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ABC earned a 10.6 overnight rating for NBA Finals Game 4 on Thursday night, which saw the Spurs hold a 19-point lead at halftime over the Heat en route to a 21-point blowout. That overnight is down 12% from a 12.0 rating for the same Game 4 matchup last year, and down 15% from 12.4 rating in '12 for Heat-Thunder Game 4, which aired on a Tuesday night. This year's Game 4 peaked at a 12.0 overnight from 11:00-11:15pm ET. The game delivered ABC a primetime win for the 41st consecutive night that the net has aired an NBA Finals game. San Antonio led all markets with a 47.4 local rating, while Miami-Ft. Lauderdale earned a 28.8 rating (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
PARADISE LOST? In Ft. Lauderdale, Ben Crandell notes virtually no members of the national media would "actually admit to rooting" for a Heat win Thursday night, which would have guaranteed a "return to the alluring embrace of South Beach" for Game 6. But FS1's Colleen Dominguez said, "I root for location. Absolutely. ... At the beginning of the season when everyone was saying this was going to be the Pacers' year, I almost cried. ... We all root for location." ESPN's Chris Broussard indicated that the NBA going back to a 2-2-1-1-1 format for the Finals "was unpopular, because the old format allowed for more time in Miami the last few years." Crandell notes media members from ESPN, Fox and TNT on Wednesday night got together at South Beach restaurant Prime 112 "for a long dinner that Dominguez said has become an NBA Finals tradition" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 6/13).
ESPN earned a 3.2 overnight rating for the opening match of the FIFA World Cup on Thursday afternoon, which saw host nation Brazil come back and defeat Croatia 3-1. The 3.2 overnight is the best for a World Cup opening match on record (dating back to '98). The rating also is up from a 2.1 overnight for the '10 World Cup opener, which saw host nation South Africa draw with Mexico 1-1 early on a Friday morning. DC led all U.S. markets with a 5.1 local rating, followed by Boston with a 5.0 rating (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS: ADWEEK's Michelle Castillo noted both ESPN and Univision will live stream World Cup matches on their apps WatchESPN and Univision Deportes, "making mobile screens a viable option to stay connected." Digital audiences "will get additional video content that won't be seen on TV." The networks "have zoned in on making sure that important moments like goals and penalties will be clipped into bite-sized materials in as close to real time as possible so fans can rewatch and share them with friends through social media." Online viewers "will also get best-of recaps, analysis and other content based on highlights from the matches" (ADWEEK.com, 6/12).
GOING ALL-OUT: In Albany, Pete Dougherty writes let us "give credit" to ESPN for not "cheating viewers" during its lame-duck broadcast of the World Cup. All 64 games of the tournament "will air on the ESPN family of networks, which has done more to raise soccer's profile in this country than MLS, NWSL or any other league could." ESPN President John Skipper: "For a month it's going to be everywhere you look. We have 290 studio hours around these games. We've got soccer documentaries. We've got 40 short little features from Wright Thompson about the culture of Brazil." When Fox takes over World Cup broadcasts starting in '18, it "will need to become the Carl Yastrzemski to ESPN's Ted Williams" (Albany TIMES UNION, 6/13).
MEAGER BEGINNING: In London, Edward Malnick reports the World Cup "got off to a faltering start on Thursday night when poor sound quality left many television viewers unable to enjoy the opening ceremony." The sound quality left the voices of Jennifer Lopez and fellow singers Pitbull and Claudia Leitte "sounding faint and 'tinny.'" A source at ITV, which broadcast the ceremony in Britain, said that it "had 'no control' over audio levels because a single feed was distributed around the world" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/13).
