Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 112

Media

ESPN saw a 4% overnight ratings uptick for its Week 2 "MNF" telecast. The Lions' 24-10 win over the Giants last night drew an 8.7 overnight, up from an 8.3 for Eagles-Bears last year, which was a Week 2 low for ESPN. The 8.6 is down 8% from 9.3 overnight for Jets-Colts in '15 and marks the second-lowest Week 2 "MNF" overnight for ESPN. Last night's game peaked at a 10.0 rating from 9:15-9:30pm ET. Lions-Giants drew a 28.7 local rating in Detroit (11.3 on ESPN, 17.4 on WXYZ-ABC) and a 14.8 local rating in N.Y. (9.4 on ESPN, 5.4 on WPIX-CW). Rounding out the top five markets were New Orleans (13.8), Norfolk (12.9) and Philadelphia (12.5) (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

TALKING POINT: YAHOO SPORTS' Charles Robinson wrote the NFL’s "most consistent theme" in '17 is that "everything is an eye-gouging argument over why the audience is changing." Ratings will serve as the "seesaw the league will be forced to ride all season long." Through two weeks, "nothing is certain and nobody is sure what is causing numbers to land where they are." There also has been a "perpetual argument over why the TV results are up and down." It is why fans "can’t talk" about Colin Kaepernick or player activism "without weaving in a ratings conversation." It is also why domestic violence and league discipline "can’t be dissected without considering how it impacts image and viewership." NFL Exec VP/Communications Joe Lockhart said, "We try not to take too much out of any one week. We’ll look at this as far as the season and we’re confident that the ratings will be strong." The "key word there is 'strong.'" Like last season, the numbers can "fall back for the NFL this year and still be unquestionably strong." But strong "doesn’t necessarily mean 'up'" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/18).

LOCAL FLAVORS: Nashville-based WTVF-CBS Program & Research Dir Mark Binda noted that CBS' Tennessee-Florida game on Saturday afternoon drew a 19.6 local rating, while CBS' Titans-Jaguars on Sunday earned an 18.1 (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 9/19). In San Diego, Jay Posner notes Dolphins-Chargers on KFMB-CBS drew a 12.3 local rating, the "lowest rating for a Chargers game" in the San Diego TV market since at least '98. Sunday’s rating was about 53% lower than the 26.2 for Chargers-Jaguars in Week 2 last year, although it "should be noted there was no other NFL game on TV at the same time a year ago" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/19).

TONY THE TIGER: In Boston, Chad Finn writes of CBS' Tony Romo, "I can’t come up with another name that has impressed so soon while also giving the viewer confidence that he’s only going to get better once he gets comfortable with a director talking in his ear and the other technical bells and whistles of a broadcast." Cris Collinsworth "wasn’t this sharp when he started at NBC" in '90, nor was Fox' Troy Aikman, who are "probably the two best analysts working today." Romo is "articulate, affable, and revealing, which is why two games into his second career, there is no doubt that CBS made the right choice in bringing him" onto the net’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/19). SI.com's Jimmy Traina wondered whether two weeks is "too early to make a declaration" that Romo is the "best NFL analyst." Traina: "Probably. But, I don't care." Romo has an "uncanny ability to predict" plays. His energy is "perfect." He is "excitable, but not over the top." Romo "comes across as a fan, not a suit" (SI.com, 9/18).

ESPN is pushing cable operator Altice USA to "carry two of its college sports channels and make its flagship network more widely available as part of negotiations to renew a contract expiring at the end of the month," according to a source cited by Gerry Smith of BLOOMBERG NEWS. The negotiations are the first between ESPN and Altice since the latter "bought Cablevision Systems last year, obtaining about 2.4 million pay-TV customers" in the N.Y. area. The talks will test whether Disney "can use its leverage as owner of ESPN, ABC and the Disney Channel to make pay-TV providers carry programming that may not interest all viewers." Disney also is asking Altice to "carry the SEC Network and the new ACC Network" in the N.Y. TV market, while "seeking to have the main ESPN channel carried in a higher percentage of Altice’s subscriber homes, meaning the cable provider couldn’t sell as many packages without the network." The source said that Disney is also "pushing for higher rates for its ABC broadcast channel." If the two sides "don’t reach a deal, Altice subscribers could lose ESPN or be forced to switch" to Verizon, the "main competitor" in the N.Y. area (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 9/18). NBC NEWS' Claire Atkinson cited sources as saying that Disney is "asking for a 'gigantic' pay rise for its package of channels" (NBCNEWS.com, 9/18). Pivotal Research analyst Jeffrey Wlodarczak said that the Disney is "likely seeking 'large absolute price increases,' the carriage of new channels at an added fee (including the upcoming ACC Network) and, for the first time, increased programming carriage minimums.'" CABLEFAX's Alex Silverman notes that third factor is "extremely important given the rise of smaller bundles." As distributors "seek to offer more affordable packages, they will be inclined to leave ESPN out to reduce the cost for non-sports fans" (CABLEFAX.com, 9/19).

