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Volume 24 No. 156


ESPN earned a 10.0 overnight Nielsen rating for the Saints' blowout win over the Giants last night on "MNF," up 23% from an 8.1 rating for the comparative 49ers-Cardinals "MNF" game in '10. Giants-Saints earned a 17.4 rating on ESPN and a 43.6 rating on WDSU-NBC in New Orleans. The N.Y. market saw the game draw a 10.1 rating on ESPN and a 5.6 rating on WWOR-MYT (THE DAILY).

COLTS CUT FROM TV: In Indiana, Justin Cohn noted the Colts' game against the Panthers Sunday did not air in the Ft. Wayne market for the "first time in at least a decade." WISE-Fox "had the rights to the Colts' home game, but it could only broadcast one game because CBS had the doubleheader Sunday." The station chose instead to air Bears-Raiders in the late-window. WISE President & GM Jerry Giesler said, "We talked a lot about it internally. Of course, the year in, year out logical choice would be the Colts. Absolutely, no question. The reason we went with the Bears was to follow the compelling story, their (playoff) hopes alive, a new quarterback." Ft. Wayne is "considered a secondary market" for the Colts (Ft. Wayne JOURNAL GAZETTE, 11/28).

WHEN YOU GOTTA GO....: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir noted during Sunday's Chargers-Broncos game on CBS, instead of going to commercials after the Broncos tied the game with less than two minutes to play, CBS "stayed live, alternating sideline shots with highlights and statistics in advance" of the Broncos' kickoff to the Chargers. During that time, cameras caught Chargers K Nick Novak kneeling on the sidelines going to the bathroom. CBS announcers Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts "said nothing about Novak" at the time. Eagle yesterday said, "Doing this for as long as I've done it, your instincts kick in, and there was nothing I could say that would further punctuate the moment." He added, "This is my 14th year calling the NFL and I’ve never noticed a player on the sidelines relieving himself" (, 11/28). Meanwhile, WTVT-Fox in Tampa has "apologized for an 'inappropriate' live shot during the station’s postgame report that included a nude Tampa Bay Buccaneers player in the locker room." Bucs OT Donald Penn "was in a group interview that WTVT was broadcasting while an unidentified player dressed in the background showing viewers 'full frontal nudity'” (, 11/29).

TUNING IN LOCALLY: WBZ-CBS earned a 38.7 rating for Sunday's Patriots-Eagles game, making it the highest-rated Patriots game of the season in the market. Of the Patriots' 10 games with recorded ratings, eight have been gotten at least a 30.0 mark locally, including six which have eclipsed a 35.0 rating. Sunday's mark surpassed the previous season high of 38.5, which was recorded Nov. 6 against the Giants (Patriots)....The Packers' Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions earned a 37.0 local rating and averaged 336,000 HHs in Milwaukee on WITI-Fox, the "lowest local rating for any Packers game this season." The previous 10 Packers telecasts "had averaged about 441,000 local households." Household ratings for Thanksgiving games are "traditionally low compared to garden variety Sunday games, when viewers are not as displaced from their homes" (, 11/28).

As the Minnesota Senate "begins hearings Tuesday on a Vikings stadium, both the team and stadium critics have repeatedly pointed to the Vikings television ratings to bolster their case," according to a front-page piece by Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Vikings ratings locally "in recent years have been among the best in the league," and the team last year "boasted the fifth best television ratings" in the NFL. For the Vikings, the ratings "show how the team is woven into the fabric of Minnesota." However, stadium critics are using the ratings to show that the NFL, "despite subtle hints, is unlikely to abandon such a lucrative television market." Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said that the ratings "are a ready-made argument for a public subsidy package to help the Vikings build a $1.1 billion stadium in Ramsey County's Arden Hills." However, Taxpayers League of Minnesota President Phil Krinkie said that the ratings "show there is little likelihood the Vikings would leave Minnesota -- with or without a new stadium." Krinkie: "This is all about money for (an NFL) owner, right? So why would you want to move a team out of Minnesota? These people aren't stupid." Kaszuba notes NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy "acknowledged that 'fan support is among the factors' considered by the league when allowing a franchise to relocate, as is a 'viable stadium solution.'" McCarthy added that the NFL "has not done an analysis of why Minnesota's television ratings have been so high" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/29).