The Falcons on Thursday announced that they "will be featured on HBO Sports’ award-winning documentary series Hard Knocks," according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. The move comes after the team "turned down an offer from HBO a few years ago." While the team's football operations staff has "been opposed to appearing" in the series, Falcons Owner Arthur Blank and the business side "see being on the show as a major 'branding' opportunity for the franchise." Falcons coach Mike Smith "was not a big fan of the show," as he "went to great lengths to avoid the HBO cameras" during his time as a Ravens assistant coach. He "apparently has changed his tune" (AJC.com, 6/12). NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the Falcons "volunteered" for the show, which is "exactly what the 'Hard Knocks' crew wanted." Rapoport: "They wanted a team that absolutely wanted them. They have been courting the Falcons for several years, and, from what I understand, this year just happened to be the year that the Falcons said, 'Okay, we're good with that.'" The show was looking for a team to feature "without a lot of national recognition and with some stars and some compelling stories," and the Falcons "do seem to fit that criteria." One other element is the fact the team is building a new stadium and trying to land a future Super Bowl. Rapoport: "So any publicity, including what is no doubt going to be positive publicity, is due to help them" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 6/12).
SURPRISED BY SMITH: THE MMQB's Greg Bedard wrote the Falcons' appearance on the show "should be interesting," as the franchise is "in near make or break mode." Bedard: "I’m kind of blown away that coach Mike Smith agreed to do it. He prefers very much for his work and ideas to be under the radar" (MMQB.SI.com, 6/12). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley wrote of Smith, "You get a sense he took this one for Arthur Blank, who is among those owners who does not confine himself to his box during games." Blank's "fondness for the limelight is one motivation to be on 'Hard Knocks,'" and another is "getting revenue for a new stadium." Ledbetter in an e-mail wrote, "They are trying to move PSLs for the new stadium. They need to sell about $100 to $200 million worth as part of the $1.2 billion financing plan" (JSONLINE.com, 6/12).
FOCUS FACTOR: In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz wrote he does not understand why the Falcons organization, which "fell apart a season ago, and not just because of injuries, has decided to let a cable television show go behind the scenes in training camp and follow players in practices and meetings and areas of Fort Flowery Branch normally off limits to non-team personnel." Schultz: "And this is a smart decision? ... This will fix an organization that runs through assistant coaches like socks and is 1-4 in the playoffs since 2008?" He added, "Explain to me how this makes the Falcons better" (AJC.com, 6/12). ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure wrote it is "fair to wonder if this could be a distraction for a team coming off a 4-12 season." But Falcons S Dwight Lowery, who participated in "Hard Knocks" during his stint with the Jets, said, "Hopefully, it will be something that we can use for energy on those days in camp where it gets hard and long; kind of keep the mood light, I guess. I honestly don't think it will be a distraction. If it is, I think only at first because it's brand new. I think three weeks into training camp, guys will get accustomed to them being there and actually kind of get sick of it" (ESPN.com, 6/12).
LEAGUE REACTION: In San Diego, Tom Krasovic notes the Chargers "have never been on the show, which enters its ninth season." Officials on the Chargers' business side "saw some merit" in being on the show while "tossing the idea around last summer." Krasovic: "I think the 'Hard Knocks' audience would fall in serious like, if not love, with several Chargers players." QB Philip Rivers "would appeal to a wide demographic," while Chargers coaches John Pagano, Ollie Wilson, Frank Reich and Joe D'Alessandris would contrast head coach Mike McCoy "scooping vanilla from every container" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/13). In Jacksonville, Ryan O'Halloran reports the Jaguars "weren't interested in being part" of the series, and coach Gus Bradley is "thankful the cameras wouldn't be behind the Jaguars' closed doors." Bradley on Thursday deadpanned, "That’s great for Atlanta. I’m excited for them. I know the fans enjoy watching that to get an inside look so I appreciate (the Falcons stepping forward)" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 6/13).
