Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 132


ESPN last night drew a 6.1 overnight rating for the Titans' 36-22 win over the Colts, marking the third-lowest "MNF" overnight since the network acquired rights to the package prior to the '06 season. The all-time low was a 5.7 overnight last year for Falcons-Saints in Week 3, which went up against the first Trump-Clinton presidential debate. The second-lowest "MNF" overnight was a 6.0 for Colts-Jets in Week 13 last season. Colts-Titans, which aired opposite FS1's Astros-Yankees ALCS Game 3, is down 3% from a 6.3 overnight for Jets-Cardinals last year, the previous Week 6 low for ESPN. That game last year aired up against TBS' Indians-Blue Jays ALCS Game 3. The game last night peaked at a 6.9 rating from 10:30-10:45pm and then again from 11:15-11:30pm. The telecast drew a 25.4 local rating in Indianapolis (10.4 on ESPN, 15.0 on WRTV-ABC). Nashville drew a 22.2 local rating (6.5 on ESPN, 15.7 on WKRN-ABC). Rounding out the top five markets last night were Memphis (10.4), Philadelphia (9.6) and New Orleans (9.3). Through six weeks, "MNF" is averaging a 7.8 overnight, up 4% from the same point last season (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
BOSTON MARKET: CBS' Patriots-Jets on Sunday drew a 32.9 local rating in Boston in the 1:00pm ET window, marking the highest-rated program in market last week. It also was the second-best local rating of the season behind the Chiefs-Patriots NFL Kickoff game on NBC (Patriots).

"60 Minutes"
"The Big Bang Theory"
ALDS: Astros-Red Sox: Game 4

: NBCSN’s Chris Simms said of NFL ratings being down, "They just made the games available on too many avenues. A 25-year-old kid on a Sunday afternoon can say, ‘I'm going to go out to the park and hang out with my friends and, whatever, and I'll watch the game later on my iPad in a condensed version and watch 40 minutes and see the whole thing.’” Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio said of the NFL, “They need to figure out what the problem is and they need to put resources toward solving it, and maybe (with) this obsession with expanding the sport beyond our borders to other countries and growing the pie that way they've taken the U.S. fan base for granted. Maybe they need to market their product a little more aggressively here, find ways to get people interested" ("PFT," NBCSN, 10/17).

AFTER PARTY: In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal notes the Bears are "extending their 10-year TV partnership" with WFLD-Fox another five years. WFLD, which became a partner in '08, will "continue to air the team-produced preseason game telecasts, the in-season weekly shows 'Bears Gameday Live' and 'Bears Gamenight Live' and year-round 'Inside the Bears' each week." In addition, the Bears said that they "plan to add a postgame show and a 30-minute Bears weekly show scheduled for Friday evenings along with three to four specials pegged to events such as the draft, the opening of the regular season and a review of the season at its completion" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/17).

LOST IN TRANSLATION: REUTERS' Li & Cadell note football's "rapid growth and youthful fan base" in China have "exposed a shortage of Mandarin-speaking commentators who have the football knowledge to call a game." The NFL this season "scrapped a mix of online streaming deals in favor of an exclusive digital partnership" with China social media outfit Tencent. Chinese commentator Wang Zixing said that "translating the jargon is the toughest thing about explaining the game to China’s young football fans." Football is "less popular than basketball and soccer in China, but fan numbers are growing quickly, as young people accustomed to streaming sports on mobile telephones get drawn in." The NFL has been "quick to seize on the trend" (REUTERS, 10/16).

ESPN's Sam Ponder has taken issue with her company's new partnership with Barstool Sports, and "gave her newest colleagues a cold welcome on Twitter," according to Hannah Withiam of the N.Y. POST. Ponder began yesterday with a tweet meant as a message directed at Barstool's "Pardon My Take" co-host Dan Katz. She "sarcastically received him into the 'ESPN family' by attaching screenshots" from a '14 Barstool blog post that "told her to 'go f-k' herself for a tweet she posted following the Ray Rice scandal." Katz "quickly defended himself, repeatedly saying he didn’t write the blog post she referenced." It is "unclear if Ponder believes Katz is the author or if his affiliation" with Barstool Sports is "reason enough for her to speak out against her now coworker." Katz said Ponder probably has him “confused" with his boss -- Bartsool President Dave Portnoy (N.Y. POST, 10/17). But Ponder this morning tweeted, "I was wrong in thinking @BarstoolBigCat wrote that article & called me a slut repeatedly. He just continuously laughed along. It was the PRESIDENT of @barstoolsports who said these things. Happy to clarify" (, 10/17). Portnoy last night also tweeted about the situation and "suggested that Ponder committed libel" (, 10/17).

