ABC earned a 10.0 overnight Nielsen rating for the Spurs' 113-77 win over the Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, down 4% from a 10.4 overnight for Heat-Thunder Game 3 last year, which aired on a Sunday night. Despite the drop, the game marked the 33rd consecutive time an NBA Finals game was primetime TV's most-watched program. Last night's game earned a 37.5 local rating in San Antonio and a 28.4 rating in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (Austin Karp, Assistant Mananging Editor). In Ft. Lauderdale, Harvey Fialkov wrote it is "hard to imagine a better color analyst than former coach Jeff Van Gundy, who recognized early" that LeBron James was "'living in the paint' and correctly chastised Dwyane Wade for coming off the, 'strong-side corner,' where a red-hot Danny Green burned him with another 3-pointer" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 6/12).
DYNAMIC DUO: BROADCASTING & CABLE's Michael Malone noted the Heat-Spurs NBA Finals matchup means the Miami and San Antonio ABC affiliates in Post-Newsweek'sportfolio "would have home teams in the NBA championship." TV execs said that having a home team in a pro sports championship "can mean three-to-five times more revenue for the involved station." One former Miami station GM "estimated 30-second spots in Miami going for $30,000-$40,000; others believed they would be higher." Post-Newsweek also benefits from the stations "sharing resources during the championship, as well as the vast promotional platform a rabidly viewed series will warrant." Miami-based WPLG-ABC offers a free Heat "mobile app and a downloadable 'Eastern Conference Champions' poster adorned with the Heat -- and 'Local10.com' -- logos." San Antonio-based KSAT-ABC's signal airs on the AT&T Center Jumbotron "when the Spurs are playing in Miami." The station is "selling 10-second 'shout-outs,' which sees companies buy time to yell a supportive 'Go Spurs Go!' on the air." KSAT VP & GM Phil Lane is "using the promotional soapbox to tout a new mobile app for the station's thriving 'Good Morning San Antonio' program" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 6/10).
ESPN says it will shut down its ESPN3D network at the end of the year, 3 1/2 years after it launched. ESPN blamed the shutdown on "limited viewer adoption of 3D services to the home." ESPN launched its 3D channel in June '10 around the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. But the cost of subscribing to the service -- not to mention the bulky glasses consumers had to wear to watch it -- slowed the adoption rate for 3D considerably. To access 3D services, consumers had to buy 3D-enabled televisions and subscribe to higher levels of cable service. ESPN says it will commit its 3D resources to other services. "We continue to experiment with things like Ultra High Definition television production tools to produce our current ESPN family of HD channels." As for 3D, an ESPN spokesperson said the company would bring the service back "if or when 3D does take off."
The Bruins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup Final matchup is the first Original Six Final since Canadiens-Rangers in '79, and for series broadcaster NBC, it is "hard to imagine a better scenario," according to Ed Sherman of SHERMANREPORT.com. If it is a "compelling, tight series, NBC stands to break its network record for a Stanley Cup Final." The series has "two large-market teams with passionate followings," as Chicago is No. 3 with nearly 3.5 million TV homes, while Boston is No. 7 with 2.366 million homes. Both teams "did huge ratings during their last visits" to the Final. Large ratings from the Chicago and Boston markets will "have a dramatic impact on NBC’s national number again," as interest in hockey has "increased in both towns since winning the Cup." Those local ratings "might be even higher." A Blackhawks-Penguins Final with Penguins C Sidney Crosby "might have had a bit more star power," but it is "hard to beat the romance of two Original 6ers from storied hockey towns playing for Lord Stanley’s Cup" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 6/10).
NHL STANLEY CUP FINAL AUDIENCE TREND (NBC/NBC SPORTS NETWORK)
IMPARTIAL OBSERVER: Sherman in a piece for the CHICAGO TRIBUNE notes NBC analyst and former Blackhawks player Ed Olczyk, who will call the games alongside play-by-play announcer Mike Emrick, "knows there will be Bruins fans who will accuse him of favoritism toward the Hawks." He "insists he has the same approach with Emrick as he does" with Blackhawks TV announcer Pat Foley. He admits that there "might be a bit more 'shtick' as far as nicknames and other banter during local telecasts of Hawks games." However, he "didn't become one of the best in the business by playing favorites." How much longer Olczyk will "be in that chair" is unknown. Olczyk said he has the "best job in the world," but added he has some "unfinished business" after the Penguins fired him as coach in '05. He now "sounds as if the itch is intensifying to return as a coach or as a front office executive at some level." It "might not happen next year, but to hear him talk, it wouldn't be a surprise if he jumped back in sooner than later" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/12).