TNT finished with a 3.0 rating and 4.48 million viewers for the net’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series telecast of the ’14 season. The audience for the Pocono 400 last Sunday afternoon was up 7% and 3%, respectively, from a 2.8 rating and 4.36 million viewers last year. The same race in ’12 drew a 3.4 rating and 5.26 million viewers. Sunday’s race was the No. 2 telecast on all of cable TV for the week ending June 8, behind only the 6.95 million viewers for HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Meanwhile, Fox’ rain-filled slate of Sprint Cup races finished with a 4.3 rating and 7.0 million viewers. Rain had a big impact on the Daytona 500, as well as races from Texas, Bristol and Kansas. Fox in '13 averaged a 4.8 rating and 7.8 million viewers for a slate with only one rain delay. Despite rain for many of Fox’ races, FS1 benefited from the Sprint Cup slate. The net’s six best audiences came from NASCAR telecasts during the first half of the ’14 season. FS1’s top telecast to date was the Feb. 2 Sprint Unlimited, which drew 3.53 million viewers.
The chart below lists final ratings and viewership figures from recent sports telecasts.
Belmont Stakes (race segment)6/7NBC6:15-7:15pm11.920,400 NBA Finals: Heat-Spurs: Game 26/8ABC8:00-11:00pm9.015,131 NBA Finals: Heat-Spurs: Game 16/5ABC9:00-11:46pm9.014,846 Belmont Stakes (prerace)6/7NBC5:00-6:15pm6.911,000 NHL Stanley Cup Final: Rangers-Kings: Game 26/7NBC7:15-11:45pm3.76,413 Belmont Stakes (prerace)6/7NBC4:30-5:00pm3.55,300 NHL Stanley Cup Final: Rangers-Kings: Game 16/4NBC8:00-11:17pm3.04,777 "NBA Countdown"6/8ABC7:31-8:00pm2.63,956 Soccer friendly: Mexico-Bosnia Herzegovina6/3UniMas9:22-
French Open: Men's Final: Nadal d. Djokovic6/8NBC9:00am-1:45pm1.72,500 Soccer friendly: Mexico-Portugal6/6UniMas8:21-
PGA Tour: FedEx St. Jude Classic: Final Round6/8CBS3:00-6:00pm1.52,184 MLB: (regional)6/7Fox7:12-10:34pm1.42,180 French Open: Women's Final: Sharapova d. Halep6/7NBC9:00am-1:15pm1.31,700 F1: Canadian Grand Prix6/8NBC2:00-3:45pm0.91,500 PGA Tour: FedEx St. Jude Classic: Third Round6/7CBS3:00-6:00pm0.91,272 X Games Austin6/8ABC2:00-6:00pm0.71,074 X Games Austin6/7ABC2:00-6:03pm0.71,059 Red Bull Signature Series: Volcolm Pipe6/7NBC2:30-4:30pm0.7986 "F1 Extra"6/8NBC3:45-4:30pm0.5917 "Kurt Busch 36"6/8NBC4:30-5:00pm0.5917 "Inside" U.S. Soccer's March to Brazil"6/7ABC1:30-2:00pm0.6892 "Payne"6/8NBC5:00-6:00pm0.6800 Soccer friendly: U.S.-Nigeria6/7UniMas5:46-8:00pm0.4690 "PGA Tour 2014: Lefty Slam"6/7NBC2:00-2:30pm0.3466 TELECASTDATENETTIME
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Pocono 4006/8TNT1:00-4:30pm3.04,482 MLB: Red Sox-Tigers6/8ESPN8:00-11:47pm1.21,771 College Softball World Series: Florida-Alabama: Game 26/3ESPN8:00-10:47pm0.91,412 Soccer friendly: U.S.-Nigeria6/7ESPN5:30-8:01pm0.71,231 UFC Fight Night: Henderson-Khabilov6/7FS110:00pm-1:04am0.61,217 College Softball World Series: Florida-Alabama: Game 16/2ESPN28:00-
UFC Fight Night: Prelims6/7FS18:00-10:00pm0.5812 Soccer friendly: Mexico-Portugal6/6ESPN28:30-
MLB: Royals-Cardinals6/2ESPN8:00-10:54pm0.5685 PGA Tour: FedEx St. Jude Classic: Final Round6/8Golf1:00-2:30pm0.4648