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Volume 24 No. 159


CBS' coverage of the Patriots-Eagles game in the late window yesterday led all Sunday NFL broadcasts, drawing a 15.6 overnight Nielsen rating. The game was down 13.3% from Fox' comparative coverage of Eagles-Bears last year in the national window. CBS' regional coverage at 1:00pm ET earned a 12.2 rating, headlined by Bills-Jets. NBC's Steelers-Chiefs broadcast last night drew a 12.5 overnight rating, down 3.8% from the Chargers-Colts matchup in '10. Last night's game did win the night in primetime for NBC. Pittsburgh was the highest metered-market for the game, drawing a 50.7 rating, while K.C. was second with a 33.8 mark. Fox' single-header drew a 11.7 rating, up 8.3% from CBS' single-game coverage last year (THE DAILY).

THANKSGIVING FEAST: NFL Network's Thanksgiving Night 49ers-Ravens game averaged 10.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched program in the net's eight-year history and the most-watched cable program on Thanksgiving Day since Nielsen data became available in '94. The viewership for the game was up more than 50% from the net's comparable Bengals-Jets game last year. Through three games this season, "Thursday Night Football" is averaging 7.5 million viewers, up 28% over '10. Fox' broadcast of the Packers' win over the Lions earned a 15.8 overnight rating, up 7.5% from last year, when the net had the Saints-Cowboys late-window game. The same matchup drew a 12.1 rating in the early window in '09. CBS' Dolphins-Cowboys late afternoon game drew a 15.3 overnight rating, up 2% from a 15.0 for last year's early-window Patriots-Lions game on CBS and up 20% from a 12.6 for the comparable late-window Raiders-Cowboys game in '09. The 15.3 is the highest overnight rating for a Thanksgiving Day game on CBS since the net reacquired NFL rights in '98 (THE DAILY). In Baltimore, David Zurawik noted NFL Network "delivered a telecast that was in a league with NBC's 'Sunday Night Football,' and that is as good as TV football gets." Zurawik: "Much praise to Rich Eisen, Deion Sanders, Steve Mariucci, Marshall Faulk and Michael Irvin for their endurance if nothing else." They "rarely faltered" during a live two-and-a-half-hour pregame show Thursday morning, and they were "still bringing their A-games to the screen at 8 p.m." If Sanders "gets an 'A' for enthusiasm, Eisen gets a grade of 'A-plus' for stamina." But Zurawik noted, "More importantly, he also sets a smart tone for the shows he hosts without being pretentious." Zurawik wrote, "The real surprise of the day and night for me was the game coverage featuring Brad Nessler doing play-by-play and Mike Mayock as analyst" (Baltimore SUN, 11/26).

HARSH WORDS FOR HARSH ACTION: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted Fox' Joe Buck and Troy Aikman Thursday were "harder on Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for getting ejected in the third quarter of the Packers-Lions game than the Fox studio analysts were after the telecast." "The NFL Today" studio analysts on CBS "were the hardest of all on Suh." After the incident was replayed for the first time, Aikman said, "Really there is no defense you can give Ndamukong Suh. It was not a very smart play, a dumb play, and really he could be facing a suspension." CBS' Boomer Esiason said, "I do believe an intervention is needed here. Because this young man once again (shows) a lack of respect for a fellow football player. And his actions are deplorable" (, 11/24). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes Suh also "had to be ritually scolded Sunday." Fox' Mike Pereira said Suh "is beyond being a dirty player." Esiason said that Suh "needs at least a four-game suspension" (USA TODAY, 11/28).

STOP THE BLACKOUTS: In Cincinnati, Sharon Coolidge reported U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is "backing a fan group's effort to end National Football League blackouts, asking the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider a 1973 regulation that allows sports leagues to black out broadcasts of local games when they don't sell out." Coolidge noted even if Brown "prevails with the FCC, it's unlikely the NFL will change its policy." Brown "asked the NFL to reconsider the policy last year without success." The Browns-Bengals game yesterday was "blacked out, the fourth time in five home games this year" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 11/24).

STANDOUT IN THE BOOTH: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick wrote what sets CBS' Phil Simms "apart from -- and above -- TV's other NFL analysts doesn't reveal itself when he's right or when he speaks sense, but when he's wrong and he speaks nonsense." To that end, Simms "succinctly and suddenly speaks the kind of Main Street football sense that on so many other telecasts is lost to pointless, endless word noise" (N.Y. POST, 11/25).

