SBD/June 23, 2014/Media

U.S.-Portugal Marks ESPN's Best Overnight Rating On Record For Men's Soccer Match

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US-Portugal tied U.S. TV's third-best overnight for a men's World Cup match
ESPN earned a 9.1 overnight rating for the U.S.' 2-2 draw with Portugal yesterday at the FIFA World Cup, marking the net's best overnight on record for a men's soccer match. The rating also tied for the third-best overnight for any men's World Cup match in U.S. TV history, behind only ABC's '94 Brazil-Italy final (12.8) and the '94 Brazil-U.S. Round of 16 match (10.4). The record overnight for a soccer match in the U.S. remains ABC's U.S.-China women's World Cup finale in '99 with a 13.3 rating. DC again led all markets for ESPN's brodcast with a 13.3 local rating, followed by Columbus (12.6) and N.Y. (12.5). There were 18 markets in total that set local records for a World Cup match (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

FACE THE NATION: ABC's "GMA" and NBC's "Today" both led their broadcasts with the match, while "CBS This Morning" aired a report about 13 minutes into its broadcast. All three telecasts teased the match in their openers and featured live reports (THE DAILY). CBS' Charlie Rose said, "One of the great nights in American soccer history ended with a bitter blow" ("CBS This Morning," 6/23). NBC's Savannah Guthrie said of Portugal's late goal, "It was like a collective jaw-drop across America and the world. We were pre-celebrating, and then suddenly that moment Portugal gets a goal." NBC's Natalie Morales: "There's a reason they call it the 'Group of Death.' It's killing all of us." Guthrie later in the broadcast laid out the scenarios the U.S. faces to advance to the knockout round. She said, "We won’t give you so many details that you need a flowchart" ("Today," NBC, 6/23). Meanwhile, Quartz Managing Editor Bobby Ghosh appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" this morning and said, "We've spent the first 10 minutes talking soccer. If you want any proof that the game has finally arrived in this country, we're the proof" ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 6/23).

THE RIGHT CALL
: SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote ESPN's "World Cup Tonight" studio show has "been a very good watch, and the best part of the program has been the informal 'Last Call' segments where ESPN's studio talent sit around a table and chat about the matches of the day." ESPN "Baseball Tonight" Coordinating Producer Pete McConville, who is helping with the network's World Cup coverage, said that the 90-minute format for "World Cup Tonight" is "somewhat planned out." The first two blocks or segments "run about 35 minutes and are based around highlights, analysis and news." At the end of the second block, the on-air talent "heads over to the 'Last Call' set." Deitsch noted ESPN's Taylor Twellman "has appeared on the show a number of nights and believes the show has worked because it is authentic discussion." Twellman: "It's as real as you get when it comes to discussion of our sport on TV. It's what we do after games at the bar over beers; now we sprinkle in some touchscreen and other TV elements but all of us thoroughly enjoy just taking the 'gloves off' and talking the game" (SI.com, 6/22).

TALENT REVIEWS: WORLD SOCCER TALK’s Christopher Harris wrote ESPN’s game broadcasts “have been -- for the most part -- wonderful to watch,” as the net has a “good blend of veteran soccer announcers with opinionated or observant co-commentators.” Jon Champion has been a “particular high point during the coverage,” while Adrian Healey “has been fair, but relies too much on clichés.” Derek Rae is a “breath of fresh air, and deserves to be calling higher profile games.” Top play-by-play announcer Ian Darke was "superb in the way that he called the USA goals against Ghana, but can be too much of an American cheerleader for my liking instead of trying to be impartial.” While the work in the commentator booth “has been strong, the coverage and analysis from the World Cup studio in Brazil has been getting better.” Studio analysis was “strong throughout the first week of the tournament,” with Ruud van Nistelrooy a “particular strongpoint, as is Santiago Solari and Michael Ballack.” Gilberto Silva has been “okay but not enlightening.” Meanwhile, Landon Donovan’s addition to ESPN’s team “has been puzzling.” Harris: “While ESPN’s ability to acquire him should be congratulated, I’m still waiting for Donovan to share any observation or wisdom of quality” (WORLDSOCCERTALK.com, 6/21). In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote Donovan "has not lived up to the hype," as he "ain’t offering much insight." This is a "case of ESPN wanting a recognizable face -- who is recognized as a star in the U.S. -- and apparently not caring what that face has to say" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/22). Meanwhile, also in N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote Darke "is at least partially filling the Doc Emrick void now that hockey is over" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/22).

MORENO FINALLY MAKES IT: In Greensboro, Mark Thompson noted ESPN's Alejandro Moreno "is making his World Cup debut as an analyst after several failed attempts to qualify as a player with Venezuela’s national team." Moreno is "covering matches about every other day." He "wakes up and has a production meeting over breakfast before heading to whichever of the 12 stadiums in Brazil is hosting the group stage match he’s working." He "tries to get there four hours early to beat traffic and prepare." After the game, Moreno "eats and heads for the airport to his next game." Moreno: "Eventually, I will find my way back to ESPN headquarters in Copacabana beach in Rio De Janeiro to cover the tournament from the studio." Thompson noted Moreno first worked with ESPN in '11 as a "guest studio analyst for the MLS Cup Playoffs while playing for Chivas USA." He returned to the same role in '12 and "has since worked covering the Mexican National Team and Liga MX matches" (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 6/22).

20/20 VISION: THE STREET's Jason Notte noted Univision "has watched its World Cup viewership soar by 54%" compared to '10, which aired earlier in the day in the U.S. with telecasts from South Africa. While ESPN "has stepped up its game considerably in recent years" when it comes to the World Cup, it "does a whole lot of work just to do what comes so seemingly easily to its Univision counterparts -- engage the viewer in a steady, visceral fashion and punch up what, at times, can be a tedious exercise" (THESTREET.com, 6/21).

BOOK IT: The AP's David Bauder noted through the first week of the World Cup, Facebook "has already seen more people having more interactions about the tournament on the social media site than it had for the Sochi Olympics, Super Bowl and Academy Awards combined." The company on Friday said that a total of 141 million people "have commented about, 'liked' or shared posts on Facebook about the World Cup." There "have been 459 million different interactions on it." Much of the action is int'l, as 85% of the people "talking about the World Cup on Facebook are from outside" the U.S. Facebook has "targeted the World Cup as part of its effort to become a site with more real-time conversation and news distribution around big events, functions where many people think of Twitter first." Facebook is "promoting World Cup-related hashtags and has a special World Cup-related section that collects celebrity-related posts" (AP, 6/20).
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