,000 30-second units were carved out of the Sochi coverage." The $1.05B projection would "eclipse the previous high-water mark for a Winter Games" (ADWEEK.com, 1/23).
TOUCHY SUBJECTS: NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel on Thursday said that he was "confident with the amount and type of security in Sochi, where terrorists have threatened to disrupt the Winter Games." MULTICHANNEL NEWS' John Eggerton notes that security "will include background checks for everyone attending." Zenkel praised Russia's "fantastic cooperation" over the past few years as the Games came together. He added that he hoped to get Russia President Vladimir Putin to" sit down and talk about that 'incredible journey.'" NBC Olympics Exec Producer Jim Bell said that he would "have to wait and see what impact all that security would have on the American public's viewing experience." Bell: "There has to be, we hope, that balance between the security which everyone expects and wants to be very rigorous, but not to the degree that it stifles people's enjoyment of the games." Zenkel said that he "did not think it would adversely affect viewership" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 1/23). Meanwhile, VARIETY's Brian Lowry noted NBC Sports has "pledged not to ignore the anti-gay laws in its coverage, and critics should hold the network's feet to the fire given the rather large dog NBC has in the fight" (VARIETY.com, 1/23).
JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH: NBC's Bell projected confidence that live streaming the Games "will not cannibalize primetime viewership numbers when Olympic coverage kicks off Feb. 6." He said it is not a concern "especially given the results of London." The takeaway there was that people "live streaming during the day were actually more likely to watch in primetime later." Bell did acknowledge execs are unsure whether ratings for Sochi will beat the '10 Vancouver Games. Bell: "In Vancouver, we had the ability to be live ... and that's a pretty special thing." But he stressed that the Games "are not just about the ratings." The new platforms "coming into play, the launch of new late night shows and showcasing NBCSN are priorities as well" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 1/24).
VONN NOT COMPLETELY GONE: In Denver, Joanne Ostrow reported NBC has conceded that U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn "won't be ready to work fulltime as an on-air commentator so soon after her knee injury." However, it sounds like "discussions are ongoing as NBC tries to figure out how to get a glimpse of Vonn on their air during the ratings-rich broadcasts" (DENVERPOST.com, 1/23).
Fox Sports NFL producer Richie Zyontz on Thursday addressed why the net cut short Seahawks CB Richard Sherman's postgame interview with the net's Erin Andrews after the NFC Championship, saying, "I saw a train coming down the tracks," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. Zyontz: "It started crossing over a line that I did not want to see us go. Erin handled it very well, but I kind of said, Let’s end this thing. He’s a good guy, an intelligent guy, an emotional guy and it was very compelling to watch. But it started getting a little dangerous for us." While the footage "makes it appear that Sherman walked away from Andrews, Fox producers said on Thursday that they cut away" (SI.com, 1/23). In Seattle, Ari Liljenwall noted Andrews on her Twitter feed "posted several pictures with Sherman on Thursday morning after taping a segment" for next week’s Super Bowl coverage (SEATTLEPI.com, 1/23).
HARLAN CRITICAL OF ANDREWS' REACTION: CBS Sports' Kevin Harlan during an appearance on Pittsburgh's KDKA-AM Thursday criticized the way Andrews handled the Sherman interview. Harlan said, "I don’t know if she was unprepared, her reaction was more about her than the guy. It was very odd. If you go back and look at that interview -- which has been the talk of the country since it occurred and maybe taken something away from the wonderful game and season certainly Seattle has played -- her reaction was more like drama queenish." Harlan continued, "If Michele Tafoya or someone like that were interviewing, I can’t help believe that she would have asked the appropriate follow-up and been a little bit more composed, whereas the gal that was asking the questions was almost like she was on a stage. It wasn’t about her, it’s all about him, and the more I think about it, the more irritated I get." Harlan said after Sherman's outburst, Andrews "had that reaction and then things just kind of tumbled over from that point on." He added, "I just wonder if a different interviewer would have changed the entire complexion we've all got of him and that team and that win by virtue of that interview." Harlan noted Sherman mentioned 49ers WR Michael Crabtree's name in his initial comments, so had Andrews "been listening, she would have known that's who he was talking about, and yet she kind of provoked him even more." Harlan: "The consummate interviewer is a good listener" ("Starkey and Mueller," KDKA-AM, 1/23).
