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NBC finished the Sochi Games with a 12.3 final rating for 17 primetime telecasts (excluding the opening Thursday), up slightly from the last European Olympics in Turin in '06, which had a 12.2 rating. Compared to the live Vancouver Games telecasts in '10, NBC’s average was down 11% from a 13.8 rating. For comparison, NBC finished with a 12.8 rating for its most recent "Sunday Night Football" slate, which had 19 NFL game telecasts. Putting the net over the hump was likely a shorter Closing Ceremony in '14 compared to '06. NBC drew an 8.7 rating for Sunday night’s two-hour telecast (8:33-10:36pm ET), which had competition from Fox' Daytona 500 telecast and AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” while the three-hour Closing Ceremony in '06 drew an 8.9 rating. Viewership for Sunday night’s telecast was at 15.1 million viewers, up from 14.8 million viewers in '06. Meanwhile, NBC drew a 7.8 rating and 12.7 million viewers for the “Nancy & Tonya” documentary from 7:00-8:33pm (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Christopher Stewart notes the drop "was expected, as NBC was able to air Vancouver events live during prime-time on the U.S. east coast, unlike the Games in either Turin or Sochi because of the time difference." The ratings "don't include viewership online." Despite the decline from Vancouver, the Olympic audiences were "relatively large for traditional TV, which in recent years has seen viewership fragment among cable channels and the Web." Horizon Media Research Dir Brad Adgate: "If you were advertising on television between February 6 and February 23, NBC was one of only a few networks that reached a sizable amount of viewers" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/25). Adgate also tweeted a trend of the median age of primetime viewers in the U.S. The Sochi Games median age was 55.5, up from 53.2 in '10. The median was 51.2 in '06, 47.9 in '02, 47.3 in '98, 45.7 in '94 and 43.4 in '92 (TWITTER.com, 2/25).
WINTER OLYMPICS PRIMETIME RATINGS TREND (EXCLUDES OPENING THURSDAY)
TELECAST'14 SOCHI'10 VANCOUVER'06 TURIN'02 SALT LAKE CITY Closing Ceremony8.712.18.922.3 16th Day (Saturday)7.811.79.715.7 15th Day (Friday)8.813.99.717.7 14th Day (Thursday)12.213.615.826.8 13th Day (Wednesday)12.211.910.019.5 12th Day (Tuesday)11.212.615.522.3 11th Day (Monday)13.812.513.617.1 10th Day (Sunday)22.214.171.1247.1 9th Day (Saturday)9.614.711.314.0 8th Day (Friday)10.913.411.215.8 7th Day (Thursday)13.414.511.917.6 6th Day (Wednesday)12.116.711.317.5 5th Day (Tuesday)13.712.211.318.5 4th Day (Monday)12.814.212.819.6 3rd Day (Sunday)14.414.313.317.6 2nd Day (Saturday)13.914.013.517.1 Opening Ceremony17.017.312.825.5 17-DAY AVG.12.313.812.219.2
PRIME OF YOUR LIFE: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes NBC during the Sochi Games "beat its prime-time competition for 17 nights in a row." That means that the other networks "did not put up much of a fight and that former Olympics-beaters like 'American Idol' do not have their former potency." Still, if you are "the Olympic network -- as NBC is -- you take your victories and celebrate them." NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus added, "To have over a 12 rating for three hours a night and beating the competition, most nights dominantly -- even doubling the combined ratings of our broadcast competitors -- we’re pleased. For us to have a higher rating in Sochi than we did in Torino says a lot." He added that the net "would profit from the Sochi Games." Sandomir notes the Olympics "enriched NBC’s cable sports network, NBCSN, more than doubling the audience that watched the London Games to a daily average of 1.6 million, and boosting by nearly 1,800 percent the viewership that the network reaped in the four weeks leading to the Sochi Olympics" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/25).
RALLYING FOR RIO: AD AGE's Jeanine Poggi noted NBCUniversal already is "gearing up to sell ads in its coverage" of the '16 Rio Games. NBCU has "plenty of recent success to boast about as it approaches advertisers: Online streaming for the Olympics hit new records, viewership in peripheral parts of the day has been strong and the games put the fledgling NBCSN on the map." But when it comes to primetime, where "about 80% of ad dollars are allocated, there's less to discuss, as Sochi fell short of some of the ratings guarantees it promised advertisers and the audience is aging up." NBC Sports Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Seth Winter said that the company "will be looking more closely at cable." He added, "Prime-time is still the engine that drives Olympics investment and always will ... But other peripheral dayparts are playing a bigger role." Poggi noted media buyers said that they "aren't overly concerned with the prime-time numbers, noting that the highest ratings still come in that time slot" (ADAGE.com, 2/24).
