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CBS begins coverage of its final U.S. Open on Saturday, but if network execs "are melancholy about ending the network’s 46-year relationship with the event, they aren’t showing it," according to John Ourand in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said, "We’re going to use all the resources that we have used in the past." Execs prior to the tournament said that ad inventory was 90% sold, which is "pacing similar to the past several years." The net's approach "also will come through on-screen." McManus said that CBS "would not cut back on coverage during this lame duck year." Ourand reports CBS will have some programming that "gives a nod to its long relationship with the event." The net has "produced a series of vignettes that it will run throughout the U.S. Open, with topics ranging from Arthur Ashe winning in 1968 to sisters Venus and Serena Williams competing in the first women’s prime-time final in 2001" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/24 issue). SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted longtime CBS announcer Dick Enberg "will return to the booth on Aug. 31 to call a match with John McEnroe and Mary Carillo" (SI.com, 8/25). On Long Island, Neil Best notes Enberg also will "write and narrate a video look back at CBS' nearly five decades in Queens next weekend." Enberg: "They've asked me to take 47 years and condense it into four or five minutes. I enjoy writing, and that'll be a nice challenge" (NEWSDAY, 8/29).
GETTING HANDS-ON: CABLEFAX DAILY noted Tennis Channel is "airing a televised biography of Arthur Ashe" at the conclusion of its U.S. Open coverage Sunday at 11:00pm ET as part of its "Signature Series." Tennis Channel Chair & CEO Ken Solomon said, "This project was extremely personal for me and began with my discussions with [Ashe's widow] Jeanne Ashe quite some time ago." Solomon said while he has been "closely involved with many of our originals," this was "by far the most hands-on for me in working" with Tennis Channel VP/Original Programming Laura Hockridge and producer/director Nitin Varma (CABLEFAX DAILY, 8/29 issue).
The SEC Network "couldn’t have had a more auspicious debut" than Thursday night's telecast of the season-opening Texas A&M-South Carolina game, according to Cecil Hurt of the TUSCALOOSA NEWS. The crowd-noise lead-in "was perfect, far better than bombast from the booth would have been." The net's Brent Musburger "is a recognized voice that brought instant credibility." However, Jesse Palmer "is still developing as an analyst." He needs to be "more willing to tell us things that the average fan doesn’t know, not just point out the obvious" (TUSCALOOSA NEWS, 8/29). Meanwhile, the net's Paul Finebaum accidentally dislodged a piece of the broadcast desk during halftime, and YAHOO SPORTS' Nick Bromberg noted it "was clear that the tabletop of the SEC Network set is in four pieces for easy setup, removal and transport." The unsecured section is "a product of a new network." Bromberg: "There are bound to be some things go wrong in the first actual game broadcast, and if that was the only thing that went wrong at Williams-Brice, it's a good telecast" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/28).
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE: ROLLING STONE's Michael Weinreb wrote it is "almost unfathomable to imagine a scenario where the SEC Network, which reached agreements with nearly every major cable provider in advance of its launch, somehow fails" to be a success. The net is "an extension of the most wildly popular and successful college football entity of the modern era." It is "hard to describe the South's relationship with college football unless you've seen it for yourself." It "feels more intensely personal than anything I've ever seen in any sport, and all the SEC Network has to do to succeed is reflect this relationship in a way that doesn't seem patronizing." So the net "will show some live football games and it will employ the evangelistic presence of Tim Tebow, and -- perhaps most crucially -- it will feature a daily simulcast" of Finebaum's radio show. Finebaum is the "newspaper-columnist-turned-provocateur who in recent years has become the Howard Stern of the South" (ROLLINGSTONE.com, 8/28).
Rogers Communications yesterday announced its "45-person team for Sportsnet's NHL coverage in the network's first season with exclusive Canadian national television rights," according to the CP. Many of the "new additions come from CBC, including analysts Glenn Healy, Kelly Hrudey, Craig Simpson, P.J. Stock and Gary Galley and reporter Cassie Campbell-Pascall." Mike Johnson, formerly of the NHL Network, and Darren Pang, who has worked for the Blues and TSN, will "join as analysts, while Leah Hextall comes to Sportsnet from NESN in Boston as a reporter." Rogers also announced Rick Ball "would do play-by-play" on Flames broadcasts and Drew Remenda "would do analysis" on Oilers broadcasts (CP, 8/28).
VICE VERSA: In Philadelphia, Jeff Neiburg reported Flyers announcer Steve Coates will be "heading back to the radio booth" this season after spending the last 16 years as the team's TV color analyst. He will be "trading places" with former radio analyst Chris Therien. Coates previously worked on the team's radio broadcast from '91-97. Before that, he "served as studio host on the television broadcast." Therien has spent the past six seasons as part of the radio team, but he now "will head 'inside the glass'" on TV. He has "previous television experience, having spent time as an analyst" on CSN Philadelphia's postgame show (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 8/28). Also in Philadelphia, Jeff Blumenthal reported the club will "televise 70 games locally in the Philadelphia market," with 61 on CSN Philadelphia and nine on The Comcast Network. The remaining 12 games will be "exclusive national telecasts" on either NBC or NBCSN (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/27).