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series averaged a 3.8 U.S. rating and 6.5 million viewers for 33 telecasts across Fox, TNT, ABC and ESPN this season (rainouts excluded), up 6% and 10%, respectively, from 34 races last season and marking the Sprint Cup’s first year-over-year TV audience gains since '05. The average of 6.5 million viewers per race was the highest level since the ’08 season. Each network partner also saw gains in audience this year. Fox averaged 8.6 million viewers for its 13 races to start the season (+10%), TNT’s six races averaged 5.1 million viewers (+3%), ABC averaged 5.6 million viewers for three primetime races (+1%) and ESPN averaged 5.1 million viewers for 11 races (+7%). The Chase for the Sprint Cup also averaged 5.0 million viewers across ESPN and ABC, up 11% from last year.


ESPN “sat on a 2002 taped conversation between Laurie Fine, the wife of recently fired Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine and Bobby Davis, the man accusing Fine of molesting him, for nearly a decade” before airing it this past weekend, according to Sofia Fernandez of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The net said that it did not broadcast the phone call until Sunday because it “did not have corroboration on the charges.” ESPN's Mark Schwarz Sunday said, "We didn't have a corroborating second alleged victim and so we kept the tape for eight years not really knowing what to do with it until the second alleged victim, Mike Lang, came forward" (, 11/28). The tape aired 10 days after ESPN first reported on the allegations against Fine, and ESPN Senior VP & Dir of News Vince Doria said, “When we had the audio in the past we had never been able to confirm that it was Laurie Fine. Part of it was we had no independent video of her and her voice." Doria: "This time around when we re-engaged on the story we did in fact have a video we found on-line of her serving a meal to Bernie and a number of young men who may or may not have been Syracuse players. In this video you could clearly hear her.” Doria added, “At the same time we felt we really wanted to go to the Fines and present this evidence to them and give them the opportunity to respond in order to be as fair as possible. … We were preparing to likely report this on Tuesday, November 29. We were going to give the Fines and their lawyer until the beginning of this week to respond. When the Syracuse Post-Standard story broke over the weekend of a third alleged victim … we felt the story had now risen to the level where we were comfortable putting the tape out” (, 11/28). Syracuse Post-Standard Senior Managing Editor Stan Linhorst "refused to answer any questions about the paper's reporting" (, 11/29). 

WHY WAS TAPE NOT GIVEN TO AUTHORITIES? Syndicated radio host Dan Patrick said of ESPN’s handling of the Fine story: “You have a tape with Bernie Fine’s accuser talking to Bernie Fine’s wife. … If the mothership had this for almost a decade, how did it not end up in the hands of the police? … How do you not give it to the authorities and say, ‘Guys, this is what’s been happening, this is what’s happened.’” (“The Dan Patrick Show,” 11/28). In N.Y., Dick Weiss notes there are “questions about the way ESPN and the Syracuse Post-Standard handled the Davis tape.” If the news agencies “believed the tape was evidence of criminal activity and were interested in justice for the alleged victim, why didn’t they immediately turn it over to authorities?" Weiss asks, “Why in 2011 -- eight years after it first heard the tape -- did ESPN decide to hire a voice recognition expert to verify Laurie Fine’s identity” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/29).'s Jason Whitlock writes, "We need a plausible explanation for whatever gave ESPN and The Post-Standard pause in 2003 and again last week. It can't simply be because there was no third accuser" (, 11/29).

Illinois-based Sportvision and Massachusetts-based TruMedia Networks have struck a joint venture partnership to create a new analytics baseball platform for minor league baseball teams. The system will seek to blend data capture technologies including motion capturing from Sportvision -- such as its PITCHf/x for pitching, HITf/x for hitting, FIELDf/x for fielding and so forth -- with statistical analysis, video clipping and visualization elements from TruMedia Networks. The companies will co-sell the combined product mainly to MLB teams for use within their various minor league affiliates. "What this will now allow is a standardized evaluation system throughout an entire organization," said Sportvision GM of Baseball Products Ryan Zander. Sportvision and TruMedia Networks will participate in an undisclosed revenue sharing agreement. "We've each been working with major league clubs, but each on our own discovered that there is a pressing need for minor league solutions of this kind of depth," said TruMedia Networks CEO Rafe Anderson.