Digital media sports consumption improved markedly in August as the return of college football, pro football training camps and fantasy football drafts moved the industry more toward its typical traffic highs in the fall. Monthly multiplatform data from comScore showed the sports category posted a total audience of 178.9 million in August, up 4% from July. The average sports consumption of 94 minutes per user was up 9.6% from July, and both the reach and consumption figures were the strongest for the category since April. Both figures remain behind last August, though those figures include traffic concerning the '16 Rio Games. ESPN last month led all sports entities in reach for the 12th straight month and the 41st time in the last 42 months with a total 83.4 million unique visitors, also up 15% from July. MLB led average user consumption for the second straight month with a figure of 60.2 minutes per user.

RANK
SITE
UNIQUES (000)
1)
ESPN
83,366
2)
CBS Sports*
66,705
3)
Yahoo Sports-NBC Sports Network**
57,364
4)
SB Nation
51,341
5)
Fox Sports-SI Group-Perform Media***
49,491
6)
USA Today Sports Media Group^
47,171
7)
Bleacher Report-Turner Sports Network^^
47,157
8)
NFL Internet Group
42,110
9)
MLB
34,962
10)
Minute Media#
23,796
11)
MSN Sports
16,848
12)
Deadspin.com
10,789
13)
Active.com sites
9,742
14)
NESN
9,136
15)
Complex Sports
8,579
 
RANK
SITE
TOTAL TIME SPENT (MINUTES)
1)
ESPN
4.583 billion
2)
Yahoo Sports-NBC Sports Network**
2.712 billion
3)
MLB
2.103 billion
4)
CBS Sports*
1.005 billion
5)
Bleacher Report-Turner Sports Network^^
887 million
6)
NFL Internet Group
854 million
7)
Fox Sports-SI Group-Perform Media***
521 million
8)
USA Today Sports Media Group^
482 million
9)
SB Nation
356 million
10)
Minute Media#
168 million

NOTES: * = Includes 247Sports.com, MaxPreps, and Scout Media. ** = Includes Rivals.com, The Vertical, The PostGame.com, Rotoworld and FanDuel. *** = Includes National Football Post, The FanSided Network, and Sporting News. ^ = Includes 81 local Gannett-owned newspaper sites, 23 Gannett-owned broadcast TV sites, USA Today High School Sports, The Big Lead and For The Win. ^^ = Includes NBA.com, NCAA.com and WNBA.com. # = Includes The Spun.

AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain became available in Las Vegas on Sunday, but as subscribers of the DirecTV Choice package "tried to tune in" to the Golden Knights preseason opener, they were "shown a message that the signal required subscribing to DirecTV’s premium sports service," according to Steve Carp of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. DirecTV customers were "eventually able to watch the game, but only after they rebooted their home system" to get the proper signal. Meanwhile, CenturyLink subscribers in Southern Nevada who were supposed to get the RSN via Prism TV "did not have it." A CenturyLink spokesperson said that the problem were "technical issues with AT&T SportsNet, not a rights issue." The RSN's next Golden Knights telecast is Sept. 26. Cox Communications has "been involved in negotiations with AT&T" to get the RSN on its system and thought it "found a loophole as the Knights-Canucks game was televised on the NHL Network, which is on Cox’s system on its premium sports tier." But after "making an announcement Sunday morning that the game would be on, Cox had to backtrack after the NHL decided to black out the telecast in Southern Nevada just prior to the opening face-off." The replay of the game yesterday on NHL Net also was "blacked out." Golden Knights Owner Bill Foley said that he is "aware of the fans’ discontent over the TV issue" and "preached patience." Foley said, "It’s going to come together. I truly believe the fans of Las Vegas will get to watch their team play" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 9/19).

LET'S MAKE A DEAL: Foley said that the philosophy of a deal with AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain was "based on the strategy of providing TV coverage to the western states -- not just the Las Vegas market." Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz said that the team is "supportive" of both the RSN and Cox "coming together to reach a broadcast distribution deal before the Golden Knights start their season Oct. 6" (LVSPORTSBIZ.com, 9/18).

