Knicks G Jeremy Lin will make his "broadcast network debut" on ABC Sunday at 1:00pm ET for the Mavericks-Knicks telecast, and the game "should best ABC's best regular-season NBA rating for a non-Christmas game," according to Michael Hiestand of the USA TODAY. The mark currently is a 4.3 for a Celtics-Lakers game last season. With NBA TV schedules set before the season and "limits on teams' appearances on networks, Lin's run hasn't been accessible on national TV." The exception came last Friday when the Knicks hosted the Lakers on ESPN (USA TODAY, 2/17). In N.Y., Bob Raissman cites a source as saying that while Friday night's Hornets-Knicks game "has been listed" as an 8:00pm start on ESPN and MSG , ESPN execs on Jan. 27 decided to switch to airing Mavericks-76ers. This, "of course, was before the coming of Jeremy Lin and the Lin-Sanity epidemic." ESPN made the switch "on the basis of how the Knicks and Hornets were performing in January" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/17).
ON-GOING FEUD: The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Raissman writes with the Knicks winning seven straight games behind Lin's efforts, Knicks fans finally "have hope ... and they can't watch the games" because of the MSG blackout on Time Warner Cable as a result of the carriage dispute between the companies. Raissman notes Lin will "affect whatever form these non-negotiations eventually take." Fans once "apathetic over the blackout and the lethargic Knicks are now fired up and vocal." They are "calling TWC and MSG," but Raissman notes, "At this point they are having little impact" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/17). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Phil Mushnick asks when MSG during a Knicks radio broadcast, "pitches 'an exclusive interview'" that MSG announcer Spero Dedes will have with Jeremy Lin, do the network shot-callers "think we’re impressed by such a claim or left laughing at it?" (N.Y. POST, 2/17).
WALL-TO-WALL COVERAGE: The Knicks did not play Thursday night, but Lin remains a major focus of Friday’s mainstream sports media. Among the outlets to devote significant coverage to Lin:
USA Today runs six stories on Lin, including a cover story on how he went previously unnoticed, one with a marketing angle, one on ratings impact and an editorial.
The N.Y. Times runs six Lin stories (three in Sports, three in Op/Ed), including columnist David Brooks on “The Jeremy Lin Problem” examining the “impossible tension between sport and religion.”
The Wall Street Journal runs a story on what factors might derail Lin's strong performance to date.
The Boston Globe runs several stories exploring Lin's Harvard connection, including one on the front page.
ESPN's "SportsCenter" features segments on the best "Lins" (or "Lynns") in sports, as well as a "Sports Science" feature.
Lin is on the cover of the Asia edition of Time Magazine, as well as Taiwan-based outlets Apple Daily and United Daily News.
Lin also dominated ESPN's afternoon shows Thursday. “Around The Horn” led with what the “realistic goal for the Knicks” should be for this season with the newfound success they’ve had with Lin starting, and “Numbers Never Lie” led with Lin’s on-court performance Wednesday night against the Kings and later in the broadcast discussed Lin’s high turnover rate. The second report on “PTI” was the Knicks being close to a deal to acquire F J.R. Smith, while the “Five Good Minutes” segment featured TNT’s Steve Kerr discussing how Lin went undrafted. Meanwhile, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s “Chronicle Live” featured Lin’s AAU coach Jim Sutter on the program to discuss Lin’s childhood and his current success and syndicated news show “Inside Edition” aired a report on Lin’s YouTube video spoofing his time at Harvard (THE DAILY).
Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s challenge of junior middleweight title holder Miguel Cotto from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 5 “will be carried on HBO PPV, which secured rights to the fight on Thursday despite competition from rival Showtime PPV,” according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com. The fight will be Mayweather's “eighth in a row on HBO PPV and ninth in his last 10 fights.” When HBO lost the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight last year to Showtime, it was “one of the key factors in the forced resignation of former HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg in July.” Ken Hershman, who used to run the sports division at Showtime, left the network and was hired to replace Greenburg in October. Hershman started at HBO in January and “landed Mayweather-Cotto as the first major pay-per-view of his administration.” Although not “formally announced, there will be a ‘24/7’ reality series in the build-up to the fight, plus additional programming and marketing that HBO promised as part of the deal” (ESPN.com, 2/16).