WINTER WONDERLAND: CBC/Radio-Canada attracted more viewers for its coverage of the Sochi Games than any previous Olympic broadcast in Canada. More than 33.35 million Canadians viewed at least some content from Sochi in English or French across all platforms. A record 10.7 million Canadians watched Olympic content via online streams on the CBC and/or SRC sites, and they consumed about 14 million hours of online video. That is almost twice what was consumed during the '10 Vancouver Games. Sunday, highlighted by the Canada-Sweden men's hockey Gold Medal game, was the most-watched day of the Games with a daily reach of 26.5 million viewers. The game was viewed by approximately 15.0 million Canadians, generating an average audience of more than 8.5 million over the five networks that broadcast the game live from 7:10-9:19am ET (CBC).
A record-setting weather delay caused havoc with Fox’ ratings for the Daytona 500. The net averaged a 5.6 fast-national rating and 9.3 million viewers for two race windows that were separated by 6 hours and 22 minutes. The telecast from 1:30-2:17pm ET averaged a 6.3 rating and 10.1 million viewers before racing was halted due to heavy rain and a tornado warning. Following the delay, Fox drew a 5.5 rating and 9.1 million viewers for racing from 8:25-11:23pm. That period in primetime had direct competition with NBC’s Closing Ceremony telecast from the Sochi Games (15.1 million viewers from 8:33-10:36pm), as well as from AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” which drew 13.1 million viewers from 9:00-10:00pm. The last time the Daytona 500 was run in primetime was in ’12, when the race was rained out on a Sunday and run on a Monday with less competition. That telecast averaged an 8.0 rating and 13.7 million viewers for a race that included a two-hour delay due to a track dryer explosion. The race in ’10 also had a two-hour delay for its Sunday afternoon broadcast due to potholes on the track, with that race generating a 7.7 rating and 13.3 million viewers. Greensboro-Winston-Salem was the top market for Fox’ telecast with a 17.5 local rating, followed by Orlando-Daytona Beach (13.2) and Greenville-Spartanburg (13.0). Outside of football content, the Daytona 500 was Fox Sports Go’s top authenticated live event stream (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).DAYTONA 500 AUDIENCE TRENDYEARNETWORKRATINGVIEWERS (000)
WINNER'14*Fox5.69,300 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'13Fox9.916,700 Jimmie Johnson'12**Fox8.013,700 Matt Kenseth'11Fox8.715,597 Trevor Bayne'10^Fox7.713,294 Jamie McMurray'09Fox9.215,958 Matt Kenseth'08Fox10.217,800 Ryan Newman'07Fox10.117,530 Kevin Harvick'06NBC11.319,355 Jimmie Johnson'05Fox10.918,685 Jeff Gordon
NOTES: * = Had a record-setting delay of 6 hours, 22 minutes; race measured from 1:30-2:17pm and 8:25-11:23pm. ** = Rainout on Sunday; Monday night race had two-hour delay due to exploding track dryer. ^ = Race had two-hour delay due to potholes in track.
NUMBERS GAME: NASCAR Digital Media's platforms had record-setting traffic numbers dating back to when the governing body regained control of its digital rights from Turner Sports in '13. NASCAR.com had a 39% increase in unique visitors during the race, while NASCAR Mobile had a 61% increase in total visits to the platform, NASCAR Raceview Mobile had a 25% increase in video views and NASCAR Mobile's website had a 131% increase in page views (NASCAR).
The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday "declined to take up the Tennis Channel's petition to overturn an appeals court ruling" that Comcast had operated within its rights in placing the net "in a sports package with limited distribution," according to Meg James of the L.A. TIMES. The denial "seems to slam the door on the Tennis Channel's marathon legal case against the nation's largest cable television operator." The U.S. Court of Appeals for DC in May "ruled in favor of Comcast, saying Tennis Channel had failed to prove that Comcast had discriminated against it by placing the channel in a higher-priced sports tier with fewer subscribers." The net has been "lobbying for at least four years to be included in Comcast's basic service package that serves more than 21 million homes." Tennis Channel argued that it should be "placed on equal footing with two sports channels that Comcast owns that are included in Comcast's basic service package" -- Golf Channel and NBCSN (L.A. TIMES, 2/25). Tennis Channel said that the dispute "isn’t over." The net in a statement said, “There remain a number of available options for Tennis Channel in the case, and we are considering our next steps in light of these options" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 2/25). In N.Y., Edward Wyatt wrote the issue "could be headed for a rematch of sorts." Comcast is "trying to merge with Time Warner Cable, and one of the issues that federal antitrust will be examining is whether a bigger Comcast would be so dominant that it could wield undue influence over programmers" (NYTIMES.com, 2/24).
