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Volume 24 No. 117

Media

NFL pregame shows yesterday all addressed President Trump's comments from the weekend "in some form and gave legitimate time to the issue," marking a "very good week for a genre that too often feels like a bro-rally," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" opened its show with 22 minutes of Trump conversation, creating some "honest television and the best discussion of the issue" yesterday. The show began with a shot of the sidelines of the Ravens-Jaguars game in London that had already started, followed by cast intros and host Sam Ponder "introducing Trump’s 'son of a bitch' comment (with no bleeps) at an Alabama rally." NFL Network's pregame show "was also strong" covering the issue, with analyst Kurt Warner and host Rich Eisen "standing out." Fox "addressed the subject in the same manner as its competitors," beginning their show with a "quick preview of the upcoming Week 3 games before heading immediately into Trump’s comments (they did bleep the word 'bitch') and statements and tweets from NFL executives and players." They then went to NFL insider Jay Glazer to get a "sense of the tone around the league." CBS' "The NFL Today" had its traditional opening, "highlighting the CBS games of the week before an initial seven-minute discussion on Trump’s comments." That discussion "featured guest analyst Charles Barkley, who was the first to talk." A second segment that lasted nine minutes included "Face The Nation" host John Dickerson, an interview with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and thoughts from CBSSN's Amy Trask on "how NFL owners should be approaching Trump’s comments." NBC's "Football Night In America" focused on "post-game images from inside the locker room" (SI.com, 9/25). In Boston, Chad Finn writes the usual "backslapping jocularity was absent from all of the programs, at least in the first couple of segments." CBS was "especially thorough and interesting," as there is "no better studio anchor at navigating emotional topics than James Brown." Finn: "The NFL’s broadcast partners should be satisfied with how it addressed and covered the situation. There were pointed and passionate comments across all networks" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/25).

WHAT THEY SAID: ESPN's Rex Ryan yesterday said that he "regretted supporting Trump following the President’s comments." He said, "I supported Donald Trump. When he asked me to introduce him at a rally in Buffalo, I did that. But I am reading these comments and it is appalling to me. And I am sure it is appalling to almost any citizen in our country. It should be. ... I am associated with what Donald Trump stands for because I introduced him. I never signed up for that. I never wanted that" (SI.com, 9/25). NBC's Cris Collinsworth said Trump "should apologize" for his comments. Collinsworth: "They're not SOBs. They’re smart, thoughtful guys. They have seen things that are unimaginable in some cases and they want exactly what the President wants, they want a better America" ("Football Night In America," NBC, 9/24). Fox' Terry Bradshaw said that while he "didn't condone the anthem protests, he believed that it isn't the president's place to chastise any American for exercising his or her right to free speech." Bradshaw: "This is America. If our country stands for anything, folks, it's freedom. People died for that freedom. I'm not sure if our president understands those rights" (ADAGE.com, 9/24). NFL Network's Eisen: "Offensive speech should not be tolerated in this country and offensive behavior that tears down the fabric of this country like we saw in Charlottesville should be called out. What is going on on the field in the National Football League is not that" ("NFL GameDay Morning," NFL Network, 9/24).

SHOWING THE ANTHEM: CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said that he and other members of his team "spoke for an hour and a half Saturday night and decided to show the anthem live in all markets and to give the controversy two segments on the pregame show." McManus said there was an "‘aha’ moment" about airing the anthems, and the pregame show “was more of a news show than a sports show." USA TODAY's Erik Brady notes the show "told viewers the anthem was coming up next, though such star-spangled promotion is something more associated with Super Bowls in February than regular-season games in September." Fox cameras "panned the sidelines as the anthems played in stadiums across the land." The net at halftime of the 1:00pm ET games offered a quick roundup of the anthem action around the league before Curt Menefee said: "And then they played football" (USA TODAY, 9/25). ESPN will carry the anthem live during tonight’s “MNF” game, something it does not do every week. It also has plans to carry the NFL’s “Inside These Lines” ad during the telecast (John Ourand, Staff Writer).

MEDIA MONITOR: All three network morning shows today teased the NFL protests in their opening segments and then led their broadcasts with reports on the issue. ABC’s "GMA" teased the opening with the headline “Show of Solidarity,” while NBC's "Today" went with the header, "The President vs. the Players” and "CBS This Morning" featured “President vs. NFL.” ABC's Gio Benitez broadcast live outside of FedExField, with additional commentary from the net's Cecilia Vega and Matthew Dowd, along with and Ravens TE Benjamin Watson. NBC aired a live report from the net's Craig Melvin from MetLife Stadium, with Tony Dungy appearing live in-studio later in the broadcast. CBS featured live reports from DeMarco Morgan outside MetLife Stadium and CBS’ Major Garrett from the White House. "The NFL Today's" Brown later also appeared live to offer his thoughts. Last night’s edition of ABC’s “World News” and NBC’s “Nightly News” both teased the protests in the opening and led their broadcasts with reports on the issue. CBS’ “Evening News” was preempted for NFL coverage (THE DAILY).

