USA Today MLB writer Bob Nightengale on his Twitter account yesterday reported MLB Network analyst Barry Larkin "has joined the ESPN studios," leaving MLB Net (TWITTER.com, 2/14). Larkin took a role with MLB Net "shortly before it launched" in January '09 (AP, 2/14). He will have a studio role with ESPN (THE DAILY).
NO SPIKE IN INTEREST: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wonders "what the meeting was like at MSG when the brainiacs decided to give" director Spike Lee a microphone during the net's telecast of Friday's Lakers-Knicks game. MSG officials might have "thought putting him on in the second quarter during one of the biggest games of the season actually would not be a distraction," or they might have "thought Lee could bring eyeballs to the tube." But Raissman adds, "If that's the case, they were wrong -- on both counts. Lee did distract. And, as it turned out, things quickly went downhill for the Knicks during -- and after -- his appearance." The broadcast "would have been better served if Lee appeared in the second half" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/15).
ENCOURAGING SIGNS: Fox earned a 4.5 fast-national Nielsen rating and 7.8 million viewers for Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Shootout. While the rating is up 2.3%, viewership was off 4.7% from last year's telecast. The race gave Fox a win for the night among all nets (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes that Fox also earned a 1.9 overnight rating for Daytona 500 qualifying on Sunday afternoon, up 19%. Hiestand writes these are "very early TV returns," but after the "ratings drop in recent seasons ... NASCAR really needs TV upturns" (USA TODAY, 2/15).
LIVE FROM THE HOF: In Charlotte, Mark Washburn reports Speed's "NASCAR Performance," a "motor sports gear-head show," will move to the NASCAR HOF, "enabling it to have studio audiences." Weekly shows "will be taped beginning Feb. 21 in the Hall of Fame's Great Hall" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/15).