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Volume 24 No. 112


The NFL saw a mixed bag for its slate of Week 17 overnight ratings. NBC’s Eagles-Cowboys “SNF” finale led all games during the final week of play with a 16.8 overnight, but that figure was down 8% from the Cowboys-Redskins finale last year. The game delivered NBC a primetime win, peaking at a 18.0 rating during the 11:00-11:30pm ET window. The telecast earned a 40.1 local rating in Philadelphia, marking an “SNF” record for NBC in the market. Dallas-Ft. Worth earned a 37.0 local rating. CBS and Fox both had national windows in Week 17. Fox led the way with the NFC North-deciding Packers-Bears matchup featured in the window. That telecast earned a 15.2 overnight, down 7% from the net’s Week 17 window last year. Fox’ early regional window earned a 10.5 overnight, down 3%. CBS’ late national window, which featured Ravens-Bengals, earned a 12.0 overnight, up 8% from Texans-Colts in ’12. CBS’ regional window earned a 10.7 overnight, up 32% (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

'13 GAME
'12 GAME
% +/-
Packers-Bears (63%)
Packers-Vikings (82%)
Ravens-Bengals (62%)
Texans-Colts (64%)

SOUR ENDING: In Baltimore, David Zurawik wrote the Ravens' loss to the Bengals on Sunday was "met with an equally lackluster effort in the booth by CBS." The broadcast featured CBS' top broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, and "what did we get but two subpar performances." Zurawik wrote Simms "delivered some of the most inconsistent analysis I have seen all year." Zurawik: "What I hate about NFL coverage on CBS more than anything else [is] the tone and sensibility of jocks in the booth playing to and for other jocks and members of NFL locker room fraternity instead of the viewers and fans." Meanwhile, the "last thing to which Nantz brought any passion as far as I can tell happened at the Masters" (, 12/29).

: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes it is "not surprising that Fox NFL Sunday gets the award for the most inappropriate comment of the weekend." The show during a review of the year in predictions with comedian Rob Riggle "ran a joke involving the improper use of a CPR dummy." Jones: "Think maybe kids might have been watching? Shame on Fox. Time to grow up, boys, and make this a show you can be proud of" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 12/30).

BRONCOS BUSTIN' OUT: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes based on NFL TV viewing this season, the Broncos are "America's team" rather than the Cowboys "by a wide margin." The first 16 weeks of the NFL season "produced 20 games watched by more than 25 million viewers, more than double last year's total of eight." The Broncos' popularity is "a major reason for this audience jump." The Broncos have "appeared in eight of the 20 games -- more than any other franchise," followed by the Cowboys (DENVER POST, 12/30).

Omaha-based RFD-TV Founder & Chair Patrick Gottsch "is baffled by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s decision to pick CBS Sports Network over his network to broadcast the Las Vegas-based National Finals Rodeo," according to Alan Snel of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Gottsch said that he offered $1M to the PRCA for the broadcast rights for the NFR, "considered the Super Bowl of rodeos." The PRCA this month announced that it "will pay CBS Sports Network to broadcast 48 hours of the NFR and other Champions rodeo events" in '14 and '15. Gottsch "can’t understand why the PRCA would not accept a $1 million-a-year broadcast deal and instead choose a TV deal that requires the PRCA to pay for the event’s broadcast." Gottsch: "We really wanted it. We knew no one was paying (for the rights). It’s so confusing. We were devastated. It was a very curious decision."  Gottsch said that PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman "informed him that Wrangler -- a major PRCA sponsor -- blocked the RFD-TV bid." Gottsch said that he "was also prepared to use his RFD-TV to serve as an unofficial western sports channel to grow rodeo around the country" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 12/28).

Two new quarterly soccer magazines -- Eight by Eight and Howler -- are "hoping that enthusiasm generated by the approaching 2014 World Cup will help create a readership that will endure for years afterward," according to Timothy Pratt of the N.Y. TIMES. But even with modest starts, the "pedigree of the founders of Eight by Eight and Howler, with decades of experience in publishing pantheons like Esquire and National Geographic, suggests they represent the first attempt to create a niche genre aimed at a passionate audience." Eight by Eight introduced its first issue in Manhattan last month; Howler is a year old. Howler Founder & Editor George Quraishi said that the magazine "got its start with $69,000 from Kickstarter and 'pretty sizable' support through advertising by Nike and beIN Sport." The magazine "has published three issues, with the fourth coming in early January, and Mr. Quraishi said subscriptions, which cost $50, are approaching 5,000 and increasing with each issue." Howler is a "large-format publication that sends writers to locations like Mexico and Rome in search of long-form articles; Eight by Eight’s first issue splashes bright illustrations across many of its pages." Meanwhile, a third publication, XI, is "struggling to put out a fourth issue." It is "smaller in size, almost academic and focused solely on North America" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/30).

In DC, Dan Steinberg wrote one of the Redskins' "harshest critics" this season was ESPN Radio 980 DC's Chris Cooley, a "31-year-old media rookie just 12 months removed from sharing a locker room with the players he now appraises." Heading into this season, he "was unusually positioned to diagnose the Redskins’ maladies." He has "identified players who looked like they weren’t giving maximum effort, players who weren’t talented enough to contribute and players who failed at their assignments." Reporters assigned to the Redskins beat "began tuning in for his analysis, and fans buzzed over it." Red Zebra Broadcasting VP/Programming Chuck Sapienza, whose company owns the station, said of Cooley's analysis, "It’s become a monster; it gets almost as much response as anything we do." Longtime DC-area sports radio commentator Andy Pollin said of Cooley, "I’m really amazed that he’s doing this because my experience with athletes is they’re hesitant to do it, especially with athletes they’ve played with." Cooley said that four or five players "have reached out to him with questions about his critiques, which they’ve mostly heard of second-hand" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/27).

GOING NATIONAL: In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen reported Monday is WFNZ-AM host Taylor Zarzour's final day with the station, but he is "staying in town." Zarzour on Jan. 6 "will begin his new show, Bleacher Report with Taylor Zarzour, on Sirius Radio." The show will run from 11:00am-2:00pm ET. He will "broadcast from a studio at his Charlotte home." Zarzour said of the new show's format, "You basically take the two or three biggest topics in sports each day and run with them." He added of why he left WFNZ, "Just to do a national show is too good of an opportunity to pass up for my family" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/29).

BOSTON'S BEST: In Boston, Chad Finn handed out his '13 "sports media superlatives" for the city. Finn named CSN New England Celtics broadcaster Mike Gorman as "Best play-by-play voice"; NESN baseball analyst Dennis Eckersley as "Best color and studio analyst"; Patriots radio play-by-play voice Bob Socci as "Best newcomer"; WEEI-FM's Kirk Minihane's addition to the "Dennis and Callahan" show as "Best third voice added to a program"; and WBZ-FM's "Toucher and Rich" as "Best radio program" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/27).