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Volume 24 No. 116


Fox topped all NFL Week Three Sunday games with a 15.8 overnight Nielsen rating for its national window featuring Packers-Bears in 81% of markets, up 11.3% from a 14.2 for CBS’ comparable national window last year, which featured Colts-Broncos. Earlier in the day, Fox’ regional coverage was down 9.5% from last year, while CBS’ singleheader was down 10.7%. NBC earned a 13.2 overnight Nielsen rating for last night’s Steelers-Colts “SNF” matchup, up 1.5% from a 13.0 for Jets-Dolphins in Week Three last year. The game led NBC to a win in primetime among all nets, despite 11 broadcast TV shows having their season premieres. The telecast peaked at a 14.4 rating from 11:00-11:30pm ET as the game was winding down. Pittsburgh led all markets with a 48.5 local rating, while Indianapolis finished second with a 40.7 rating (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

'11 GAME
'10 NET
'10 GAME
% +/-
Packers-Bears (81%)
Colts-Broncos (81%)

SAYING SORRY: During yesterday's “Fox NFL Sunday” pregame show, host Curt Menefee admitted headlines from the Sept. 11 Bears-Falcons game were not real and apologized to Bears QB Jay Cutler. Menefee noted during the game, the production crew "displayed an incorrect graphic." Menefee: "Now the production team told our announcer Darryl Johnston that a taped video package that made the air came from actual headlines concerning” Cutler’s performance during last year’s NFC Championship game. Menefee: "Well, in fact they were not. Fox Sports regrets this mistake and apologizes to Cutler, the Chicago Bears organization and everyone involved” (“Fox NFL Sunday,” 9/25). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes it was the “worst apology.” The apology "laid the blame on the production staff and not” Johnston, who said these were "actual headlines from the local papers in Chicago." Jones: “This is a major blunder. It's a serious breach of ethics and undermines Fox's credibility.” Fox apologized “only after the Chicago Tribune uncovered the truth.” Jones: “If the Tribune had not checked it out, would we have gotten an apology Sunday?” (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/26). YAHOO SPORTS’ Matthew Darnell wrote the apology “feels a little incomplete,” and it “sounds like they're apologizing just for telling Johnston that the headlines were real, and not for the fact that they completely fabricated headlines.” Darnell: “It's not the kind of story I'm going to lose sleep over, but it will make it a little harder to trust Fox in the future” (, 9/25).

BUCKING THE TREND: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley writes Joe Buck’s voice “has recovered much of its force.” Buck called Fox' Packers-Bears game yesterday and Wolfley notes his voice is “not all the way back,” as it is “still lacking at those moments in a football game when an announcer needs it the most” (, 9/25). In Chicago, David Haugh noted since Buck brought attention to Cutler last week “for isolating himself from teammates on the sideline after a second-half rant during the Saints loss, a perception grew that either he or Fox has developed an anti-Jay agenda.” But Haugh wrote this was Buck “describing a scene obvious to everybody in the press box” and partner Troy Aikman “providing perspective.” Haugh: “This was a professional doing his job.” Buck said, "A week later, it's almost crazy trying to assign some sort of deep meaning behind something that, at the time, was you just making an observation” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/25).

NETWORK ROUNDUP: The ST. PETERSBURG TIMES’ Jones writes CBS’ Boomer Esiason "made some serious allegations" during "The NFL Today," claiming the Cowboys weren’t up front to QB Tony Romo on his injury. Esiason: "In my estimation, reading everything, listening to everybody, he was either lied to or he was misdiagnosed. Lied to or misdiagnosed. In both cases, that's negligent." Meanwhile, Jones writes give Fox “credit for continuing to think outside the box by adding a medical expert on its NFL coverage” (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/26). In Baltimore, David Zurawik writes, “Give the CBS broadcast team credit for this: Even though the Baltimore Ravens game was a blowout, they never totally lost their focus.” The Ravens defeated the Rams 37-7 yesterday and CBS’ Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots “tried to generate some enthusiasm at the microphone right up until the end of the broadcast, and that's not easy in a game that was never in doubt” (BALTIMORE SUN, 9/26). In Denver, Dusty Sanders writes CBS’ Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker “kept Sunday's Broncos-Titans game in a clear focus.” Tasker was “up to the task of pinpointing key offensive and defensive schemes of both teams, despite leaning too heavily on the traditional cliches: ‘He does a great job …’ or ‘He does a nice job …’” (DENVER POST, 9/26). 