CBS yesterday tapped analyst Bart Scott to round out its new-look panel for “The NFL Today” for the '14 season. Scott, an 11-year NFL veteran, signed a two-year deal with an option for a third season. He will contribute to Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” and provide analysis across other platforms on the net, including a weekly segment on CBS Sports Network’s “That Other Pregame Show.” The addition of Scott comes less than a week after CBS signed Tony Gonzalez and parted ways with longtime analysts Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe. Scott made his on-air debut last season on “TOPS” and earned mostly high marks for his performance. He thinks a smooth transition to CBS’ premier pregame show is in order. “The length of that show (three hours) made us prepare and learn how to have good content and have a strong show as opposed to a fast, hard-hitting show like this one,” Scott said. “I understand I have a lot of work to do, there is a lot of criticism that comes with it, but I think I’m ready for it." He noted his initial plan was to use last year to heal from a toe injury and attempt a return to play in ’14. He had workouts with teams as recently as last week. However, he said, “When an opportunity like this comes up, you can’t let it go by. Looking at it, football would have been a one-, two-year job, but this I can make a career of” (Josh Carpenter, Staff Writer). USA TODAY's Tom Pelissero tweeted, "Mentioned that Bart Scott said he had workouts set up with teams. Reality, I'm told, is wanted him badly but toe's still messed up."
NOT HOLDING BACK: USA TODAY's Pelissero writes Scott has "no intention of biting his tongue -- even if it means the player he decides to criticize might end up firing back." Scott said, “I’ve got big shoulders, man. I can handle it. ... If anybody decides to call me out on it, I’ll be able to back it up, because at the end of the day, the film doesn’t lie. I’m not afraid of anybody. I don’t mind saying how it is, and if you play well, I’ll also tell people how you play well" (USA TODAY, 2/25). Scott said, "I’ll say what needs to be said, but I’m not just going to talk out of the side of my neck or my butt. I’m going to back it up with facts" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/25). He added of the opportunity, "It's equivalent to getting the Jay Leno Show or the David Letterman Show. If I passed it up I might be kicking myself in the butt for the rest of my life ... This opportunity is a dream for me to be able to step off the field one year and step into that arena now. I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility. I know I'll be critiqued a lot harder now that I’m on this big stage" (NEWSDAY, 2/25).
WILL IT CLOSE THE GAP? In Denver, Dusty Saunders wrote the hiring of Gonzalez and Scott to "The NFL Today" is "tied to a familiar theme: a television ratings battle." CBS' pregame show "consistantly lags behind" Fox' pregame, which "averages viewership 30 percent higher than CBS." However, the addition of Gonzalez and Scott "won't change the fact that Fox has the decided advantage of being the 'home network' for NFC teams." The five "most-populated TV markets in the NFL" -- N.Y., Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas and S.F. -- have NFC teams" (DENVER POST, 2/24).
MLBAM appears to have "worked through the launch-day crush" for WWE Network after being "overwhelmed" by the demand for subscriptions, according to David Lieberman of DEADLINE.com. MLBAM said the demand for the over-the-top network "exceeded anything we have seen in 14 years of doing e-commerce." The WWE said the new $9.99-a-month online video network had been "unable to process most orders since" 9:00am ET yesterday (DEADLINE.com, 2/24). In N.Y., Claire Atkinson noted WWE was "offering a free trial week of WWE Network to fans" beginning last night (NYPOST.com, 2/24). USA TODAY's Brian Truitt profiles the service and notes the "immediate goal" of the WWE Network is to be similar to both a "traditional ad-supported cable network [and] a Netflix-like on-demand subscription service." Subscribers will have "more than 1,000 hours of digitized content to dive into, including high-profile matches and pay-per-view events going back more than 30 years." All the connectivity "fits with the WWE's emphasis on social media." A "second-screen experience" via the WWE app will allow fans "to tweet and interact with others while watching live content in addition to other features, such as 'pop-up' historical factoids and background information on wrestlers." One major goal of the network is "persuading lapsed fans to return." Hulk Hogan, who recently re-signed with the company, will "have a role in the WWE Network" (USA TODAY, 2/25).
FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT: USA TODAY's John Morgan reports the UFC's new Fight Pass digital network on Saturday converts from "free-preview status to a fee-based subscription product." The service, like WWE Network, costs $9.99 a month and is "available online via personal computers, as well as iOS and Android devices." Expansion to "additional platforms like Roku and Apple TV is expected in the near future." Fight Pass has been "available since December on a trial basis." UFC officials declined to reveal how many subscribers the service earned during the trial, but UFC Chief Content Officer Marshall Zelaznik said that the company "is pleased with the early numbers." Zelaznik said that the UFC is "committed to delivering a wide range of programming to make Fight Pass a must-have for MMA fans." However, some fans and media "quickly labeled the product an unfinished beta test, while others expressed security concerns." Zelaznik "insisted user privacy is of the utmost importance to the company and that while UFC Fight Pass is a developing product, it's also one of which the promotion already is proud" (USA TODAY, 2/25).