GOING STRONG: The first three rounds of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs across NBC, CNBC and NBC Sports Network have averaged 1.074 million viewers, down slightly from last year, but still strong enough for the second-best audience in 16 years. That dates back to Fox and ESPN combining for 1.237 million viewers in ’97. NBC is averaging 2.4 million viewers through three rounds (+12%), while NBCSN is averaging 1.1 million viewers (+10%). After the three networks started with a sharp drop for the Conference Quarterfinal round, the NHL rebounded during the Conference Semifinals and Conference Finals. NBC and NBCSN combined to average 2.646 for its nine telecasts from the Blackhawks-Kings and Bruins-Penguins series, up 111% from eight telecasts last year (Devils-Rangers and Kings-Coyotes) and marking the most-viewed Conference Finals in 17 years (Panthers-Penguins and Avalanche-Red Wings). NBCSN’s seven telecasts during the Conference Finals this year averaged 2.3 million viewers, up 90% from '12 and ranking as the best Conference Finals average on cable TV since ’96 (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
The NHL will not have a stand-alone, red carpet awards gala live from Las Vegas this season, but that does not mean the league will curtail the excitement around announcing the winners. The ’13 NHL Awards will be co-produced and co-hosted by NBC and the CBC as a lead-in to Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, and both networks said the award-winning players will be on set in Chicago to receive their trophies and participate live in the broadcast. Both networks prior to Saturday night’s game will come on the air and open their shows independently of one another at 7:00pm ET, and after the first commercial break the broadcasts will sync up to present together the five major awards -- the Calder, Hart, Norris and Vezina trophies as well as the Ted Lindsay Award. Liam McHugh will be the lead presenter for NBC, while Ron MacLean will handle hosting duties on the CBC side. Once a winner is announced, that player will come on set to receive their trophy and be interview by either McHugh or MacLean. CBC Sports Head of Programming Trevor Pilling said the awards program will be “a good opportunity for us in the shortened season to tell the great stories of some of the players and their great performances this year.” NBC Sports Coordinating Producer for the NHL Mark Bellotti noted the advantage of having players on the set while the Final is being played, saying, “The season is still going on, and there’s still a series, it (will be) interesting to get some these great players’ perspective on what they’ve seen in the playoffs while it’s still relevant.” The league’s eight other awards will be presented during a telecast on NHL Network Friday at 5:00pm.
VIVA LAS VEGAS: The NHL struck a deal with the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority in ’09 to begin hosting the season-ending celebration. But due to the lockout pushing the start of the season to January, there was not sufficient time between the potential end of the Stanley Cup Final and the NHL Draft to put on a full-scale awards gala. Pilling said, “While it is a different way of doing the show, it’s going to be a nice way of doing the show. One of the opportunities that we have here is we’re going to be able to co-promote the NHL Awards along with Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, which is really nice to be able to leverage the audience that will naturally come along with that.” Viewers can expect to see commercial spots for the NHL Awards program tonight during Game 1 of the Bruins-Blackhawks series, as well as hear plenty of mentions of the show throughout the intermission and pre- and postgame reports. Bellotti said, “Our feeling is that the interest level is sort of at an all-time high. So let’s take advantage of that and try to bring some of the biggest stars in the game to that venue and to that site when there’s so many eyeballs on it as opposed to a little bit later in the summer when naturally people’s attention gets turned to other things.” The NHL has two more years left on its agreement with the LVCVA, and will honor those starting again next season.
Fox finished its slate of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races with a 4.8 rating and 7.8 million viewers. While the rating for the net's 13 races was flat compared to ’12, viewership was down slightly from 7.9 million viewers. Fox had a strong start with the Daytona 500 this year, with rating and viewership both up over 20% compared to last year’s race, which was run in primetime on a Monday due to weather and suffered a long delay due to a jet dryer crash. After Daytona, seven of Fox’ 12 races saw a viewership decline. The race at Auto Club Speedway on March 24 saw the biggest year-over-year increase, with the rating up 24% and viewership up 30%. Last year’s race at ACS was shortened by rain and aired against the NCAA Men’s Basketball Regional Finals, whereas this year’s race was up against the first weekend of tourney coverage. Fox also saw a dip for its Memorial Day weekend race, with the rating for the Coca-Cola 600 down 2% and viewership down 4%. The net did finish on a positive note, with the rating for the race from Dover Int'l Speedway up 3% and viewership up 5%. Fox also saw a 5% decline in the male 18-34 demo this year, one season removed from a 20% drop.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AUDIENCE TREND ON FOX
'13 NASCAR SPRINT CUP RACES ON FOX
CHART NOTES: * = Daytona 500 was run on a Monday night last year due to weather, and then the race suffered a long delay due to a jet dryer crash. ** = Race had a 3.5 hour delay due to weather.
PARTY THEME: TNT earned a 2.8 U.S. rating and 4.358 million viewers for its first Sprint Cup race of the season this past Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway. The figures for the Party in the Poconos 400 are down 18% and 17%, respectively, from a 3.4 rating and 5.257 million viewers for the same race last year and marks TNT’s lowest audience for its first race of the NASCAR season under the current TV rights deal that began in ’07. Despite the drop, the race was still the fifth-best audience for any program on cable TV for the week of June 3-9.
AUDIENCE TREND FOR TNT'S SEASON-OPENING POCONO SPRINT CUP RACE
Time Warner Cable Sports President David Rone at the annual cable convention yesterday said that those who "complain about the high sports rights costs are 'really propagandizing their own position,'" according to CABLEFAX DAILY. It comes down to the "negotiations between distributors and content providers." Rone said, "There's no disconnect there." NBC Sports Group President Jon Litner said, "There's a rhetoric out there that's not accurate. The networks are appropriately priced. ... These are not easy negotiations, but it's all about the value proposition." Rone pointed to the "fact that creating RSNs puts Time Warner Cable in a costly position." Rone: "We take a serious risk. ... The relationship with the teams is not an inexpensive one." Rone added that ultimately it "should be left to the parties within negotiations." Meanwhile, Litner sees a "real opportunity for RSNs to sit down with major leagues like MLB and NBA and secure TVE rights locally so that it remains within the ecosystem" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 6/12).
LOOKING TO DOWNSIZE? TWC Chair & CEO Glenn Britt said that he "supports the idea of having smaller television packages." Britt said that cable TV packages are becoming "too expensive for many low income households, including recent college graduates struggling to find work." He noted that consumers are "looking for more flexibility than what traditional TV packages offer and that the industry should pay attention." Britt said, “I think it’s what consumers want, so we’re going to have to do that" (L.A. TIMES, 6/12).