VOICING HIS OPINION: In San Jose, Daniel Brown noted when the 49ers “pushed longtime analyst Gary Plummer out of the radio booth, I was among those to worry that Plummer's blunt assessments would be replaced by someone who would stamp a smiley face on even the worst defeat.” But Brown wrote, “I was dead wrong.” Eric Davis “exploded the notion that he is anybody's house organ last Sunday by blistering the 49ers during a 27-24 loss” to the Cowboys. Davis said that, from “the start, no one from the 49ers has given the slightest hint that there would be restrictions on what he can say or how he can say it” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/25).

BROADCASTING FUTURE? USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand notes Comcast Sports Southeast hired former NFLer Brett Favre as an announcer for his alma mater Southern Mississippi's game against Rice on Saturday. But Favre said he is "not committing to a new career in broadcasting." ESPN VP/PR Josh Krulewitz said about Favre potentially joining the net's roster of analysts, "As we've said in the past, if he has an interest in a broadcasting career, we would be open to a discussion with him" (, 9/26).

Sony’s “‘Moneyball’ boasted the top opening of all time for a baseball pic, not accounting for inflation,” according to Pamela McClintock of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. "The Lion King," however, “trumped" the baseball drama, finishing the weekend first at the box office with $22.1M. "Moneyball" grossed an “estimated $20.6 million” and ended its opening weekend in a "close race with 3D family offering 'Dolphin Tale'” (, 9/25). Analysts “projected the movie would do $16 million to $23 million” (USA TODAY, 9/26). DAILY VARIETY’s Andrew Stewart noted, “Appealing to adult auds, ‘Moneyball’ started the weekend with a slight edge on Friday.” Sony President of Worldwide Distribution Rory Bruer said that “‘Moneyball’ played mostly to over-25 auds (64%), but added that the film likely will broaden to younger moviegoers in the coming weeks.” Bruer: “A film like ‘Moneyball' during opening weekend attracts mostly an older audience. So there’s not that call to action like there is with films that attract younger audiences” (, 9/25). The AP’s David Germain wrote, “It was a solid start for a film that looked dead in the water after Sony benched a previous version of 'Moneyball' just days before shooting was to start in 2009” (AP, 9/25).

TWO THUMBS UP: found that 91% of audience members "liked" the movie. Its average audience rating on the site is 4.2 out of five stars (THE DAILY). In L.A., Amy Kaufman writes Brad Pitt’s “performance is already being buzzed about by awards pundits,” and based on findings from Las Vegas-based market research firm CinemaScore, “those who saw the film also seemed to like it, giving the movie an average grade of A.” Execs at Sony “are hopeful the strong score means the film will gross four to five times what it made this weekend by the end of its run in theaters” (L.A. TIMES, 9/26). But despite a successful opening, the film "will be hard pressed to challenge" the all-time top grossing baseball movie, "A League of Their Own," at $107.5M. Rounding out the top five highest-grossing baseball movies are "The Rookie" ($75.6M), "Field Of Dreams" ($64.4M), "The Benchwarmers" ($59.8M) and "Rookie of the Year" ($53.6M) (, 9/23).

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS: Former A's manager Art Howe spoke to SiriusXM Radio's Chris Russo about his portrayal in the film. Howe: "It's disappointing. I spent my whole career trying to build a good reputation and I think I did that but this movie certainly doesn't help it. And it is definitely unfair and untrue. If you ask any player that ever played for me they would say that they never saw this side of me." Howe is played by Philip Seymour Hoffman in the film (, 9/24).

