Several networks, including ESPN and CNN, interrupted their regular programming schedule to air this morning’s press conference detailing the findings of Penn State’s internal investigation regarding the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. However, Big Ten Network did not air investigator Louis Freeh’s press conference, instead sticking with a replay of the ’11 Ohio State-Purdue football game. The move is drawing harsh criticism on Twitter. SI.com’s Richard Deitsch wrote it is “another missed opportunity for credibility & educating viewers” for BTN. CBSChicago’s Adam Hoge wrote the network did not cover the “biggest story in the history of the Big Ten.” Several other media members, including blogger J.P. Kirby and THE DAILY’s John Ourand, wrote the move is “shameful.” The network issued a statement saying, “While some may be unaware, BTN is not and was never intended to be a news organization. Our focus is to air, discuss and analyze what happens relative to the field of play, which is what our viewers are most interested in. BTN analysts have repeatedly expressed their disappointment with the way in which Penn State football officials handled the Sandusky situation. When our football coverage resumes later this month, it will be a topic of conversation as to how it may affect the Penn State football program and the rest of the Big Ten.” A network spokesperson noted that the main points of the investigation were included as part of the on-screen ticker this morning, and a link to the Freeh Report is available on BTN.com. Big Ten Network drew criticism for its coverage when the scandal broke last November, though it was praised for its coverage of Paterno's death in January (THE DAILY).
CONTROLLING THE MESSAGE? In Philadelphia, Melissa Dribben reports students and alumni that gathered in Penn State's student center this morning “to watch the release of the Freeh report live were stunned when the channel suddenly switched.” Just as a news anchor “was ready to speak about the report, the television screens suddenly went blank.” They then “turned to a public access channel featuring a reporter from The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown about the state budget” (PHILLY.com, 7/12).
Fox finished with a 6.8 rating and 10.9 million viewers for the NL’s 8-0 win over the AL in the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday night, marking the third straight year the event has drawn a new record-low audience. The margin of victory was the third-largest ever for an ASG. The audience for the telecast had previously been reported as seeing a gain when overnight ratings were released yesterday. This year’s figure is down slightly from a 6.9 rating and 10.973 million viewers last year. The audience is also down 9.3% and 10.1%, respectively, from a 7.5 rating and 12.118 million viewers in ’10. The game delivered Fox a win for the night among all nets, and also delivered year-over-year gains among the male 18-34 demo and all key adult demos. The ASG also delivered the highest-rated night of TV since Game Five of the Heat-Thunder NBA Finals on ABC. The ASG also had 27.7 million viewers who watched all or part of the telecast, up 7% from last year, which matches the biggest increase in the metric since '98 (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). ADWEEK's Anthony Crupi wrote, "Like just about everything else on TV that is not affiliated with the NFL, All-Star Game ratings have been in decline for decades" (ADWEEK.com, 7/11). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted, "About 12% fewer viewers watched" this year's ASG in the Milwaukee market compared to last year (JSONLINE.com, 7/11).
MLB ALL-STAR GAME AUDIENCE TREND ON FOX
DROPPING THE BALL: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes Fox had the "biggest dropped ball of the night" on Tuesday when the net missed Rays P Fernando Rodney "shooting his imaginary arrow into the air after setting aside the three batters he faced in the ninth inning." Fox "missed all the fun and didn't have cameras on Rodney as he did his thing." Jones: "Someone at Fox simply wasn't paying attention" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 7/12).
NBC Olympics has partnered with Adobe to launch two apps that will live stream all Olympic events to authenticated iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android users. NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel said, "It's really mind-blowing that we have come this far in 10 or 12 years. What I personally marvel at, having lived through the evolution of Olympic media, is that 12 years ago when we went to multichannel from single channel, the dream was always to make the Olympics accessible on digital devices. Here we are now with a tablet and smartphone that contains essentially every frame of Olympic competition. It is mind boggling." NBC Olympics Live Extra will live stream more than 3,500 hours from all 32 sports and all medal events. A second app, NBC Olympics, will have highlights, live results and serve as a second-screen for Olympic viewers. Zenkel: "I have no doubt that it will intensify the conversation around the Olympics and the sharing of content and, ultimately, the viewing on television in primetime." Meanwhile, NBC has gone live with its media site, NBCSportsGroupPressBox.com, for the London Olympics. The site has access to press releases, bios, photos and schedules. After the Olympics, it will remain live as a site for press covering NBC Sports.
THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre cited sources as saying that ESPN's Samantha Steele "has been tabbed as the replacement for Erin Andrews as co-host" of ESPNU's 9:00am ET "College GameDay" on Saturdays this fall. Steele also "will be featured" during the show's 10:00am-12:00pm window on ESPN "in the same capacity Andrews was." Meanwhile, ESPN's Heather Cox is the "replacement for Andrews on ABC's Saturday night College Football game of the week." Cox will join the net's "top announcing pair" of Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit (THEBIGLEAD.com, 7/11).
COMING & GOING: The CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION's Brad Wolverton reported sportswriter Steve Wieberg is leaving USA Today after "nearly 30 years" with the newspaper, and this is his last week. Wieberg has taken a job "teaching high-school English and journalism near his home" in Lawson, Mo. The move comes "amid a major restructuring of USA Today’s sports staff." Last month, 15 writers and editors there lost their jobs, but Wieberg "was not a part of those layoffs" (CHRONICLE.com, 7/11). Meanwhile, The Big Lead’s McIntyre tweeted USA Today has hired the Washington Post’s Michael Katz, the Portland Oregonian’s Jeff Martin and the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Brent Schrotenboer (TWITTER.com, 7/11).
THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT: PrePlay, a N.Y.-based startup developer of predictive mobile games, has secured $3.1M in Series A venture capital funding, with the round led by social media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, RSE Ventures CEO Matt Higgins and others. The funds will be used to build out additional games. PrePlay earlier this year struck a deal with the NHL and beer sponsor Molson to create the Molson Canadian PrePlay app. The game, available for iPhone and iPad, allows users to accumulate points by correctly predicting upcoming plays in televised games (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).