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Volume 24 No. 155

Media

ESPN saw a slight decline in Q2 viewership, while NBA TV benefited from buzz around the end of the regular season and playoffs. ESPN easily led all sports again with an average of 1.54 million viewers in primetime during Q2, but it was the net’s lowest mark for April/May/June since ’13 and down 1% from the same period last year. The net ranked No. 6 in primetime among all cable nets, just behind HGTV. ESPN also saw its lowest total-day figure in at least a decade, averaging 676,000 viewers, which was down 1% from Q2 ’15. The net ranked No. 10 among all cable nets in total-day audience, just behind Nick-At-Nite.

HOOPS HYPE
: NBA TV had its second-best primetime Q2 audience on record -- behind only ’14 -- and best total-day audience since becoming Nielsen-rated. Primetime viewership for NBA TV was up 26% in Q2 compared to the same period last year, while total-day was up 15%. The end of the NBA regular season and NBA Playoffs also helped TNT to the top spot in primetime for Q2 among all nets -- 5% ahead of No. 2 Fox News.

SOCCER SHOTS
: FS1 had its best Q2 on record, fueled by coverage of the Copa America Centenario. The net averaged 482,000 viewers in primetime, up 6%, while total-day viewership was up 9%. The net saw its five best men’s soccer audiences during the Copa America. Univision Deportes also had its best Q2 as it covered Copa America. The net’s primetime viewership last quarter (352,000 viewers) was higher than ESPN2, MLB Network, NBA TV or Golf Channel. The Spanish-language channel also saw a 127% increase in total-day viewership. While FS1 and UDN saw gains, beIN Sports and Fox Deportes saw sharp drops. beIN Sports was down 68% in primetime and down 45% in total day. Fox Deportes also slid 9% in primetime and 16% in total day.

AT THE TURN: Golf Channel this year saw the best Q2 total-day viewership in its 21-year history. Viewership was up slightly from the same period last year. The net's audience in Q2 this year was driven by increases for PGA Tour coverage (+5%), PGA Tour Champions (+20%), European Tour (+8%), LPGA (+6%) and the NCAA Men's Golf Championships (+139%). The net also is likely set up for its best Q3 on record, which will be highlighted by the net's first coverage of a major (British Open), Olympic golf from Rio, the FedExCup Playoffs and the Ryder Cup. Primetime viewership for Golf Channel in Q2 was up 7%, but not a record for the net.

Q2 CABLE SPORTS NET VIEWERSHIP
PRIMETIME
'16 (000)
'15 (000)
'14 (000)
'13 (000)
'12 (000)
ESPN
1,538
1,553
1,751
1,348
1,987
NBCSN
629
679
725
619
530
FS1*
482
453
259
206
226
Univision Deportes
352
126
137
n/a
n/a
ESPN2
314
358
461
415
470
MLB Network
197
214
208
184
154
Golf Channel
158
147
158
162
164
NFL Network
122
119
132
114
110
NBA TV
112
89
127
98
111
ESPNU
68
73
85
84
n/a
Fox Deportes
59
65
68
n/a
n/a
FS2*
41
41
23
39
35
beIN Sports
12
37
n/a
n/a
n/a
TOTAL DAY
'16 (000)
'15 (000)
'14 (000)
'13 (000)
'12 (000)
ESPN
676
686
911
715
892
ESPN2
236
223
255
244
268
FS1*
227
208
114
128
128
NBCSN
169
176
195
155
131
Golf Channel
126
125
122
125
116
MLB Network
110
117
105
83
73
Univision Deportes
93
41
68
n/a
n/a
NFL Network
73
73
79
75
70
NBA TV
60
52
59
52
59
ESPNU
42
42
46
44
n/a
Fox Deportes
27
32
37
n/a
n/a
FS2*
23
23
16
31
27
beIN Sports
12
22
n/a
n/a
n/a
 

CHART NOTES: The Q2 measuring period was March 28-June 26. * = Speed became FS1 on Aug. 17, 2013, and Fuel TV on the same day became FS2.