FanVision has signed a five-year deal with NASCAR that will see its multimedia handsets made available to fans throughout all Sprint Cup Series race weekends. FanVision will rent its third generation controller with a 4.3-inch screen for $59.99 for all 38 races. There will be live broadcasts with multiple camera views, instant replays, live stats, biographies of drivers, track layouts, season results and other information on the device. FanVision COO Tasso Koken said, "If you go to a race or a property, your WiFi doesn't work well. This is a dedicated television service with 10 channels of video and 10 channels of audio. You get a perfect picture at the track." The agreement puts FanVision into NASCAR for the first time. Its predecessor, Kangaroo.TV, previously had an agreement with NASCAR, Sprint and ISC to rent handheld scanners for $49.99 that included video, audio and data capabilities. Sprint opted to discontinue its partnership in the venture after that contract ended in '10. Koken said, "We were all too anxious to enter a relationship with NASCAR directly." The company provides a similar offering at F1 races and some PGA Tour events. The deal was negotiated by Koken and NASCAR Media Group COO Jay Abraham and Managing Dir of Operations Steve Stum.
ESPN's decision to remove Ron Jaworski from its "MNF" booth and “reassign him to the studio was foolish for many reasons,” according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. Jaworski offered “smart, sensible analysis, and the lively exchanges with Jon Gruden made for good TV.” Gruden has done “nothing to deserve a larger role” and has made some "head-scratching comments that weren't supported by replay or fact.” Jaworski will “be an asset on ESPN's Sunday and Monday pre-game gabfests, but both shows are already crowded enough” (MIAMI HERALD, 2/17). In Boston, Chad Finn writes Gruden “is entertaining, but he tilted toward caricature at times last season, and Jaworski’s nuts-and-bolts analysis proved a pleasant balance.” Removing Jaworski from the telecast “is not a good thing.” As “charismatic as Gruden can be, the suspicion here is that giving him more room to verbally wander may not be, either” (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/17). In Ft. Lauderdale, Mike Berardino wrote that he was “surprised and disappointed” about ESPN’s decision. Even though ESPN “says Jaworski will retain a key role in other areas, he’ll be missed on the 'MNF' broadcast, where now the floor is open for Jon Gruden to 'thisguy' viewers into submission for three solid hours” (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 2/15). In California, Jim Carlisle wrote under the header “‘Jaws’ Should Have Stayed In ‘MNF’ Booth." If ESPN was going to take anyone out of the booth “and put him in the studio, it should've been Gruden, not Jaworski.” The sigh of relief comes “in knowing Jaworski will still at least be on a number of ESPN shows, although all he really does is join a cast of thousands” (VCSTAR.com, 2/16). NO HARM, NO FOUL: In N.Y. Phil Mushnick writes in removing Jaworski, “relegating him to a desk job while giving chatterbox Jon Gruden even less time to rest, ESPN has sustained its upward and onward path, the one that ends up right where it started.” Jaworski “didn’t belong in the MNF booth to begin with.” He had “never previously distinguished himself as a valued presence -- not for his wit, nor insights -- and he never would." The "best he could be during was just OK” (N.Y. POST, 2/17). CABLEFAX DAILY’s Chad Heiges writes, “I found myself wondering less about whether the net canned the correct color analyst and more about whether sports commentators really affect viewing experiences/audience levels.” The real trick across the sports landscape is “providing additional value in the form of stellar announcing.” Heiges: “Even if I’m not particularly concerned about regular-season NBA games, I will watch any contest featuring Hubie Brown.” His “vast knowledge of the game and unsurpassed astuteness could incite NBA interest among senior women.” Fox' Troy Aikman is “my main man in football, but the view is subjective and doesn’t alter my interest in NFL games 1 iota” (CABLEFAX DAILY, 2/17).
NO RIFT IN THE BOOTH: ESPN's Mike Tirico Friday said he did not know the "management-specifics of the how and the why” behind Jaworski's departure from "MNF," but said, “There’s no rift amongst any of us.” Tirico said he does not “necessarily know the real mechanics of the ‘this is why we want to do this.’” Syndicated radio host Dan Patrick asked Tirico if he had inquired about why the move was made. Tirico replied, “I did say ‘Why?’ and honestly I’m not going to share that with everybody because that’s not everybody’s business and the answer I got, I believe” (“The Dan Patrick Show,” 2/17).
ESPN Wednesday announced former NASCAR Sprint Cup team Owner Ray Evernham is returning to the net as an analyst for the ’12 season. Evernham will be a part of “NASCAR Countdown” before the Nationwide Series race that airs on ESPN on Saturday, Feb. 25. He also will appear on “NASCAR Now” and “SportsCenter” from Daytona. In addition, Evernham will help call several Nationwide Series races from the booth. Evernham was an analyst for ESPN from ’08-10 but left prior to the ’11 season to take a consulting position with Hendrick Companies (ESPN). Evernham will “continue working with Hendrick while commentating for ESPN.” He said that his work with Hendrick's companies “wasn't related to racing, and he doesn't believe it will create any issues” (AP, 2/15).
