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Volume 24 No. 156
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Browns-Ravens "Thursday Night Football" Marks NFL Net's Second-Best Overnight Ever

NFL Network earned a 6.2 overnight Nielsen rating for the Browns-Ravens “Thursday Night Football” telecast, marking the net’s second-best overnight ever. The net’s first game telecast this season, which featured Bears-Packers, remains No. 1 with a 6.3 overnight (THE DAILY). In Baltimore, David Zurawik writes, "I love the energy and sense of camaraderie” among NFL Network studio host Rich Eisen and analysts Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin and Steve Mariucci. And while there is “nothing spectacular" about either play-by-play announcer Brad Nessler or analyst Mike Mayock, they “come together to form one of the steadiest and most informative teams you will find anywhere this side of NBC’s Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth.” NFL Network's cameras are "among the best in TV football," as they "seem to get more field level shots than any other network.” The net also is “superb when it comes to audio.” Ravens QB Joe Flacco’s audibles Thursday night sounded "as if I was standing on the sidelines” (, 9/27).

KEEPING FOCUSED: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes NFL TV game analysts "deserve plenty of credit" in their criticism of the replacement referees. After the first week of the season, they "micro-analyzed every call or non-call and highlighted every misreading of the rules" by the replacements. Raissman: “Will the analysts continue along this righteous path? Will they apply the same intense scrutiny to the regular officials who returned to work Thursday night in Baltimore as conquering heroes?” They “must,” because anything less will “call their own credibility into question.” They “set a new standard for analyzing officials” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/28). In Miami, Barry Jackson noted a source said that the NFL “did not complain to ESPN about some of its scathing criticism of the officials.” Sources said that NBA Commissioner David Stern and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig “typically voice displeasure privately to rights-holders about negative comments and stories more than the NFL’s Roger Goodell does” (, 9/27).

BIG NUMBERS FOR "SPORTSCENTER": ESPN averaged a 4.5 U.S. rating and 6.5 million viewers for the 90-minute “SportsCenter” following the Packers-Seahawks “MNF” telecast, marking the show’s most-viewed episode on record (airing 20 minutes or longer). Those records date back to ’90. The show’s previous high was an episode on Nov. 14 last year following the Vikings-Packers "MNF” game that averaged 5.9 million viewers (ESPN).

: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar profiles Fox analyst and former Rams coach Mike Martz, who is “working primarily on telecasts that are seen by small audiences.” Although the exposure is “narrow, it’s good training in the business for Martz -- who was recommended" to Fox Sports President & COO Eric Shanks by one of the net's NFL TV producers, Bob Stenner. Shanks said, “Mike has a good football reputation. He’s an interesting, recognizable football talent." He added, “We were testing a bunch of people. ... The analysis he was doing was in a tough situation, but the things coming out of his mouth were really interesting. Coaches always have a leg up in this business -- they motivate, they give a lot of speeches, they have to see everything on the field." Shanks: “He says very insightful things” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/28).

: In Albany, Pete Dougherty asks Eisen whether there are things on his “wish list” that he would like to do, or for NFL Network to do, in the future. Eisen said, “A late-night talk show that involves sports -- I'm sort of doing it already with the podcast -- there's a great spot for that. So many folks living out here in Los Angeles, whether they want it for both their movies or their TV shows or anything like that, they love talking sports. … There's a ripe opportunity for that” (Albany TIMES UNION, 9/28).