In N.Y., Bob Raissman cited sources as saying that ESPN "would not hesitate" to bring Terry Francona into its "Sunday Night Baseball" booth to replace analyst Bobby Valentine should Valentine fill the Red Sox' managerial vacancy created by Francona's departure last month. Francona subbed for Fox' Tim McCarver during the first two games of the ALCS, and Raissman noted Francona "wasn't just well received by critics and fans alike -- they went gaga over him." Prior to his brief stint on Fox, Francona had "only one previous broadcast booth experience." The "extremely positive feedback would provide ESPN brass at least one layer of security if it decided to hire Francona for its marquee 'SNB' package." The composition of ESPN's "SNB" booth also "would provide Francona with adequate cover," as he would work alongside play-by-play announcer Dan Shulman and analyst Orel Hershiser, who can "inhale plenty of air time with his opinions" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/27).

: In L.A., Mike Hiserman noted with less than five minutes to play in Penn State's loss to Wisconsin Saturday, ESPN's Sean McDonough tried "to make a case for interim Coach Tom Bradley taking over the program on a permanent basis." McDonough started by "noting that new university President Rodney Erickson had 'worked alongside' [former President] Graham Spanier, the president the school purged when it also fired iconic football coach Joe Paterno." McDonough continued, "So if the argument against Tom Bradley is … he was there, he must have known. Why doesn't the same apply to Rod Erickson?" Hiserman wrote, "Sometimes announcers need to be saved from themselves, so you have to wonder why ESPN producers ... weren't whispering -- or screaming -- in Sean McDonough's ear" (L.A. TIMES, 11/27).

THE JOKE'S ON HIM: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote the weekend's "worst attempt at humor" came when ESPN "College GameDay" analyst Lee Corso tried to make a joke out of his use of a curse word a week earlier by "putting a piece of tape over his mouth during his prediction segment." Jones: "You said a bad word during the middle of the day on a show that kids might watch. You apologized. Now just move on instead of turning the whole thing into a gag" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/28).

FORGIVE & FORGET? In St. Louis, Dan Caesar noted it "appears that Dan McLaughlin will find out if he'll be back in the Cardinals' TV booth in the next week or so." While his "return looked like a long shot in the weeks shortly after he was arrested in late September on his second drunken driving charge in 13 months, all indications now are that he has a good chance of being retained." Working in McLaughlin's "favor is that he has been extremely up front about his situation, not holding back about criticizing himself in a recent interview when he addressed his troubles and seemed sincere" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/25).

In St. Petersburg, Damian Cristodero notes Lightning VP & GM Steve Yzerman believes Versus "unnecessarily" criticized the Lightning during a Nov. 9 game against the Flyers. Yzerman said that it is time to "put the whole 1-3-1 controversy to bed ... especially as it pertains to Versus, whose commentators, he believes, unfairly ignited the whole thing in the first place." Yzerman: "At this stage we decided we have no interest in getting into a feud with Versus." But he added the team holds the "right that we may not cooperate in the future" if Versus analysts "improperly" or "unnecessarily" criticize the team. Cristodereo notes Versus' broadcast of the Lightning-Wild game was the "first with the Lightning since the Philadelphia game, when analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Pierre McGuire piled on the Lightning for using the defensive 1-3-1 formation they said produces boring hockey" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/29).

THE MAGIC FORMULA: The GUARDIAN's John Plunkett noted BSkyB is set to "launch a new sports channel devoted entirely to Formula One motor racing and will use it to drive takeup of high definition television." Sky Sports F1 HD will be the broadcaster's "first channel devoted to a single sport." Sky "bagged UK TV rights to Formula One for the first time earlier this year in a joint deal with the BBC, which previously had exclusive coverage of the sport." The channel, which will "broadcast for all of the nine-month F1 season from next year, will be available to subscribers to Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2, and to non-sports customers who subscribe to its HD services." Sky Sports subscribers without HD "will receive a standard definition version." The broadcaster has "decided to broadcast each race free of ad breaks" (GUARDIAN, 11/25).

SWITCHING SIDES:'s Dan Rafael cited sources as saying that Victor Ortiz will fight Andre Berto "at a site to be determined either Jan. 28 or Feb. 11." The fight will be "televised on Showtime, rather than rival HBO, which aired the first bout and has invested millions into the careers of Berto and Ortiz, putting on all of their notable fights over the past several years." A source said that Showtime "bought the fight for $2.25 million," which was "considerably more than HBO's initial offer of $1.75 million and just $100,000 more than HBO's final offer of $2.15 million, the same amount it paid for the first bout" (, 11/24).