ESPN’s Skip Bayless Wednesday insinuated that Yankees SS Derek Jeter may have taken HGH, the latest sign that "ratings are all that matters" to Bayless and the producers of "First Take," according to Bob Raissman of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The employment future of “all involved in the show depends on those ratings,” and if "smearing Jeter helps Bayless & Co. reach their ratings goals, and keep their jobs, then it’s well worth the effort.” Accountability "finished a distant fifth," and if Jeter “is collateral damage, so be it.” Bayless' "greatest skill is knowing what button to push." Raissman: "He infuriated those who have no use for Tim Tebow by becoming the QB's official cabana boy. Bayless took his love affair to the extreme because he saw it juicing the ratings" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/24). FOXSPORTS.com’s Peter Schrager wrote every few weeks or so, Bayless “says something ... that ticks off everyone in [the] sports media world.” Like clockwork, “someone with a verified account tweets about Bayless’ stupidity, the rest of the sports media world chases after the bone with wagging tongues, and it -- somehow, someway -- becomes a ‘story.’” Schrager: “It’s a vicious cycle, one that repeats itself far too often, and one that can cause right-minded people great frustration.” Bayless “knows what he’s doing and the result of his chicanery.” ESPN “knows that whatever formula Skip’s concocted, it’s working.” And the same writers “that pound their fists and pump out 140 character tweets at whatever trash he throws out there, know that it’s coming.” But Bayless was actually “once a widely respected master of his craft.” He drifted “out of the public eye for some time in the 2000s but is no doubt enjoying a career revival.” Schrager: “If buzz and ratings are his objectives, Bayless is achieving and exceeding his goals by a mile” (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/23).
SAYING WHATEVER'S ON HIS MIND: In N.Y., Will Leitch wrote there is a “temptation to say that Skip Bayless is everything that is wrong with sports journalism except that nothing in sports journalism is nearly as bad as Skip Bayless." Leitch: “‘Sports journalism’ doesn't belong in the same sentence as ‘Skip Bayless:’ frankly, neither ‘sports’ nor ‘journalism’ does. He is the epitome of idiotic daytime television, and pretending that he's in the same business as sportswriters and broadcasters (good ones and bad ones alike) is false equivalence at its worst.” However, the problem is not Bayless; it “is us,” as we all “listen to him and quote him and can’t believe how outrageous he’s being” (NYMAG.com, 8/23). YAHOO SPORTS’ Kevin Kaduk wrote the only repercussion that Bayless will face for the Jeter comment “is adding another piece to the case that he’s a contrarian windbag who sold his soul to the devil and will say anything to grab a headline.” Of course “that's balanced out by the fact that Bayless is handsomely rewarded by ESPN to act in such a manner.” Kaduk: “We're playing right into their hands by making this a big deal when we really should simply be waiting for ol' Skip and his co-horts to return to their full-time jobs of saying ‘Tim Tebow’ over and over again while banging a pair of cymbals like a toy monkey” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/23). SportsNet N.Y.'s Sal Licata said, "How can you put any credence in what these guys have to say? It's one thing after another just to grab headlines. They lose all credibility right there. That's why you can't pay attention toit" ("Daily News Live," SportsNet N.Y., 8/23).
Rogers Communication is "considering purchasing The Score sports network," according to a source cited by Bob Mitchell of the TORONTO STAR. The Score has been "rumoured to be up for sale for more than a year," and last September, it "was reported the asking price for Canada’s No. 3 cable sports provider" was C$200M. The stations would be the latest acquisition for Rogers; the company and Bell Media last week "completed their purchase of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment." Sources said that it "has become more and more expensive for independent sports television providers such as Score Media to operate in today’s climate with rights to events and highlight packages becoming more and more expensive." If Rogers does buy the Score, it "would be another network to showcase its sports properties like the Maple Leafs." The 24-hour sports network "doesn’t provide as much live broadcasting of sporting events as its major competitors but earlier this year, it signed a new deal to broadcast more NCAA football, basketball and hockey." The company also has "a growing digital division, which includes its popular Score Mobile app" (TORONTO STAR, 8/24).
The International Business Times has created a new user-generated sports content platform called SportsNet. Similar in concept to Bleacher Report, SportsNet aggregates submissions from hundreds of contributors writing on a wide variety of sports topics, each of whom must apply to write for the site but come from various personal and professional backgrounds. But SportsNet, like IBT, will be more globally focused than Bleacher Report and feature content on European football, F1 and other sports with strong followings outside of the U.S. The genesis for SportsNet derived in part from the often-passionate user comments tagged to traditional sports coverage from IBT. "The volume and intensity of our comments really showed us there was a desire to further empower the fan base to express themselves," said IBT Chief Content Officer Johnathan Davis. "We think this is a way to drill down even further into our readers' passions and offer another level of analysis and commentary." A team of editors will screen and edit submissions, and writers will be segmented into three groups: untrusted for new writers to the platform, trusted for the vast majority of contributors and featured contributors for select writers who will receive compensation for their work. SportsNet is currently operating in beta mode, with full functionality slated for early '13.
