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Volume 24 No. 156


ESPN last night drew a 15.8 overnight rating for Alabama’s fourth national football title in seven years. The Crimson Tide's 45-40 win over Clemson is down 15% from the inaugural CFP National Championship last season, which saw Ohio State defeat Oregon 42-20. While down sharply from last season, Alabama-Clemson is ESPN’s third-best overnight since it began airing college football’s national title game in '11. It also was higher than four title games on broadcast TV during the BCS era. Southern markets dominated the rankings last night. Birmingham led all markets with a 59.2 local rating, followed by Greenville-Spartanburg -- Clemson's home market -- with a 39.0. Atlanta, Nashville, Knoxville, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Columbus, Charlotte and West Palm Beach rounded out the top 10. Greenville-Spartanburg’s figure was its best rating on record for an ESPN postseason telecast. 

Ohio State-Oregon
Florida State-Auburn
Alabama-Notre Dame
LSU-Ohio State
Florida-Ohio State

MEGA POWERS: Across the Megacast on ESPN linear TV networks, the game drew a 16.0 overnight, down from an 18.9 last year. ESPN2, which showed “Film Room,” saw a drop in ratings, as did “Sounds Of The Game” on ESPN Classic. But the “Homer Telecast” on ESPNU and “ESPN Voices” on ESPNews saw increases in ratings. Meanwhile, Alabama-Clemson drew 1.93 million unique viewers on WatchESPN, marking the platform’s best non-FIFA World Cup audience on record (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

: SPORTS ON EARTH's Cy Brown writes the "biggest star" of ESPN's broadcast of last night's CFP finale was the Pylon Cam. The device's "greatness was on display" for Alabama RB Kenyan Drake's dive into the end zone to "cap off a 95-yard kickoff return midway through the fourth quarter." It also "gave a fresh angle on a near-touchdown pass by Clemson, and on Alabama's final score of the game" (, 1/12). Sporting News' Ryan Fagan on Twitter wrote, "How has the pylon cam not been essential part of football coverage for the past decade? It's kind of amazing."'s Jake Trotter: "Pylon cam best thing to happen to college football since the playoff." SI's Seth Davis: "This pylon cam is off the chain." The Portland Oregonian's John Canzano: "Big night for the pylon camera." The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Benjamin Hochman: "Pylon Cam, you da real MVP." 

BREAKING DOWN THE FILM: ESPN2 aired the "Film Room" last night as part of Megacast coverage of the game, where several coaches -- North Carolina's Larry Fedora, Pitt's Pat Narduzzi, Florida's Jim McElwain, South Carolina's Will Muschamp and USF's Willie Taggert -- analyzed the action from a coaching perspective. Ravens RB Justin Forsett wrote, "Anybody watching ESPN2? ... I rather watch the game normal but that's interesting." The Louisville Courier-Journal's Jeff Greer: "McElwain, Muschamp and Narduzzi are fascinating on the Film Room broadcast. Way more interesting than the regular broadcast." CBS Sports' Matthew Coca: "If you're not watching this coaches feed you are truly missing out. Narduzzi calls out plays based on RB depth. Great insight."'s Andrea Adelson: "To the surprise of no one, Pat Narduzzi rocking the Film Room right now. Jim McElwain brought the jokes." MSG Net's Alan Hahn: "The Film Room ... is addicting. I'd love to see this for an @NBA game." Bleacher Report's Bryan Fischer: "It will never happen, but I would love a ‘Film Room’ telecast of the championship game featuring the CFP committee members."

After taking full control of Eurosport in July, Discovery Communications is "hoping to do overseas what it failed to do at home: get in the game before it’s over," according to a front-page piece by Hagey & Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Discovery began investing in Eurosport in '12, "taking a minority stake" while the majority owner, France’s TF1 Group, "showed them the ropes of running the only sports channel group to span the whole continent." Eurosport "reaches 205 million paying subscribers across 91 countries," as well as "millions more free-to-air viewers in pay-TV averse Germany." Previously, Eurosport carried "primarily leftover rights to second-tier sports." But since taking control, Discovery "has signed more than 75 sports rights deals," from Wimbledon in Belgium to F1 in Portugal. In June, it agreed to pay US$1.4B for "exclusive European broadcast rights to the Olympic Games" beginning in '18. Discovery also "wasn’t the highest" bidder for those rights. Sources said that it "came out ahead because it presented itself as the best way for the IOC to stoke year-round interest in the Olympics, particularly among young people." Discovery believes the "biggest immediate improvement it can make at Eurosport ... is in its ad business." Eurosport was "selling ads on a pan-European basis, which isn’t the way most advertising in the region is sold." Discovery, which "has an average of 10 channels in countries throughout Europe, is changing that by creating local channels" -- similar to RSNs in the U.S. -- "using sales and distribution teams it already has on the ground." It has already "begun to get larger affiliate fee increases across its whole portfolio of European channels by having sports as part of its bundle." Discovery now is "beefing up production values, making its sports more accessible with more documentary-style storytelling and prime-time talk shows, and dumping some of the more embarrassing filler" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/12).