The NFL saw a mixed bag in overnight ratings for Week 3 on Sunday, with much attention on the league following President Trump's controversial comments over the weekend. CBS led all broadcast windows yesterday with a 13.8 overnight rating for the Packers' OT win over the Bengals in the 4:25pm ET national window, featured in 80% of markets. While tops for yesterday, that number is down slightly from a 13.9 in Week 3 last year, which featured Steelers-Eagles in in 52% of markets. CBS did see an 11.1% increase in its regional window. Overall, CBS saw a 4% increase for its doubleheader over '16. Meanwhile, NBC's "SNF" last night drew an 11.6 rating for the Redskins' 27-10 win over the Raiders, marking the lowest overnight for a Week 3 "SNF" since '06, when Broncos-Patriots drew a 10.7. Raiders-Redskins also is down 10.1% from a 12.9 for last year's Bears-Cowboys tilt. "SNF," which was the top-rated show in primetime, peaked at a 12.5 rating between 9:00-9:30pm. Finally, Fox' singleheader window yesterday drew a 10.3 overnight, down 15.6% from a 12.2 rating last year (Karp & Carpenter, THE DAILY).

NFL WEEK 3 SUNDAY OVERNIGHT RATINGS
NET
'17 GAME
RAT.
'16 GAME
RAT.
% +/-
Fox
(single)
10.3
(single)
12.2
-15.6%
CBS
(regional)
10.0
(regional)
9.0
11.1%
CBS
Bengals-Packers (80%)
13.8
Steelers-Eagles (52%)
13.9
-0.7%
NBC
Raiders-Redskins
11.6
Bears-Cowboys
12.9
-10.1%

THE TRUMP FACTOR: Trump's comments sparked interest in the NFL's pregame shows, with CBS' "The NFL Today" drawing its best rating since '10. Yesterday's show earned a 3.2 overnight rating, up 33% from a 2.4 for last year's Week 3 show. Fox also saw increases. "Fox NFL Sunday" earned a 3.7 overnight, up 9% from a 3.4 for last year. "Fox NFL Kickoff," airing from 11:00am-noon, drew a 1.3 overnight, up 30% from a 1.0 last year (Josh Carpenter, Assistant Editor).

EYE ON THE BALL: SI.com's Richard Deitsch writes CBS' Jamie Erdahl "landed a big pregame get from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and also provided a quality report at the start of the Browns-Steelers game on the decision of the players not to come out prior to the game" in response to Trump's comments. The game also featured "excellent insight by play-by-play commentator Greg Gumbel telling viewers that when the production group met with Tomlin on Saturday, the coach said he did not know what would happen on Sunday" (SI.com, 9/25). In Baltimore, David Zurawik writes CBS' NFL crews "came through impressively" yesterday. For Ravens-Jaguars in London, visual images were "powerful and eloquent, and CBS let them speak for themselves until the singing of our national anthem and England’s ended." CBS "kept its cameras away from nothing." Play-by-play man Andrew Catalon "came in immediately and expertly gave viewers all the background they needed to understand the significance of what they had just seen" during the anthem. CBS "showed it could cover sports with an unblinking eye even when it goes beyond games and becomes politics and culture" (Baltimore SUN, 9/25).

STILL CHOPPY: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Jeff Baumgartner noted Yahoo’s free live stream of Ravens-Jaguars "proved to be a less-than-perfect experience for some consumers who were trying to watch the game on various platforms." Streaming issues "didn’t appear to be widespread, but several users were logging complaints about problems on Sunday morning via Twitter -- another indication that live streaming of big events at scale remains a key struggle" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 9/24).

THE VOICES: In Dallas, Barry Horn writes while Tony Romo is "indeed a work in progress," the former QB "someday just may be worthy of mention in the same sentence as John Madden." Romo during Bengals-Packers yesterday "seemed to raise and lower his decibel level more than in weeks past," and his enthusiasm level has been "off the charts." While his CBS predecessor Phil Simms "seemed to 'ho-hum' everything he saw of late, Romo, at least for the time being, sounds like a kid in a candy store" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/25). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote, "It’s still early in the NFL season but the leading candidate for comeback voice of the year is Ray Lewis." He "bombed out after a few years on ESPN’s NFL studio team, but is totally rejuvenated as a member of Showtime’s 'Inside the NFL' crew." Maybe the show’s format is "better suited for him, but he’s making strong points in fewer words and has not gone into his preachy mode" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/24).

The NHL will "go dark across all NBC platforms" during the '18 PyeongChang Games from Feb. 7-26, according to Larry Brooks of the N.Y. POST. Sources said that the decision should be interpreted as nothing less than NBC "giving a symbolic middle finger" to the NHL for "withholding its players from one of NBC's most important properties." Brooks noted the gap in the schedule "did exist" when NBC Sports released its NHL slate in July, but it had been "assumed the network would announce added games at a later date." That is "certainly the premise under which the NHL was operating." A meeting was "held within the past two weeks in which the network's hockey-dedicated personnel were told NBC would not be televising NHL games during the Olympics." It is unclear when the net informed the NHL of its decision, but the league was "not aware the original schedule had been cast in stone." NBC and NBCSN last season "combined to telecast 20 NHL games over the comparable period" (N.Y. POST, 9/24). NBC Sports in a statement said of possibly scheduling games during the Feb. 7-26 period, "Our agreement with the NHL provides the flexibility to add games to our regular-season schedule for a variety of reasons. However, as of now, there are no changes to the regular-season schedule we announced in July" (THE DAILY).

F1 is "working on a microphone that can be attached to a car’s exhaust system to make the sport louder and more ‘visceral’ for television viewers," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. F1 Managing Dir of Commercial Operations Sean Bratches said, "One of the things that we want to amplify going forward are the sounds of the sport, because they are viscerally moving to fans and critically important in all the research that we do." Bratches said that former Fox Sports Chair David Hill was "involved" in the decision. Bratches: "He’s working with a German concern to develop a ceramic microphone that we can actually adhere to the exhaust pipe to get the true amplification of sound for fans" (REUTERS, 9/22).