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RSNs across the U.S. are "pressing Major League Baseball to get the rights to stream local games to portable devices," according to Josh Kosman of the N.Y. POST. Baseball fans "can't watch live games on their tablets or smartphones outside their home, and the RSNs fear they could be losing viewers who are moving more and more to watching video, entertainment and sports on mobile devices." A source said the talks between RSNs and MLB "have intensified" of late. The source added of recent progress, "We are hopeful something will get done this year." Sources said that part of the talks "concern how to protect" the league's MLB.TV revenue stream and how the league can "maintain some control over all streaming rights while placating" the RSNs. Teams are "generally supportive of the RSNs in their talks with MLB because giving their cable rights holders more options could lead to tens of millions of added dollars in rights fees over a multi-year rights deal." Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures co-Founder & CEO Chris Bevilacqua said that if the RSNs "get the right to stream in-market games they will seek to raise the fee they charge cable companies" (N.Y. POST, 3/7).
Former Fox MLB color commentator Tim McCarver "has been hired to serve as the analyst" for 30 Cardinals games this season on FS Midwest, according to Dan Caesar of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The "long-anticipated deal has been confirmed" by the RSN, where he will work with play-by-play announcer Dan McLaughlin. The addition of McCarver "comes at the time Cards radio broadcaster Mike Shannon is cutting his schedule, missing approximately 50 road contests as he reduces his workload at age 74." McCarver, 72, is "set to do 18 road and 12 home games this season." His "first assignment" is the Cardinals' May 2 away game against the Cubs. McCarver said of his replacements in the Fox booth, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci, "I think they'll do just fine. No. 1, they're working with the best in the business in Joe [Buck]. They'll be better broadcasters (because of him), I guarantee it. They'll be better with Joe than anybody else" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 3/7).
THE REPLACEMENTS: In Boston, Chad Finn writes Fox "made a less-than-inspired choice to replace McCarver, and it’s disappointing given the prominence of the position." Verducci is "fine, a superb writer," and will be a "suitable information guy." But Reynolds "willfully disregards the statistical advances in baseball to traffic in hagiography, myth-making, and archaic thinking." He will "not criticize management, and he’ll over-praise certain players so much that you may start recalling McCarver's particular adorations as restrained and subtle." Fox, which "prides itself on being the fun and innovative foil to ESPN, missed a golden chance to be the latter here" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/7).
NBC earned a 2.6 rating and 3.88 million viewers for its final-round coverage of the PGA Tour Honda Classic on Sunday, which saw Russell Henley defeat Rory McIlroy, Ryan Palmer and Russell Knox in a playoff. Sunday's telecast was the most-watched golf broadcast in '14 to date, and the second-most watched round of the Honda Classic since '02. While up from a 2.0 rating and 2.8 million viewers in ’13, Sunday’s numbers are down slightly from the 4.1 million viewers NBC drew in the ’12 final round, which saw McIlroy best Tiger Woods, who shot a 62 on Sunday.
TURNING A PROFIT? Fox averaged a 5.3 rating and 8.8 million viewers for its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race last Sunday at Phoenix Int’l Raceway, down from a 5.6 rating and 9.1 million viewers in ’13. Viewership for The Profit on CNBC 500 also was down from 9.2 million viewers and a 5.6 rating in ’12, despite a runner-up finish from Dale Earnhardt Jr. Meanwhile, ABC averaged 1.9 million viewers for Saturday’s Nationwide Series Blue Jeans Go Green 200 at Phoenix (Josh Carpenter, Staff Writer).
WINTERTIME LOVE: NBC averaged a 1.7 rating and 2.8 million viewers for Saturday’s Penguins-Blackhawks NHL Coors Light Stadium Series game at Soldier Field, the highest-rated regular-season, non-Winter Classic game in the net’s history (NBC). The viewership for the NHL game on Saturday night was below several other network TV primetime programs, such as CBS’ “48 Hours” in the 10:00-11:00pm ET window (5.4 million viewers), CBS’ “Crimetime Saturday” in the 9:00-10:00pm window (3.5 million viewers), and CBS’ “Comedytime Saturday” in the 8:00-8:30pm window (3.3 million viewers). The NHL game beat out all Saturday night programming on ABC and Fox (THE DAILY).