GOING GLOBAL: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Stuart Kemp reported several European countries "will be offered the taste of the biggest game in American football as Super Bowl XLVIII will be broadcast live on Fox International Channels." The game "will be available live to more than 12 million households on Fox Sports in Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey and Cyprus, and on Fox in Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia." This "marks the first time 'the other kind of football' for Europeans is broadcast live on FIC in Europe" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 1/23).
In California, Michael Lev notes despite the Ducks' successful season, they are "scheduled to make only two more appearances on NBCSN the rest of the season." Meanwhile the last-place Sabres "are scheduled to appear seven more times." NBC "doesn't have the same flexible-scheduling mechanism with the NHL that it does the NFL." But NBC Sports Exec Producer Sam Flood said that there is "some hope of the Ducks getting the national exposure they deserve." Flood said that "one of the challenges in scheduling West Coast teams is the time difference." A 5:00pm PT start "isn't ideal for viewers" on the West Coast. But with the Kings "scheduled for six more appearances," there is "no excuse for the Ducks to get so little air time" (ORANGE COUNTRY REGISTER, 1/24).
QUICK SHIFT: In Albany, Pete Dougherty notes NBC analyst Jeremy Roenick "plans to be at both" Ducks-Kings on Saturday and Rangers-Devils on Sunday. Roenick is "the only member of NBC's crew to enjoy the warmth of southern California on one day, then endure the brisk air at Yankee Stadium less than 12 hours later." Roenick will then stay in N.Y., along with "most of Sunday's NBC crew, to call Wednesday night's Rangers-Islanders game from Yankee Stadium" (Albany TIMES UNION, 1/24).
BEHIND THE SCENES: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Etan Vlessing wrote the NHL's behind-the-scenes documentaries have been giving fans "an unprecedented look inside the minds of star players." But "NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other" now "gets viewers into a maternity ward." A camera crew follows Islanders RW Kyle Okposo "into a hospital waiting room before and after the birth of his first child." In the same episode, cameras follow Devils G Martin Brodeur as he "reunites with his family after the recent death of his father." "NHL Revealed" is a seven-part series that will "follow top stars."The drama in the series "build as celebrity players transition from the NHL to Sochi, before Olympic rivals resume life as pro hockey teammates" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 1/23).
NBCSN drew 1.019 million viewers for last Sunday’s Chelsea-Manchester United match, marking the net’s best audience for an EPL match to date and the second-best viewership for any EPL game ever on U.S. cable TV. Chelsea-ManU is second behind only ESPN’s ManU-Manchester City match on April 30, 2012, which drew 1.033 million viewers. Five of the six most-viewed EPL matches ever on cable TV have come on NBCSN during the ’13-14 season (NBC).
GENIE IN A BOTTLE: A total of 4.4 million viewers watched the Li Na-Eugenie Bouchard Australian Open women’s semifinal across TSN, RDS and RDS2, marking the most-viewed Aussie Open match ever on Canadian TV (TSN).