CHANGE BEHIND THE MIC: In Houston, David Barron noted Astros radio announcer Milo Hamilton “went to great lengths Wednesday to emphasize he isn’t retiring” and that he is “just changing jobs within the organization.” Hamilton, who has been an MLB radio broadcaster for 57 years, said that his duties “beyond 2012 will include working as an adviser" to Astros Owner Jim Crane, hosting "charity fundraisers and making the occasional booth appearance, including a road trip to Detroit in 2013 as the Astros move to the American League.” Hamilton said that his long-term goal is to “continue with occasional radio work, including the offseason Astroline show, through 2015 to give him 70 years on the air.” Hamilton: “That will give the kids something to shoot at” (CHRON.com, 2/15). I GET A KICK OUT OF YOU: In Albany, Pete Dougherty listed TNT's Charles Barkley as his “top studio analyst” based “solely on entertainment value.” Dougherty wrote that Barkley “makes things difficult for host Ernie Johnson, but he is rarely dull.” The CBC’s Don Cherry is listed as number two because “those who see him often know he can be as unpredictable as our No.1 selection.” ESPN’s Lee Corso came in at number three and Dougherty wrote “College GameDay” is the “best studio show out there, and Corso is one of the major reasons it has flourished” (Albany TIMES UNION, 2/17).
DOING YOUR HOMEWORK: Padres play-by-play announcer Dick Enberg spoke at Marquette Univ. earlier this week, and said that in terms of preparation for a broadcast, his “rule of thumb is for every one hour on air it requires one day of study.” So a three-hour broadcast “means three days of preparation.” Enberg considers calling a baseball game "the most demanding and challenging" task in sports broadcasting. He said, “If someone can do it well, especially on radio, they are the best in our profession. ... If you can call the baseball game properly, accurately -- there is a lot of down time you have to fill with other information -- you can do any other sport" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 2/17).
CBS earned a 4.9 final Nielsen rating and 7.4 million viewers for the final round of the PGA Tour AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am last Sunday, which saw Phil Mickelson come from behind to win the event while paired with Tiger Woods. That marks the highest rating for the tournament’s final round in 11 years and most-viewed final round in 23 years. The 4.9 rating is up 113% from a 2.3 last year, which saw D.A. Points win the event. The 7.4 million viewers is the most-viewed final round at Pebble Beach since Mark O’Meara won the event in ’89 (7.7 million viewers). Pebble Beach also delivered the highest-rated and most-viewed final round for any non-major golf tournament in five years, dating back to the Buick Invitational in Jan. ’07, which averaged 7.8 million viewers. Golf Channel also benefitted from the Mickelson-Woods pairing on Sunday. The net’s live coverage from 12:58-2:31pm ET drew a 1.5 U.S. rating and 2.3 million viewers, marking Golf Channel’s most-viewed PGA Tour round ever. The 2.3 million viewers topped the previous mark by 25%, which was 1.9 million viewers for Day Three of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in ’08 (THE DAILY).
COLLEGE TOWN: Through 93 men’s college basketball games on ESPN/ESPN2 this season, Louisville is again topping all U.S. metered markets with a 4.6 local rating, up from a 4.4 rating last season. Greensboro-High Point ranks second with a 3.5 local rating, followed by Columbus, Ohio (2.9), K.C. (2.7) and Raleigh-Durham (2.6) (ESPN).
NOTES: FS Detroit earned a 6.5 local rating for the Red Wings’ 21st consecutive home victory on Tuesday night, marking the most-viewed game of the season to date (DETROIT NEWS, 2/15)….CBS earned a 21.7 final rating for the Grammy Awards last Sunday night, marking the highest rating for the music awards show since the net earned a 23.8 rating in ’85 for a Tuesday night telecast (THE DAILY).
The charts below show final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings are U.S. ratings.
PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach Nat'l Pro-Am: Final Round
PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach Nat'l Pro-Am: Third Round
NCAA Basketball: Illinois-Michigan
NCAA Basketball: UConn-Syracuse
Winter Dew Tour: Toyota Championships
USA Sevens Rugby
USA Sevens Rugby
Winter Dew Tour: Toyota Championships
Skiing: Visa Freestyle Int'l
NCAA Basketball: Duke-North Carolina
NCAA Basketball: Kentucky-Vanderbilt
NCAA Basketball: Michigan State-Ohio State
PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach Nat'l Pro-Am: Final Round