NOTES: Wednesday's Cavaliers-Thunder matchup drew a 9.6 local rating on FS Oklahoma, the top telecast of the week for the net (NEWSOK.com, 3/4)....Saturday's Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Bryan Vera bout on HBO drew 1.39 million viewers and peaked at 1.531 million. The fight drew "slightly less" than a September bout between the two fighters. Chavez is "likely to be back on HBO in July" with an opponent TBD (ESPN.com, 3/4).
The chart below lists final ratings for recent sports telecasts. CBS ratings were not available at presstime.
NASCAR Nationwide Series:
Blue Jeans Go Green 200 (Phoenix)3/1ABC3:45-6:00pm1.61,871
Gymnastics: AT&T American Cup3/1NBC1:00-3:00pm0.91,260 PGA Tour: Honda Classic:
"NBA Countdown"3/2ABC12:30-1:00pm1.01,154 NBA: Knicks-Bulls3/2ABC1:00-3:30pm1.62,600 "NASCAR Pre-Race"3/2Fox2:30-3:15pm3.35,400 NASCAR Sprint Cup: The Profit
on CNBC 500 (Phoenix)3/2Fox3:15-6:15pm5.38,800
NHL: Flyers-Capitals3/2NBC12:00-3:15pm0.71,019 PGA Tour: Honda Classic:
Liga MX: Cruz Azul-Toluca3/1Univision5:55-8:00pm0.61,094 Liga MX: Chivas de Guadalajara-
NBA: Knicks-Heat2/27TNT8:16-10:49pm1.82,722 College Basketball: Syracuse-Virginia3/1ESPN4:12-6:08pm1.52,450 College Basketball: Kansas-
College Basketball: Syracuse-Maryland2/24ESPN7:00-9:02pm1.21,774 College Basketball: Oklahoma-Kansas2/24ESPN9:02-11:15pm1.11,726 NBA: Rockets-Clippers2/26ESPN10:34pm-1:07am1.21,650 College Basketball: Kentucky-
College Basketball: Arkansas-Kentucky2/27ESPN7:00-9:34pm0.91,416 Boxing: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-
College Basketball: Indiana-Wisconsin2/25ESPN9:05-10:55pm0.91,376
In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes under the header, "Dodgers' SportsNet Launch Reinforces Lack Of MLB TV Access In L.A." Two weeks before the net's first regular-season Dodgers telecast, "grass-roots social media campaigns have surfaced" to counter the team's efforts for cable subscribers to pressure providers to carry Time Warner Cable SportsNet LA. Dodger fans are experiencing "confusion, consternation and concern" about the carriage issue. L.A. "has become the only major market to not have over-the-air games accessible from its local teams" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 3/7).
GARDENING TIPS: On Long Island, Neil Best notes MSG Network's game and studio announcers "have been plenty critical of the Knicks" this season, but as with "all team-owned channels, some accuse them of having limited freedom to speak their minds." MSG Net analyst Wally Szczerbiak said, "I've been able to do my job and it's all come from me the way I do it ... By no means does MSG tell me, or anyone tell me, what to say up there." MSG Network Exec VP & GM Dan Ronayne said Knicks fans want "credible, insightful, expert, honest assessment of the game that they are watching" (NEWSDAY, 3/7).
SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST: In N.Y., Jaime Uribarri reports former FS Southwest broadcaster Craig James had "discrimination charges filed against the network for firing him just days after joining the company because of his views against gay marriage." The Texas Workforce Commission "issued a charge of discrimination" against the net on behalf of James and Liberty Institute, a "conservative Christian organization that took up the case following James' termination." James "had yet to sign a contract and made only one appearance on the show" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/7).
SKATE OR DIE: FS1 on Thursday announced that it has inked a multiyear deal with Street League Skateboarding, which was founded by pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek in '10. The deal includes live broadcasts. The '14 SLS World Tour includes nationwide stops with dates and locations yet to be announced (Fox Sports).