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Comcast "expects a fight from media watchdogs" over its $45.2B deal to acquire Time Warner Cable, but is "confident that the sale will receive approval from lawmakers and regulators," according to James & Flint of the L.A. TIMES. Comcast Chair & CEO Brian Roberts said, "I think we will get real scrutiny." However, he noted the deal "does not reduce competition in any market or in any way." The agreement would give Comcast "nearly 30 million subscribers in the nation's largest markets," with a "presence in 19 of the top 20 markets of the U.S. -- an unprecedented reach for a cable and Internet service provider" (L.A. TIMES, 2/13). CABLEFAX DAILY notes Comcast will get "two RSNs -- Time Warner Cable SportsNet and TWC Deportes -- as well as "14 sports channels (a mixture of local sports, some college some high school, etc)." There also is "TWC's investment in SNY and its deal with the Dodgers channel (TWC Sportsnet LA) for long-term carriage/cost certainty" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 2/14). In Houston, David Barron wrote the deal "could provide a significant statewide viewership boost" for CSN Houston "across Texas, if not in Houston itself" (CHRON.com, 2/13).
BIG MAN ON CABLE: In N.Y., de la Merced & Carter in a front-page piece write the deal "further establishes the reputation" of Roberts as "a daring deal maker with expansive ambitions" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/14). Also in N.Y., David Gelles shares an account of what led to Comcast's announcement. Before Roberts boarded a plane to Sochi, he called TWC Chair & CEO Robert Marcus with a message: "The deal was on." Roberts said, "We were not intensely engaged with Time Warner Cable until the last 10 days or so." In Sochi, Roberts "juggled calls about the deal with a dinner" hosted by the IOC and attended by Russia President Vladimir Putin, as well as "meetings with the 2,700 NBC staff members on the ground." NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, who also worked on the deal, said that Roberts was "on the phone constantly" during the Opening Ceremony. Burke: "He got to see the opening ceremony, but I think he was on the phone 20 times a day while he was in Sochi. When we went through security checkpoints, he was cradling his phone to his ear." Roberts "returned from Sochi on Sunday, and called Marcus to check in" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/14). In L.A., Flint reports Roberts "rushed back" from Sochi as the deal was "near the finish line." Roberts and the Comcast team "huddled with Time Warner Cable" in N.Y. and "finalized a deal Wednesday night" (L.A. TIMES, 2/14).
Dunkin' Donuts on Thursday confirmed that it has "cancelled all its advertising" on Boston-based WEEI-FM, and a station official admitted that the QSR "was 'upset' at a disparaging comment made by morning host Gerry Callahan, who was paid to endorse the company’s products," according to Taryn Luna of the BOSTON GLOBE. The station "wouldn’t say what wording Callahan used about three weeks ago" on the "Dennis & Callahan Morning Show." However, Entercom Boston VP & Market Manager Phil Zachary said that the incident "involved an off-the-cuff remark about doughnuts that Dunkin’ did not find amusing." Zachary: "You just don’t call somebody’s baby ‘ugly,’ even if it’s unintentional. ... I fully respect how they feel about it. Particularly because we do have a long relationship with them, they felt their trust had been breached." Both companies "declined to say" how much Dunkin' spends on WEEI annually, "though its ads appear frequently on air, especially during broadcasts of the Red Sox baseball games." Dunkin’ "has advertised on the station for more than a decade" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/14).
The first telecasts from the Sochi Olympics led both broadcast and cable TV sports programming last week. Despite coverage on NBCSN last over eight hours on Saturday and Sunday, the audience surpassed the top NBA game on cable last week, which was ESPN's Heat-Clippers telecast on Feb. 5. CBS' Michigan State-Wisconsin matchup wsa most-viewed college basketball game last week with 2.2 million viewers.
Listed below are final ratings from recent sports telecasts.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) Sochi Olympics: Opening Ceremony2/7NBC8:00-11:08pm17.031,690 Sochi Olympics (primetime)2/9NBC7:30-11:00pm14.426,323 Sochi Olympics (primetime)2/8NBC8:00-11:06pm13.925,115 Sochi Olympics: (primetime)2/6NBC8:30-11:00pm11.320,016 Sochi Olympics (afternoon)2/9NBC2:00-6:00pm9.115,358 Sochi Olympics (afternoon)2/8NBC2:30-6:00pm7.512,472 Sochi Olympics (late night)2/8NBC12:00-1:15am5.79,083 Sochi Olympics (late night)2/9NBC11:30pm-12:30am5.28,032 "Winter Gold: Sochi"2/4NBC8:00-9:00pm3.35,263 "How To Raise An Olympian"2/5NBC8:00-9:00pm2.74,220 "SI Swimsuit Issue: 50 Years"2/3NBC9:00-11:00pm2.13,276 NBA: Bulls-Lakers2/9ABC3:32-6:00pm2.03,071 PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am: Final Round2/9CBS3:10-6:31pm1.82,696 NBA: Knicks-Thunder2/9ABC12:55-3:32pm1.92,684 College Basketball: Michigan State-Wisconsin2/9CBS1:00-3:10pm1.42,242 PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am: Third Round2/8CBS3:13-6:00pm1.01,522 Pro Bull Riding2/9CBS12:00-1:00pm1.01,394 Liga MX: Club America-Pachuca2/8Univision5:55-8:00pm0.71,314 "NBA Countdown"2/9ABC12:30-12:55pm0.91,273 EPL: Cardiff-Swansea2/8NBC12:30-2:30pm0.91,235 College Basketball: Butler-Georgetown2/8CBS1:00-3:13pm0.71,083 "World of X Games: Making the Mark"2/8ABC3:00-4:00pm0.5733 "ESPN Sports Saturday"2/8ABC4:00-6:00pm0.4580 "Men of March: Tom Izzo"2/8CBS12:30-1:00pm0.4569 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) Sochi Olympics2/9NBCSN6:00am-2:23pm1.82,887 Sochi Olympics2/8NBCSN6:00am-2:30pm1.62,585 NBA: Heat-Clippers2/5ESPN10:36pm-1:31am1.62,555 College Basketball: Michigan-Iowa2/8ESPN2:09-4:03pm1.11,921 Sochi Olympics2/8NBCSN6:07-8:00pm1.01,757 NBA: Trail Blazers-Knicks2/5ESPN8:04-10:36pm1.11,703 College Basketball: West Virginia-Kansas2/8ESPN4:03-6:19pm1.01,650 College Basketball: Notre Dame-Syracuse2/3ESPN7:00-9:02pm1.01,631 College Basketball: Ohio State-Iowa2/4ESPN7:00-9:04pm1.01,499 NBA: Bulls-Warriors2/6TNT10:39pm-1:17am1.01,446
In Seattle, Percy Allen reports former Sonics announcer Kevin Calabro has "signed a three-year deal with ESPN Radio to serve as its lead NBA play-by-play announcer." He will partner with Jon Barry and Hubie Brown "on more than 40 regular-season and playoff broadcasts." Calabro additionally "will continue to call Pac-12 college basketball and football games on TV for the Pac-12 Networks" (SEATTLE TIMES, 2/14).
STARTING LINEUP: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports Mets radio announcers Howie Rose and Josh Lewin "will return" to the booth in '14 as the team's games "shift to WOR-AM from WFAN-AM and FM" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/14). Also in N.Y., Bob Raissman notes Rose will be "entering his 19th season as a Mets play-by-play man," while Lewin "is in his third year." Ed Coleman, who hosted the pre- and postgame shows, "is out but will remain as WFAN’s Mets beat reporter" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/14).