Fox Sports yesterday announced an agreement with Burton Snowboards to broadcast coverage of the company’s Global Event Series on FS2 and Fox' RSNs. The programming will begin March 7-8 with five hours of live coverage from the 32nd Annual Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships presented by Mini. FS2 will show both halfpipe and slopestyle competition from Vail Mountain. Participants include U.S. Olympians Shaun White, Kelly Clark and Jamie Anderson, among others. The Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Qualifiers, Burton European Open, Burton Rail Days, Burton High Fives and other events will air on FS2 in the future.
MLBAM today released its initial '14 update of its flagship mobile application, MLB.com At Bat. This year's changes include a full redesign for Apple's iOS 7 operating system, reworked player pages, increased use of photography, graphics and customizing features, improved navigation and a new GameDay game tracking interface. As has been the case for the past two seasons, a purchase of the MLB.TV out-of-market streaming package comes with a free copy of the app, which otherwise carries a $19.99 price. MLB.com At Bat is typically the highest grossing mobile app in the sports industry, surpassing 10 million downloads last year, and annually is one of the top grossing products in the iTunes App Store regardless of genre.
The Pac-12 Networks offer a one-stop shop for live and on-demand video coverage of conference athletic teams with Pac-12 Now. A customizable, user-friendly live programming layout is the app's strong suit. However, the app's halfway-there Scores section leaves something to be desired. The homescreen is a guide to available programming broken out into previous, live and upcoming events. Using a filter, fans can sort Pac-12 action by school, sport or network. A simple cable subscription authentication unlocks live video from the seven networks. Tapping a live event opens the in-app broadcast. A VOD library houses recaps, highlights and interview reels from across the Pac-12 Networks. This content is also sortable, making the entire video consumption experience customizable. A Network Showcase section offers users the ability to bypass the programming guide and go directly to the network carrying the live event they want to watch, and a Scores section rounds out the offering. Pac-12 Now was developed jointly by Nice Agency and Pac-12 Digital. I conducted this week's review on an iPhone 5 version 7.0.6, with AT&T service.
GRADUATE LEVEL COURSES: Live and upcoming programming is presented in a very straightforward fashion. Live events -- there will be over 750 offered this year -- are listed chronologically, and the full listing can be quickly filtered to show only the sports or the schools of interest. This creates a more personalized experience. To take things a step further, alerts can be set for upcoming events, and the app sends a push notification at the start of the event. In-app video, whether live or on-demand, contains Facebook and Twitter sharing tools. An additional log-in is required to share content, but the process is simple and painless. The VOD library contains a massive amount of compelling content from all sports and member institutions. Game recaps are particularly useful for fans that miss a live broadcast.
STILL AN UNDERCLASSMAN: During my time with Pac-12 Now, I fumbled with the Scores section. While final scores are available, getting to them is not intuitive. The section defaulted to a football programming calendar, so I had to select a current sport from the dropdown menu and then go back into the calendar to see the scores. Once I found them, tapping on the highlights button brought me to a mobile website with no return navigation. This left me stranded on the mobile web with no way to get back to the app's Scores section. I would have liked to see scores offered within the listing of previous live events on the app's homescreen. What is the point of showing previous game listings if there is no score or recap attached? In the Networks section, I had to tap into each network icon to find out what was on. To be honest, this felt like an unnecessary duplication within the app, as the programming guide is already searchable by network. Also, a dedicated schedule section with game-based alerts was something I missed.
SHORT THESIS: The "Conference of Champions" delivers a quality experience for fans seeking live in-app programming and VOD coverage of Pac-12 events. This is clearly the main draw. But the app falls short with its lackluster presentation of scores and game recaps, stranding users on the mobile web. Streamlining the programming guide and scores section will tighten up this experience for fans. A dedicated schedule section with the ability to opt into alerts by team would be nice, too.
Amie Sheridan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer in Philadelphia.
See Sheridan's previous App Review submissions for THE DAILY:
- NASCAR Raceview Mobile For iPhone Wins With Live Race Features
- Boston Bruins For iPhone Covers All Essentials, Brings A Few Extras
- Fox Sports Go's "Minimalist" Functionality Effective During Super Bowl
- X Games For iPhone Goes Big With Features, But Usability Can Improve
- Bleacher Report Team Stream Engages The User With News, Social