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NBCSN earned a 2.5 overnight rating for last night’s Kings-Rangers Stanley Cup Final Game 3, down 19% from a 3.1 overnight for Blackhawks-Bruins Game 3 last year. While down from last year, the Kings-Rangers Game 3 overnight is up 79% from Kings-Devils Game 3 in '12. Last night's game earned an 8.0 local rating in N.Y., which is the cable net’s second-best figure in the market ever for an NHL game, trailing only this year’s Rangers-Canadiens Eastern Conference Finals Game 6 (8.5 local rating). The game earned a 6.4 local rating in L.A., which is the market’s second-best NHL rating ever on NBCSN, trailing only Kings-Devils Stanley Cup Final Game 4 in ’12 (6.6 rating). Rounding out the top five markets were Buffalo (4.7), Philadelphia (4.1) and Boston (3.7) (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
MIKE ON THE MIC: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes if "being who you are is a recipe for success on live sports television," then NBC's Mike Milbury is "better than 99.9% of the other Gasbags who are paid to offer their opinions on games." The "first thing out of Milbury's mouth" appears to be "what's on top of his mind." He is "delivering initial instinct" with "no filter." Nothing "is calculated." There is "every reason to believe Milbury is not in business to please anyone." He "didn’t waste words" last night between the second and third periods of Game 3. When asked how the Kings maintained their lead, he quickly responded, "Jonathan Quick, Jonathan Quick, Jonathan Quick" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/10).
COACH ON CAMERA: In Pittsburgh, Rob Rossi wrote former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma has a "great opportunity" working as a studio analyst for NHL Network during the Stanley Cup Final, beginning last night. TV work, "especially on a part-time basis, allows him to still collect checks from the Penguins," with whom Bylsma had two years remaining on his contract. Dabbling in TV will "keep him involved in the NHL just enough while also affording him time to spend with his wife and son." Bylsma is "affable, presentable and never short of an opinion," which is why he "could become something NHL television coverage needs in the United States: an analyst that is unabashedly American with an American view of the sport" (TRIBLIVE.com, 6/9).
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: In Nashville, Josh Cooper reported Predators TV analyst Terry Crisp has "decided to step down" from the position, but will "have a 'behind the desk' role during home games next season." The team confirmed that former NHLer Stu Grimson, who "had been handling analysis on radio broadcasts, will take Crisp's spot next to play-by-play man Pete Weber." Weber and Crisp "have been the primary broadcasting team since the inaugural season" of '98-99. Crisp, at the age of 71, and "almost one year after his wife Sheila went through the pain of a staph infection," decided he "needed a break from the grind of 82 games of hockey travel." He "wanted to spend more time with loved ones and to be with Sheila, who has since recovered" (TENNESSEAN.com, 6/9).
Browns head coach Mike Pettine confirmed that the team “rejected an opportunity to be considered” as this year’s featured team for HBO's "Hard Knocks" series, according to Tom Reed of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Pettine said that the Browns were “approached before” they drafted QB Johnny Manziel. Teams with first-year coaches have the “right to decline” appearing on the series. Pettine said, "It was for the same reason we didn't feel super comfortable having a camera in the draft room. Let's get through the first time, let's get through the first year." Pettine said that he is “not sure if HBO made a second request for the upcoming training camp after the Browns selected Manziel.” But it is “hard to imagine HBO not making another run at the Browns next season” with Manziel on the roster (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 6/9). In Cleveland, Chris Fedor wrote it is “not a surprise that the Browns were given consideration as they have plenty of intrigue” heading into the ’14 season. Pettine is a “first-year head coach” and the team has a new GM with Ray Farmer. There is going to be a “quarterback competition during training camp” between Manziel and incumbent QB Brian Hoyer, and the team has young players who are “emerging as top talents” in WR Josh Gordon and CB Joe Haden. The Browns have the “formula to be a surprise team in the NFL, one that finally ends a streak of futility that has lasted for more than a decade” (CLEVELAND.com, 6/9). CBS Sports Network's Tony Luftman called Pettine's decision a "wise and pragmatic one" ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 6/9).