If the NBA does not play the '11-12 season, "national carriers ABC/ESPN and TNT will lose as much as $1.25 billion in ad sales revenue," according to Josh Chetwynd of DAILY VARIETY. Add in "regional sports nets, some of which struggle even harder than the national nets to find substitute product for the high-profile NBA, and there is no doubt a lot is at stake." But the "amount of damage that canceled games will have on the networks will differ greatly depending on their inventory of other programming options." TNT, for example, "was able to fill its NBA timeslots with films and other product that actually outperformed their expected NBA ratings." ESPN also has a "deep roster of sporting options and sports docs to cover any lost scheduling." But for RSNs "that rely on a single sport for many different times of year -- such as baseball in spring and basketball in the winter -- matters will be more difficult." Former CBS Sports President Neal Pilson said, "For the regionals, the impact is meaningful. ESPN can move advertising to college basketball and Turner can move some of the money to entertainment properties, but for RSNs that don't have hockey, for them, this would be serious." But "not everybody believes RSNs will take such a huge hit." Former Turners Sports President and YankeesNet CEO Harvey Schiller said RSNs "still are getting their subscriber fees, which are really the heart and soul" of their revenue. But he added, "The advertising revenue is typically equal to the cost of production, so without producing anything, their operating costs go down dramatically" (, 9/24).

The Dodgers "have secured a new multiyear deal to move their local radio rights to KLAC-AM" beginning next season, according to a source cited by Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. TIMES. The deal has not been announced, but it "has been approved by" MLB. The team has been at talk radio KABC-AM "for the last four seasons" (, 9/23). Sources indicated that the deal "will be for as long as five years, but because of the way it is structured, there is no indication as to how much money it would provide" Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt with up front to "continue to help him make team payroll" (, 9/23). The Dodgers "apparently got the OK through bankruptcy court to approve the move" (, 9/22). All of the team's "in-game radio broadcasters, including Hall of Famers Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrin as well as Charley Steiner, Rick Monday, Pepe Yniguez and Fernando Valenzuela, are under contract to the Dodgers and thus won't be affected by the switch." However, "postgame Dodger Talk hosts Josh Suchon and Joe Block could be left without jobs less than a year after Block moved to town to assume that duty for KABC" (, 9/23).

NBC yesterday earned a 1.4 overnight Nielsen rating for the final round of the Tour Championship, which saw Bill Haas defeat Hunter Mahan in a playoff to simultaneously claim the tournament and FedExCup titles. That rating is up slightly from a 1.3 overnight for the final round last year, when Jim Furyk took home both titles. This year's overnight, however, is down 58% from a 3.3 overnight in '09, when Phil Mickelson held off Tiger Woods for the tournament victory, with Woods still winning the FedExCup. NBC also earned a 1.1 overnight for its third round coverage on Saturday, down from a 1.2 last year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes most people in the area were probably “paying attention to the Rays and the NFL," and that is "too bad because you would have missed the best sports broadcast of the weekend -- NBC’s coverage of the PGA Tour’s Tour Championship." The last hour or so “might have been the best golf coverage of the year” (ST PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/26)

Bill Haas Bill Haas
Jim Furyk Jim Furyk
Phil Mickelson Tiger Woods
Camilo Villegas Vijay Singh
Tiger Woods Tiger Woods

CHART NOTE: * = Tiger Woods did not play in Tour Championship.

PRESIDENTIAL PARDON: The synergy between NBC and its sister network, Golf Channel, will be on display during coverage of the Presidents Cup in November. Golf Channel will carry 27 hours of all four rounds of the international competition live Nov. 16-20, marking the first time all four rounds of a Presidents Cup played outside of North America is presented live. NBC will show 14 hours of taped coverage over the weekend, and Golf Channel will add 9 more hours of taped coverage. Melbourne has a 16-hour time difference (John Ourand, THE DAILY).

BIG FISTS, BIG NUMBERS: MULTICHANNEL NEWS’ Thomas Umstead cited industry sources as estimating that the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Victor Ortiz fight “has generated at least 1 million PPV buys, making it the second boxing event in 2011 to hit the category’s gold performance standard: Showtime’s May 7 Manny Pacaquiao-Shane Mosley fight drew approximately 1.2 million buys.” If the estimation holds, “it will be Mayweather’s third straight 1 million PPV buy event” (, 9/24). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote when HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant “lost control” and fired back at Mayweather during a post-fight interview, he made himself “nothing more than an older version of the trash-talking Mayweather.” Raissman: “Worse still, Merchant made himself a huge part of the story, something that should be avoided at all costs. … Merchant came off as another snarky hairdo starved for some attention” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/25).