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Volume 24 No. 156


Building on his initial appearance during a Super Bowl spot, fictional football player Leon Sandcastle -- played by NFL Network’s Deion Sanders -- appeared on “NFL Total Access” Monday wearing his trademark large afro and bushy mustache. NFL Net’s Andrew Siciliano playfully said there was “basically breaking news” that Sandcastle would be the "first overall pick" in this year’s NFL Draft. Siciliano: “Truly, truly amazing news.” Siciliano asked Sandcastle when he got the news that he would be the No. 1 pick. Sandcastle: “I got the news when I was born. ... You're just realizing it now.” Siciliano: “Leon, you have said on Twitter that teams don't interview you, you interview teams. Will you accept the first overall pick?” Sandcastle: “(Chiefs coach) Andy Reid did a great job in his interview with Leon. I asked him some tough questions and why he left Philly so abruptly and he responded well. So I really feel good about Andy.” Siciliano asked, “How difficult will these contract negotiations be? Do you have any demands? Do you want to go to training camp?” Sandcastle: “Leon don't do training camps and yes, I have a lot of demands. My demands have nothing to do with football. It's all about lifestyle. Leon has a comfortable lifestyle that he must maintain.” Sandcastle added, “The last time a team wrote Leon a check, the bank bounced.” Siciliano asked for Sandcastle's reaction to former Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o declining the NFL's invitation to attend the draft. Sandcastle: "Te'o is afraid of what may happen on draft day. Leon ain't afraid of nothing. As a matter of fact, if Leon does not go first, Leon will get up and walk out.” Siciliano: “Have you started negotiating yet?” Sandcastle: “I never stopped” (“NFL Total Access,” NFLN, 4/1).

ESPN averaged 961,000 viewers for its four games on MLB Opening Day, up 51% from 636,000 viewers for the corresponding games last season, which included two on a Thursday afternoon and two on a Friday night. The Red Sox-Yankees game in the 1:00pm ET window led all telecasts with 1.1 million viewers, up from 595,000 viewers for Red Sox-Tigers in the same window on a Thursday last year. In the early primetime window, Phillies-Braves drew 1.0 million viewers, up from 682,000 viewers last year for Giants-D’Backs on a Friday night.

LOCAL: Several RSNs set local ratings records on Opening Day. The Phillies-Braves game on SportSouth earned an 8.9 local rating in Atlanta, marking the net’s best opening game rating ever for the Braves and best rating for any Braves game since ’00. Root Sports Northwest had its best Mariners Opening Day rating since ’07. MASN earned a 4.8 local rating in DC for the Marlins-Nationals opener, marking a new Opening Day record for the Nationals. Comcast SportsNet Chicago earned a record-breaking 3.4 local rating for the White Sox opener. The previous record was a 3.2 in ’09. An extra-innings game led to a combined 23.5 local rating in Cincinnati for the Angels-Reds game. Also seeing year-over-year gains for their respective openers were the Cardinals (FS Midwest), Giants (CSN Bay Area), A’s (CSN California), Pirates (Root Sports Pittsburgh), Twins (FS North), Dodgers (FS Prime Ticket) and Red Sox (NESN).

March Madness Live continued its torrid pace through the regional finals, according to new data from Turner Sports. MML now has generated 45 million live video streams, up from 36.6 million during the initial rounds of play, and up 158% from the comparable point in the '12 tournament. MML this year also has more than 12.6 million hours of live video consumed, up 201% from '12. The broadband version of MML has seen 5.0 million unique visitors thus far, up 139% compared to the entire '12 tournament, and the mobile version has reached 3.2 million unique visitors, up 93% from all of last year. The continued increases lend further support to Turner Sports' new operational model for MML this year, which included the removal of a fee-based option to access the games and an increased focus on user authentication.