EA Sports announced yesterday at the E3 video game industry conference in L.A. the forthcoming release of “EA Sports PGA Tour,” its first full-featured golf title since it parted ways last fall with Tiger Woods after more than 15 years. At that time, the company said it was working on a new golf game for next-gen consoles and released a screen shot from its early stage work. Yesterday’s announcement represents a significant advancement upon that work. The game will be EA Sports’ first golf title for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, and is slated for release next March. In addition to real-life courses, “EA Sports PGA Tour” will also feature fantasy courses, such as venues from its first-person shooter series “Battlefield.” The company in a new trailer calls the game, “Golf Without Limits.” The company also unveiled further details for most of its other sports titles at E3, including “Madden NFL 15,” “FIFA 15,” “NHL 15,” and UFC, as well as a PGA Tour mobile game, “King of the Course.” EA Sports’s licensed basketball title, “NBA Live 15,” is not being shown at the conference. After a somewhat troubled re-entry to the simulation basketball market after a four-year absence, company officials elected to remain focused on development of next year’s title rather than prepare for the logistics regarding a high-profile industry showing like E3. “NBA Live 15” Exec Producer Sean O’Brien in an open letter wrote, “We have very lofty goals for ‘NBA Live 15,' and we knew the most important thing we could do to improve our chances for achieving these goals was to put our heads down and work as hard as possible with minimal distractions” (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
NOT LOOKING BACK: EA CEO Andrew Wilson appeared on CNBC's "Closing Bell" yesterday afternoon where he discussed the $20M settlement in a lawsuit over NCAA athletes marketing rights and how it will affect the company's strategy going forward in its sports games. He noted the settlement wouldn't "impact us a great deal." Wilson said EA has "moved away from making college-themed sports properties." He added, "We're focused on our core 'Madden NFL' product and really looking forward to continue to drive innovation and creativity in and around that product. So our focus has moved away and we haven't spent a lot of time on it recently" ("Closing Bell," CNBC, 6/9).
Tennis Channel Everywhere is an app built for viewing the Tennis Channel and its complementary, digital native partner, Tennis Channel Plus. In its current state, the app is good for watching tennis, but it lacks many of the expected features a tennis fan might be looking for in a mobile companion, like a full match schedule for tournament play. Developed by NeuLion and re-launched in May, Tennis Channel Everywhere is an ad supported free download. Authentication is required for viewing the Tennis Channel, and Tennis Channel Plus ($59.99 for the year or $9.99 for a day pass) requires separate credentials. The app is broken into four sections of video: Featured, Tennis Channel, Tennis Channel Plus and On Demand. Timely and relevant video is presented in the Featured section. Live matches are promoted in a graphic slide show above listings. To watch the Tennis Channel, users must authenticate by selecting their cable provider and logging in. This is a simple process. There are 18 hours of time-stamped Tennis Channel video available within this section each day, with live programming running from 6:00am ET to midnight. Tennis Channel Plus requires a separate registration, which can be done on TennisChannel.com or within the app via iTunes. Despite the need to create a separate account, this process is also quick and convenient. Much like WWE Network, Tennis Channel Plus offers a non-stop playlist of video including classic matches and special features. A subscription to this bonus channel also includes access to multiple court streams during tournaments, which was great for watching Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova battle their way into the final rounds of the French Open. This is a unique and compelling feature for fans that want to view a match not available on live TV. A VOD section rounds out the content offering with video from ATP, WTA and ITF tournaments. It also houses classic matches and original Tennis Channel shows. Some of the on-demand content is free, but much of it requires a subscription to Tennis Channel Plus. This review was conducted on an iPhone 5 version 7.1.1, with AT&T service.
ACES: The Tennis Channel Plus model should be commended up front for its multi-court feature. For tournament play, this is definitely attractive to fans that want the option to jump from stream to stream rather than wait for the coverage of each match on TV. For $9.99, the day pass is a nice value for fans at home or at the venue. Another noteworthy feature of the app is the Tennis Channel live content. This is free to all users and permits instant viewing of any show that airs on the channel that day. So, content that airs at 9:00am is available until midnight. This is nice for those who want to catch up on a missed show.
