SBD/July 7, 2014/Media

ESPN Sees Lower Overnight Rating For Wimbledon Men's Final Despite Five-Set Match

ESPN's 1.9 overnight for this year's men's final is down sharply from ’12
ESPN drew a 1.9 overnight rating for coverage featuring Novak Djokovic’s five-set win over Roger Federer yesterday, down slightly from a 2.0 rating for Andy Murray’s straight sets win over Djokovic last year. The 1.9 is down sharply from Federer’s four-set win over Murray in ’12 (3.1 overnight), which was ESPN’s first year broadcasting the finals from Wimbledon. NBC earned a 2.1 overnight during its final year broadcasting the event in ’11, when Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in four sets. Meanwhile, ESPN earned a 0.7 overnight for coverage featuring Petra Kvitova’s straight sets win in the ladies’ final against Eugenie Bouchard on Saturday morning, down 36% from a 1.1 overnight last year for Marion Bartoli’s straight-sets win over Sabine Lisicki. ESPN drew a 1.4 overnight in ’12 for Serena Williams’ three-set win over Agnieszka Radwanska (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

FAULT!
 SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote amid "strong work for most of the fortnight, ESPN’s tennis coverage had some very bad moments last week involving the withdrawal of Serena Williams from her second-round doubles match." The nadir was "borderline reckless statements" from Chris Evert "bringing up the specter of drugs." Pam Shriver followed up by saying, "They have drug testing at all the majors." Deitsch wrote those statements "came with zero reporting and were, to be mild, overreaching significantly." Also "unfair to Williams, ESPN convened a staff panel the following day without mentioning ESPN’s major role in pushing out Williams speculation." Deitsch wrote Shriver and Evert "were well within reason (and I’d argue quite thoughtful) in saying Williams should not have been on the court that day." However, as a news subject, Williams "deserved better than what she received from ESPN." Meanwhile, ESPN's programming decisions "are usually on-point for tennis but they missed badly on Saturday by not airing the Wimbledon doubles final live on ESPN, a match that featured three American players (Bob and Mike Bryan and Jack Sock)." The issue "wasn’t starting with the doubles match," but continuing to replay the Djokovic-Grigor Dimitrov semifinal "after the men’s doubles match started" (SI.com, 7/6). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes during the Djokovic-Federer final, there was a three-way discussion between Chris Fowler and Patrick McEnroe and John McEnroe "after every $%?@&*! point, and occasionally during them!" (N.Y. POST, 7/7).

IS SILENCE REALLY GOLDEN? 
SI.com's Jon Wertheim watched several Wimbledon matches on the BBC in addition to watching matches on Tennis Channel, and called the difference between the coverage "striking." Wertheim wrote he knows many people "think that less is more," but he "was often put off by the BBC's silence." Wertheim: "Rule of thumb: When you’re being paid to commentate, the chair umpire should not be speaking more than you are. During a match, there are so many back stories and subtleties and technical maneuvers and developments. As a viewer, I want to hear about them" (SI.com, 7/6).

EUGENIE IN A BOTTLE
: TSN on Thursday averaged 791,000 viewers for the Bouchard-Simona Halep semifnal, while the Canada-born Bouchard's quarterfinal win on Wednesday over Angelique Kerber attracted 304,000 viewers to TSN/RDS. Meanwhile, Canadian Milos Raonic's quarterfinal win on Wednesday over Nick Kyrgios attracted 545,000 viewers to TSN/RDS, making it one of the networks' top three most-watched, non-finals telecasts from Wimbledon on record. This year's tournament is the most-watched iteration of Wimbledon in TSN history (TSN).

LEAVING THE LADIES
: The GLOBE & MAIL's Elizabeth Renzetti writes when high-profile events like Wimbledon are over, there are "no more women athletes on TV." Outside of the Olympics and a "couple of other premium events, you’d have more luck finding a chocolate bar in Gwyneth Paltrow’s purse than a women’s sports match on prime-time TV in North America." During the rest of the year, you "cannot turn the channel without fear of being hit by an NHL puck or a college basketball rebound." But just "try to find a women’s soccer game or a Canadian Women’s Hockey League match." Sometimes you can find a WNBA game if you "reach into the back of the cupboard with a very long broom." Right now, if you "go searching for women’s sports on the website of the broadcaster Sportsnet you’ll have difficulty finding any -- but you will see a photo shoot called The Beauty Of Sport, featuring various female athletes in strenuous positions by swimming pools" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/7).
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