The charts below list final ratings from recent sports telecasts.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NFC Championship: Seahawks-49ers1/19Fox6:42-9:59pm28.555,911 AFC Championship: Broncos-Patriots1/19CBS3:06-6:08pm28.151,300 "Fox NFL Sunday"1/19Fox6:00-7:00pm9.818,959 "The NFL Today"1/19CBS2:00-3:00pm8.313,400 "NFL Championship Chase"1/19CBS1:00-2:00pm2.84,300 College Basketball: NC State-Duke1/18CBS2:15-4:15pm1.52,100 College Basketball: Oklahoma State-Kansas1/18CBS4:15-6:30pm1.41,900 College Basketball: Tennessee-Kentucky1/18CBS12:00-2:15pm1.21,800 Figure Skating: Smuckers Spectacular1/18NBC4:00-6:00pm1.31,745 NHL: Bruins-Blackhawks1/19NBC12:30-3:15pm1.01,552 "Supercross: Behind The Dream"1/19CBS12:00-1:00pm1.01,400 "ESPN Sports Saturday"1/18ABC4:00-6:00pm1.01,386 European Figure Skating Championships1/19NBC4:00-6:00pm0.81,153 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction1/18Fox3:00-5:00pm0.71,104 EPL: Liverpool-Aston Villa1/18NBC12:30-2:30pm0.6900 U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix1/18NBC2:30-4:00pm0.6898 "World of X Games: 2014 Aspen Preview"1/18ABC3:00-4:00pm0.5667 Skiing: Sprint U.S. Grand Prix1/19NBC3:15-4:00pm0.5652 Liga MX: Club America-Leon1/18Univision5:55-8:00pm0.6595 "UFC Road to the Octagon"1/18Fox5:00-6:00pm0.4536 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) "Sunday NFL Countdown"1/19ESPN12:00-3:00pm1.82,609 College Basketball: Michigan-Wisconsin1/18ESPN6:12-8:05pm1.32,110 College Basketball: Kentucky-Arkansas1/14ESPN9:02-11:56pm1.32,050 NBA: Thunder-Rockets1/16TNT9:45pm-12:25am1.31,915 College Basketball: Pitt-Syracuse1/18ESPN4:20-6:12pm1.21,848 NBA: Warriors-Thunder1/17ESPN9:47pm-12:25am1.21,721 College Basketball: Wisconsin-Indiana1/14ESPN7:00-9:02pm1.11,709 NBA: Knicks-Pacers1/16TNT7:16-9:45pm1.11,634 College Basketball: Kansas-Iowa State1/13ESPN9:13-11:29pm1.11,546 College Basketball: Louisville-UConn1/18ESPN9:00-11:20pm1.01,522
In West Palm Beach, Brian Biggane wrote Golf Channel on-air host Holly Sonders "has become one of golf broadcasting’s rising stars" since joining the net three years ago. Sonders knows that she "faces the same quandary of many women in broadcasting: how to make sure her good looks don’t prevent her from being taken seriously as a host and reporter?" She said that one way is to "make sure stories such as the Golf Digest cover portray her for her golf skills and athleticism ... and not as a pin-up." Sonders: "I’ll give some credit to the (people at) Golf Channel ... (They) recognize me as someone who knows what they’re talking about" (PALM BEACH POST, 1/24).
LOOKING FOR BROTHERLY LOVE: MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reported former MLBer Jamie Moyer "interviewed this week" to be the Phillies' color TV analyst. Sources said that Moyer, MLB Network's Mitch Williams, Triple-A Int'l League Lehigh Valley IronPigs manager Mickey Morandini and CBS Sports Network's Kevin Stocker "are the top candidates, with some giving Moyer and Williams an edge." A source noted that ESPN's Doug Glanville "removed his name from consideration." The new analyst "will be hired as a Comcast employee -- they have been hired as Phillies employees in the past -- and the network has final say on whom it hires." But the Phillies "are involved in the selection process, although how much of a say they have is unclear" (MLB.com, 1/22).
LESSONS LEARNED: In Houston, Brent Zwerneman writes Texas A&M and the SEC "stand to benefit from ESPN's learning curve" with the Longhorn Network and "exactly how to sell a new sports network to cable and satellite providers." ESPN Senior VP/Programming Justin Connolly was "asked this week if ESPN intended to pitch the SEC Network ... on its own to such providers," and he "shook his head no." He explained that ESPN intends to include the SEC Network "in a package of services with ESPN and ESPN2" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/24).
PACIFIC RIMS: In San Jose, Jon Wilner noted Pac-12 men's basketball teams played 14 conference games "spread over nine Sundays" in '12-13. Compare that to this season, where there have been 23 conference games "on the nine Sundays." A source said that the reason is ESPN "wanted more Sunday games, and so did Fox Sports, to provide Sunday inventory for FS1" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 1/23).