Fox earned an 8.1 overnight Nielsen rating for last night’s MLB All-Star Game, which saw the NL rout the AL 8-0. That figure is up 2.5% from a 7.9 overnight last year, which was an all-time low, and marks game’s first year-over-year increase since ’08. The telecast delivered Fox a win in primetime among all nets and marked the net’s best night since the “American Idol” finale in May. The beginning of the game delivered a 7.9 rating, which was the best first-pitch tune-in for an All-Star Game since President Obama appeared before the '09 game. The telecast peaked at a 9.0 rating during the 10:00-10:15pm ET window when Mets P R.A. Dicket came in to pitch for the NL. St. Louis topped all markets last night with a 20.5 local rating, while K.C. ranked second with an 18.7. Rounding out the top five markets were Detroit (16.1), Cincinnati (12.3) and Dallas-Ft. Worth (11.6). Detroit saw the biggest year-over-year gains among all markets (up 50%), followed by DC (36%), L.A. (27%) and Dallas-Ft. Worth (25%) (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes Fox' coverage was "low-key from the start." The net added "Diamond Cams," tiny cameras "stuck in the field meant to shoot upwards, for the first time in the All-Star Game since 2006, but didn't use them in the game's early going." Fox also "didn't go overboard hyping" new reporter Erin Andrews during her debut with the net last night (USA TODAY, 7/11).
ALL-STAR GAME OVERNIGHT RATINGS TREND ON FOX
Minute Maid Field
U.S. Cellular Field
TESTING THE WATERS: MLB last night conducted its first-ever experiment with players posting on Twitter and Facebook during the All-Star Game in K.C., its first such effort since creating rules prohibiting such activity during regular season and postseason games. The league, aided by its creative services department, set up a room with computer stations near the clubhouses, and modeled it in large part after the MLB Fan Cave in N.Y. Players participating included Yankees SS Derek Jeter, Dodgers CF Matt Kemp, Nationals SS Ian Desmond and P Stephen Strasburg, Blue Jays RF Jose Bautista, Rangers P Joe Nathan, Rays P David Price, and Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval. The game generated more than 290,000 social media comments in the first inning alone, more than the entire '11 game in Phoenix. Monday night's Home Run Derby, meanwhile, generated a final tally of 804,337 social media comments, a 158% increase from the '11 event in Phoenix (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
SWINGING FOR THE FENCES: ESPN finished with a 4.1 U.S. rating and 6.882 million viewers for the Home Run Derby on Monday night, up 2.5% and 2.9%, respectively, from a 4.0 rating and 6.686 milion viewers last year. The increase comes after overnight ratings had the event down from last year. The viewership is also the best for the event since '09 (Karp).
NBC Olympics and Facebook today announced a partnership that will promote the Olympics on TV via Facebook while at the same time send Olympic TV viewers to Facebook to discuss the Games. NBC Olympics has set up its own page on the social networking site which will carry exclusive content including highlights. Facebook and NBC will produce social media segments that will be carried on NBC's various TV and digital platforms. Facebook also has committed to launch "Talk Meter," which occasionally will alert TV viewers to the stories and results that many fans are discussing on the social media site (John Ourand, THE DAILY). Facebook and NBC Olympics execs said that the arrangement “was not an advertising deal, and they indicated that no money was changing hands.” In N.Y., Brian Stelter reports the companies in effect will be “marketing each other’s products, possibly encouraging even more simultaneous viewing and chatting.” Fans will be able to “let Facebook friends know that they are watching videos and reading articles on the network’s Olympics Web site, possibly encouraging more viewing and reading by their friends.” Stelter writes perhaps the “more intriguing part of the partnership, for traditional television viewers, involves Facebook’s data-crunching about user conversations related to the Olympics.” Facebook Strategic Media Partnerships Manager Andy Mitchell said, “NBC is going to turn that data into stories.” The prime-time broadcast on NBC “will also promote a daily poll on Facebook about the Olympics.” NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel said the Facebook integration would come on “when the information warrants it and when it is compelling.” Stelter notes NBC “has not announced a deal with Twitter around its Olympics telecasts, but it is likely to do so before the Games start” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/11).
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig during his annual meeting with the Baseball Writers Association of America yesterday in K.C. showed palpable frustration long-running TV rights fee dispute between the Nationals and MASN and said he wished it had been solved "a month ago." Selig, who was making his first substantive on-the-record comments on the issue, did not detail the status of the dispute, though he did characterized the negotiations as "very intense." However, Selig said he did not regret the original '05 settlement between the Orioles, MASN majority owners, and MLB that created the RSN and paved the way for the Expos to relocate to DC. "It's a matter that was very complicated," Selig said. "You can second-guess anything in history. ... We just have to work our way through this. And disputes between clubs are not uncommon. That's why we have a commissioner" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). In DC, Adam Kilgore wrote the Nationals and MASN are in a "‘reset’ period in their contract that allows the Nationals to argue for a bigger share of the revenue generated by their television rights.” The Nationals are “hoping to at least triple their share of $29 million from last year,” while Orioles Owner Peter Angelos is "arguing for a much, much lower cut.” The case is “currently being arbitrated by the commissioner’s office, consisting of a three-member committee with representatives from both teams.” The Nationals currently own “roughly 11 percent of MASN, and their stake will grow at roughly one percent per year until they own one-third of the regional sports network” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/10).