SI has struck a partnership with Scout Media Inc. to create a content initiative around college football’s upcoming National Signing Day. “The Race to National Signing Day” will feature a variety of live and on-demand video programming, breaking news, player analysis and other digital reports appearing on both and that will culminate with a live preview show on Feb. 2 and more than 10 hours of live programming on National Signing Day itself Feb. 3. The effort will feature editorial talent from both sites, and also incorporate SI’s college football destination, Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal is a straightforward one based upon sharing of advertising revenue both sides will generate. SI and Scout briefly discussed such an alliance prior to last year’s National Signing Day before the arrival of current SI Digital GM Patty Hirsch, but did not complete a deal. “This is something we’ve been working on for a while, and we believe the combination of the two of us together makes for a very powerful partnership,” Hirsch said. The National Signing Day pact could also prove to be a forerunner toward a broader, more year-round partnership. “We’re starting simply with this, but the goal is definitely to figure out a longer-term deal,” Hirsch said. has spent much of the past year gathering a large trove of footage of many of the expected top recruits, and will feature it throughout the partnership. Scout Senior VP/Content Craig Amazeen: “When somebody commits, we’re going to be able to show an incredible array of footage that really shows what that player can do."

Charlotte-based PR firm Sports Media Challenge (@SportsMediaChal) Founder & President Kathleen Hessert (@KathleenHessert) has worked with an eclectic clientele over the years, including Peyton Manning and Derek Jeter. She has even helped Christian Laettner in an effort to shed his “villain” reputation. Branching out from sports, Sports Media Challenge has worked with the likes of the Pope and P. Diddy. “Based on what we were doing in sports, we created the social media around the Pope’s visit to the United States, all geared toward millennials."

Favorite app: Vine because it is so integrated with Twitter and the impact of the microvideo is spectacular. I love the stop-action component.
Must-Follows: UPS' J.W. Cannon; SportsGeek, I really love their podcast; IBM's Tariq Ahmad, I always get good information from him. The Panthers are really one of the very best in the NFL and on a very small budget.
Average time daily on social media: About an hour a day. Typically look at it first thing in the morning and then maybe 5:00pm because you get more readability after that time.

Having a unique social media voice: It’s not the easiest thing to do at all. One of the things we spend a great deal of time on with clients is helping them figure out their voice.

Looking outside the box: That’s something that I bring to all of our clients. When I was in broadcasting, it was connecting the dots; you take a little piece of information from different places and that’s how a story develops. When I worked with P. Diddy, I would bring in sports. When I worked with sports, I would bring in music. When I worked with the Pope, I brought in sports -- that kind of thing. It leads you in other directions that you otherwise wouldn’t go.

What is important to convey via social media: You can have fun, but it’s not all fun. It’s very important that there is a clear sense of brand and that the brand is clearly and consistently aligned with the brand’s goals. So many entities get into social because they understand they have to be there. But they don’t know why, they don’t know how. There’s no strategy, no alignment to the business goal and a bunch of wasted time.

Social media advice: They have to not just do it, but they have to do social listening in a deep and comprehensive way. Just putting it out there and not knowing where it’s going and what people are saying about it is not a good business decision. If you are listening and looking for real-time actionable information, social media is an incredible business intelligence.

How social media has changed sports business: In dramatic ways. It can redefine brands; it can make them more current; it allows them to be more whimsical no matter if their brand has been known to be whimsical; it humanizes a brand in sports business when it’s done right. It extends relevancy when it’s done right. There’s a lot of bad social out there. It’s important to look for ways to be innovativeand break out of the pack. You have to break the mold and be brave.

If you know anyone who should be featured for their use of social media, send their name to us at