Turner data through March 20 shows that cable and broadcast TV viewership "continued on their divergent paths in 1Q and during the '10-'11 season, with both periods marked by cable's 1st-time achievements of a 60% HH share and 50% share" in the adults 18-49 demo. The "top driver ... has been sports." ESPN's bowl coverage in its first year of rights to the BCS generated nine of Q1's "top 10 cable programs in total viewership," with the "other ESPN's MNF." Turner Sports' "coverage of March Madness hasn't hurt, either." By comparison, broadcast's numbers are "going lower and lower" in both HH share and share of adults 18-49 (CABLEFAX DAILY, 3/28).
FREEDOM OF SPEECH: In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont congratulated NBC's broadcast crew for coverage of the March 20 Rangers-Penguins game, "specifically rinkside reporter Pierre McGuire, for his poignant call-out" following Penguins LW Matt Cooke's elbow to Rangers D Ryan McDonagh's jaw that earned Cooke a lengthy suspension. NESN viewers are "deprived the same level of scrutiny during Bruins broadcasts," as it is "abundantly, even risibly clear that the order from NESN headquarters is never to utter a discouraging word." Dupont: "In a town where the viewing audience knows good, bad and charade, NESN's good-times-nothing-but-good-times parody is an insult to a paying, knowing audience." Still, NESN earned a 6.6 local rating for Thursday's Canadiens-Bruins game, its "best rating in 27 years of covering the club," which is "proof that Bruins viewers appreciate the it's-all-good spin" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/27).
HEARING FANS' CONCERNS: American Le Mans Series CEO Scott Atherton issued a statement in response to criticism of the series' new TV deal with ABC and ESPN. Atherton noted critiques of ABC and ESPN3's broadcast of this month's Twelve Hours of Sebring, the first broadcast under the new deal, included that there was "no ABC broadcast on the West Coast" and that ABC showing 90 minutes for a 12-hour race was "unacceptable." Also, some viewers complained that they "couldn't get" ESPN3.com, or that they got ESPN3 but it was of "poor quality." Atherton: "Our new ESPN television package has everyone talking. Some loved it and thought it was among the best telecasts we have ever done -- others, for a variety of reasons, did not. We want everyone to know that we are listening -- and responding" (AMERICANLEMANS.com, 3/24).
MOVING ACROSS THE DIAL: In Denver, Penny Parker reported ESPN Radio will switch from KKFN-FM and ESPN Radio 1600 Denver to "dial positions owned by the fledgling Front Range Sports Network, beginning Jan. 1." ESPN Radio programming "will air on Front Range Sports stations The Ticket, which moves from 87.7 FM to 102.3 FM March 31." Front Range Sports Network Manager Tom Manoogian said that "some of ESPN's programs could be slotted on" company -owned KJAC-FM, an "all-music station." Parker noted Lincoln Financial Media, owner of KKFN and ESPN Radio 1600, "opted not to renew its contract" with ESPN (DENVER POST, 3/27).