Bell Media has "announced plans to transform" CKGM-AM, part of the TSN Radio network, "to a French-language sports station," according to Jason Magder of the Montreal GAZETTE. Bell Media said that it "intends to change TSN 990 to RDS 990, the radio equivalent of the French Reseau des Sports TV network." There has been "a void in French-language sports radio" in Montreal since CKAC-AM folded last year. RDS President Gerry Frappier said that there are "no plans to continue TSN 990 either on the Internet or any other form." Magder notes once the station "makes the transition to RDS, it will cease to exist." If the deal is approved, English-language broadcasts of Canadiens games "would return to CJAD, where they had been until last season." Frappier said that the company "expects to hear a decision" from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission within six months. It could take "several more months after that to make the transition," Canadiens games "will likely be broadcast in English on TSN 990 for most, if not all" of the '12-13 season (Montreal GAZETTE, 7/11). In Montreal, Pat Hickey writes Bell's announcement "sounds like a death knell." The decision also "reflects a bottom-line reality," as Montreal is "first and foremost, a French-language market and the RDS brand is strong." It televises all 82 Canadiens games and the CFL Montreal Allouettes. But there has been "no French-language all-sports radio outlet since CKAC became a weather and traffic station last year." RDS 990 "would fill that hole, but it would also leave a void on the English side" (Montreal GAZETTE, 7/11).
ESPN today announced that four "key members of the network's NFL coverage -- John Clayton, Mel Kiper Jr., Adam Schefter and Ed Werder -- have signed multi-year extensions," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. Kiper signed a six-year deal that will "keep him at ESPN through the summer of 2018.” Schefter's five-year extension "runs through the summer of 2017,” while Clayton and Werder each signed four-year deals. Kiper will continue to appear on the net's NFL Draft coverage "as well as pre-draft specials, and contribute to ESPN.com” Schefter, who joined the net in August '09, will see role “remain the same” with appearances across various platforms. Werder will have his role “expanded throughout ESPN's platforms including more appearances on SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, and Monday Night Countdown.” ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer Mark Gross said that Werder will “now perform the dual role of reporter and league insider.” Clayton will also “continue to appear across multiple platforms including ESPN.com.” Deitsch notes the extensions provide ESPN “with a nice wave of publicity after a number of recent high-profile television side defections including Erin Andrews, Michelle Beadle, and Jim Rome” (SI.com, 7/11).Anchor Stuart Scott yesterday announced he had signed a multiyear extension with the net. USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes normally ESPN would "handle the signing of a longtime staff member to a new contract quietly." But after recent "exits by high-profile on-air talents" including Andrews and Beadle, ESPN "will begin announcing what happens to the vast majority of their personalities -- when they sign new contracts -- in part to combat the idea that the network is experiencing many desertions" (USA TODAY, 7/11).
The BBC "appears to be closing in on a deal to screen future Olympics," according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. BBC Trust Chair Lord Chris Patten confirmed that talks being "led by outgoing director-general Mark Thompson are progressing." Patten: "Mark is leading those talks and they are happening right now. They (the Olympics) are really important to us." Kelso reports the IOC has "held out against a quick deal with the BBC, which is attempting to deflate the cost in the knowledge that, with existing listed-events legislation, it is the only realistic free-to-air only candidate." The IOC would "love a dream team of a commercial broadcaster and Sky to come to the table, but that looks optimistic" (London TELEGRAPH, 7/11).
UPDATE FROM AUSTRALIA: In Sydney, Michael Bodey wrote the rights to the next Olympics "could be snatched by the Seven Network as Nine may not be in any shape financially to make a bid." The IOC has "yet to enter negotiations with any Australian broadcasters for the rights" to the '14 Sochi Games or the '16 Rio de Janiero Games. Seven regards itself as "the traditional home of the Games, broadcasting five summer Olympics in a row from Barcelona in 1992, until Nine won the London rights." Sources said that Network Ten was "believed to be uninterested in bidding, and Nine might not be in any shape financially to make a bid." Several major sports broadcast deals "are in play over the next 18 months and will likely be more attractive to Australian broadcasters," including the National Rugby League, Cricket Australia, V8 Supercars and the Australian Open (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/9).
Bloomberg Sports has completed a joint venture partnership deal with IMG in which the global sports and entertainment company has acquired a minority stake in Bloomberg's fast-growing fantasy and professional sports management operation. Financial terms were not disclosed, but industry sources pegged the deal in the $6-8M range, with IMG acquiring roughly a third of the company and Bloomberg retaining majority control. The alignment, several months in development and first reported in April by SportsBusiness Journal, is designed foremost to accelerate an international expansion of Bloomberg's sports-oriented analytics products. "We're very excited to have this done and be able to look to the next phase of our company's growth," said Head of Bloomberg Sports Bill Squadron, head of IMG Media's interactive operations in North America from '04-'06. "We think there's a huge opportunity for us in both Europe and Asia in things like soccer and cricket." Bloomberg Sports, in operation for nearly four years, has built a two-pronged operation in which it sells a variety of analytics products to fantasy sports enthusiasts, and also has developed professional-grade products used by more than 20 MLB clubs to evaluate players and opponents. Inner Circle Sports advised Bloomberg Sports on the deal. "Bloomberg is a renowned global brand, and we are very excited about our investment," said IMG Senior VP/Strategic Planning & Financial Operations Rob Ponger. "We believe the field of data analytics has enormous growth potential and IMG's presence around the world can play an important role in the success of this partnership going forward." Bloomberg Sports will retain its brand name, as well as existing offices in both N.Y. and London.