NBC NHL analyst Ed Olczyk said that he is "returning to the booth" five weeks after starting treatment for colon cancer, according to Kevin Allen of USA TODAY. Olczyk will work with broadcaster Mike Emrick on NBCSN's "Wednesday Night Rivalry" broadcast of Blackhawks-Blues tomorrow. He also "plans to do" the Blackhawks' local broadcast on WGN-TV the following night for Oilers-Blackhawks with partner with Pat Foley. Olczyk is "not returning to a full-time schedule, just doing games when he feels well enough to work." His chemo treatment "lasts 48 hours, and he will not work those weeks." Olczyk said that he "believes working will help him get through the treatment" (USA TODAY, 10/17). Olczyk said that his doctors are "concerned only that he feels up to whatever he does and gets the rest he needs." He said, "They think it's important to continue to live and continue to set goals and that's something I've done from Day 1 with the support of my family and my family with the Blackhawks, particularly [team President & CEO] John McDonough, and my family at NBC." In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal notes Olczyk "isn't sure how strong he'll be but expects Emrick and Foley will have his back." He said, "(There may be) a time where I go quiet for five minutes, whether it's with Pat or Doc, maybe I'm in the bathroom, maybe I'm trying to catch my breath. This is all very new, but I'm sure adrenaline will be at a fever pitch" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/17).

Players' Tribune Head of Content Jessica Robertson (@PlayersTribune) joined the site two months after it launched and oversees what it creates across social, written, audio and video. Robertson's background is in music -- she studied music business with a minor in journalism, thinking she wanted to work at a record label. After deciding she was not interested in the business side but in the artists and their stories, she worked at Rolling Stone, Fader and MTV. It is those same types of stories that made her want to join the Players' Tribune. Robertson said of athlete inquiries,"We don’t say no. We will ask questions. We will ask if, depending on what they are coming to us with, if that’s the best format or we will say maybe this is something we shouldn’t address in this way." The Players' Tribune instead would suggest alternate ways to share the athlete's thoughts such as a roundtable with other athletes. Robertson added, "By virtue of being first-person, we are mindful about telling the full story and an athlete has to be willing to tell the full story. By and large athletes understand that and they are coming to us because they want to do that. They have a lot of trust in us and are probably more honest and forthcoming in trusting difficult subjects for them personally or socially then they would be at other places."

Must-follow: I love Hassan Whiteside's Snapchat. This past summer he was obsessed with the dancing hot dog filter, which could entertain me for days.
Favorite app: Instagram, hands down.
Average time per day on social media: Too much time, probably. It's hard to quantify because I have all my feeds open almost constantly.

Similarities between musicians and athletes:
Music was really a prism for me and sports is a prism for me to tell very human stories. When music is done well and done right or when you connect with it, it’s very visceral. It taps into your emotional quotient and makes you feel something. It taps into your IQ, makes you think, maybe it challenges a perception. Sports and the stories we tell aren’t dissimilar in thinking. The best stories that we tell in any format, they make you think, they make you feel. They are very human. You don’t have to be a sports fan. It’s almost like they are sitting next to you, telling you a very intimate story.

Social media as a complement to the Players' Tribune:
Social media is the purest form of first person. It is intimate, it’s immediate, it’s direct. It’s often very concise, and the Players’ Tribune is really intimate and direct. There’s an immediate connection with the athletes you are watching or reading. We complement social media in that we can tell a very deep, wide-ranging narrative or do a deep dive into Xs and Os or tell very thoughtful stories where maybe 140, 280 characters wouldn’t allow you to do that. Social media is a little more immediate and we are a little more thoughtful and curated.

Social media/editorial philosophy:
A large part of that first year was building our athlete community, establishing our voice, building the brand, showing we can do these long, thoughtful personal narratives that have some meat to them and getting away from the preconceived notion that we were a PR outlet. Now we are growing beyond that. In years two and three we’ve done different formats, we’re heavily invested in growing off-platform, which is where social media comes into play. That’s making content for social that is just as compelling as the content we create for our site. We want to reach our audience where they already are, but we also want to grow beyond those walls. 

Inspiration for the Players’ Tribune’s voice and social media presence:
As a brand, our voice is the athletes’ voice. The individual athlete inspires what the voice is for social depending upon what the piece of content. We think about brand value and how that manifests in diverse format and content offering, which creates diversity in our voice. We’re a reflection of the athletes.

Being more than a website Derek Jeter created:
We’ve done a pretty incredible job of growing it into an athlete’s platform, not just Derek Jeter. We’ve worked with over 1,500 athletes. For us, one thing that is really important and we’re really proud of, is of the 1,500 athlete contributors some of our best performing stories are not by Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant, they are by lesser known athletes in sports that may be outside the big four.

Athlete influence on how their story is told:
It depends on how the story comes to us. In the beginning, we were pitching a lot. Now 50% of the stories we are telling comes from the outside. Often times they come with an idea of what they want to do. We have plenty of athletes who are very creative and are creating on their own anyway. Maybe they come to us wanting to create a video series or want to document their season. Maybe some of them want to write something and we’ve already written a draft and work with our editorial team to shape it and curate it.

Success of video:
We’re not known for video at this point, and we are changing that by growing it and heavily investing in it. One of the series we launched this year is called The Players’ POV, one of our most successful episodic franchises. It’s probably the purest form of our written narrative with the athlete speaking directly to the camera about a very personal experience. We had Larry Sanders talking about why he was stepping away from the NBA because of the struggle with depression and anxiety. Recently we had Lamar Odom speaking on his addiction struggles and beyond that his life experiences that maybe informed the struggle. We’re starting to dive into original development, long-form documentaries, series that explore different topics in sports -- we're working on distribution partners on that.

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