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Rory McIlroy's two-shot win over Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia at the British Open yesterday earned ESPN a 2.6 overnight from 8:00am-2:00pm ET. The 2.6 overnight rating for McIlroy’s third career major win is down 28% from a 3.6 rating last year for Phil Mickelson’s three-shot, come-from-behind win over Henrik Stenson. It also matches ESPN's figure in '10 for Louis Oosthuizen's seven-stroke win, which was the first year the tournament moved exclusively to ESPN from weekend coverage on ABC. McIlroy entered yesterday's round with a six-shot lead. The 2.6 figure remains ESPN's low mark for the British Open final round since the move to cable TV, while the 3.6 last year was the cable net’s best figure. Yesterday's 2.6 overnight also is down 21% from a 3.3 overnight for Ernie Els’ one-shot win over Adam Scott in ’12. Tiger Woods finished 69th in this year’s British Open, tied for sixth last year and tied for third in ’12. Saturday’s third round coverage drew a 1.2 overnight on ESPN, which began earlier than normal due to the threat of inclement weather (5:00-11:15am telecast). Last year's Saturday coverage from 7:00-9:00am drew a 1.2 overnight, while coverage from 9:00am-2:45pm drew a 3.1 rating.
In Raleigh, Luke DeCock poses the question, "Has the time come for an ACC Network, an actual channel dedicated to the conference?" The "easy answer is yes," as there has "never been a better time to start a sports network of any kind." But the conference "has taken a surprisingly equivocal tone about its television future." ACC Commissioner John Swofford said, "You really have to look at it strategically from a business standpoint to determine whether it makes the most sense long term, because it’s a long-term decision." He added, "We want to be diligent. And by we, I’m talking about us, the league, but also ESPN. You don’t take that step unless you feel pretty confident it will be a successful business venture for both entities" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 7/21).
BLEEP BUTTON? In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy wrote it is "fair to say" that WEEI-FM was "slow to react" when host Kirk Minihane called Fox Sports' Erin Andrews a "gutless (expletive)" on the air Wednesday morning. Folks at the station were "so clueless that they re-aired the segment a little later in the morning" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/20).
ISLAND IN THE SUN: In Honolulu, Ferd Lewis reported Oceanic Time Warner Cable will offer eight Univ. of Hawaii's football games "on pay-per-view this season." It is Oceanic's "largest menu" of UH games since '11 and will "come with a $400 'early bird' rate on Oahu." Packages purchased after the deadline "will cost $450 on Oahu and $270 on the neighbor islands" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 7/20).
FLAVOR OF THE WEEK: In N.Y., Bob Raissman noted YES Network’s “This Week in Football,” which has been on the RSN for 12 years, "won’t be returning this season." Economics "played a role." Fox, which owns a majority stake in YES, is "looking to trim budgets at all their regional sports networks, making 'TWIF' expendable" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/20).