The Pistons have "no immediate plans to change" radio homes after flagship station WMGC-FM dropped its all-sports format last night, according to Tony Paul of the DETROIT NEWS. Around 6:00pm ET, oldies started to "play on WMGC and the station's website, app and Facebook page were deactivated or replaced with other content." The news comes after WMGC-FM failed to take any "significant chunk" of WXYT-FM's audience since launching in August '13. Officials have said that the sports format would be a "long-term play of at least five years, but decided to change in recent weeks after firing" Program Dir David Shore in May. The Pistons have completed their second season on WMGC-FM after making the switch from WXYT-FM. The team can "opt out of the final guaranteed year of the contract and the two option years because of the change in formats." Jake Chapman "will continue" hosting "Pistons Weekly," while Mark Champion and Rick Mahorn "will continue to host" the weekly "Courtside Show." Station owner Greater Media "wanted more than the Pistons to build around, and went after the Tigers rights after last season." However, the Tigers and Red Wings, a "package deal" under owners the Ilitches, stuck with WXYT-FM (DETROIT NEWS, 6/30). In Detroit, Bill Shea notes it is not clear what the Pistons "will do for a radio broadcaster" after the '16-17 season. Under the deal, the Pistons "retain all radio advertising revenue from the live broadcasts of the 82 regular season games an all preseason and playoff games." The station earns "incremental revenue based on broadcast and other metrics, which were never publicly disclosed" (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 6/29).

ESPN said the network did not have as much input on the start time of today's decisive third game of the College World Series as people believe. The first pitch for Arizona-Coastal Carolina is scheduled for 1:08pm ET on ESPNU, a network that is in 70.6 million homes. By contract, ESPN (89 million homes) has to show Wimbledon and ESPN2 (89 million homes) has to show the Poland-Portugal Euro '16 quarterfinal this afternoon. ESPN would have preferred producing the game in primetime tonight, when it shows taped programming that could be moved easily for the CWS. The net tonight is scheduled to show an updated “Believeland” documentary that incorporates the Cavaliers' NBA title and “BattleFrog Obstacle Race: College Championship.” ESPN in an emailed statement said, “We offered a primetime window on ESPN as a preferred rescheduling option for Game 3 of the NCAA College World Series Finals. The NCAA made the decision to play the game at 1 p.m. ET. ESPN and ESPN2 have previously scheduled Wimbledon and Euro games airing this afternoon. We were able to find a window on ESPNU and look forward to televising the matchup.” NCAA Managing Dir of Championships & Alliances Ron Prettyman in today’s Omaha World-Herald is quoted as saying that ESPN execs “certainly have input on start times.”

The USOC has revoked Olympics and U.S. Olympic trials credentials for sports media startup FloSports for publishing video footage of several Olympics trials events. NBCUniversal owns exclusive rights to Olympics and team-selection events through '32. “After multiple infractions of use of video in trial venues, we revoked credentials for trials and Olympics going forward,” a USOC spokesperson said. FloSports CEO & co-Founder Martin Floreani disputes the charge and criticized the USOC. "There were no repeated use violations,” Floreani said. "We disagree with the spirit of the claims, which resulted in the USOC's withdrawal of two credentials. The USOC's response is odd. We understand that the USOC is struggling to keep up with current media trends. Their actions illustrate their inexperience with emerging media. Withdrawing our credentials just hurts the USOC. We wish them the best of luck." Founded in '06, FloSports is backed by Celtics Managing Partner & CEO Wyc Grousbeck’s Causeway Media Partners. It operates dedicated verticals in wrestling, gymnastics, track and field and other sports. It specializes in live streaming coverage, original programming and owned-and-operated events. FloSports has deals with United World Wrestling and other NGBs, but not the IOC or the USOC. Causeway Media Partners, led by Grousbeck and partners Bob Higgins and Celtics Minority Owner Mark Wan, invested $8M in the company in '14. Two sources said FloSports had streamed parts of the marathon and wrestling trials, and called the company’s rights violations a pattern of behavior.