FAULTS: Tennis Channel Everywhere excels in depth of video, but the app lacks a search feature and struggles in effectively naming content. Match-specific content is recognizable by title, but font size is small and many of the titles are longer than the space allotted to them. VOD content incorrectly shows all clip lengths to be 0:00, and for those viewing multiple videos in a short amount of time, pre-roll advertising is unchecked and somewhat overbearing. Currently, the app offers no sharability, social integration or transactional touch points aside from the upgrade to Tennis Channel Plus. Tickets and merchandise would be a nice add-on. Also missing from the app are scores, stats, alerts and -- most notably -- a full match schedule for tournament play.
BOTTOM LINE: Despite the exclusion of a full tournament schedule with tune-in information, Tennis Channel Everywhere is a nice mobile companion for watching live matches on the Tennis Channel or viewing multiple courts during tournaments with Tennis Channel Plus. During down time, the app needs to be more compelling if it wants to be everything to tennis fans. Searchable content, alerts and social distribution tools are on the wish list for the next release.
Amie Sheridan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer in Philadelphia.
See Sheridan's previous App Review submissions for THE DAILY:
- theScore For iPad Offers Easy Customization But Few Video Features
- Topps BUNT For iPhone Reinvents Baseball Cards For The Digital Age
- MLB At Bat ’14 For iPhone Brings Clean Live Streams, Play-By-Play
- Air Jordan's J23 Great For Brand Die Hards, But Lacks Consistency
- USGA's Rules of Golf Proves Straightforward, But Functionality Needs Work
SI.com's Richard Deitsch reported Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts "are getting a promotion" at CBS, moving the "popular NFL announcing duo to the network's No. 2 NFL broadcasting team behind Jim Nantz and Phil Simms." Eagle and Fouts also will "occasionally call the top Sunday game on CBS when Nantz and Simms are off." This year the "priority for Nantz and Simms is Thursday Night Football and with 14 Thursday Night games, Nantz and Simms will bypass doubling up on some Sundays." Eagle and Fouts "use humor in a broadcast as well as any NFL broadcast team and thankfully dial down on overhyping coaches and players." The move also will "strengthen CBS's No. 3 team, which is expected to feature Greg Gumbel and newcomer Trent Green" (SI.com, 6/9).
APOLOGIES ARE FOR THE BIRDS: In Baltimore, David Zurawik notes the Orioles "let only MASN's Roch Kubatko, an employee of the team," have access to 3B Manny Machado yesterday, "instead of letting Machado answer questions from all beat reporters" about throwing his bat during a loss to the A's on Sunday. Kubatko’s "worst moment came when he asked a question less than one minute into the 'exclusive' that clearly seemed designed to provide an excuse for Machado’s behavior." Orioles VP/Communications & Marketing Greg Bader said that Kubatko was "free to ask anything he wanted, and Machado’s apologies were not scripted" (Baltimore SUN, 6/10).
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME: MLB Network President & CEO Tony Petitti said of carriage negotiations with large cable distributors, "We're all in on the top 10. We have a lot of small deals as all networks do across the country. We're always looking at expanding into Canada. We did a deal with Rogers at the start of this past season so now we have distribution in Canada. We have good distribution in Puerto Rico. We're focusing on trying to expand distribution into Canada, while we try to increase distribution in smaller systems that are left here in the U.S. (CABLEFAX DAILY, 6/10).
INSTANT GRATIFICATION: beIN Sports has partnered with S.F.-based video publishing outfit SnappyTV to produce instant video highlights from beIN’s broadcast properties, including its upcoming coverage of the FIFA World Cup, as well as games from Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A. In addition to the real-time availability of the clips, beIN also will use SnappyTV to distribute the content through various social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. SnappyTV co-Founder & CEO Mike Folgner: “This is a game changer for fans who want to stay up-to-date with the sports they follow” (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).