READY TO ORDER SOME APPS? In N.Y., Bob Tedeschi reviewed several new football-themed apps. The $90 Pro Football Picks is the "most ambitious." But Tedeschi noted for the price, "the app could be better." It "should offer results, analysis and betting lines that are updated more frequently." iOdds, on the other hand, is free and is "intended more for bettors than casual pool participants." As a result, some of the terminology "will puzzle recreational gamblers." If you can "understand such concepts, though, iOdds offers great value." Virtual Bet, which is also free, is "worth checking." It "isn't nearly as comprehensive as iOdds, but it scores points for simplicity" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/24).

NBC earned a 1.0 overnight Nielsen rating for its coverage of Red Wings-Bruins Friday afternoon, the net's first NHL broadcast on Black Friday (THE DAILY). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes the rating is "almost what NBC averages for NHL regular-season games." The broadcast was "an attempt to expand NHL TV interest before NBC TV games start in January" (USA TODAY, 11/28). NBC Sports and Versus Exec Producer Sam Flood said NBC wants to make playing an NHL game on Black Friday a "national tradition." Flood: "It really is a wonderful way to showcase the NHL. It’s our way of getting people to take a break from their shopping, to enjoy a malt beverage or two, and watch a matchup of Original Six teams. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?" Versus' Mike Milbury said, "Football, the NFL, owns Thanksgiving, and I don’t know why we can’t own the next day. You have sort of a captive audience on that Friday." The game featured a microphone on referee Kelly Sutherland. In Boston, Chad Finn noted NBC "promoted the game nearly to the extent it does the Winter Classic" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/25).

EAST COAST BIAS? In Denver, Adrian Dater wrote he is "starting to go along with some of the many who believe the NHL doesn't care enough about its Western Conference teams when it comes to marketing and television exposure." Dater asked, "Why is it that every single nationally televised game, or so it seems, has to feature an Eastern Conference team?" Last season, there "was just one NBC Sunday game of the week that featured two Western Conference teams -- Detroit vs. Chicago." This season, there is "only one such game scheduled and, you guessed it, it's Chicago vs. Detroit on Jan. 14." There has "been one all-Western Winter Classic before." Dater: "Anyone want to take a guess what the two teams were?" Dater continued, "I understand why Eastern teams get on national TV more. The league's two most marketable players -- [Penguins C] Sidney Crosby and [Capitals LW] Alex Ovechkin -- play in the East. NBC is based in New York, and so primarily is the NHL's head office. ... But come on, would a San Jose-Los Angeles or L.A.-Anaheim game really draw much poorer ratings than, say, Boston-Rangers or Philly-Washington?" (DENVER POST, 11/27).

The Padres will return to XEPRS-AM next season, and former MLBer Bob Scanlan "will join the play-by-play tandem of Ted Leitner and Andy Masur in the booth," according to Bill Center of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. HOF analyst Jerry Coleman "will also return with a limited schedule." Scanlan has been an analyst for the Padres pre- and postgame shows on Cox Channel 4. Center noted Padres President & COO Tom Garfinkel is "trying to retool the Padres' radio package, which is why the new contract with [XEPRS]-AM is for one season with a club option for beyond the 2012 contract." Leitner "signed a two-year contract with the Padres; the three returning members of the radio team all took pay cuts." The '12 season "will be the ninth straight" that XEPRS-AM carries Padres' radio broadcasts. Garfinkel said that the Padres "will review their radio future and options during the 2012 season" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 11/24). In California, John Maffei noted the XEPRS-AM pre- and postgame shows "will remain the same under the new one-year deal." Garfinkel said, "To the listeners, the broadcasts won't feel any different. A lot of the things the listeners like about the broadcasts will stay the same" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 11/24).

PLENTY OF OPTIONS DEBATED: Maffei cited sources as saying that the Padres "tried everything from buying a station, going to an FM station, taking the broadcasts in-house, to carrying games only on the internet." But in the end, the team went back to XERPS, where the "station pays no rights fees, the team picks up much of the expenses, but keeps the majority of the ad revenues." Meanwhile, Maffei noted the Padres as of Friday "still haven't announced a TV deal." KSWB-TV "will be the destination, but nothing has been announced." Garfinkel said, "While we continue to move along, [nothing] is imminent." Sources said that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "would like to approve the Padres' deal, but is holding off, pending the outcome of the Dodgers' case." Cox Channel 4 sources have said that Fox execs "have inquired about renting Channel 4's studios near Petco Park." Maffei noted several "key members of the Padres' TV production crew have been contacted about working games for Fox." Additionally, Fox has "asked Cox if it can open a channel for Padres' telecasts" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 11/25).