WE NEED A BIGGER BOAT: In San Jose, David Pollak reported Sharks radio analyst Jamie Baker is "moving into the TV booth" on CSN California to "fill the vacancy left" by Remenda, who was let go in June. Baker will "handle the TV commentary alongside play-by-play analyst Randy Hahn." Bret Hedican will "take Baker's place" on the radio side alongside Dan Rusanowsky. Baker will "continue to work with Rusanowsky on digital media and at special events." Hedican has "handled 'inside the glass' and studio coverage for CSNCA over the past five seasons." Additionally, Curtis Brown will have an "expanded broadcast role and serve as lead analyst in both the pre-game and post-game shows on CSNCA" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 8/27).
HOT PLATE: In Calgary, Randy Sportak reports announcer Derek Wills is the "new radio voice" for the Flames, "taking over for the retired Peter Maher." Wills received his "first crack at calling a NHL game this past season when he replaced Rick Jeanneret" for one Sabres broadcast (CALGARY SUN, 8/29).
The Little League World Series averaged 1.72 million viewers on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, the most-watched tournament ever and a 71% increase from last year. The event also earned a 1.1 final rating, up 57% from last year and the highest since ’02. ABC averaged a 2.7 rating and 4.16 million viewers for LLWS championship weekend coverage, the highest for each category since ’02. Ratings and viewership were up 35% and 36%, respectively, from ‘13. ABC averaged 5.19 million viewers for its telecast of the Illinois-Nevada U.S. Championship game on Saturday, a 65% increase from ’13 and the most-watched since ’02. Meanwhile, the South Korea-Illinois World Championship game Sunday averaged 5.34 million viewers, the most-watched broadcast since ‘03. The South Korea-Japan Int’l Championship game Saturday averaged 2.1 million viewers, also the most ever on ABC.
NOTES: Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol earned a 3.2 final rating and 5.08 million viewers on ABC for Joey Logano's win. Those numbers are down from a 3.9 rating and 6.32 million viewers last year, when Matt Kenseth held off Kasey Kahne. Saturday's race aired on alternate digital channels in 11 markets due to ABC affiliates airing NFL preseason games.....First-round WNBA Playoffs games on ESPN2 averaged a 0.2 rating and 262,000 viewers, up from a 0.1 rating and 200,000 viewers last year.
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from weekend sports telecasts.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RATINGVIEWERS (000) NFL Preseason: Bengals-Cardinals8/24NBC8:00-11:00pm4.57,000 NFL Preseason: Chargers-49ers8/24Fox4:00-7:00pm3.76,100 NFL Preseason: Raiders-Packers8/22CBS8:00-11:00pm3.55,500 LLWS Championship:
LLWS: U.S. Championship:
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Bristol8/23ABC7:30-11:10pm3.25,079 NFL Preseason: Saints-Colts8/23CBS8:00-11:00pm2.84,495 PGA Tour: The Barclays: Final Round8/24CBS2:00-6:00pm1.92,745 LLWS: Int'l Championship:
Women's Gymnastics: P&G Championships8/23NBC8:00-10:00pm1.32,000 PGA Tour: The Barclays: Third Round8/23CBS3:00-6:00pm1.41,903 Women's Gymnastics: P&G Championships8/24NBC2:30-4:00pm0.71,200 "World of X Games: Mammoth Flip"8/24ABC2:00-3:00pm0.81,045 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships8/24NBC1:00-2:30pm0.71,000 Breeders' Cup Challenge: Travers Stakes/Ballerina Stakes8/23NBC4:30-6:00pm0.6981 EPL: Everton-Arsenal8/23NBC12:30-2:30pm0.6850 "The Big Catch: 2014 Fox Sports Football Preview"8/24Fox3:00-4:00pm0.5764 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships8/23NBC3:30-4:30pm0.5751 Cycling: USA Pro Challenge: Stage 78/24NBC4:00-6:00pm0.4706 U.S. Open: Arthur Ashe Kids' Day8/24CBS12:00-1:30pm0.5686 Youth Olympic Games; Week 1 Highlights8/24NBC12:00-1:00pm0.5664 "CBS Salutes the U.S. Open"8/24CBS1:30-2:00pm0.5663 Red Bull Global Rallycross8/23NBC2:30-3:30pm0.4529 ATP: Winston-Salem Open Final:
Rosol d. Janowicz8/23CBS12:30-3:00pm0.4495
"Fantasy Football Uncensored"8/24Fox2:00-3:00pm0.3411