The Bulls have launched a new season-long series, “Run With Us,” to give fans behind-the-scenes access to the team throughout the '17-18 campaign. The series will air in seven segments and will be featured on the Bulls’ Facebook and Twitter channels, as well as on Bulls.com and on the Bulls mobile app, with all seven posted together as the first episode on the Bulls’ new Facebook Watch on Saturday. The first episode will feature new Bulls additions G Zach LaVine, G Kris Dunn and F Lauri Markkanen. The series debut coincides with the start of a weeklong promotion leading up to the on-sale date of Bulls '17-18 regular season tickets on Friday. New “Run With Us” episodes will appear on the Bulls’ Facebook Watch every two weeks starting with training camp and throughout the regular season (Bulls). In Chicago, Lewis Lazare noted the series of videos is "designed to dovetail with the team's overall new marketing tagline 'With Us,' a line that encourages fans to rally around the future of the team." Through variations on "With Us" -- as in "Run With Us," "Inspire With Us," "Grow With Us," "Cheer With Us" -- the Bulls' new ad campaign "intends to connect the team with the City of Chicago" and their fans around the world. The videos are being produced by BullsTV, the team's in-house video content production unit (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/18).

Eagles Digital Platforms Manager Samantha Wood (@Eagles) is in her second season with the franchise after three seasons with the Flyers. During her stint with the NHL club, Wood was the only person managing the team’s social media, but with the Eagles, she has a staff that includes video producers and graphic designers. Wood: “At the Flyers, I don’t think I saw a movie in a movie theater because I was so frantic about if somebody got traded or if there was news. Now, I’m not the person who leaves the phone out at dinner, because I know I have a team behind me that can handle any emergencies.” Digital growth also has been strong for the Eagles since Wood arrived. Wood: "For 15 straight weeks during the offseason, we were the No. 1-growing Twitter account in the NFL.” In addition to her staff, Wood credits the Eagles' avid fan base for being invested.

SOCIAL SNAPSHOT
Must-follow: I am obsessed with the Trail Blazers and the NBA in general. They do great work.
Favorite app: I really like Reddit. I also love Accuweather. I’m like an evangelist.
Average time per day on social media: I’ve thought about this in the past and intentionally not done the math. But I’d say we’re looking at 12 hours.

New for this season:
We’ve taken a more strategic approach. An example of that is our Instagram. Before, we were really mirroring more of what you would see across other social media platforms. You would see similar content across Facebook and Twitter, but without really a thought of what the Instagram audience looks like and what works the best there. About six months ago, we changed our entire approach. We worked closely with a staff photographer who is super talented and took the leash off. We considered that branding is important and having a consistent look is important. With Instagram, it was more important to be artistic and creative. It’s OK to post the photo that doesn’t look like anything else that we’ve ever posted as long as it looks cool. It’s connection versus coverage.

Successful platforms
:
Facebook is our biggest with over three million fans. Twitter is our fastest growing at well over two million. But we want to widen the lens and include those fans who are more comfortable on Instagram or Facebook or Snapchat or whatever it may be. We want to make sure we are speaking to those fans, because that is where we are growing the game and growing the team.

Approach to covering the '17 NFL Draft, which was in Philly:
That was a really amazing event. We went in with a divide and conquer approach. We split our crew at the Art Museum and had half at the NovaCare Complex. We had a content plan, like live streaming. But we had to be flexible. There were a lot of things we didn’t anticipate, like the scope of how many people would show up or all the little fun moments that happened here and at the Draft itself. I was happy we built in flexibility into our content plan. We weren’t so structured and stiff that we had something scheduled and couldn't adjust. We were able to do it on the fly, which is scar,y because there are no guarantees. But as a result, you end up with the best content. Despite being the hometown team, logistically, there really wasn’t an advantage, because we more or less had to plan as if we were going to a different city. But it was an advantage that 90% of the people who were there were Eagles fans, which looked great.

Using electronic football on Twitter after league restricted use of highlights
:
We are always trying to do something creative and have a built-in flexibility to say "I have a great idea -- let’s do it." We didn’t know how far this was going to go. It was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but also an example of being creative and not being afraid to be a little kooky and a little unusual and a little weird. It’s a business, but it’s also a game and it’s fun. It was a nice moment where we all came together. We shot a lot of them. There were many on my computer that never saw the light of day. I’m happy that it went as far as it did. It really energized my group.

Determining what's too weird or unusual:
There’s always a line. It’s definitely dotted. It’s one of those things you know when you see it. We have tried many, many times to define what is or is not OK. It’s useful to go through that exercise, but I don’t think we’re under any delusions that we’re going to get to a perfect three-bullet list.


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