NFL Network’s weekday morning show “NFL AM” averaged 81,000 viewers in the three weeks since its debut on July 30. The show’s top audience to date was 117,000 viewers last Friday. During the same three-week period, Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” show averaged 23,000 viewers, including a week of shows live from the PGA Championship, while ESPN2’s simulcast of ESPN Radio's “Mike & Mike in the Morning” averaged 186,000 viewers for its four-hour slot on weekday mornings (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Fox’ Bengals-Falcons preseason game on Aug. 16 finished with a 3.1 rating/4.7 million viewers, helping the net to its best Thursday primetime audience since May 24 (Fox)….WNDY-TV in Indianapolis earned a 17.9 local rating for the Rams-Colts preseason game on Aug. 12, marking the best figure in the market for a Colts preseason game since ’84, “the year the team arrived in Indianapolis from Baltimore.” The game peaked at a 36.7 rating from 9:15-9:30pm ET when rookie Colts QB Andrew Luck was playing (INDYSTAR.com, 8/20)….WKYC-NBC in Cleveland earned a 21.0 local rating for the Packers-Browns preseason game on Aug. 16, marking the best rating for a Browns preseason game in the Cleveland-Akron market since ’99 (Browns).
QUICK KICKS: Univision averaged 3.99 million viewers for the U.S. men’s national soccer team friendly against Mexico on Aug. 15. The same telecast on ESPN2 averaged 797,000 viewers. Univision’s telecast was the No. 1 show in primetime for the night, regardless of language, among adults 18-34 and men 18-49 and 18-34....The '12-13 EPL season kicked off last weekend, and ESPN averaged 476,000 viewers in the U.S. for its Sunderland-Arsenal season-opening broadcast. Meanwhile, Fox Soccer aired six EPL matches on opening weekend. The net's top audience was 275,000 viewers for last Sunday's Southampton-Manchester City match (Karp).
NOTES: Showtime averaged 529,000 viewers for the Strikeforce MMA event last Saturday night, which was headlined by a women’s bout featuring Ronda Rousey and Sarah Kaufman. That figure is the largest MMA audience on Showtime this year to date (SI.com, 8/22)….Golf Channel averaged 424,000 viewers on Monday for the conclusion of the rain-delayed final round at the PGA Tour Wyndham Championship, leading the net to its best total-day audience for a Monday since the final round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions to start the ’12 PGA Tour season in January. The final round in January was scheduled to finish on a Monday (Karp).
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings listed are U.S. ratings.
NFL Preseason: Colts-Steelers
NFL Preseason: Bengals-Falcons
NFL Preseason: Ravens-Lions
Soccer friendly: U.S.-Mexico
(Red Sox-Yankees, 72%)
LLWS: Goodlettsville, Tenn.-
PGA Tour: Wyndham Championship:
PGA Tour: Wyndham Championship:
Final Round (rained out)
Golf: U.S. Amateur Championship:
LLWS: Fairfield, Conn.-Kearney, Neb.
ATP World Tour: Western & Southern
Open Final: Federer d. Djokovic
THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre cited sources as saying that Grantland's Bill Simmons "is being strongly considered as an addition" to ESPN's "NBA Countdown." Simmons "would replace Chris Broussard on the set," and Broussard "would then be re-assigned into an unspecified role, perhaps as a 'news' guy." "Countdown" co-host Michael Wilbon and Simmons have previously co-hosted "PTI" and "are friendly." Meanwhile, the "Lakers/Celtics friction" between Simmons and "Countdown" analyst Magic Johnson "could make for great television" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 8/23).
LET'S KICK IT: Qatar Media’s Miami-based beIN Sport Thursday announced that it will be carried on Comcast's Xfinity TV service. It will be available in Spanish on the Xfinity MultiLatino Package and in English on the Xfinity Sports Entertainment Package. This comes after beIN acquired media rights for U.S. men's soccer team World Cup Qualifier away matches (THE DAILY).
IT'S A "HARD KNOCK" LIFE: In Miami, Barry Jackson wrote in three episodes, HBO’s "'Hard Knocks' delivered more absorbing television and enlightening behind-the-scenes access to the Dolphins than Showtime managed in eight episodes chronicling the Marlins" on "The Franchise." "Hard Knocks" has "been superior" because it "forged a better balance between on-field matters and human interest stories." The show also has "more insight into individual players" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 8/23).
CORNER OFFICES: In N.Y., Keith Kelly writes there is a "new sense of urgency surrounding Time Inc. and its push to capture digital dollars." Following a "three-month study by management and consultant Brian & Co., completed in June, CEO Laura Jang has tapped a trio of top execs" that includes Business, News & Sports Group President of Digital John Cantrarella. While the execs "are focused on growth over cutbacks, there are plenty of jittery people inside the nation's largest publisher" (N.Y. POST, 8/24).