ESPN Sees Drop For Both Men's, Women's Wimbledon Final Overnight Rating
ESPN earned a 2.0 overnight rating for Andy Murray's historic straight-set win over Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon men's final yesterday, down 35% from a 3.1 overnight for Roger Federer's four-set win over Murray last year. Federer-Murray ended up being ESPN's most-watched tennis match ever. This year marked the second time the Wimbledon finals aired on ESPN. Murray-Djokovic is down slightly from NBC's 2.1 overnight for the Djokovic-Rafael Nadal final in '11, but up slightly from a 1.9 for NBC's Nadal-Tomas Berdych final in '10. Meanwhile, ESPN earned a 1.1 overnight for Marion Bartoli's win over Sabine Lisicki in the women's final on Saturday, down 21% from a 1.4 overnight for Serena Williams' win over Agnieszka Radwanska last year (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). Meanwhile, the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Georg Szalai reports Murray's win "set a new U.K. Twitter record," as it was mentioned more than 3.4 million times "over a 12-hour period" yesterday. Activity "peaked at 120,000 tweets per minute as Murray hit the winning shots." The previous high was during the Closing Ceremony of the '12 London Games when the Spice Girls "made their long-awaited appearance" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 7/8).
SILENCE IS GOLDEN: SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote viewers "witnessed ESPN at its very best Sunday morning, as the network produced thrilling images and sensational booth commentary" for Murray-Djokovic. ESPN's Chris Fowler, John McEnroe and Patrick McEnroe not talking "as Murray attempted to serve out his final game" was "particularly notable." As Murray "struggled to put away Djokovic, the group found the perfect tone to explain the tension at hand." Deitsch: "They also remained silent on championship point. Beautiful." ESPN after the match "offered an array of fantastic images of how people celebrated the final point, from the family and friends in Murray's box at the club, to his coach Ivan Lendl, to those who assembled on Henman Hill, to a group watching in Murray's hometown of Dunblane, Scotland, to a massive throng near the Tower of London." When the "remote production matches the quality of your announcing, you get a great broadcast." ESPN "delivered like Murray on Sunday" (SI.com, 7/7). Awful Announcing’s Matt Yoder wrote on the website’s Twitter feed, “The ESPN booth totally stepped away in that last game and it was remarkable. Fantastic job.” The AP's Jay Cohen wrote, "Great restraint by Fowler/McEnroes at end." NBC's Arlo White wrote, "Murray shaking McEnroe's hand en route to the box. A great TV moment!"
MORE KUDOS FOR ESPN: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes ESPN's coverage "provided a television bonus for many loyal fans." John McEnroe "again provided knowledgeable, precise commentary" (DENVER POST, 7/8). NFL Network's Rich Eisen wrote of ESPN's Fowler on his Twitter account, "Calling Wimbledon, Aussie and US Open Championships, @cbfowler is becoming the voice of tennis of my generation. And I think that's great." CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman, "He and Tirico are great and can adeptly handle any sport RT @PriscoCBS Chris Fowler is very good on tennis." The Washington Post's Cindy Boren: "Can Clive Owen narrate all previews on ESPN??? Purdy please?"
SETTING THE BAR: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Georg Szalai reports the BBC "drew the highest TV ratings of the year in Britain with its live coverage" of the match. It also "exceeded the 16.9 million peak ratings and 11.4 million average ratings for the final last year, which had drawn the biggest British TV audience for any Wimbledon final in more than 20 years." The match overall "seems to have come in with the second-highest peak rating ever for Wimbledon coverage on the BBC." An average audience of 12.1 million viewers "tuned in for the Sunday final on BBC One, for a 72.8 percent share of the total TV-watching audience in the U.K. at the time." The biggest-ever Wimbledon TV audience of 17.3 million in the U.K. came in '80 when Bjorn Borg beat John McEnroe "in a five-set thriller" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 7/8).
SLIP OF THE LIP: The GUARDIAN's Esther Addley reports the BBC's John Inverdale apologized to Bartoli "for describing her as 'not a looker' shortly before her win on Saturday." Inverdale prior to the men's final said that he had written to Bartoli "to apologise 'if any offence was caused', after his comments a day earlier sparked a furious response." The BBC was "forced to apologise" after Inverdale's comments. He told listeners of Radio 5 Live: "Do you think Bartoli's dad told her when she was little: 'You're never going to be a looker, you'll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight'?" Inverdale "tried to defuse the row on Saturday by saying he had been attempting to 'poke fun, in a nice way, about how she looks.'" But he was "forced to return to the subject a day later." Inverdale yesterday said, "Before we start I probably ought to return to yesterday and a clumsy phrase I used" (GUARDIAN, 7/8). A BBC spokesperson said, "We accept that this remark was insensitive and for that we apologise" (London INDEPENDENT, 7/7). Meanwhile, SI.com's Jon Wertheim noted the BBC's Garry Richardson "got a heap of grief for a brutal postmatch interview with Murray" following his quarterfinals win over Fernando Verdasco. Murray defended Richardson, writing on his Twitter feed, "Don't be too hard on Garry Richardson. He had a bad day and he apologized afterward" (SI.com, 7/7).
MAD ABOUT THE BOY: REUTERS' Baldwin & Ferris review the coverage of Murray's win in today's London newspapers, noting the headline for The Sun tabloid was "And Of Hope and Glory." The paper "devoted the first five pages to the first British winner of the men's title since 1936, along with an eight-page 'Born To Wim' souvenir pullout and six more in the Sports section." The London Times' headline was "The History Boy," with the paper "dedicating the first eight pages ... to 'Murray-mania' in another souvenir edition with a wraparound picture of Murray." The Telegraph's sports section front-page headline was "At Last," and the section "included a 12 page Wimbledon special," while the Daily Mail "offered readers a 12 page souvenir section and victory poster." The Mirror "declared Murray to be in 'Seventh Heaven,' highlighting not only the 77 year gap but also the seven day age gap between Murray and Djokovic." The Guardian "joined in the celebrations with the single word 'Champion' on its front page over a picture of Murray, eyes closed, kissing the trophy" (REUTERS, 7/8).
GOING BEHIND THE CURTAIN: SI.com's Wertheim served as an on-air analyst for Tennis Channel during Wimbledon, and he wrote the "more I'm in this world as a ... commentator, the more I learn." Wertheim: "Television is unlike the swan, poised and graceful in appearance. And it's fluttering madly under the surface. The viewer -- and I'm as guilty as anyone -- says, 'Why didn't they show X?' and the reasons are manifold. There was a sponsored segment that needed to run immediately. There was an issue in the tape room. An agent was escorting a player to the studio for an interview and the producer didn't want to keep the guy waiting. Just saying, there are a lot of gears in motion." Meanwhile, Wertheim noted working with analyst Mary Carillo "only enhanced my regard for her" (SI.com, 7/7).